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Telling Customers about Time it takes to Rank

being honest about expectations

     

dvduval

1:34 am on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I could once easily predict how long it would take for their new site to start ranking in Google. There was a predictable cycle. Generally, within 2-3 months they could count on having their site indexed and even ranking for things like their company name or unique product. Now I don't know what to tell them. Here are a few comments I have made to customers recently:

1) "Honestly, it is going to be at least a year for you to see any decent results unless you purchase Google Adwords. Google is pretty much a Pay Per Click search engine now, unless you've been around for a year or more."
2) "I realize it has been 6 months and you have spent over $20,000 on your site. Unfortunately, no amount of money is going to make you rank in the "pure" results. I sincerely apologize for telling you that I thought it would be 2-3 months. I was wrong."
3) "You are asking when your site will start making money? I have no clue, because there is this mysterious "sandbox effect" going on at Google. I know my answer sounds like "smoke and mirrors", but I mean this sincerely, and I don't know how long it will take for things to change."
4) "I'm very disappointed that you have decided to stop using my services and instead are now using spamtheseachengines.com. I've tried to market your site using knowledge I've gained with over 6 years of experience, and unfortunately there is a major delay in seeing the results that I expected. I still believe you are going to benefit, even though spamthesearchengines.com is going to get all the credit."

What are you telling your customers?

Total Paranoia

11:07 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Scarecrow pointed to one section of the interview. If you read the whole interview, you will see that they were talking about hidden text and cloaking. However, I do find that comment by Larry Page very interesting, and a bit worrying.

pleeker

11:08 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



s the sandbox effect in some way adding value to the search results?

To the degree that it keeps out the garbage sites that launch with no content and 10k incoming links, yes. And if it means the other sites have to wait for a couple months before getting in the SERPs, so be it. Back in the day ('97-98) we used to tell clients it was a minimum of 6-9 months before they'd start to see traffic from AltaVista, Excite, WebCrawler, etc. Things are much better now.

Should I tell my customers to invest in Google stock or buy Adwords? Or should I tell them that the behemoth Microsoft has awakened and to sit tight while we keep adding quality to their site?

I don't know of any business owner who, when seeking to increase revenue, market share, ROI, whatever, would appreciate being told to "sit tight", especially for something that falls squarely under the realm of the unknown.

I also don't think you should tell them to invest in Google stock unless you're licensed and qualified to provide investment advice. :)

If you're in the SEO/web development business, you should tell your customers what you know about SE rankings and ask what their goals are (which should actually be asked first). If those goals include immediate traffic from Google, you should tell them about AdWords. If keeping your clients is important, your personal animosity toward Google should have no impact on what you tell them; if they expect traffic from that source, it's your job to help them get it, or they'll find someone else who can.

drall

11:10 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Aol will shed its relationship with G in the next 12 months and partner with Overture/Yahoo just as CNN did which is by the way owned by the same parent company.

So Yahoo is already in the door, this will conclude the end of the two major outlets for G, first the exposure from Yahoo lost and soon to be Aol.

I wouldnt be surprised if in less then 18 months G closely resembles Yahoos business model, its on the way there already.

Of course I may be wrong in which case I owe all of you a great big slurpee:)

pleeker

11:11 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Google has decided that if you
1. provide original quality content
2. make it spiderable
3. provide descriptive titles and
4. get lots inbound links from related sites
you are trying to manipulate their results.

Have to disagree Powdork. That continues to be a good recipe for success with Google. But I do think if you try too hard at those things, Google considers that an attempt to manipulate results. The issue isn't what you do, it's how and to what degree you do it.

we may just decide not to fight and place our allegiances elsewhere.

Yep, the same risk any business faces.

merlin30

11:15 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Yes there is competition - and that is taking place.

But the SEs aren't competing for webmasters - they are competing for users - so they can shove advertising in front of them. That's the game they are all in - and probably many contributors to this forum.

The same accusations that are being made about Google only wanting to get users to click on Adwords can be levelled against Yahoo & Overture. It's no different.

But I'll accept that model any day of the week.

I want users of my website to click through the advertising on my site. But if I want that then I'd better make sure my website gives something back to the user. That's called adding value and is the basis of any long term business plan.

If I can't offer anything of value to the user then why I do I deserve the user in the first place? On the other hand if I do offer something of (true) value to the user then I will attract users back.

Merely reverse engineering a search algorithm is not adding value for the end user.

Are you a destination or a detour?

