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Search Engine Optimisers, the concept is flawed
jamesf4218




msg:782568
 10:39 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am a programmer, who makes small sites for clients with small budgets. After design and programming, they generally don't have much money left over for search engine advertising.

Recently, over the last few months, I have been inundated with literature from 'search engine specialists' all claiming they can get my sites in the top 10/5/3/1 (delete where appropriate) GUARANTEED or my money back.

But just think about it for a second....

If I have a client with a site which sells rented office space (and I do), the site has specific key words needed to get in the top 5 of each search engine - words/phrases such as 'rented office space', 'managed offices uk' etc.

All it takes is for me to have 6 clients who all want the same thing and they can't all be in the top 5. And if the likelihood of me having 6 clients all of whom want to sell rented office space is unlikely, there must be more than 6 around the country (or world). And if more than 5 or them have search engine specialists GUARANTEEING them a top 5 place for keywords then they are going to be disappointed.

Surely this whole system is flawed and S.E Optimisers are just opportunists cashing in on people's general ignorance of the web. This can't be a long term strategy for people with websites to advertise their sites on the web. Surely we need something more solid - a more robust and reliable way of getting sites found on the Internet...?

 

chiyo




msg:782569
 10:48 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

you are talking about SEO cowboys. Anyone who emails you offering these services you can safely ignore. There are a lot of opportunities in this business, and now they are desparate for business as sEO is a specialised professional job now.

your logic is correct of course on the finite nature of top positions. Usually they dont say what keywords they will get you in for, it makes a big difference to have the keyword to be ranked "cars" or "supercalifragilistic". So their claim is meaningless. They also dont say what are the top engines. I can create an search engine tomorrow and i can make sure all my clients are at the top. They just want you to knock on their door so they can spin you.

Sadly the bad ones make life difficult for the others, so try not to paint all SEO's with the same brush.

chris_f




msg:782570
 10:52 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Well said chiyo. All in all I think that is a perfect response.

You also get bonus point for using 'supercalifragilistic' and spelling it correctly ;).

jamesf4218




msg:782571
 11:03 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Cowboys aside, if you were to take 10 clients all in the same business and asign them each a different SEO to help them choose words and get them ranked they would all choose the same words or mostly the same words because there are only so many words you can choose for a particular business.

Therefore, the more people that use SEOs, the harder their job becomes and the less able they are. I think in a year or two they will cease to exist as all the top positions are taken for all the top keywords for most businesses and people will have to look at other ways of advertising their site....

caine




msg:782572
 11:13 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

James,

as many will tell you. There are cowboys, then there are individuals and companies, that are very serious about what they do, and the resources and issues, that they draw upon to get the top positions on search engines. I very much doubt there will ever be a massive flood of top rank promoters, as these are the specialists, and the best have learnt all the do's and dont's, which takes years to experience.

webdiversity




msg:782573
 11:18 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

My only comments, for what they are worth. chiyo is right on the money.

There are good SEO and there are cowboys. Guarantees were something that you could not do in the past, now if your client has the budget they can buy their way to the top, but the serviced office arena is as cut throat as they come :

Serviced office has 4 companies paying in excess of 11 for every visitor who clicks on a paid link.

Serviced office uk has 4 companies paying more than 10, and that's PER visitor.

Well optimised sites in competitive arenas will vary wildly in terms of numbers, but let's say they got 100 visitors a day, that means in the course of a day each company might pay 1000 for that day's traffic, so 30k a month or 360k a year, big money isn't it?

Frankly, unless your clients do some form of optimisation you might as well not bother designing or programming, because they will never be found, full stop. In my opinion there are a lot of designers that are at fault for not managing their clients expectations in advance of the site build.

"Mr client, I am going to charge you 10,000 to build you a great site, with xyz feature and a database, but nobody apart from the people you tell about it will ever stumble across your web site. However, if we build you a web site for 7,500 with a few of the "nice to haves" put on the back burner and we enlist the support of xyz SEO expert, then I am confident that they will be able to deliver enough qualified, targeted traffic to your site to make the upgrade of the site affordable out of the revenue it will generate, shall we get them to sit in on this meeting and explain how the site promotion works ?"

