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Anyway, you decide that building an inhouse team specialising in this is too expensive. So, you approach a consultancy whose core business is getting sites to the top 10 on the major portals.
They advocate a performance based model. You pay only for the click thrus for the search terms youve selected. A win - win!
In the terms & conditions, the consultancy stipulates that they own the doorway/gateway/feeder domain(s).
after three - six mths, you are being provided with great traffic. Only problem being that it becomes very difficult to terminate the contract. If you were to end it:
1) you lose the site and traffic to it and,
2) The termination opens up the possibility of your consultancy selling the traffic to a competitor.
How prevalent is this model and is it ethical?
There are SEO firms that will provide you with a ppc model and when the pages have paid X they are yours. There are also firms that will provide the pages on a "pay for the labor" basis.
The client needs to be comfortable with the future tweaking of those pages for this to work.
Traffic is a product and very easy to sell - like the money involved in a house loan. Most people don't have and ethical problem with bank interest - it's just part of the expense of getting what I need now.
Personally I think it's ethically questionable but at the same time they are up front with it and the client is made aware of the arrangement.
I choose to run my business a little differently but at the end of the day you will find pretty much every business model you can imagine for SEO.
>This model is insurance for the SEO company....if client cancels.
I think that BOTH of these points should be made to the client. Here's how I phrase it, the client understands exactly what is going to happen...
Our sites will be Siamese twins. As far as traffic generation is concerned, mine will be the one with all the vital organs. If you leave me, the traffic dies.
I think the title of this thread is better called "PPC catch 22" instead.
It is growing in stature. After massaging and soothing ego's over differences in what is performance a few times, I am almost to the point of taking on ONLY ppc work.
Everyone wins with PPC.
- The client pays only for the traffic they want, get, and need.
- The client gets highly targeted traffic with no brainer no questions asked tracking numbers.
- The client and seo firm have exact numbers from log files to evaluate performance. (personally, the ppc's I've done, I give the client direct access to the raw server log files on-the-fly. They can check them any time they want in real time).
- The seo firm is protected from "cut and run" clients. (optimize the site, get great rankings, they cancel contract).
- SEO protection for trade secrets and proprietary programs. (yes, I've been ripped off of the whole system before).
I think it is the only way to do SEO where both the client and seo firm are satisfied. I just can't imagine going back to 'optimize it and they will come'.
Brett - "thread should have been called PPC catch 22 instead" Agreed
RC - "Our sites will be Siamese twins. As far as traffic generation is concerned, mine will be the one with all the vital organs. If you leave me, the traffic dies"
RC, perfectly put. Often, the labour intensive part of the business is invested up front. One can get fantastic listings for a client which dont change for some time (i.e AV at the moment). If the client terminates the contract and retains ownership of the content and the domain, then you the SEO lose. The only way to turn the tap off and not feel hard done by is to sabotage the site in some way. Hardly elegant!
So,in sum taken from the threads above: Up front and honest from the beginning. If you have a client who knows what to do with the referrers, PPC offers fantastic rewards for both parties.
About 3 years ago, I had to make a presentation to a state government group that didn't know SEO from road apples. I needed a simple way to convey the nature of our relationship. Trust me, no one has ever said I mislead them, though they are sometimes shocked to be reminded of the need to continue the arrangement.
"RC, perfectly put. Often, the labour intensive part of the business is invested up front. One can get fantastic listings for a client which dont change for some time (i.e AV at the moment). If the client terminates the contract and retains ownership of the content and the domain, then you the SEO lose. The only way to turn the tap off and not feel hard done by is to sabotage the site in some way. Hardly elegant!"
Right on!!!! Couldn't be said better.
When doing "consulting services" simply to make recommendations which a site owner will accept or reject and implement on their own, or even when some HTML redesign is done to make code more spider-friendly and provided for the site owner to use, this is not an issue. It's a simple matter of rendering a certain number of hours of service in return for payment of fees based on an hourly rate, and when it's done, it's done. Very simple and clear-cut and a piece of cake to do.
But there's a related issue that comes up when the optimization and site design are done simultaneously, from the ground up. When a site is done using the client's text and nothing more, that's design alone, and irrelevant to this discussion.
