Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: buckworks

Message Too Old, No Replies

Is site search engine optimization + pay per click really worth while?

Small business owner just searching for advice, input.



7:19 am on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Forgive me for sounding kind of flakey by posting this. I am a small net business owner and I am looking for a little reassurance. I thought that perhaps some kind souls here might give me a listen.

I have been running a small ecommerence site since about 2000. So far the photos on it and HTML have been done by myself.

In the last two years I have been making a fair living selling the items I make. However, I know that my business has potential to go farther in sales.

Last year I approached a local web development firm. They said they could optimize my site for search engines and get me into google pay per click promotions.

I had long discussions with them and already knew that if I can get more page visits I may sell more items. The more items I sell the more new ones I can add.

However, here is the hitch. The cost quoted is $1,900 (sounds reasonable) BUT I have been unemployed for over a month and severely depressed to the point to where I can't even get up the fortitude to look for a job. I am a 33 year old living in a strange town who's sole income is now the net biz.

Can you guys give me a boost of confidence?

Are there any small net biz owners here, like me, who have successes or failures with web optimization and pay per click?

What are the Pros and Cons? What are they and why?

Please forgive my groveling. I am just a small businessman who works out of his home. Not a professional.

Right now $1,900 is a huge sum of cash to come up with but not impossible for me to get. However, I am very leery about parting with that kind of cash.

What may I realistically expect to gain from site optimization? Is the increased web traffic immediate or will it take some months to accomplish?

I am not seeking for free professional tech services here. Just some friendly advice and encouragement from those in the "mom and pop" community.

If you don't wish to post feel free to email me. You will not get spammed!




7:43 am on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Darren,

Welcome to Webmaster World! I am also a business owner such as yourself. I built my website and maintain it as well. Sales are slow but ever increasing and I am confident that this trend will continue.

I tried putting myself in your shoes. Currently my husband is also unemployed and while I still have my day job I am looking to expand my business to help make ends meet. Spending $1,900 would not be an option for me now.

Consider that even though your business is Internet based, you can still market your product locally with success. My local sales are higher than my Internet sales. I'd like that to change but the local customer have the benefit of actually seeing my product in real life. I'm actually getting positive word of mouth advertising this way. The website acts as my "catalog" in a way.

Finally, I would say try not to be afraid to expand your product line. My secondary products actually sell better online than my primary. My primary products attract a lot of people who are do-it-yourselfers who come to my site to see my designs. I'd like it if they sold better but right now they at least drive traffic to my site.

Things will look better for you. For me, I'm trying to increase the links to my site and I work on my pages daily. Sometimes I work about 95% on my website and 5% on my product! Good Luck to you.


1:07 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Welcome to WebmasterWorld Darren!

I run a couple of small sites selling a variety of products and I think that the basis for success is hard work. If I was you I would start writing articles about your product, it's history, it's use, apllication in different businesses / homes. You could add customer quotes, which are known to help convert visitors into buyers.

What about going out and looking for links? Have you got links on JoeAnt.com, GoGuides.org, DMOZ.org, Zeal.com? These are all cheap / free and will bring you a steady stream of traffic and backlinks. The best things about any of this is that it is simple to do yourself, it just takes time. If you set aside an hour or so everyday to write an article or product review you'll soon find your traffic and sales increasing.

Just my 2 cents worth.


1:10 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I really have to say, if you are a small biz owner, it would be in your own best intrest to make this a DIY.

SEO and PPC is not as difficult as many people think, especially when you have a resource like webmasterworld that can virtually teach you step by step how to do it. We are a medium size company and we still opted to do it inhouse because the risk and cost of hiring an outside company was too much. I would say try doing it yourself before you go to an outside firm.

It has been my experience (and I am not even from a small biz) that 9 out of 10 companies that say they do SEO and PPC know so little about it that it will hurt you more than help you. That's not to say that there aren't good companies out there but you said you approached them. What's to say they didn't just talk among themselves and say "Hey, that doesn't look so tough."

