16 Mar 2010

Why We Don’t Sell SEO Anymore

9 Comments search engine optimization

Last week, I was on a panel discussing SEO with Seth of Conductor, Chris of Bruce Clay, and Kevin Lee of DidIt. The audience was startups, and here were are, 4 of the top agencies in SEO, telling them about SEO. Trouble is, these aren’t Fortune 500 companies who have $20k a month to pay for SEO consulting– they’re scrappy startups with just a few people each and a few dollars for hosting. They’ve got brand new sites with no linkjuice, so no amount of on-page optimization– to spread around what little juice they have– will even matter.

Thus, SEO for startups is an oxymoron.

Clients who come to us wanting SEO, after a chat to clarify objectives, actually want more traffic profitably.  They may request SEO, likely because they don’t know the technical lingo or have heard others tell them that this is something they need.  Thus, most of our discussions with prospective clients is educating them about what SEO is, than it is pricing out services.  If you run an agency, do you discover this pattern with your inbound requests?

Save yourself some time– avoid that discussion entirely.  

  1. No need to talk to folks who believe they should rank #1 on “mortgages” by tomorrow because they paid you $79. 
  2. No need to explain to them why those firms that guarantee organic rankings or thousands of links for 12 cents each are just charlatans. 
  3. No need to discuss why their content-free site can’t rank unless they are willing to create meaningful content, in addition to getting great links.

In short, avoid completely the dashed dreams of clients who believe that SEO is a magical elixir to their site not getting traffic.  You wouldn’t believe that a diet pill can cause you to lose 30 pounds in 30 days with no exercising or diet required.  So why believe that by hiring a SEO firm that you don’t need to build a great site, reach out to industry folks that matter, and experiment with PPC and social media?

BlitzLocal doesn’t rank on SEO terms and doesn’t try to– though we do rank on “local advertising”, “local online marketing”, “facebook advertising”, and so forth. We believe it’s easier to sell clients on delivering results– a certain level of qualified traffic that converts into a phone call, form completion, coupon download, or other measurable action.  Having a compelling site, engaging users on social media,  reaching out to the press, and doing things that have been in the category of “webmastering” was and has been effective long before the term SEO was coined and became en vogue.

We’re not bashing SEO– there are plenty of practitioners who provide great ROI to clients. What we are exposing is when clients really want certain types of results, but mistakenly think it’s SEO.  Nowadays to get organic traffic from search engines– the definition of SEO- you’re engaging in lots of things that are called by other names.  So why add to the confusion?  Just sell the underlying parts of public relations, content writing, application development, buying links, social media, or other more specific forms of getting traffic and engagement.

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Facebook data and ads geek relentless in measuring real ROI. Chief Technical Officer of BlitzMetrics. Google+
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9 Responses to “Why We Don’t Sell SEO Anymore”

  1. Reply Sean McGlashan says:

    You are absolutely right Dennis!

  2. Reply Corry Cummings says:

    Hey Dennis,
    My name is Corry and I was contacting you in regards to a guest post on your site http://www.dennis-yu.com. I own a website myself, on the topic of website content creation (as well as a blog), and I am looking to get some more visibility to my website.
    What I would like to do, is write a guest post on dennis-yu.com on the topic of content creation and SEO. If you have something specific that you would like then just let me know, as this will be a custom post just for your site. Otherwise, I could write on the topic of \”5 Tips to Use when Creating Your Press Release\”.
    My site is http://www.contentcustoms.com and you can find my blog at http://www.contentcustoms.com/blog.
    The article that I would write for you would be 100% unique, and it would never be used or sold anywhere else. Of course, it will be high quality and valuable to your readers. All I ask for in return is a link or 2 back to my website.
    If you have any specific guidelines or requests, please let me know. I look forward to working with you, and I would truly appreciate this opportunity, as you would be helping me out a ton.

    • Reply Dennis Yu says:

      Corry– your comment was in my spam folder, so be careful where you post. If too many people hit “spam” on your posts, this is what happens. And it was rare that I even checked this folder. That said, happy to look at what you would write. If the content is solid and unique, I’ll consider posting it. Friend me on Facebook, while you’re at it, please– so I can see who you are. If what you provided is a canned message, then it was written well enough to fool me. Now that I look at it, there’s nothing in particular you’ve said about my site.

  3. Reply ImJonTucker.com says:

    Great article Dennis. This is another example of there being no silver bullet in business. SEO is just a piece of the puzzle…it’s not the defining aspect of success in a startup’s marketing.

  4. Reply Mark says:

    And there I was reading your email when I decided to click back on your blog… This in particular got me:
    “No need to talk to folks who believe they should rank #1 on mortgages” by tomorrow because they paid you $79.”

    We’re cutting back on this type of client, they just don’t get it. Start-ups latch onto an idea, get way too excited and ignore all of your rationalizing. You can make things as lucid as possible but it will never sink in with some of the smaller guys! It’s bad for business because you spent 90% of your time providing explanations around your work rather than actually doing it…

    • Reply Dennis Yu says:

      Mark, you’re right. It’s the clients that pay you the least that ask for the most. You know what to do. Following this analogy, how much do clients who pay nothing ask for?

  5. Reply Russ Jones says:

    You can’t simply ignore SEO and expect to survive in the long run. I wholeheartedly agree that there are better marketing channels from the offset (less-competitive, immediate ROI, etc.), but avoiding on-site SEO can create significant set-backs that put you at a long-term disadvantage.

    For example, if you create a site that misses many of the basic on-site tactics such as unique titles and meta, canonical URLs with search-friendly hierarchies, etc. much of your future organic search campaigns will be spent undoing all of the mistakes of past, rather than building on the platform you have already created.

    Certainly, going after “mortgages” from the get-go is a bad idea, but not including SEO as part of the essential base of quality online-marketing would be like a doctor telling a new patient to not worry about eating right and exercising because it takes longer for those to be helpful than a prescription drug.

    • Reply Dennis Yu says:

      Hi Russ– good points! Certainly all those things are necessary. The issue I have is how SEO is being sold. There’s just so much potential for witchcraft in something few clients understand. How are you doing?

  6. Reply Search engine optimization Advice | says:

    [...] course this is just basic SEO advice,for a more in depth post on some seo adviceI have found a great article fro from Dennis yu, but basically this is a bird’s eye view of what [...]

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