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Doing SEO for other webmasters

Does it harm or help?

     
12:28 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Is doing SEO for other webmasters, web designers, developers or programmers useful or it does more harm overall? The SEO can be for their own sites or for sites of their clients.

The apparent advantage is that they would refer you more clients since they have them in numbers so it makes working with them sound good. On the other hand, fellow webmasters are usually the clients with most number of questions about the finer details of SEO and considering the fact that once they realize the benefits of SEO, sooner or later they themselves learn the things and get on with it themselves.

I have come across many instances which suggests that it does more harm than good and the benefits are only for short-term :

1. Many webmasters ask you all the details like what you'll be doing etc. before they give you the final confirmation. Nothing wrong as long as it is done with good intent. However, I have come across a case where the webmaster of the site tried to get every single detail from me about my intended promotional efforts, even sent me an email that I could begin the work and they would send the payment. Unfortunately, that day never came and he doesn't reply to my further emails now, though I see that every single change I suggested has been done and incorporated into the site.

2. In another case, a client for whom I developed a totally new site and had got him good rankings for it. After sometime I noticed that he has changed the basic coding and structure of his existing site to the one I developed and started submitting it to all places I did. Considering SEO is not as difficult as it seems and someone with an intelligent mind can do it easily, I lost further business from the client which he promised me earlier.

What have been the experiences of other SEO members here? Do they prefer working with web designers or directly with the enduser?

If you feel that it is advantageous than how do you take care of the risks?

12:42 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The one thing you are forgeting about SEO is that it is a constantly changing monster. Look at this month's google update. Things have changed. Not long ago it was google who? Lots of things have changed and so much more will change.

SEO is about information and research. Sure your clients can copy you now but three months from now they could be booted. This is something you have to let your clients know. Educate them about some of the history of the business. Let them know about permanent bans and PR0. Their really is a little magic behind the curtian, it is just constant research and experience.

Also make sure that you get contracts so that once all of your tricks are out of the bag your clients won't bail on you. I think what you are describing is very previalent in the SEO business. I think detialed work contracts are a necesity no matter how technically savvy your clients are.

1:00 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I work with a number of different webmasters and hosts. I send them clients, they send me clients. Most of the webmasters I know care very little for SEO and prefer to outsource the SEO.

If the webmasters started stealing my clients I'd end that business relationship. ;) They get to steal one client and never see another referral from me again.

In my experience clients are more apt to want to become SEOs than webmasters. I sign on for 6 months when I optimize a site and after the 6 months are up I do get clients that want to continue the optimization process by themselves. Some of them do quite well, others are back in a few months wanting to sign a new contract. On sites that develop lots of new content SEO can be quite time consuming. :)

I've also found that if you help a client develop content, work with them on marketing the site in other mediums, develop newsletters, suggest link partners, etc, that they are much more likely to renew contracts. The majority of webmasters aren't marketers and while they may grasp SEO it is a lot of work to market a site correctly.

Some people know how to fix their cars and some people don't, and a good number of people that know how to fix their own car still hire a mechanic.

>>Unfortunately, that day never came and he doesn't reply to my further emails now

Never, ever, start work before you get a contract. Addtionally, don't tell the client everything you plan to do to a site before you receive a good faith payment. It's your knowledge they're paying for and if you give it all away many will take it and run.

1:05 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hi web_india,

Very interesting topic. I guess opinions will vary a lot.

90 % of my clients are web agencies. I find it easier to work this way. They already have a confidence relationship with their clients. That is less efforts in prospection. A single client can bring many projects in a single year.

I think you could benefit from a consultant approach. Clients pay you for your expertise. If they want to know everything you do, call it training and charge for it. Try to remain as general as possible.

A lot of people are out fishing. I try never to spend more than 2 hours with preliminary meetings. If they need more talk, charge for it.

The first fold of a contract is a market study. It is the corner stone of a web marketing plan. You do it on your own and never tell where and how you got those datas. I charge about a 1 000 $ to do a 40 keyphrases study. All decisions at the output of this study becomes the objectives. A good fundation for a contract. Before conclusions are made from a market study, you can't even make a rough estimate. If some client dont want to order a market study, forget about him. He is not ready or something is fishy.

One agency tried to skip on me after 3 contracts. They believed they could do it by themselves after they "learned". They forgot a few details here and there and did the site all wrong. They hired my later to fix it because the client was not satisfied. It costed them more than if they hired me from the start. They will remember that.

