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Offshore SEO : How to save and make it work.

 10:25 pm on Mar 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

According to some recent survey's the cost of SEO in the US/Western markets is around $50 thru to approx. $250 per hour [ or even higher ] in exceptional cases.

The cost in Southern Asia for example is around $12 to $25. When I check out some competitive sites and their SEO team's work it is quite solid. Don't forget, some of the best and leading brains in Google come from these areas. so there is a lot of talent there. I do however get the feeling the innovation is sometimes lacking due to lack of experience with high end blue chips / top Western sites in enterprise level clients.

So it make sense to consider outsourcing resources. But the cowboys don't just live in the West, they also live offshore.

What tactics , planning and consultancy would existing SEO's and business owners consider safe to offshore; how do you ensure it is covered off in your specifications and contracts, and how would you ensure it is managed safely?

How can SEO's get their costs down ; how can business' get their SEO costs down.

Experiences? Thoughts?


brotherhood of LAN

 10:30 pm on Mar 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

Interesting question. I know a few examples of Western based SEOs moving to the East to exploit opportunities from there.


 11:16 pm on Mar 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

I can say from my experience, the freelancing sites are not the way to go for finding offshore talent.

I have tried and tried to use those sites to connect with offshore talent, in every price range, in many many countries, and always the same thing, I tell them I want an apple and the bring me a rotten watermelon.

I'm sure there are quality service providers over there, just saying I've never had any luck with finding them via the freelancing sites.


 11:30 pm on Mar 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

This is a difficult thread to respond to.

I have looked at some of the SEO Content writers out there. I would suggest that there are a LOT of them that charge $10 to $20 per hour and are based in the US, Britain, or other locations. I have seen Asian-based SEO services offered in the $2 to $5 range per hour.

On the other hand, I have seen some recent offers for "building whitehat links" (whatever that is) for astronomical price tags - both from domestic and offshore services.


 9:03 am on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

>I'm sure there are quality service providers over there, just saying I've never had any luck with finding them via the freelancing sites.

I think Odesk as the best system. But it's also helpful to know how to use the system, and what to look for.

I am in Seo guy who lives in Southeast Asia. I'm an American from Detroit. A few years ago I moved here to the tropics. I don't miss the snow. If you read some my posts here, Quora, and other places, I think you'll find I'm in the upper category of Seo's.

I don't like hourly work. I like monthly flat fees. With hourly work people are afraid the bill is going to go to high. With a flat fee everyone knows what the bill is every month, and there's no surprises. My rates are considerably less than my American counterparts. That may make some people here angry. I'm sorry.

Now let me tell you about Southeast Asia. The biggest mistake I made when I moved here, was underestimating the difference between Asia and USA. The cultural difference, is the difference between the sun and the moon. It's huge.

So you have to take that into account when dealing with offshore people. However, I think the future of offshore development, will be owned and managed by Western people. Americans, Europeans, Canadians and Australians. There are more and more younger people from these countries moving to Asia. I personally find it far more exciting here. And I also love the people.

When you deal with a first world owner of an offshore business, even if it's only six or eight people in his business, it's a huge advantage. The cultural differences disappear. Now it's his problem to work out the cultural differences with his employees.

Some of the cultural differences are honesty. When we say I'll have that you by Monday, it means I will try to have it by Monday, Tuesday at the latest. You're expecting it on Monday. I'm going to do my very best to deliver on Monday.
But in Asian will say, I'll send it to you by Monday. That may mean the following Monday. It just means he's going to work on it. The actual day that you get it is really not committed. This is because of their culture. So you have to understand these things and deal with them.

I can answer many more questions that people have them. I could write a book about the Asian culture.


 10:10 am on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

The cost in Southern Asia for example is around $12 to $25.

I'm in the UK and I'd gladly take that at the moment, where the heck do you get:

around $50 thru to approx. $250 per hour

 11:11 am on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

There is no free ride or great bargains. You get what you pay for. If you are smart and creative you can arbitrage outsourced work but it is not free money. You need to remember that if someone is great at SEO they will launch their own website and make their own money instead of working for $12/hour.

I outsource a good amount of work and find it works best when I outsource specific pieces to specialists. Some people are great at code, others at writing content, or graphic design tasks.

If you manage the outsourcing process properly, you can boost your profit margins. That requires a good bit of work on your part to find workers, screen them, assign them projects, review their work, and manage payments. You can use different services like elance or odesk but those services charge a premium that the buyer and/or seller pays. Even these premium services have bad workers in them.

You need to have a strong quality control process in place when you outsource work. You need to make sure it is good work but more importantly you need to make sure it is not stolen work exposing you to lawsuits.