Now how does that sound ?

There are two guarantees in life, death and taxes.

IanTurner




msg:782574
 11:29 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

webdiversity, your concept is moving in the correct direction, though I would say the best policy would be to get a basic site for 2500, then get pay the SEO 7500 to get the site ranked well, then you will get the results that you need to pay for the upgrade.

topr8




msg:782575
 11:29 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am a programmer, who makes small sites for clients with small budgets. After design and programming, they generally don't have much money left over for search engine advertising.

<<tongue in cheek>>

IMHO then they have been misadvised about how to spend their budget.

it would be like opening a specialist shop in a small village somewhere, now this shop has been kitted out with the coolest new displays and most eyecatching store layout BUT hasn't been advertised

no-one will come visit and no money will be made.

Now this suits me, most people trading in my products have got websites and mostly they stick to their bricks and mortar set ups because they moan that the web is a waste of time, and so it is for them, but for me and others doing the search Engine thing that is not the case, we just keep quiet and clock up sales.

i believe money/time spent on promotion in whatever form is by FAR the greatest priority for a new web enterprise - especially so for small businesses with small budgets.

webdiversity




msg:782576
 11:34 am on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ian,

I was trying to give jamesf4218 a good feeling about this, but you are right, budget = 20k 19k to promote and 1k to build would be my splits.

Just remember Sunny Delight, they spent a massive amount of money on the promotion of the product and turned it in to a top 10 brand in no time.

Why some designers are so insular is beyond me.

Marcia




msg:782577
 12:34 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Surely this whole system is flawed and S.E Optimisers are just opportunists cashing in on people's general ignorance of the web.

Sorry James, but it looks different from the other side of the fence. I see the designers as the opportunists cashing in on people's general ignorance by designing sites that cannot get search engine rankings. That's what divides the designers who design sites as an art form from those who design sites with the goal of increasing their clients' bottom line.

>This can't be a long term strategy for people with websites to advertise their sites on the web.

Search engine optimization is the long term strategy. With banner ads and PPC, companies pay for each click. If they stop paying, all the clicks stop and they're gone. With well optimized sites the results are enduring with nothing more than some maintenance in anticipation of natural fluctuations. Search engines are here to stay, and the buying public still uses them as the primary means of finding what they're looking for.

jamesf4218




msg:782578
 12:35 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with what you have been saying. But I program for a small design agency who values design above everything, especially SEO. I have said to them exactly what you all say many times before, but they don't listen.

I have printed off this thread to show them, but they will look at it, nod their heads and go back to spending 3 hours deciding what shade of light green the edging on a button should be.

Sigh....

sean




msg:782579
 12:35 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

> S.E Optimisers are just opportunists cashing in on people's general ignorance of the web.

True, but the good ones are cashing in on designer's and developer's ignorance of the web, not the business owners. In fact, promoters tend to think that pure designers/developers are the ones cashing in on the ignorance of business owners. I prefer not to point fingers, because there could be a lesser-known profession pointing a finger in my direction. (IA?) And if that is the case, the best I can do is try to learn everything about that profession and understand their angle.

jamesf4218, it takes awhile to understand the role of optimization and the numerous ways a site interacts to the rest of the web. (Luckily, you found the right place.) Echoing the previous posts, a good site is not a standalone entity; it is a conduit that is plugged into the web. The foundation for promotion is conceived before the site is developed. It takes awhile before a bag o' promotion tricks becomes a web philosophy, goodness only knows how many hours I spent assembling a philosophy that now seems obvious, but once it happens you will be able to decipher the text zen of the "toolmen" and appreciate a job well done.