It's time to look beyond SEO.

dvduval

11:25 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



If keeping your clients is important, your personal animosity toward Google should have no impact on what you tell them; if they expect traffic from that source, it's your job to help them get it, or they'll find someone else who can.

My purpose for starting this thread has everything to do with customers, yet I'm not sure I'm getting too many positive suggestions...rather it seems people are either defending the sandbox effect, or talking about other search engines.

I've always been a big fan of Google, and still am, but I will admit an increased level of dissatisfaction out of problems arising from the sandbox effect.

So, what are you telling your customers about the time it takes to rank? And...what is your typical plan for a new customer?

peter andreas

11:44 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'd tell them not to expect instant results and to be in it for the long term. Go for quality rather than the latest tricks to get short term high positions (which probaly won't work anymore anyway). Personallly speaking I think that the search engine experience is far better than this time last year. The top 10 results were littered with cloacked and other dodgy sites. Like anything in life you have to work at it.

pleeker

11:53 pm on Sep 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



My purpose for starting this thread has everything to do with customers, yet I'm not sure I'm getting too many positive suggestions...rather it seems people are either defending the sandbox effect, or talking about other search engines.

I've always been a big fan of Google, and still am, but I will admit an increased level of dissatisfaction out of problems arising from the sandbox effect.

So, what are you telling your customers about the time it takes to rank? And...what is your typical plan for a new customer?

Sorry, dvduval. I've tried to be as helpful as possible in replying to questions about what I tell my clients and you might tell yours (starting with msg. #23). I think there is quite a bit of good feedback throughout this thread about talking to customers about the current situation with Google.

dvduval

12:55 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Ok, yes I see your message at #23 now...
I have definitely worked with my customers to get links and build content. Most of the new ones have somewhere between 1500 and 4000 pages indexed by Google, good navigation structure, and around 100 links from external sites. And they indeed are now spending more money on Adwords and Overture, and less money on building more quality content. I am managing several PPC accounts right now for new customers. I'm sure my situation is not very unique. I'm just trying to come up with some answers for my customers about the so called "natural" results. I'm not really getting an answer on this, so I am trying to find alternatives like email marketing, non-web advertising, advertising on other sites and other search engines.

nuclei

1:16 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have to ask, but why would you tell them to not build quality content and stop at a meager 100 links? 100 links wont make a dent in any competitive keyword.

dvduval

2:04 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Nuclei, I am just saying that more emphasis is being placed on PPC than building more pages of quality content. We are still building links and content, but there is less budget to do this, because more has to be placed in advertising, meaning the sites will probably remain at a lower pure rank for even longer. :(

osfp

2:29 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)



I see that all the google disappointed webmasters creating now new threads with alternative search engines, come on guys now, look at your logs ,who brings you traffic ,its only Google,believe it or not Google will stay for long time the only accurate SE and as about the sandbox who gives a cr....p I have a lot of new sites deep deep down since 6-7 months now ,so what one day they will come up.

lexipixel

3:24 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I see that all the google disappointed webmasters creating now new threads with alternative search engines, come on guys now, look at your logs ,who brings you traffic ,its only Google,believe it or not Google will stay for long time the only accurate SE and as about the sandbox who gives a cr....p

-ospf

For most of my customers' sites, the logs show search engines referrals are coming from:

1. Yahoo
2. MSN
3. Google

This was NOT true about 6 months ago, most came from Google. These days I count Google as an "also ran".

Aside from the drop in referrals, (which I suspect is due to more people clicking ads on Google than pure search results).

Worse, I also find Google no longer gives me the quality results it used to, (again, I believe this is planned and due to Adsense ads).

Think about it --- if Google can make money by getting people to click ads, the best way they can increase the CTR is put the ads up against lousy search results.

I had set Google as the default home page in browser settings, (and whenever I set up a customer's computer I would change the default to Google)... No longer.

Lately I am going to Yahoo!, (and sending others there too).

Google is playing Russian Roulette in my opinion. They will only be able to live off the media hype and IPO buzz for so long before there are no "searchers" left to click ads.

Powdork

5:01 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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



Mature site, ranks #1 for main keywords across all engines.
Google 36% of referrals
Yahoo 29%
MSN 16%

Sandboxed Domain, 3.5 months old.
Yahoo 7.6%
Google 3.2%
MSN 1.8%
Yahoo's visitors are averaging 8 pageviews per visit while google's are averaging 3 pageviews.

Looking at this it occurs to me that i should wait a bit longer before I completely give up on the big G.

sean

5:29 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I am trying to find alternatives like email marketing, non-web advertising, advertising on other sites and other search engines.