I love outsourcing but it is not free money and can turn into a nightmare if done wrong.


 12:04 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

>You need to remember that if someone is great at SEO they will launch their own website and make their own money

I do that too. But it's not like USA.
I can't set up an e-commerce site, and ship to 50 states.
In Asia were extremely limited with our online payment system. It's 10 years behind the US. there is no UPS FedEx type delivery systems. There is in some places good delivery, but not like USA.

The Asian people are not ready to accept online ordering like USA.

>You need to have a strong quality control process in place when you outsource work. You need to make sure it is good work but more importantly you need to make sure it is not stolen work exposing you to lawsuits.

You know whats fascinating about this? It's amazing how many American Seo companies are outsourcing their work to Asia.
It's a daily thing on Odesk and Elance.
People think they're getting American Seo services, when often they outsource to Asia.
It reminds me of the Chevrolet engines in the Buick cars a few years ago. It was a common thing that everyone in Detroit knew Buick did. But once it hit the newspapers and the television, it was a major public relations problem for Buick.


 12:20 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

@goodroi - I take the point about it not being free money to project manage and QA etc.

But if you put yourself in the shoes of a business owner, how would you approach an SEO to check their credibility ?

I've played with the idea of tracking some down through referrals on LinkedIn rather than oDesk or Elance which for SEO is just too hard I think. Then ask the shortlist to review a site and propose a plan, providing some guidance to assist my expectancies of them. Then comparing the responses and asking the successful one or two to carry out some small low risk tasks.

Equally I might decide that certain skill sets cannot be met in South Asia, so I would exclude them e.g top design skills ; highly engaged content ; low on initiative and creative innovation etc

And then I might have a prediction that South Asian top end SEO's could be good at solid fundamentals, site audits and structural on page / site architecture.

But I'm here to ask, and learn, not to tell ..... Just thought I'd share this to help spur more inputs on how it can work, or realign mine and others thinking.

[edited by: Whitey at 12:48 pm (utc) on Mar 31, 2014]

creative craig

 12:28 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

My wife and I moved from London to Cape Town 7 years ago and whilst we initially looked at building a strong foundation of RSA clients we consistently get inquiries from the UK, USA and Australia due to our experience and also the very favorable exchange rate!


 1:58 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Whitey >Equally I might decide that certain skill sets cannot be met in South Asia, so I would exclude them e.g top design skills ; highly engaged content ; low on initiative and creative innovation etc

You brought this up. So I will talk about it. In some other places when I have made similar comments about people from Asia being less creative, I have been attacked as a racist. Which is amusing to me. If I was a racist why would I move to be with these people. Why would I marry an Asian woman and have mixture of children if I was a racist? I have a hard time following that logic. So please understand, my comments here are about my observations, not whether one race is better than another. They are different.

But the schools in Asia are completely different than the older schools number. I say older because the Americans schools are changing to be more like the Asian. No child left behind and core curriculum are a copy of the Asian system.

These types of schools train the children to be conformists. To follow with the group. To not stick out. Not be a square peg in a round hole. Because the leaders of these Asian countries do not want people who will lead revolutions against them. Many of the businesses in Asia are owned by oligarchs. Family dynasties that control entire industries. They don't want the schools teaching individual achievement, creative thinking, analytical skills, abstract reasoning. Those are a threat the current power structure. It's amazing thing to see.

And after school is done, all this training is reinforced within the society.

So which you have is large sections of people, billions, who are trained to be employees, not freelance workers. Not intrapreneurs, not employers. Their followers and not leaders. If you have a chance to see a movie made in India, by the name of "three idiots", I highly recommend it. India produces some fantastic movies, and this one is extremely popular in Asia. It's a movie about the education system and the flaws that I just described. Education systems heavily influenced by memorization, written tests and conformity to the culture. There are many people who understand the errors in the education system, however there trapped in the culture and unable to change the system.

So this is why people have had trouble with some of the freelancers they've hired from Asia.

1) Expectations were too high. You're not going to get Western design skills, creative skills, from the majority of Asians. If they have those kind of outstanding skills, they're probably working for multinational corporations like Google or Microsoft. It's a tiny minority.

2) Discipline with Asian freelancers is difficult. Because your boss is on the other side of the ocean. As I say they're trained to be employees, where if you're late, you get reprimanded. If you don't show up to work, you get harassed by your fellow coworkers. If you get fired from a job, your family harasses you. But when you doing freelance work, the things that keep people in line, are not present.

