Home Forums Tech talk The current state of the SEO industry and how you can avoid getting burnt

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  • #1172062
    MD Clean
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    bb1, post: 199898 wrote:
    Ah but the now 6 Private messages from other flying soloists have all understood me and thanked me, for puting some light on the situation

    Hi BB1,

    It is great that you are trying to help people avoid financial pain but you are way off target with John.

    1. He has a great site with lots of useful free content.
    2. He explains on his site what he will do for the customer and what his fees are.
    3. His techniques are industry best practice, and liked by Google. And they are effective.
    4. He aims to get the right type of traffic to sites, not just improve rankings
    5. The customers he wants to attract will be able to afford his fees ie, he is not targeting business making $1500.00 per month.

    My opinion is that John wants to do very well increasing his customers conversions for a lot of reasons, most notably that he has pride in his work and wants his customers to get great results and because happy customers will retain him for the long term.

    #1172063
    Peter Watson
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    • Total posts: 98
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    I have to agree with John Romaine.

    If anyone thinks that they are going to get value for money investing less than $1000 per month in SEO is dreaming.

    Lets break that $1k down.

    $1k divided by 30 days (SEO in a 24/7 job)= $33.30 per day.

    Any SEO firm that can provide quality services at this price raises alarms and I’d step away, slowly!

    Just my opinion.

    #1172064
    John Romaine
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    • Total posts: 1,108
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    MD Clean, post: 199903 wrote:
    Hi BB1,

    It is great that you are trying to help people avoid financial pain but you are way off target with John.

    1. He has a great site with lots of useful free content.
    2. He explains on his site what he will do for the customer and what his fees are.
    3. His techniques are industry best practice, and liked by Google. And they are effective.
    4. He aims to get the right type of traffic to sites, not just improve rankings
    5. The customers he wants to attract will be able to afford his fees ie, he is not targeting business making $1500.00 per month.

    My opinion is that John wants to do very well increasing his customers conversions for a lot of reasons, most notably that he has pride in his work and wants his customers to get great results and because happy customers will retain him for the long term.

    Hi Paul,

    I don’t know you mate, but those are some very kind words. Thank you.

    #1172065
    MatthewKeath
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    bb1, post: 199898 wrote:
    Ah but the now 6 Private messages from other flying soloists have all understood me and thanked me, for puting some light on the situationWho are you?

    I find it hard to take people who will not reveal who they seriously.

    Please reveal your identity.

    #1172066
    JohnW
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    Peter Watson, post: 199904 wrote:
    If anyone thinks that they are going to get value for money investing less than $1000 per month in SEO is dreaming.
    Hi All,
    Can I bring us back to SEO for the small business websites of FS readers? (Most of them will have websites that are less than 50 pages.)

    I focus on providing SEO (and Internet marketing) services to small businesses. As a result, I don’t have a single client who pays me $1,000 per month for my services.

    Peter, Are you saying I don’t know SEO and that my clients don’t get value?

    If not, then our differences may lie in one of these areas:

    • We don’t agree on what is the SEO process
    • We are talking about different sized business websites.
    • We are talking about a different range of effective services that SEOs can provide to small business.

    Therefore, discussions of SEO costs based on $X per month are pointless and I believe misleading to our small business audience.

    No SEO can quote a price until he/she knows what needs to be done, by whom and how quickly.

    What is also missing from the discussion is “SEO cost-effectiveness“. Anyone who leaves “cost-effectiveness” out of an SEO implementation plan and quotation is a fool to themselves and a danger to others.

    IMHO, the SEO quoting process should go like this…

    1. Cost of the initial research and planning function
    The initial step in SEO is to identify problems with the businesses’ site, the level of competition in the market and to develop a strategy to cost-effectively attract potential customers. From this comes a planning report with implementation options for discussion with the business owner.

    Depending on the complexity of the website and the search market, this cost may be around $500-$1,500. (Some SEOs will offer to spread this out over a few months.)

    I would strongly suggest people run away from SEOs who blindly quote $X per month for “Y” number of keywords.

    2. SEO Implementation Costs
    Very large numbers of small business owners prefer to write and publish their own content and this can be a major cost if it is provided by a third party.

    The trouble is few people really know how to do it correctly and I include many SEOs in that category.