Sounds like at least one bright spot with long-lasting benefits, no?

copongcopong

5:36 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



i think we better off to be web marketers instead of sticking to SEO professionals for SEO is a moving target controlled by SE.

dvduval

5:37 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Sounds like at least one bright spot with long-lasting benefits, no?

Yes, I've already found some nice alternatives to spending money with Google in the last few hours. I'm convinced there are higher ROIs than Adwords and Overture if you think outside the box. (no pun intended)

(plus I just don't want to support the Adwords Effect..I mean sandbox effect..at least not until I understand better what is going on overall, like how long it will last)

pleeker

6:14 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Think about it --- if Google can make money by getting people to click ads, the best way they can increase the CTR is put the ads up against lousy search results.

Are you serious?

Think about it: Lousy search results = no users. No users = no more advertisers = no revenue.

peter andreas

6:24 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm missing something I think. We honestly have no issues with google (both as a user and as people who have a website) I have never clicked adwords or felt forced to do so and google gives us more traffic by far. Also our Yahoo serps are very very similar to Google. It isn't that bad surely, OK pages don't have any green bars on top of them for a while but they still rank?

lorenzinho2

6:28 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



< These days I count Google as an "also ran".

whatever you're smoking, bring some of it to vegas.

Essex_boy

6:37 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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



Youve got to agree its heading that way at the very least.

pmkpmk

7:57 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Massive swings in the algo will be constant now to stimulate adwords sales which is there sole source of revenue.

If your assumption is true, how does that fit with "Don't be evil"?

grandpa

8:28 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



So, what are you telling your customers about the time it takes to rank? And...what is your typical plan for a new customer?

I told him NOT to expect much from Santa Claus this year, but for next year he should be set. We're still talking. I know mine will be low budget, but I want him to learn about AdWords and Overture. The right keyword could make a good impression.

I let him know that I'll continue to work on his ranking and <other stuff>, and that support comes with a fee.

Otherwise I've built a 15 page site and its off to play my new djembe until the next guy calls.

petehall

10:32 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



AdWords are a nice concept... but when you realise that you'll only get 20 visitors per day for a popular keyword, no matter how much money you have to spend... it all seems a bit pointless.

Now number 1 on SERPs for the same phrase... that delivers results.

Luckily we are number 1 and always have been, on all phrases.

We have tried AdWords in addition to SERPs to further enhance traffic, but with 100 per day spend (a whopping 50 visitors) the increase was not even noticeable!

I worry about this model...

Overture seem to have the right idea, with PPC in the SERPs at the top. SERPs are clicked on and very effective. AdWords, I'm afraid, are not!

osfp

10:58 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)



but imagine if you are #1 in the serps for a very very very competitive term and you are such an idiot you haven't yet apply to adsence....well i just applied today....what an idiot i am i was.;

Namaste

11:33 am on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I'm surprised at all this talk of "google dosen't owe us anything".

Google applies the classic "reverse billing" model. In this model, instead of collecting revenue forward, revenue is collected from consumers in reverse:
1. Google bills adwords merchants
2. Adword merchants collect revenue from consumers
3. Consumers suitably subsidise adword merchants
4. Google attracts consumers through content
5. Websites supply content to google

Google is a business and google does make a profit.

What would happen if the major websites formed a consortium and stopped google from indexing their pages unless google pays them?

the_nerd

12:17 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



What would happen if the major websites formed a consortium and stopped google from indexing their pages unless google pays them?

nice one. Lets extend robots exclusion standard by adding the price for every page spidered ;-)

merlin30

12:22 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



What do you think Google Adsense is for?

rfgdxm1

1:01 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



>If your assumption is true, how does that fit with "Don't be evil"?

Because Greed is Good.

randle

1:14 pm on Sep 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I think the real question regarding the sanbox is "why". Some say it doesn't exist, others say 60 to 90 days and your out, still others pontificate its all a function of just poor SEO.

Well the fact is for me, and most others in this industry the thing most definitely exits. I am not down on Google because of it due to the fact I don't know why it has emerged. I don't think the reason is to drive up Adwords revenue but it might be. It's possible the point of it is to make auto generated spam sites unprofitable due to the long start up phase. However I doubt this because those sites live on obscure terms and they do not seem to bear the real brunt of the box. Could it just be the unintended result of some other change that was instituted?

I think some good fundamental questions to think about and discuss would be;

1. Why has this thing emerged?

2. How does it function?

Understand it better and you will have your answer as to what you say to your customers regarding it.

This 138 message thread spans 5 pages: 138
 

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