SEO is very fluid and dynamic. You need permanent formation (read WebmasterWorld addiction) to do it good. The ones who will try to skip you will learn this someday...

1:24 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Such great posts korkus2000, digitalghost and Macguru, thank you. Incredibly helpful information you shared for all of us. This right here, these gems of information are what set Webmaster World apart from any other source of webmastering the net has to offer.
1:42 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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All i know that it takes a very long time to learn the Base of SEO, a very long time.

Also there is a lot of differences between SEO'S as Brett pointed out i a Google Thread, there is only a very few people in the world that knows how to optimize a site really good.

So if you learn them to have H1 tags, use titletags, and get good inbound links you will still be ahead, if you are good.

And as Korkus said it's an ever changing business and if you don't know the base just a few things you won't get that #1 spot.

3:38 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Very useful replies indeed and thanks everyone for it.

korkus2000 :
>>Sure your clients can copy you now but three months from now they could be booted. This is something you have to let your clients know.

How do you do that with someone who has copied the basics? I thought ignoring what they are doing was a better option? Or Do you confront them with what they've done or are trying to do?

digitalhost :
>> In my experience clients are more apt to want to become SEOs than webmasters.

That sounds interesting and contrary to my experiences. Are the clients you referring to the tech-savvy type of clients?

>>If you help a client develop content... likely to renew contracts.

Agree 100%. The more we help the client in as many different ways, the more likely they stay with us.

>> Never, ever, start work before you get a contract.

Thanks digitalhost. Yes, after my mistake cited above I am doing that.

Macguru :
>> If some client dont want to order a market study, forget about him.

But is there some risk here that a genuine client might also not be interested in it. e.g. some clients say that we are doing so and so keywords at ppc and they want to target those keywords. (It's another matter that those keywords may not be good for their target market)

3:42 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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As I could read from your posts, all of you seem to suggest that working with other webmasters is indeed good. I too thought so and was trying to tap them but so it seems that either I am doing something wrong here or am not probably targetting the right ones. It raises another question than :

How to deal with webmasters so that you don't give much away and at the same time retain them as your clients?

Actually, I was trying to tap them for long term benefits like Macguru says above

90 % of my clients are web agencies. I find it easier to work this way.

but I've lost some webmaster clients which prompted my above post.

3:46 pm on Oct 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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korkus2000 :
>>Sure your clients can copy you now but three months from now they could be booted. This is something you have to let your clients know.

Tell them from the get go. Educate them as part of your sales pitch. Let them know about algo changes, spam reports, and SE and directories getting and losing portal deals. Scare them out of thinking they could do this. Let them know they are paying for experience and ongoing knowledge.

If you find them starting to try it themselves, then caution them politely and remind them of your phone number. Charge them more when they come crawling back. If they are happy with the lack luster results they achieve, they sure don't need to pay a SEO, and it was a wise business move.

8:42 pm on Oct 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I am just starting in SEO (signed my first real client this week) but I also do limited webdesign (my focus is usability).

I put out a request to a local women's networking group that I am part of (DigitalEve) in search of a designer who would want to create a design for my site in return for optimization of her, or a client's site.

It has turned into a great relationship. She is doing design templates for web design customers that I find (I prefer lower end, basic html sites; she prefers more complex sites - we refer clients all the time!) and I am coaching her on optimization and marketing of sites. She also refers website maintenance clients to me. She is moving away from wanting to work with customers to just wanting to do design.

What I found important in a "partnership" is that you are equally driven to succeed and have a business sense as well as skills in their area.

itrainu

4:05 pm on Oct 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

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There's always an element of trust when you partner with someone. It's part of why pretty much all of my "partnerships" are still based on face to face meetings. I year ago I realized that I didn't like spending time finding new clients. So...I found myself a marketing wizard that offered primarily offline services to clients. I kicked in web design, email marketing and SEO and now we've got ourselves a full-service agency.

As was pointed out, if you can have them relying on you for everything from SEO to web design to direct mail to market research, it's tough for them to leave.

If you don't want to go that route, try setting up a formal partnership with folks. Write a contract with them that states that you are their SEO provider and that they will not approach any of the clients you have through them for X amount of time after you sever a relationship. Sort of a non-compete. I find that good web designers are usually pretty busy with what they already do. They seldom wish to become an expert in another area. But they are more than happy to partner with an expert to offer their clients additional services.

 

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