However, it's different when doing what I've sometimes called "minor editing of your text to make the site search engine friendly." Frankly, I've done this at times because I know the limitations of some clients' budgets, and out of conscience, knowing how useless it is to have a site that can't be found, I don't have the heart to take their money do a site that will never do them any good.
All the "meat and potatoes" has gone into the writing of the site text, and incorporation of optimization elements into the site during the design process, as well as the tweaking and resubmission over a period of a few months.
The optimization has actually been done-on a "volunteer" basis in these cases, if you will, and all the work has been done on the client's site.
At this point in time, the site is generating income - the client sees results (they don't know quite what did it - they just know some kind of "magic" was done), and they can surely now afford to pay some extra, and continue the work. But will they?
This is where the different models converge in relevance and in principle. When the client gets the benefit of the meat and potatoes, and the continued benefits - the gravy, so to speak, of continued traffic and income, and the person or company in the equation doesn't also contine to derive benefit, the equation is out of balance - somebody is getting short-changed.
Ethics is way high on my list of values, and I can unequivocally say that with a different skill-set and different target market, I would not hesitate for even one minute to go with a PPC model. It's ethical, balanced, and totally fair for everyone concerned.
Nor would I hesitate to recommend a firm that uses the PPC model if it would be in the client's best interest - that would be the most ethical thing to do - I wouldn't be wasting my time on doing less than what the client actually needs, and wouldn't be wasting their money either.
When the work is done on the client's site, I don't think there's any way to guarantee that they won't run, but somewhere in this thread a model has emerged that's at least a little more fair from a combination/ground-floor-up standpoint:
Design alone=Price A, contract A
Added benefit/service of optimization=Added service at Price B, separate contract B, continuing for a given number of months, with a given amount due and payable up front, and renewable at the end of the time period.
Plus I've started to offer to handle hosting (reselling situation, which I'm open and honest about) ONLY for sites that will have continued maintenance/search engine work done. Two reasons for this. First, I won't do continued work without a control panel where I can pop in and add, delete, or change a bit of text in a hurry. Second, it'll be giving me some gravy on a continuing basis while providing them with a service I know they need.
Not perfect, but slightly more balanced.
Edited by: Marcia
great post. Personally I kind of like the idea of getting paid upfront for the consultation, reworking the HTML code and charging some sort of fee (for applicable sites) for the number of hours put in. To be fair to the clients, I believe that the rate charged should be less than normal and you get your extra $ on the backend with the PPC. Kind of a "best of both world" per say.
>Our sites will be Siamese twins, blah, blah
The light goes on :)
For the last year or so, our company has been working at up-front client education. This is because we prefer to develop new sites that are SEO'd from the ground up, but the client needs to accept what that means in extra development costs and time. So we present SEO as a significant -- and not optional -- component of our service.
This tends to put us in a challenging position during the prospecting period, where we need to invest more than the usual time and resources in persuing a contract -- certainly more than a "design-only" house. However, when a client is on board, the going is usually much smoother. We help them understand that they are buying "top shelf", and bypassing a host of troubles by doing so. In the long run, it's the cost-effective choice.
We have only one client right now who brought us an established site, and they are delighted to have the whole thing gutted and re-worked. After 3 years of next to no traffic, they felt the big pinch and are no longer very "precious" about their copy and layout. Nevertheless, the education is essential for them as well. They've been amazed at how much their previous developers didn't understand.
This system definitely works and I like the above. It keeps it ethical and as long as you do your job and the client knows what to do with the referers, you wont lose them.
Im serious about SEOP, but I dont think in the way that you meant henki ;) Although being tempted to recoup the initial investment via selling the traffic to a competitor, we wouldnt do it. We do include the name of our client in the title and description where we can thus giving them some brand exposure.
But then again, my goal is to have a long term relationship, that is where we make the money. In the end happy clients do not want to terminate their contracts.
How do most of you deal with link popularity on these pointer domains given that the pointer will be competing with the client's site for links? Do you actually go after Yahoo and ODP listings for these sites or do you rely on other methods for building link pop?