If you do decide to go with an outside firm, make sure you ask for refrences and examples. And make sure you call those refrences.


2:05 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

PPC is great because you only pay for the traffic you receive - depending on the cost of the keywords you require can you estimate how many visitors to your site your 1900 would bring?

I have optimised and do PPC for a few clients - and non can bear to move away from the PPC once they have started, optimised traffic can fluctuate.

[edited by: engine at 8:40 pm (utc) on Jan. 19, 2004]


2:14 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Darren, try to start a small Google Adwords campaign limited to a couple of dollars a day. After a week or two you will see the potential of search engines for your business. Using AdWords conversion tracking you can also test the conversion rate of your web site. Than you can make further decission based on real results.


2:39 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ewhisper is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

For a small buiness owner, who has the time to study and learn, I'd do it yourself over giving someone that money (and this coming from one of those 'agencies').

Read the AdWords and Overture forums very carefully, and check out their libraries. Go for very small bids (don't get caught up in the bidding wars - you can still get results from the minumum bids).

Use the free conversion counters that they provide so you can see what is working for you.

This post: [webmasterworld.com...] has a lot of free directory submission on it.

And of course, add content every day. Write articles about your products, the search engines love text and content - you can't have ever have enough content.


7:24 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello, all,

Looks like I will have a lot of work ahead of me.

Thanks for the replys. :)

I am not able to sell my products locally and about 2-3 orders per year come from my state.

My area is pretty much economically depressed. There is "no money" where I live. Job market stinks.

However, I do sales on eBay from time to time. :) But it has significantly on the decreased over the past several months. :(

I may be able to do some of that web stuff by myself but the depression is making it impossible for me to concentrate. I am seeking help.

Here is a break down of their proposal;
Website redevelopment $990.00
Search Engine Optimization $500.00
Pay-Per-Click $500.00

Here is what I would get;
* Search Engine Optimization

* Research / Link Requests / Developing Linking Copy (what exatly is that and how do I do it?)

* On page optimization of titles, link text, and headings

* Directory Listings in 5 most popular search engines.

Can I really do this myself?

All for $1900.

I say $1900 but the quote is for $1990. I have already made some adjustments and have planned to do more this week when I am able.

Any help I can get will be great. For some reason my sales are way down opposed to last January but page visits are up.

Living off my biz and a credit card now is not good.



8:19 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Let's break it down a little:

Here is what I would get;
* Search Engine Optimization

* Research / Link Requests / Developing Linking Copy (what exatly is that and how do I do it?)

* On page optimization of titles, link text, and headings

* Directory Listings in 5 most popular search engines.

Can I really do this myself?

All for $1900.

No, not all for $1900 ($1990). Because that's just the setup for the site. It doesn't work that way, then there would come monthly maintenance to really do it right.

>>Research / Link Requests / Developing Linking Copy (what exatly is that and how do I do it?)

You just sit down and read through the Link Development Forum [webmasterworld.com].

Linking copy is what you'll write in emails for link requests and what you'll put as the title and description for links to your site. And it shouldn't all be the same; there's no way to know whether they know that or not, but now you know it. It could mean submitting to FFA's or guestbooks or "whatever" - that needs to be made clear from the get-go.

>>* Directory Listings in 5 most popular search engines.

What 5? There's Google that uses ODP, there's MSN which doesn't have a directory, there's AOL - just about anyplace we look we keep coming back to ODP - which is what most of them use, and if you read through our Directories forum you'll see that there's no guarantee if and when ODP inclusion happens. And then there's the Yahoo Directory which costs $299 per year.

OK, that's for the U.S. - there are country specific directories that may have local value but here we're talking just a few that search engines use. Two - Yahoo and ODP.

>>* On page optimization of titles, link text, and headings

That will not do it, that's part of it but there's a lot more.


