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cre8pc

Should we be educating the general public on bad SEO and web design practices and if so, how?

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I turned away from yet another project and since it happens more often these days, I'm curious if others are in the same boat.  In every case it is a situation where the business has experienced one or all of the following:

1. dealing with a really really bad SEO

2. hiring a company to handle their website and marketing only to be badly burned by that company - and then not trusting anyone after that

3. the business just refuses to listen to advice - believes they know more than you do

4. they are not well managed by a competent project manager

5. no budget for what needs to be done

I don't consider myself elite and I charge a fair rate - even lower that I should be from what I'm told.  If someone has a strict budget I'll try to work within it but then we get to reason #6

6. They want more results then what they are willing to pay for.

The one I turned away from this week is a company that was badly burned by a marketing company that built their website and kept their content. They not only took ownership of the website they built for this company, but charged $800 per month for SEO. The site was 9 pages and had no blog, very little content. It is a small business with local reach.

There was too much back and forth on this project for me to commit a designer, let alone myself. The client expected a new site in 3 weeks and to rank at the top of SERPS immediately. They have no content for the new site, since what they had is owned by the company that built their previous site.  It was a case of limited budget, not understanding what we needed to do to create a miracle, and them being burned so badly they pushed back and were fearful. Don't blame them but I have a pile of work and hand holding anyone interferes with my deadlines for paying clients.

There's a back lash in some SEO circles against bad practices causing a bad rep.   I'm at a loss as to how to educate the general public about who to hire and what services are a bad choice.  The same situation goes for web designers who are not qualified and do cheap work, wreaking havoc later for the business that put their trust in the design.  

Should we be educating the general public and if so, how?

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It's definitely challenging to overcome the doubts of a client who's been burned before. I approach it on a case-by-case basis, because I think the average person is only willing to listen to new arguments when they need to listen. If I can't sway them - the seem intent upon making me live with their existing impressions - then walking away is generally the best thing. The alternative would be to charge them dearly, so the hand-holding is at least paid for... but that would just make them feel they'd been taken advantage of again.

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I've been tossing this around for some time. Over the past six months ago, I've been sending out feelers to people in the area to see if they would be interested in attending a little round table class that I would hold for maybe 20 people or so. We'd sit down for a few hours and discuss the various red flags, sensational promises and then delve into the types of things a reputable company WILL promise and will be able to measure and show them. This is both for companies looking for SEO/Marketing, but for website redesigns/rebuilds, social media marketing companies and so on. I haven't nailed down dates for my first class yet, but the response has been resounding. People have said they'd be willing to pay $100 or more - though I think with 20 people, I'd do it at under half that and still be well compensated.

I'm not sure how to do that on a large scale, but that's what we're looking at doing out here on the edges of Northwestern Connecticut.

 

G.

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6 hours ago, cre8pc said:

Should we be educating the general public and if so, how?

I think it would not be effective. We did say "general public". You might get more satisfaction talking to the tree in your yard.

By general I presume people who own sites: Mom and Pop and SMBs.

Many Hosting companies advertising site building as a point and click operation. GoDaddy does and so does Wix. GoDaddy has that magic little button which says "Get Search Engine visibility" or something close for the amazing price of... I presume Wix does also along with all the other "Build your Site Quick" companies. Build it and people will come.

I get those blank looks when I try to educate people about security and privacy and not against the NSA or similar.  I would be the same sort of idea. Everyone understands the virus thing though.

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34 minutes ago, Grumpus said:

I've been tossing this around for some time. Over the past six months ago, I've been sending out feelers to people in the area to see if they would be interested in attending a little round table class that I would hold for maybe 20 people or so. We'd sit down for a few hours and discuss the various red flags, sensational promises and then delve into the types of things a reputable company WILL promise and will be able to measure and show them. This is both for companies looking for SEO/Marketing, but for website redesigns/rebuilds, social media marketing companies and so on. I haven't nailed down dates for my first class yet, but the response has been resounding. People have said they'd be willing to pay $100 or more - though I think with 20 people, I'd do it at under half that and still be well compensated.

