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The SEO Consultant's Dilemma

     
5:57 pm on Sep 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have been providing some SEO consulting as part of my offerings for well over a year now. The problem is the bad information in the market that clients keep getting and their expectations.

Those of you that do this know that getting good rankings for key words takes time. There is no fast way (at least none I have discovered) of doing this. You build good content, links, etc. and to see results from that takes time.

Unfortunately clients expect SEO results instantly. If I had a dollar every time a client I just finished a web project for said..."I typed in blah, blah, into Google the other day and didn't see our site anywhere!" At this point you start trying to educate them that this takes more effort than simply building a web site. Of course many of them don't understand this so they want more detail. You start giving them more detail on how this works and their eyes start glazing over in about 5 minutes. Compound this with the problem that somewhere they heard someone say..."all you have to do is [fill in the blank] and your site will soar to number 1". Trying to convince them it isn't that easy is a almost impossible.

At this point I explain they have two choices. Either develop content and I will post it and work on getting them links and giving them guidance on good content vs. bad etc. or choice two I will do it all, which brings me to the second problem, many clients, especially smaller and medium sized businesses don't want to pay for this, especially when they hear you may have to work with them for several months before they start seeing results.

So my question is for those of you that offer this service in your businesses how do you...

1. Educate them on the effort and time it takes to do this right?

2. Remove bad information and myths about how fast and easy this works?

3. Show them the value of working with you over time to get the results they really want?

I would love to hear what others that offer this service and have had to deal with my scenario above in one form or another do. I realize that I could always dump the really pain the a** clients, but that seems to be counter productive in my mind.

6:33 pm on Sept 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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1. Educate them on the effort and time it takes to do this right?

Absolutely. Always under promise and over deliver. These days, I let clients know that they can expect a good 6-12 months for a full scale campaign to really take hold and do its thing. They will see results during that timeframe but the real proof comes when you run those 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 month reports and compare it to their bottom line. :)

2. Remove bad information and myths about how fast and easy this works?

There is no fast and easy. You can of course opt for a PPC campaign which is mandatory these days if you wish to maintain a presence and keep your business afloat. Its going to take quite a bit of time to bring free search revenue up to a point where "you know you've done it right".

If the client is talking about these myths to you, find out where they heard and/or read them. It is very simple to dispell most, if not all SEO myths.

3. Show them the value of working with you over time to get the results they really want?

Commodity SEO is a dying business model. The days of a client coming to you to perform "just SEO" are numbered. In fact, I would assume that particular industry is almost dead?

Value is the key term in this process. The more diverse your portfolio of services/products, the more value you bring to the client.

8:28 pm on Sept 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If the client is talking about these myths to you, find out where they heard and/or read them. It is very simple to dispel most, if not all SEO myths.

I have tried this with a few clients, but unfortunately in more than one case they heard it from "someone that designs web sites" at that point I have a nearly vertical uphill climb trying to convince them that what they heard is not true. For example, I still hear other "webmasters" claiming that simply putting in the key words into the meta tags will launch you to the top of the search results for those key words. Now I can chuckle at this simplistic "solution", but when a client has it stuck in his brain that this will do it and if I can't do the same result that my service is inferior then it isn't funny anymore. Obviously I could go tell them to have that other "webmaster" do it and come back to me when it doesn't work, but that means they probably won't and I lose a sale and the future income it would bring.

Commodity SEO is a dying business model. The days of a client coming to you to perform "just SEO" are numbered. In fact, I would assume that particular industry is almost dead?

Can you expand on this, I am not sure if I know what you mean here. I still get people that want me to help them boost their search results. I admit it doesn't happen everyday and typically does end up being part of a much larger project, but I wouldn't say it is gone, at least not yet.

The more diverse your portfolio of services/products, the more value you bring to the client

I think I have a pretty diverse amount of services, but as I am positive I am always learning new things could you share with me what you believe composes a diverse portfolio of services. I might find I am missing something and could work on adding it.

Thanks!

8:45 pm on Sept 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A (hopefully) helpful solution is put a myth versus facts page on your site. Something short and simple that will at least give them an idea. You know:

Myth: meta keywords will get you high ranking.

Fact: meta keywords are not relevant to most SE's due to spamming and such. However, they may be very important to on-site search engines.

Myth: Proper SEO will get you high ranking.

Fact: Proper SEO is only one part of the ranking process.

And so on... And maybe include links to, or quotes from relevant articles.

Marshall

5:16 pm on Sept 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A (hopefully) helpful solution is put a myth versus facts page on your site. Something short and simple that will at least give them an idea.

Marshall, that is an excellent idea! Thank you.

5:20 pm on Sept 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Maybe I should do it on my site too ;) And you are very welcome.

Marshall

5:54 pm on Sept 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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One thing I used to do with new clients that worked well is first off optimise the enquiries and buy now usability of the site and send some quick traffic through forum spaming, PPC etc.

Once they see you can deliver and know how the web works they will trust you to do the long haul SEO.