After 6 years of SEO, graphic design and web development …
Avoid the SEO Money Drain
People want to pay for valuable results. A lot of SEO consultants slowly burn their clients and spread distrust & fear of shady SEO scammers. If you nickel & dime clients for requests that waste your time, you aren’t selling high value services. If you provide SEO consulting, it can be a challenge to decide how much to give away free up front, how much to reserve for paid SEO services and how many little answers to provide before charging. Some search engine optimization consultants charge business owners for SEO services and tasks that aren’t necessarily most important to turn around the business, but takes up their time. Ultimately, this type of pattern does not provide value for the money. And of course there’s the scenario every SEO provider claims not to be… the devious SEO consultant doing blackhat tricks that cause penalties; the classic SEO scare tactic selling point. But they really are out there. And, I’ve noticed that the lower budget website owners who are struggling to make a profit seem to get taken advantage of the most. In either extreme, the consultant charges for SEO services or advice, creating hope for results until the business owner runs out of money or decides to stop paying for something that’s not doing any good.
Beware Free SEO Advice
The absolute worst scenario is when a website owner desperate to try anything gets a hold of half truths. The business owner learns advice somewhere that is not applicable to him or her and ends up spending precious money to inadvertently destroy rankings and traffic. Free SEO advise can be the most dangerous, because it often true and verifiable by Googling, but does not come with the full background story. I spoke to a guy who sold exercise sand bags online. He read or heard somewhere that blogging on WordPress is key to SEO. But he didn’t realize it is not THE key to SEO.
There’s no single SEO silver bullet solution. He had a website built from a Yahoo store that did OK for many years. But something convinced him he needed to be on WordPress. So he deleted the old website and started over with a new one developed on a WordPress platform. His rankings and traffic immediately went to zero and he had no idea why. He even blogged regularly. But he had no idea that his old site back link profile was valuable and needed to be transferred to the new site. He was link building by buying as many domains as he could and redirecting them to his website! He had no idea that he needed to write optimized blog posts in order to bring in any search traffic. He didn’t understand how WordPress blogs are good for SEO, and he couldn’t get his new site in motion. I looked at the competitors in his niche on page 1 and their backlink profiles were not stellar. It wouldn’t be hard to get him on page 1 by salvaging his backlinks and training him on writing keyword optimized posts that cross link to the product pages. By the second time I spoke with him, he had put out enough requests to hungry SEO’s who wanted what little money he had left to spend to turn around the website that he was completely on the defense and hung up on me like a telemarketer. I really felt bad for the guy. He had no clue what was good or bad advise.
Enjoy Free SEO Consulting
Sure, I give more free advice than paid SEO consultations. But that’s partly because doing the SEO part is more fun than writing up estimates and billing people. I do a thorough analysis and see what the issues are pretty quickly. I’d rather just tell someone how to deal with it and teach them how to move forward. I’ve been blessed with a great SEO career and I know that I don’t need to work a couple hundred bucks out of people whenever I have a chance. I believe if you take a step of faith and give free SEO consulting instead of charging those who can’t afford it, God will work his magic and take care of your finances.
A recent client had been struggling to get results from his online business for the last 3 years. I took a look at the site he was trying to rank and compared a handful of KPIs as well as some basic observations with his competitors in SERPs. There were a lot of deficiencies. He was flailing. I decided to offer a plan for paid SEO consulting services. The plan is the strategy and estimate of work, which requires an analysis. Writing up the analysis turned out to be the most time intensive part of the work. And it was the part that was free. A lot of SEO firms provide a free analysis that is basically an SEO report that is spit out directly from software, with no actionable items, no strategy, no thought, no insight. But I look for…
- What are your editorial strengths that can be leveraged for SEO?
- Are there rich snippets you are not taking advantage of?
- Have you done any basic local SEO tactics?
- Do you have any technical issues that shoot yourself in the foot?
- Are you experiencing penalties or major crawling/indexing challenges?
I did a full SEO analysis and created a professional deliverable with observations, conclusions and steps to take with pricing for each phase of the work. Here’s the reaction.
We are thinking that you sound like the first honest SEO person we have come across and agree with much of your analysis.
His partner went on to say…
I truly appreciate your efforts to date. The analysis you undertook, and the work needed for each of the three phases makes sense. And you presented the facts quite well. The back links with [competitor] were amazing, and your honesty for diagnosing the problems is again very much appreciated (as opposed to beating around the bush, which myself and Charlie had been through over and over and over again). You pin pointed facts that were problematic and that is what we were trying to find. Someone who could help and identify what it is that needs to be done as opposed to keeping the SEO process a deep dark mystery.
Black Hat SEO, White Hat SEO
Funny thing, the nature of SEO makes it a deep dark mystery. How to get your website to rank in Google’s secret algorithm above other websites, who are also using SEO to rank above you. People want a key to cheat the system. By Google’s webmaster guidelines, any attempt to game the algorithm to obtain higher rankings is considered SPAM. That means any attempt to rank higher is black hat.
But Google (and other search engines) have recognized and embraced the SEO community. To be a white hat SEO, means to build your online properties with information in a way that supports the same goals for users that Google values. It means creating a valuable resource for users, so Google can be proud to feature your website in it’s listings. It also means to create structured data around your brand that search engines can pull into their databases in order to serve up media rich results with enough contextual information that visitors don’t need to click anywhere else to get their answers. It means utilizing all of Google’s properties so you are feeding Google tons of data around your brand, so as to maximize your visibility Google can give your brand.