I'm not sure how to do that on a large scale, but that's what we're looking at doing out here on the edges of Northwestern Connecticut.

 

G.

I think the above is a great approach.  I suspect there are LOTS of small local businesses up there that would be responsive.  Its probably applicable everywhere.   (I'm a bit familiar with a website or two in that region--though such an approach would work in many areas.).

There is a lot of mainstream or heavily marketed "stuff" to small/local/medium businesses with which I don't agree today.  Its tough for smb's to stand out.  I still see value in great linking...or in the case of local businesses sort of medium quality linking, if only because link profiles and seo competitiveness in the smb world is not great.   I see its value.  Some of the name marketers do push it.  But there is a large school of thought and marketing that ignores it.  Big problem in my point of view. 

These days getting seen for one's name/brand should be easy.  Its not easy if there are older problems that need to be cleaned up.  OTOH that visibility is limited by geography and competition within the same vertical.  More significantly if one doesn't build out content and links one doesn't get seen or well seen for DISCOVERY PHRASES.  The meat of business is often and usually in that realm.  Its nice to be easily seen for one's name, but typically most potential customers for a service or product in an area don't know a business by name...they will search for the topic by type:  "tanning salons Philadelphia,  Dentist Hartford, etc etc etc.   Content, quality on page seo and possibly some links can do wonders for an smb in that area.  Some folks promote that but a large volume of known or "local seo's don't".  I just don't agree with that.

OTOH.  Boy, I just love Grumpus' approach.  What a great way to generate specific connections to folks that will buy into one's expertise.  Tx for the idea, Grumpus!!!!!

 

Lastly:  So many "locals" need help.  Many of unachievable expectations and/or budgets.  Don't waste time.  Find the one's that are easier to work with.  Ooooh ooooh oooh.  I love the suggestion from Grumpus and/or variations on that theme.   Stuff like that works!!!!

 

 

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On 1/16/2018 at 11:22 AM, cre8pc said:

I turned away from yet another project and since it happens more often these days, I'm curious if others are in the same boat.  In every case it is a situation where the business has experienced one or all of the following:

1. dealing with a really really bad SEO

2. hiring a company to handle their website and marketing only to be badly burned by that company - and then not trusting anyone after that

3. the business just refuses to listen to advice - believes they know more than you do

4. they are not well managed by a competent project manager

5. no budget for what needs to be done

I don't consider myself elite and I charge a fair rate - even lower that I should be from what I'm told.  If someone has a strict budget I'll try to work within it but then we get to reason #6

6. They want more results then what they are willing to pay for.

The one I turned away from this week is a company that was badly burned by a marketing company that built their website and kept their content. They not only took ownership of the website they built for this company, but charged $800 per month for SEO. The site was 9 pages and had no blog, very little content. It is a small business with local reach.

There was too much back and forth on this project for me to commit a designer, let alone myself. The client expected a new site in 3 weeks and to rank at the top of SERPS immediately. They have no content for the new site, since what they had is owned by the company that built their previous site.  It was a case of limited budget, not understanding what we needed to do to create a miracle, and them being burned so badly they pushed back and were fearful. Don't blame them but I have a pile of work and hand holding anyone interferes with my deadlines for paying clients.

There's a back lash in some SEO circles against bad practices causing a bad rep.   I'm at a loss as to how to educate the general public about who to hire and what services are a bad choice.  The same situation goes for web designers who are not qualified and do cheap work, wreaking havoc later for the business that put their trust in the design.  

Should we be educating the general public and if so, how?

It seems to me if you are seeing too high a percentage of these type clients one of the issues is simply that you aren't in front of enough potential clients.  Among the great universe of potential clients there will be folks such as the one's you described above and one's that are easier and more reasonable to work with. 

In all my "services" background, I've always run to folks like these and one's are infinitely easier to work with.  The folks like the one described above would stick out at those periods when I didn't have enough business.  When I had plenty of business it was extremely easy to walk away from the folks like the one's above  and I never thought about it again.  When I didn't have enough business folks like the one's above would stay with me.