3) There is a major communications gap between Asian people and Westerners. Westerners talk based upon their experience, and have expectations based upon their experience. These do not align with the Asian culture. There needs to be compromise, oversight, understanding, tight control, and regular feedback.
A typical example is if you hired a computer programer. If you do not know programming yourself, you also need to find someone who can review the work of this Asian programmer, to make sure it's what you want. In every type of work these people need closer supervision than Westerners. They're comfortable with close supervision.

4) You need to have a detailed plan and everything spelled out. If you working with people from India, and I do on a daily basis, you need to be extremely explicit. It's impossible to have too many details in the instructions. Because that's their culture. That's what they're comfortable with. That's what they need. If you don't provide them with a good plan, the results will be unpredictable.


 2:15 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Many people talk about this but few people are doing this or at least doing it to a large scale so there is a lot of misconceptions floating around.

> Outsourcing does not mean offshore. You can outsource to American or European people.

> Overseas is not necessarily the cheapest option. A year or two years ago a person ran a real test to see which country would accept the lowest pay for a defined transcription task. Americans were willing to work for a much lower rate. I think that speaks more to the idea of desperate people in any country will accept any job if they need the money bad enough.

> You are not limited to the opportunity in the country you are born within or living within. If you know SEO you can buy a domain for any country, target any country (except maybe North Korea), make it rank and plug in an affiliate program or some other revenue stream. You can also open up bank accounts in many different countries. Being located in certain countries may give you wider options but there is plenty of opportunity in any country. Don't underestimate the power of a smart people. If someone can't figure out how to make themselves rich, you might wonder why you think they can make you rich?

> Every country has great talent for just about every service. You personally might have a hard time discovering it, but it exists. Worried about good content in English? There are many native English speakers that have moved overseas and willing to work. There are many foreign born people that taught themselves English and write it much better than me (just look at this horribly written post for proof). Of course it is easier to find a good writer of English language content in English speaking countries but I probably wouldn't want most Welsh men writing content for Texas cowboys.

> Personally I prefer to compartmentalize. This lowers the risk of my outsourcing person from stealing my business since they will never know the entire business. It also helps with quality control. By assigning them specific tasks, I can monitor it more easily and make sure it is being done properly.

> Don't assume anything. Actually you can assume one thing - that eventually the worst case will happen. Don't assume the content isn't stolen. Don't assume your long time outsource person will not cheat you. Don't assume the outsourcing person is not outsourcing it to someone else. You are dealing with strangers that 99% of the time you will never meet. There is no loyalty so you should keep your guard up. It is much safer to plan for the worst and be surprised when the best happens.

> Outsourcing and offshore can work, you just need to be very careful. There are many, many different ways of handling outsourcing. I have been doing it for years and I still learn new things. I would not call it easy but the nice thing is that it is scalable.


 3:33 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Remember this:

When it becomes easy, everybody does it. And when everybody does it, google diminishes the value of if (through Panda, Penguin, etc.,)

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men."



 3:51 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

> make it rank and plug in an affiliate program or some other revenue stream.

This was the case a while ago with affiliate marketing. However is much more difficult now. Many of these affiliate programs are only available to first world markets.

Based on the advice of Sugar Rae, I choose to limit my work in affiliate marketing.

> You can also open up bank accounts in many different countries.
I can tell you have not tried this in a while. Uncle Sam has made it very difficult for Americans to open bank accounts in most countries. The reporting and restrictions are too much for most banks. If you are not a citizen of the country in which you are opening the bank account, there are certain restrictions and identity requirements. It is clearly a hassle.

Even with a foreign bank account, there are severe limitations to what you can do with it. Large institutions like PayPal, may let you connect, depending on what country you're in and what business you're in. But they're going to monitor and restrict your transfers. It's not like USA.

But hey, if you've got more ideas, I like to hear them.


 5:14 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

I didn't say it was easy. You forgot to mention the headaches of dealing with taxes and different governmental regulations when you cross borders. If you are smart and there is enough profit to be made, just about any hassle can be overcome.

creative craig

 9:56 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

We have been working with international clients for the last 7 years and we have found it relatively straight forward regarding the admin side of the business.

Luckily we tend to deal with only three or four countries so our processes our fairly streamlined etc.. But if a client is unsure on how they should pay us regarding taxes in their own country we can offer some basic advice to them as we have probably worked with companies from their country in the past.


 11:03 am on May 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have looked at some of the SEO Content writers out there.

FWIW - I have received quotes from several reputable South Asian SEO firms for content writing and they openly admit they will only use native writers outside of their countries as the standard just isn't there to support SEO. They do a lot of work for big brands. Of course there may be exceptions - but don't go offshore for written content IMO

Even with UX/UI design, some countries just don't seem to have a clue - there's a gaping hole in how the system and culture considers what "looks good".

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