    SEO is not rocket science. It can be taught. Content writing plans can be provided. Naming conventions for on-page elements can be established for business owners to implement.

    Most of my small business clients want to learn effective SEO that they can implement themselves.

    3. Monitoring (Either training or reporting set up cost)
    This is another area where training is often needed initially by one group of small businesses.

    Another group may find it useful for the SEO to set up a number of relevant monthly reports for the owner to monitor.

    4. Reviewing
    Many small businesses clients who adopt the above DIY approach to SEO then want a regular review or audit of their DIY SEO.

    Some also see the value in a review of the initial site and market audit at regular intervals.

    Let me summarise,
    IMHO blind statements that SEO should cost a minimum of $X per month are either:

    • Provided by misinformed SEO services,
    • Provided by people who don’t really understand SEO
    • Are fixated on generating revenue for the quoting SEO service

    I’m not the only SEO/Internet marketer on FS who specialises in small businesses. I just felt it was essential to head the thread back to realistic costs and SEO options for their needs.

    PS:
    Before my post is hammered about the lack of referral to the importance of “conversion” and where is social media in the discussion, let me say that SE referrals without conversions are a waste of time and money.

    I’ve omitted social media from the discussion solely because the thread is about SEO.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172067
    Peter Watson
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    I’m talking about majority of providers, not minority.

    #1172068
    JohnW
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    Peter Watson, post: 200076 wrote:
    I’m talking about majority of providers, not minority.
    Are you inferring that the majority of SEOs don’t know what most small businesses require, they don’t know or don’t care? ;)
    Regs,
    JohnW
    #1172069
    Peter Watson
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    No. I’m saying if a website owner thinks they are going to kick ass in Google by paying an SEO firm less than $1000 per month they are dreaming!

    Otherwise everyone would build a website, pay an SEO firm less than $1000 and sit back and enjoy the spoils.

    I never said that SEOs don’t know what most small businesses require, don’t know or don’t care. That statement is irrelevant to my point.

    You said you have clients paying you $750. You could be providing them with the best SEO services available on the entire internet, but for $750 your time is limited. at that rate you’d be pushing to provide 2-3 hours per week.

    #1172070
    John Romaine
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    John I won’t cover everything that you’ve mentioned because I’ll be here all night, but the bottom line is this….

    Regardless of your process, servicing a client takes time. That time needs to be charged to the client. Isn’t that simple business 101????

    Also, correct me if I’m mistaken, but I get the impression that you’re doing all the work yourself. Is that right? It’s also apparent that you’re providing SEO training – is that right?

    Lastly, you obvious serve a much different audience to me – that much is obvious. I chose to service medium to high end business and government organisations. Why? Because I want to work at that level. The ROI working with clients that only want to invest $299 simply isn’t worth it for me – and to be completely fair, it’s not worth it to the client either.

    Anyone that visits my site that says “too expensive” obviously isn’t my ideal prospect – which is exactly why I put my prices up. I don’t want to waste their time, nor my own.

    It is what it is – you can sell second hand Datsun Stanzas for $500 if you choose to, or brand new BMWS.

    I know where I want to be.

    Again it comes back to x hours for y dollars. It’s simple mathematics.

    #1172071
    Byron Trzeciak
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    I think as John W says it’s important to define exactly what the business wants and needs. It’s also important to understand your own services, your process, your location, the hours you work and the type of client you want to attract.

    So many other factors too:
    – Do you do the work personally or do you have employees that do it?
    – Do you have 1 year of experience or 10 years of experience?
    – Do your “proven” results mean that your services are at capacity and if so that entitles you to charge more for demand?
    – Do you work from an office or do you work from home?
    – Do you want to build your business to 10 employees or 100 or simply stay at 1.

    I’m not sure if you were implying that $750.00 dollars is worth 2-3 hours of your time? That would be $250.00 per hour and means that you’re charging at the absolute top of the SEO food chain.

    When you consider the range of SEO hourly rates are between 75 – 250 per hour, as I showed previously, it means for someone that charges $75 dollars per hour it equates to10 hours’ worth of time but to someone that charges $250 per time it’s only 3 hours.

    But it’s not only your time you need to consider also:
    – Are you developing the content?
    – Are you outsourcing it someone to develop
    – Is the client developing the content?
    – Are you doing conversion rate optimisation, do you need paid software for that.

