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Thanks in advance ...
How will the audience(s) you are trying to reach search for you?
I don't think a single one of my clients would search for 'search engine optimisation' or 'search engine placement'.
I do want to emphasise this is just my personal experience and portfolio, I'm not trying to jump on some kind of soapbox and say 'what's right for me is right for everyone'.
But, if a potential client was to say to me 'why aren't you in the top 3 for these phrases', I would use the same principals for me as I would for them:
(with big generalisations for the purpose of this reply)
1. May be too competitive for my budget to make an impression.
2. The majority of clients I wish to reach wouldn't use these terms
3. It would expose my clients and my own site to a huge amount of competitive attention - a consideration for any marketing activity should be 'how will my competitors react to this'
4. It may not be the kind of positioning I want for my company
This is not to say that those companies who are doing this are not raking it in and are doing the right thing - they are obviously extremely clever and effective organisations.
I think that it's a question of 'horses for courses' for us and for clients.
We give a case study we did for a client, he asked the same question,
our response to him was "email the top 20 on the list with HIS choosen keyword".
Only 2 got back to him and both where way out of his budget.
His problem was he's a local art gallery and he wanted "ART" (60,800,000 competing websites in google) but he only wanted to sell a one artist's work.
we told him it's not what the customer thinks he knows about 'search engine optimisation' it's about what we know.
Time costs money we get our Business via webdesign and Internet Marketing.
At the end of the day we look at how much time and effort it would take to be in the top ten of 'search engine optimisation' and what return we would get and could handle.
If every one of the 3500 people searching for art on google a day bought one print could you a one man band keep up ? and how many of those people searching google are looking for your artist's print.
Optimise for quaility traffic within your budget not just random traffic out of your budget.
hehe, there are a few noteable exceptions [most of which post here] but many of the creme de la creme don't even have websites :)
My most highly respected SEO Idol did not even have a site until June '01, but had been in practice since the WWW began. He's amazing, and will be glad I do not mention his name.
And, then there's me... having made millions for other folks, and have no intention of optimising/optimizing my site. I even skipped the meta tags. :o :o !
Anybody else know of any "stealth" SEO's out there? No URL's in profile would be one indicator, non-name screen names would be another.
Cjt, I think you're all wet on this one...
Oh, and BTW, I did have top ten rankings across the board for several of those "SEO terms" when I worked for someone else for over a year. (We even got banned a couple of times when borderline techniques became forbidden - yet another reason not to optimize a pro site.) Did it turn into increased business? Nope. Very few inquiries, mostly fishing expeditions for tactics and prices. We did better on straight referrals from happy clients. Thats where I spend my quality SEO time.
There's even a company down the road a piece that won't touch a site for less than $100k ( A proposal can cost as much as $20k) and they don't optimize their site. At least not effectively. Hey, maybe they need to pay ME $100K :)
I do not consider myself part of the "creme de la creme", but holy @#!@%, I'm not blasphemous either!
oh, and backing that up with specifics, wouldn't that de-cloak the c de la c?? Sure, rat out the best in the business to answer a post on WebmasterWorld, that should win friends. ;)
[edited by: bigjohnt at 5:43 pm (utc) on July 25, 2002]
It's turned into an interesting discussion of a lot of different issues, but before we end up having to move the thread to the Commercial Exchange, let's look again at the original question:
I would like some help on what types of questions I should ask that would help me decide which one to pick. Anything critical...
Since it looks like that's pretty well been covered and we're digressing, thanks for everyone's input, but let's call it a wrap on this.
Sure - Me.
I could name 5 top guys who read and post here almost daily making 6 figures in SEO and you won't find a site with their name on it anywhere.
My personal biz site has a full robots.txt ban on it with spiders blocked in the htaccess and I give the url to very few (I'll bet there isn't 10 people here that know what it is). A good seo site is not a sales tool, it is support and a client feel good site. I'm in the process of redoing mine in 100% pure flash top to bottom (I'm sure that will bake a few noodles figuring that one out).
There is no quicker way to get you and your clients banned, blocked, pr0'd than to put up a pure seo site and get rankings under top seo keywords. Have you been watching "search engine optimization" for very many years?
The past montly winners of "search engine optimization" are now charter members in the pr0 club and founders of spam databases near you. There were even a few close calls from folks in this very thread who were pr0 for a few months.
There is a BIG difference between a seo site designed 50/50 for public info and one for pure sales. The pure sales one, keep off the radar and never - ever - under penalty of law, expose a clients name on your site, or your name on their site. If you don't understand that - then you need to read more.
There's a very top seo firm right now that got 18 fortune 500 clients banned in the last three months. How? By trying to show them off on their own site. Never let an seo firm put your name on their site and vice versa.
There is only one seo exception I've seen over the years to the above rules. There has been one guy that has been under "search engine optimization" for _years_ and not been busted but a couple of times "by the man". That's not a real good track record for the rest of us.
...stay off the radar.