I was impressed by the idea presented above by Grumpus  I think its a brilliant idea and worthwhile for marketing.  If a large enough group attend a session such as that;  and in a populous area if you run several of them, I'd imagine you will attract a sizable enough group of potential customers, including some who might have the characteristics of the group you described above and others who will be easier to work with.

 

When I look at our own smb's vis a vis soliciting web work:  I sort of see us as a PITA but I know we are good payers, or I think we are.  We tend to pay fast quick and don't quibble on price.  (at least I think so).  So if we are crappy on some levels we are at least compensating the vendors and talents on a fast and reliable basis.  And I know from prior experiences if I was getting paid an appropriate amount I could put up with some of the cr@p.

I hope @Grumpus tries the effort he described above and reports back on it.  ;)  I think its genius.

 

 

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What Grumpus described can work extremely well.

Way back when, during the 80's and 90's, while I was in the HVAC business I did something similar. In the early 80's two things happened in Canada regarding wood heat, (1) new standards for wood stove/furnace chimneys (to survive creosote rather than soot fire temperatures) and (2) high efficient wood stoves (the very first came from Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand). Both were so very different from what existed that education of the public regarding both the new regulations and new products was a business proactive necessity.

So I spoke with local community recreation centres, which offered classes in a variety of things, and agreed to give free Fall and Winter weekly one hour classes on the subject; 20-30 minutes of show and tell, 30-40 of Q&A. They went extremely well (12+ in each); besides providing public education it made me into the local 'expert' whom media called with questions.
Note: I did not advertise nor promote, just the facts, although everyone knew who I was and what I did.

Because realtors were (and still are) pretty much clueless (and on the hook when a house they sold didn't meet standard when they said it did) the local real estate board requested I give annual presentations to their members. And offered special inspection packages! And got first dibs on remedial work!!

Community service organisations would also call every year or so to request a presentation.

It was fun, informal, and not much different from my usual explanatory sales pitch. Easy peasy. And over time I added basic Homeowner HVAC and gas appliance troubleshooting and maintenance classes.

On a similar note, after I got out of (aka ran away screaming from) retail and went to local college for 'formal' CS part of the curriculum for all students was to teach a weekly ElderCollege (it's a British Columbia adult continuing ed program; no prerequisites, no tests; through local community colleges) evening course (2-hrs) to folks over 50 on how to use those new fangled computers, email, etc. If it had been around before I burned out (it started just after) I'd have worked via this venue as well.

Done right it has a superb ROI while benefiting everyone.

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8 hours ago, iamlost said:

Note: I did not advertise nor promote, just the facts, although everyone knew who I was and what I did.

That is going to be my approach, as well. I won't have anyone with me from the companies I subcontract for. I'll be telling folks "how" to shop for a web marketing and/or development company, the things to look out for, the things to insist on, and the way to make sure they are understanding the differences between what they want, what they need, and what they are going to get from their investment. I don't have the full skill set needed to fully service a company on my own - so I need a team.

In these seminars or classes, I'll just be that guy from the end of the bar on Friday afternoons, the guy who helps sling hot dogs at all the town events, and that guy you see wandering around down by the river all summer. I won't be pitching myself, and won't have anything on me that will tell them how to contact me for work.

Most businesses know what they know. They make sure their suppliers or distributors aren't screwing them over because they understand their industry so they know what those people should be doing. They can't do that with their internet business because they don't know anything about it. So it's basically just a crash course in what you need to know and what you need to do in order to have some success online - and the types of returns they can expect in real terms. It should be fun.

I've got the location and catering locked down. Now I just need to pick some dates and figure out how I'll fill the room.

 

G.

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Just briefly on the whole business approach to dealing with companies that have been badly burnt before... I will draw a comparison to my auditing work where a client would say - "Well we never did this before" or "We weren't asked for that last time" or even "That wasn't result last time" - and I say "I can't comment on that - but this is what I do..." - and then go onto explain what I do.

Just diverting them away from the negative experiences they had before and getting them to focus on you, your work, and what you can do for them would be the approach that I would take.

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