    I mean there are so many factors that come into play that determine the costs.

    #1172072
    John Romaine
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    Byron Trzeciak, post: 200081 wrote:
    I mean there are so many factors that come into play that determine the costs.

    Another one is the value of which you provide to the client.

    If a client is making an extra $200,000 per month as a direct result of my services, then I’m sure as hell not going to charge $300 per month.

    #1172073
    JohnW
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    • Total posts: 2,642
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    Peter Watson, post: 200078 wrote:
    No. I’m saying if a website owner thinks they are going to kick ass in Google by paying an SEO firm less than $1000 per month they are dreaming!

    Otherwise everyone would build a website, pay an SEO firm less than $1000 and sit back and enjoy the spoils.
    Hi Peter,
    Is this an example of your “dream” SEO results?

    The following relates to a 5 page small business website that has spent a total of $700 on page production AND SEO over the last 7 years.

    Try a Google searches for:

    • railway sleepers
    • railway sleepers sydney
    • used railway sleepers
    • used railway sleepers sydney
    • timber railway sleepers
    • timber railway sleepers sydney
    • railway sleepers suppliers
    • railway sleepers suppliers sydney

    The referenced site is in the top 5 for all of these and thousands of other relevant search phrases. In fact, it often has two pages ranking in the top 5 results. All of this WITHOUT any monthly SEO activity or external link building program.

    Do these sorts of results qualify for your “dreamtime”?

    Perhaps you can explain to us how this small business site attracts so many SE referrals without any SEO expenditure since its implementation?

    According to your formula, it should have spent $84,000 over the last 7 years to attain these sorts of results. What improvement in SE referrals do you think it may have achieved with the budget you suggest is essential?

    I’m sure we would all be delighted to hear what an additional $84,000 would have achieved for this business.

    NB: A couple of FS SEOs thought this example was a garbage result and spent a lot of time trying to knock the site off its #1 position for one of the above search phrases. Last time I checked, their hours of effort managed to attain a ranking in the 20-30 Google positions for their pages.

    In light of this example (and I could give more), I’m sure the small business owners on FS would love to hear your explanation of why spending less than $1,000 per month on SEO is a “dream”.

    Peter Watson, post: 200078 wrote:
    You said you have clients paying you $750. You could be providing them with the best SEO services available on the entire internet, but for $750 your time is limited. at that rate you’d be pushing to provide 2-3 hours per week.
    With respect, I did not say this. Are you confusing me with someone else’s comments?

    The point I’m trying to make is that SEO is not about the “best” SEO services (which no one knows, by the way), it is about providing the most relevant generic SE referrals for the available resources and “resources” includes money.

    Effective SEO is about providing the biggest bang for the buck.

    No small business can compete head on with large companies that have unlimited SEO budgets.

    SEO for small business is about attracting as many potential customers as possible for the available resources.

    The stupidest SEO tactic for a small business is to try to compete head on with a large businesses’ website.

    Of course my time is limited for small business budgets. That does not stop me helping them achieve the sorts of SE referrals that others spending (by your estimate, a minimum of $84,000 over 7 years) on outsourced SEO services may have achieved. ;)
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172074
    JohnW
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    John Romaine, post: 200079 wrote:
    John I won’t cover everything that you’ve mentioned because I’ll be here all night, but the bottom line is this….

    Regardless of your process, servicing a client takes time. That time needs to be charged to the client. Isn’t that simple business 101????

    Also, correct me if I’m mistaken, but I get the impression that you’re doing all the work yourself. Is that right? It’s also apparent that you’re providing SEO training – is that right?

    Lastly, you obvious serve a much different audience to me – that much is obvious. I chose to service medium to high end business and government organisations. Why? Because I want to work at that level. The ROI working with clients that only want to invest $299 simply isn’t worth it for me – and to be completely fair, it’s not worth it to the client either.

    Anyone that visits my site that says “too expensive” obviously isn’t my ideal prospect – which is exactly why I put my prices up. I don’t want to waste their time, nor my own.

    It is what it is – you can sell second hand Datsun Stanzas for $500 if you choose to, or brand new BMWS.

    I know where I want to be.

    Again it comes back to x hours for y dollars. It’s simple mathematics.
    Hi JohnR
    You will never have an argument from me about an hourly charge out rate that demonstrates a good ROI.