jamesf4218




msg:782580
 1:00 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Marcia,

In response to your comments:

~~~Search engine optimization is the long term strategy. With banner ads and PPC, companies pay for each click. If they stop paying, all the clicks stop and they're gone. With well optimized sites the results are enduring with nothing more than some maintenance in anticipation of natural fluctuations. Search engines are here to stay, and the buying public still uses them as the primary means of finding what they're looking for.~~~

you haven't addressed my main points, i.e., there can only ever be 3 people in the top 3 so most people will be disappointed and the more people use seo, the less effective they will be.

I also don't think banner ads work as I myself never click on them and I don't know many people that do.

Search engines may be here to stay, but they need to improve.

I know that you SEOs don't like directories because they use human beings to rank the sites and so the SEO trickery can't get a site in but I do think that the concept of having an engine/directory where each site is previewed and approved by a human being is better than one created by spiders or robots.

Marcia




msg:782581
 1:25 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

>I program for a small design agency who values design above everything, especially SEO. I have said to them exactly what you all say many times before, but they don't listen.

OK James, then you're off the hook. :)

But the agency you're working for just hasn't seen it, and it's not only doing their clients a disservice, but they're losing a good opportunity for additional revenue by not bringing in a good local SEO person or sub-contracting to a competent local, and offering an additional service to their clientele.

Directories are a good thing, if they're good ones and they're operating correctly. Yes, the entries are pre-screened and put in relevant categories, which is why a couple carry some weight with some search engines as valuable links. But the majority of people don't use them; most type in their search terms and take what they find.

>you haven't addressed my main points, i.e., there can only ever be 3 people in the top 3 so most people will be disappointed and the more people use seo, the less effective they will be.

James, the majority of SEO cowboys, who unfortunately are the ones most visible, when they offer their guarantees they're selling snake-oil. It's not even possible to guarantee top 3, IMHO, unless it's being paid for or there are special circumstances - like Google coming up #1 for a search for "Google". It all does depend on how competitive and what the competition is doing. But that's the essence of it - it's a competition, and (hopefully) the best optimized will be in the top 3, unless those are being paid for, as in PPC or paid listings. Some search engines mask that some are paid and the more ethical ones don't (like Google).

So what it amounts to is that it's a very competitive endeavor, and ethical people or companies should avoid making false promises and be aware of their own limitations, if there are any. IMO the only sensible thing is to take a balanced, realistic view of it, since aside from PPC nothing's come along that does better in terms of return on investment.

It also happens to be entirely possible to design dynamite sites that are also search engine friendly. There are even some HTML sites with Flash presentations imbedded capable of getting excellent rankings without sacrificing design impact. It just takes the high end designers balancing out their skill-sets or calling in others to provide the services their clients need to effectively market their sites.

Mardi_Gras




msg:782582
 1:41 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

topr8 said (tongue in cheek):
IMHO then they have been misadvised about how to spend their budget...no one will visit and no money will be made.

I understand the sentiment. But it is important to keep in mind that not everyone who wants a web site is dependent upon customers discovering them on the web. Some of my clients are 100% dependent on the web. But others use their web sites as an adjunct to advertising they are already doing - either by adding the web address to newspaper ads, etc. or by posting signs in subdivisions saying "For prices, dimensions, etc. visit WWW...

For this type of client, the purpose of the site is not to create awareness but to provide the details, the color, and the appeal that a simple yard sign or newspaper ad won't provide. And to provide that extra "kick" to turn a potential buyer into a buyer.

I saw a post on this forum from a designer who said he would not build a site for someone who did not want to optimize for search engines. I think we need to keep in mind that clients' needs, just like clients (and us) are all different. That's what makes it interesting :)

dwedeking




msg:782583
 1:56 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just a point from actual experience.

I am a member of an active local chamber of commerce. We have a breakfast meeting once a month (about 80 - 100 members show up). Part of this meeting is each person is introduced by another member (this forces us to network and meet at least on other person so you can learn what they do to introduce them). There are 4 design firms (usually at these meetings). We get introduced as design firm A (no reaction from the crowd) then they go on to say that we focus on search engine friendly design and producing sites that deliver traffic and BOOM eyes turn and everyone one is paying attention. Many design firms leave this out of their package (fine with me :) ) but the reaction I see tells me this is a much needed service.

Mardi_Gras




msg:782584