$500 to set it up for you, or what? How about paying for the clicks? How long will it take to burn through whatever clicks you'll get figuring part of that is their fee for setting it up?

So now that we've dispensed with those we're left with re-designing the whole site and "search engine optimization" whatever that will include for $1,990, if they're listing link text, titles and headings as an item.

That's one time, what happens after that and how much will it cost after? That's the part that's bothering me, because after you fork out that much cash, what happens if the site needs some more work to move up in rankings?

Mind you, they may be a fabulous company, there's no way we can know one way or another, and we certainly don't want to know. But a few of those items are incorrect enough - just the Directory thing alone - so it makes the whole thing need further clarification.

If $1,990 is a heavy burden now you'll be between a rock and a hard place and whole lot poorer if it'll end up with you needing to pay more.

By the way, conventional wisdom says that when someone is depressed it's a bad time to make major decisions, so taking care of that is probably more important than making a panic move with a website.

You've hit paydirt by finding us here at WebmasterWorld. Just relax, sit down and do a bit of reading - and don't allow yourself to feel overwhelmed. It all starts to sink in and make sense, and then you'll be in a much better position to move ahead.

You most certainly can learn to do it on your own, many do. We all start with knowing nothing to begin with. It just takes a bit of time, so count it a blessing that you now have the time available. You'll find it very personally rewarding in the long run - you'll get there!


8:37 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

To me that seems cheap, which means they either:
1 Do not know what they are doing. or
2 Are desperate (your local area)

You CAN do it yourself. It is not difficult. Take a little bit at a time, a bit every day.

Reread what Marcia has said. She has it right. The offer is very vague, and sounds... well wrong.

Best of Luck!


11:06 am on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi Darren,

Welcome to Webmaster World! SEO is certainly worthwhile as it will give you free traffic, the question is how much you should pay for it.

How soon you will see results really depends on how high a PR your site has got in Google, and how often Google refreshes your site. If your site has got a high PR and Google refreshes every few days, you will see results immediately. However most sites are only refreshed once a month or so.

If your site has got a low PR, then you are not going to get great results however good the SEO work is. The PR depends mainly on links to your site and I suspect that since your site had been around for some time, there should be a number of links to it.

Whether PPC is worthwhile depends very much on the particular industry and products you are selling. You must track the results carefully or else you may end up losing money. We are spending around $2000-3000 per month but it is far from certain whether we are making money out of it. Whatever you do, avoid banner, pop-up and pop-unders advertising.

Best of Luck!



1:36 pm on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Darren

Very brave post, if I may say so.

I wish I had the advice you have been offered in this forum when I set out in 1998, please profit from my spent cash.

I started out knowing nothing and I know the Black Dog very well, nuff said.

Every time I paid someone to do something for me it didn't work. When I researched over and over and did it myself it did work ( but modestly)

Find a real nice clean layout of a simple HTML page and copy the format. No tricks, no flash etc etc. And write a damn good page of stuff you really know about and write it from the heart. Be honest and truthful and just ask " If I read this would I get up off my ass and do something"

Web page design is about direct copy advertising---nothing else. You only have one objective, Convince them to get there wallet out. Tell em how much it will hurt them if they don't!

You must convert, nothing else matters until you have a page that converts like stink. Then get the people to come.

Write 10 versions of your page and show them to as many strangers as you can, not your friends, they will lie to make you feel good. Just ask them out right, Do any of these make you want to BUY? Nothing else will do.

Tell your story on the page if it is relevant to the product but don't ask for sympathy. Dignity and honesty sells.

If you want people to come use Adwords first. I tried it once and screwed it up. I bought a course for about $40 and a lightbulb went on in my head, I will share the name if you want it but I don't think I am meant to post it up here. I am not an affiliate of this guy, I have nothing to gain by recommending it but it worked for me. only pay $0.05 for clicks, bottom feeding has it's own dignity.

Almost instant traffic that you can test your copy writing skills on and switch it off if you haven't got it right. Test, Test, Test. Your first effort will be Ok but not brilliant. Don't work just polish it.