    We are in complete agreement here about SEO/Internet marketing and the value of our time.

    The variance seems to be that we target different markets. You go for mid-larger clients while I aim at smaller businesses.

    The basic principles of SEO are the same but the resources and tactics force totally different implementation activities. Not many SEOs seem to understand this mission critical issue.

    The result is that we need to provide different types of SEO services at different levels of intensity for our different client types.

    This is why I keep harping on about the specific needs of small businesses in FS SEO posts and why I keep hammering “cost-effective” SEO.

    You are servicing the SEO needs of the 400kg gorillas who can run over the top of small businesses. I’m trying to find, then teach small businesses the tactics to side-step or chip over the top of your gorillas so my team can score their tries cheaply. (Carn the Panthers.)

    To me this is not an issue of $ per hour charged. (I imagine we are not far apart.)

    PS: I don’t know where you grabbed the $299 SEO investment number from. I don’t believe I suggested this.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172075
    John Romaine
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    • Total posts: 1,108
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    Agree John.

    We’re targeting different prospects, that’s all.

    I’m curious…are you charging hourly, or fixed rates?

    I admit, when I first started my own agency, I wanted to try and help smaller businesses at $500 per month, but it near killed me.

    The amount of time I spent just on calls, emails and in meetings at that rate meant I would’ve been out of business within a few months.

    I want to provide a quality service for the long haul.

    PS – Is this the site you’re referring to above?

    statewidesleepers.com.au

    #1172076
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
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    John Romaine, post: 200090 wrote:
    Agree John.

    We’re targeting different prospects, that’s all.

    I’m curious…are you charging hourly, or fixed rates?

    I admit, when I first started my own agency, I wanted to try and help smaller businesses at $500 per month, but it near killed me.

    The amount of time I spent just on calls, emails and in meetings at that rate meant I would’ve been out of business within a few months.

    I want to provide a quality service for the long haul.

    PS – Is this the site you’re referring to above?

    statewidesleepers.com.au
    Hi JohnR,
    My fees are based on an hourly rate.

    My SEO quotes for an existing site start with an audit and market research of the status quo. I offer a fixed cost for this based on a few parameters that define the project’s complexity but these fixed prices have evolved from an hourly rate calculation.

    Much of my SEO work is referred from web designers/developers who want to integrate SEO and Internet marketing services with their their design/development services. That saves me a lot of marketing time. It saves them a lot of time also if they bring me in at the beginning, as the audit / research often expands into creating a website design brief for the client and developer to work from. If I’m involved at the onset, I get to offer a bunch of “conversion” factor recommendations for the site design and structure – something close to your heart.

    Client service is mostly via phone or Skype. Very little travel time requirement these days. Tele-meetings invariably contain a large educational element so become integral to the service.

    An emphasis on research, planning and education means a heavy time committment to a client initially but I offer terms that spread the payments to ease the dreaded small business cash flow crunch.

    I’ve survived for 20 years in the industry so I think that qualifies for the “long haul”. (You asked in another thread why I keep bringing that up. It’s my USP. I don’t claim to be the best Internet marketer but you find me anyone else in Australia that can claim that length of experience. :))

    PS: You got the site name right.

    BTW, Can you kill your link to it? Essentiall the only links to it at present are from useless linkbot collected sites. I’d hate it to start acquiring good ones. People will start to think they are important. ;)

    Little Statewide breaks most folk’s understanding of the SEO rules doesn’t it? I love submitting it to offers of free website audit spam emailers. They send me a long list of audit tool assessed supposed problems but they can’t come up with a single relevant search phrase where it is not on page 1 of Google results.

    The numbers of unique search phrases that attracted SE referrals are now closing in on 12,000 (How many ways can people search for old railway sleepers?) That now includes a growing and unknown number of search phrases hidden in the “not provided” pot.

    • 85% of the site’s traffic is from generic SE referrals
    • Only 274 of the 12,000 unique search phrases have generated more than 20 SE referrals.
    • There is no social media
    • It has never spent money on Adwords
    • It’s been a 5 page site all its life
    • Traffic is very constant around 1,500 visits per month
    • Through all the Google Pandas, Penguins, Hummingbirds and more it hasn’t missed a beat.

    This tiny site has taught me a lot about how SEs rank web pages over the years.
    Regs,
    JohnW

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