 2:34 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Many design firms leave this out of their package (fine with me ) but the reaction I see tells me this is a much needed service.

And I hope I did not give the impression that I disagree! :)

dwedeking




msg:782585
 2:55 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Mardi_Gras,
I was not posting directly in response to your post. I agree that there are some clients that do not warrant SEO work (or it should not be the primary focus). But everyone was posting their thoughts and I wanted to post a "field test" if you will. As business owners we need to come up with a good product/service but more importantly a product/service with demand. I am running into (and have for the last 18 months) business owners that have a website but it does nothing to push their business to the next level. They can see logically that the internet should be a powerful tool but they are not seeing that in real world application. I think in part that is because their sites were designed with look/functionality as a priority (not saying these are not important) without a way to deliver the traffic. The business owner doesn't even realize WHAT the problem is but just knows there is a problem.

topr8




msg:782586
 3:16 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

yes mardi_gras

i couldn't agree more and indeed some sites are not dependant on search engines, but my point was and i quote what i said before ...

>>>i believe money/time spent on promotion in whatever form is by FAR the greatest priority for a new web enterprise

so yes whatever it takes but everyone is looking for traffic, not always from search it is true, but my point was if money/time isn't spent on getting traffic through whatever medium is chosen then a website itself is of no purpose.

often someone wants a website and wants search engine traffic and in their ignorance they just assume if they get a website designed and produced visitors will just flood in from search engines.

you haven't addressed my main points, i.e., there can only ever be 3 people in the top 3 so most people will be disappointed and the more people use seo, the less effective they will be.

well yes but there are millions upon millions of keyword phases and contrary to popular belief, it is my experience that 3 and 4 keyword phrases are the killer ones, and as you increase the words so do the permutations increase - there is enough to go around, and the basic business adage applies online too, which is that businesses fail all the time because they don't/can't get it right, just because you go into business does not give a divine right to success.

I know that you SEOs don't like directories because they use human beings to rank the sites and so the SEO trickery can't get a site in but I do think that the concept of having an engine/directory where each site is previewed and approved by a human being is better than one created by spiders or robots.

i agree in principle, but there are many people who would contest that directory listings are not entirely "fair" either, good descriptions given for favoured websites for instance, directories are very open to abuse, of a different kind to "SEO trickery" it is true but abuse all the same. (ps. i'm not pointing fingers specifically just putting accross a general point)

DrCool




msg:782587
 4:08 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

you haven't addressed my main points, i.e., there can only ever be 3 people in the top 3 so most people will be disappointed and the more people use seo, the less effective they will be.

This is a very valid point. If you are trying to get listed on very popular 1 or 2 word phrases this can be a problem. There are only so many of those to go around. If, like topr8 said, you focus on 3 and 4 word phrases there is more than enough to go around.

In the past I had up to 3 competitors that I was actively positioning. I would usually use a couple of the same keywords but for the most part I tried to find a different niche for each customer. For most industries it is possible to do this fairly easily.

Also, a lot of the companies that "guarantee" listings don't tell you what keywords they are guaranteeing you under. I could tell you I could get you listed on a keyword like "Bob's brand new green widgets in Oklahoma" and be fairly certain that I could get you a great listing. Here is another thread [webmasterworld.com] that talks about SEO guarantees.

toadhall




msg:782588
 5:22 pm on Apr 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Curious how often the term "cowboy" is used to describe the snake-oil vendors, the unethical. Especially in light of the many posts on this forum alternately celebrating a good rating in the SEs and bemoaning being dropped, or at least demoted, virtually the next day, professing having done no wrong.

It would seem to me that being a client of one of these ethical SEOs would be very much like being taken for a ride on a bucking bronco - one moment up, the next down, and very often knocked completely off.

Which would of course describe accurately the life of at least one type of modern cowboy.

Besides, the cowboys I've known (I mean real-live cattlemen and wranglers) are the most decent of people, with much to admire. Resourceful, level-headed, kind, and most endearingly pragmatic. Ethical even!

As for my point vis-a-vis this thread's topic of discussion (ahem) I would venture to say that a smooth ride on the SEs could be guaranteed only by paying for it.
Otherwise, giddy-up.

nell




msg:782589
 9:08 pm on Apr 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

>spending 3 hours deciding what shade of light green the edging on a button should be<

I like buttons without edging.

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