Then come back and work on links etc, etc

We currently make about 300 sales a month. It can work.

Get help with your Black Dog today, please. If you broke your leg you would be down in the docs like a flash. You broke a little bit of your brain chemistry, get it fixed.

Wishing you all the luck in the world.


6:01 pm on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Lots of good advice given here, and I will reiterate: do it yourself. You need to take control of all aspects of your website and its marketing. You should begin two things at once, site optimization for natural search results; and, you should begin a PPC (pay per click) campaign for very target keyword phrases that people use to search for your type of product(s). This should generate you some traffic and hopefully orders while you make site modifications and seek reciprocal links from similar subject matter sites. You've already taken the first, most important step - you joined a forum and information source where people congregate that can help you. I'd also recommend Search Engine Watch. Good luck.


7:42 pm on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think all the advice is good, I would work on turning some more of the visitors into buyers. Allow people to subscribe to your newsletter, even if you do not have one yet. Describe it as a quarterly newletter. It will give you time to build up a subscriber base prior to figuring out and puting the work into the writing and setting up your mailing system. There are reasonalbly priced software, $100 to $200 that will point you in the right direction and reduce some of the workload related to SEO and developing a linking program. I used them fairly heavily when I first started trying to generate sales off my site, now that I have about year of SEO and linking under my belt I use them less.

Good luck it can be done.


8:11 pm on Jan 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


The web development firm gave you something
very valuable for *free*.

A game plan.

It seems reasonable. It is broken into
segments, which means that you can tackle
each one as a separate job. While it may
not have as much detail as you would like,
it is still a reasonable plan.

If you do it yourself, you might want
to remember their kindness in the future.



6:58 am on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks, everyone for the great words of encouragement and advise. This thread was indeed priceless and I see it as a major milestone in my life. No kidding! :)

Since reading the first replys to my post I have been very motivated on renovating my site.

Almost every other night I have worked 4 - 7 hours on finding and fixing glitches, making changes to my site copy and links.

I also stopped putting off re-photographing my stuff and did the bulk of it within a week, rearranged the architecture of how my pages are linked together and fixed all of my Paypal shopping cart buttons.

The new images make a big difference on how people see my products.

Site itsself is vastly improved but still more work has to be done.

Fixing the Paypal shopping cart buttons has already increased my business, it may seem, and possibly have improved potential customer's view of my credability. Had I known that some were not working for so long perhaps I would have more pocket money now.

Man, that HTML that they have you insert really can screw up other things!

Later, with help from you at this forum, I will start on PPC and other things you guys said will work for me.

Everything seems to be much easier for me to accomplish now that I know that there are people willing to help me.

You do not know how much your replys mean to me.

I will definately be hanging out around here in the future and asking questions. :)

You helping me is very much appreciated.




10:17 am on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It is great to hear things are going in the right direction. We all love to hear good news. Keep up the good work.


10:27 pm on Jan 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


It's good that you consider your finding of WebmasterWorld as milestone, because you're probably right. Everything happens for a reason, so think of this as the change in your life you are looking for. Let it be your motivation to make your life better, and let your motivation take you and your business as far as it can. I look forward to hearing your success stories in the future.



4:50 am on Jan 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ewhisper is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The web development firm gave you something
very valuable for *free*.

A game plan.

plumsauce is very correct.

This is a great place, even if you don't have questions, to sit and read to get inspiration of changes to make you'd never have thought of - I can't imagine drinking my morning coffee without reading new posts.


8:39 am on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

There's a program called Zeus and I'm not sure of it's cost but it's basically a bot. You set it up to search the web for sites that use the same keywords and then you take those url's and set up reciprocal links with like sites. I don't know much about the program and all it's features, I'm just passing on what was told to me by my brother. <snip> Hope this post is not construed to be out of context (ie advertising). It could be seen as slightly off topic but I think the end result here is to get traffic and well...

[edited by: engine at 11:48 am (utc) on Jan. 26, 2004]
[edit reason] See Terms Of Service [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]


9:10 am on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Darren,

Zeus is one of the products I was refering to earlier, but there are at least a couple of similar products that are in the running.

In my experience, one man operating website, selling phyical product, Software tools are essential. Three tools are essential, page design tool, SEO tool and linking tool. In my experince the paid ones are worth the money, but there are many free ones that others swear by. The tools are listed in priority in order. Don't worry about getting the best get a good one that fits your working style. You can search this site to get a good overview, than download a (trial/demo if they don't provide one walk on by. I am not sure if Dreamweaver and frontpage have demos but they are common enough that you should be able to find one to test drive.)one use it for 20 hours or so and try another that your research made sound good.


11:18 am on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Please bear in mind that if you use one of these link programs you need to be careful as to who you link to and who links back.

Recent changes at Google mean that it is no longer a case of getting as many inbound links with good anchor text (the text inside the link). If you were to get loads of inbound links with the same anchor text to the same url, you will run the risk of getting penalised by Google for being over-optimized. A lot of people have been caught out by these changes including myself. :-(

It may be an idea for you to read through the Google forum and make sure you have a fair understanding of what is going on. If you play by the rule books you'll be grand. Just my 2 pence worth ...


11:47 am on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Please read this thread before considering such programs. [webmasterworld.com]


7:52 am on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Darren, Just wanted to say keep up the good work. It will pay off, even if it doesn't seem to do so overnight.

Reading your post reminded me of some others where multiple posters who now have very successful e-commerce sites started with just a few sales a month. The point of that whole thread, for me, was that if you have found something that you have had any success with (any success at all), even just a sale or two, that you are on to something good and buildable/scalable. And that if you just tweak every little part of it, it can end up being very very good. It also seemed from those posts as though getting the first few sales was not as easy, or as common as one would think. So it seems like you have the hardest part behind you, you have a model that works. Just keep tweaking it. You can do it. Sorry I looked and cannot find the thread I mention above.


5:08 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It can't be said enough: do it yourself. This also can't be said enough: keep it simple, keep it tight, keep it true.

From the sound of things, you already have a site that's at the least keeping the light bill paid. Mate, pat yourself on the back for that alone.

That also means that you're already doing plenty of things right. And you've been tweaking and getting in your pages to tighten up some code here, fix some errors there. You're covering your bases. They may seem like small fixes, but if a code fix here ups your conversion by even a percent, then that's 1% more than you saw last month.

Some other suggestions...

- what is your competition doing? Who makes a similar product? Are they a similar size business? Check out their site, look at their features and organization - not so you can rip them off, mind you, but to get ideas for how you can make your site work better for your customers. What elements does your competition use, that might benefit your site as well (newsletter, email to a friend, etc.)?

- take a good, hard long look at your content. You want quality content, on targeted pages. Do your title tags describe the page well? Could a page be split in 2 and refocused? What else about your product or business would make good, relevant content for your customers?

- Don't fret about the size of your site, focus on the quality of it instead. If you have focused content, tags, etc for what's on each page, that will go miles in SERPs. I once worked with a small biz client who wanted to get in on the web, had a microscopic budget but knew the value of at least getting a presence online. We decided to make him a one-page website. One page. We kept the copy tight and highly focused on what he did; ever since, he's been coming up high under relevant terms and has been getting inquiries and orders from around the US and abroad.

- Further to that, your local area might be depressed, but keep in mind that your site gives you and your product a much farther reach.

- these threads are from a while back, but still dang relevant: Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com] and Search Engine Theme Pyramids [searchengineworld.com]

I'd read these first, and see how you can incorporate the ideas into your business. Save your money - I don't want to try to speak for anyone, but I'd say we're betting you can make more dosh on your own. Just keep at it - and remember too, that you've already come a long way.


Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month