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General, SEO-Search Engine Optimization

SEO packages- one size DOESN'T fit all

I was checking out a competitor’s site and notice that many of them are offering “SEO packages” to price their services. The very fact that they would even try to package their services tells me  they don’t understand what quality ethical white SEO is or the Terms of services of the search engines etc. Also when I look at their pricing, their most expensive package is our minimal budget, so they’re targeting micro and small business owners in most cases that typically don’t know a whole lot about SEO and just go along with it not realizing what a low quality service they’re getting. You get what you pay for and the same holds true for online marketing and SEO. I’ve talked with many “future clients” that say, “our web guy, or web design shop” is handling the CEO I mean SEO!? People often don’t realize how time consuming, and tedious doing quality white hat SEO work is, also how being creative and thinking outside the box to build new quality content and attract the high value links to your site is really important and not a commodity to be packaged. An SEO package is like going to a building contractor to have a house built, and him saying he has three different condo models from you to pick from!

  1. Google wants quality not quantity, they want unique high quality content and quality links pointing to a site to prove it’s really that good, I regularly beat sites with hundreds of garbage back links with a much smaller quantity of back links because we prioritize the high value links. You really don’t have a clue if you think you can just spam the internet and the search engines won’t notice. The search engines have very smart people working for them, and lots of them! Anybody can order a spammy SEO package, and believe me lots of people are, but think of this what can you do that is high quality that your competitor isn’t doing, that often will be the thing the engines will take note of and rank your site higher? It’s the harder thing to do focusing on quality over quantity, but it pays off in the long run and helps ensure less volatile rankings as well and not getting penalized or delisted by the search engines.
  2. In the packages they often have a laundry list of sites they’ll promote your site onto boost the site, like directores or the most popular social networking sites. The channels they’ll target, the methods they’ll use oftentimes aren’t a match for your specific business. Spamming a social networking site where none of your customers hangout out while totally ignoring perfectly targeted sites and SEO methods that would reach your site’s target audience and drive traffic and SEO rankings is not smart.
  3. They have fine print that says they won’t go after moderately competitive phrases with results over 5million, so you’ll think they’re going to target your top 50x keywords for example if they say 50x phrases, when in reality their package will not attempt to go after your most competitive phrases because the phrase is too competitive. They’ll only go after the low hanging fruit, which is a good idea, but not also working on your most challenging phrases means you’ll be missing out on tons of traffic and sales in the long run. At GlowHat we go after both the long tail less competitive phrases and your most important phrases as both classes of phrases are very important for your site. Improving the more difficult generic phrases often will help pull up thousands of related phrases that have all or part of your root main phrases in them as the theme and general concept of your site is reinforced over your entire site and it’s pages then. It’s not just about the specific generic phrase itself but it’s many many 3-4+ word phrase combination based off of it that make a big difference overall on a site.
  4. That brings me to my next point, using total number of searches returned is a very poor measure of keyphrase difficulty. I’ve had phrases with less then a million search results where the top 10 competitors where in an all out war for being ranked highest and it’s nearly impossible to even get on the first page of the search results. I’ve had other phrases that have over 5million search results that only took a little bit of effort to rank well for.
  5. They’ll use automated spammy tools and leave search spam signatures all over the place which is easily flagged and filtered by the search engines, and could trigger a manual review of your site, and could get your site penalized or removed. Since they’re focused on volume not quality you can be they’re trying to find and use any tool they can to increase their productivity so they can spam more easily.
  6. They talk only about rankings, and keywords and quantities, they rarely talk about measuring site’s traffic,  conversions, leads, sales and ROI. Things have changed and with realtime search, and personalized search rankings are starting to be an even worse way of measuring then before. I think it’s still important to measure rankings, but you have to take it with a grain of salt, the real measure is your site traffic, in particular the conversions on your site, doesn’t make much sense to rank #1 for the wrong term and put all your energy into the phrases that don’t convert while not improving the ones that do, analytics are free these day, if you don’t use to measure and improve your campaign, I don’t know what to tell you but you’re basically flying blind with your site and your competitors will beat you easily if they’re measuring and improving.

I think you could have a package but it would have to be based on quality so things such the following could be used to price quality performance based SEO, some ways to price and measure are better then others but you get the general idea, the focus is more on quality of the SEO not who can give me 100X links for the cheapest price.

  1. Pricing should be on a retainer or hourly basis with performance built into it, your guarantee should be based on the demonstrated ability and knowledge of your SEO provider, ask them what their most competitive phrase is that they have gone after and ranked for, ask them for references, look at the difficulty of the words they give you, are they very challenging phrases like “buy car”, “life insurance” or just “Plumber SomeUnkownTownIn, PA” or “Discount running shoes black with gold letters size 9” . You’d need to know a little bit about SEO to evaluate better as some phrases are surprising competitive even though there’s not a lot of search results. Generally it’s safe to assume that a phrase with “two words” will have more competition and results then a phrase with 3x or more words in them. But again it really depends on each phrase, but this should hopefully give you a clue.
  2. Pricing based on conversions
  3. Pricing based on gross site sales
  4. What’s the value of the backlink based on PR etc. or theme etc. how powerful and on topic the backlink is, having a package where you say we’ll spend 6hrs/per week going after only +PR4 sites with +100 quality backlinks of their own, are related to your site and a dozen other factors we look at that we reviewed and have all the right signals of being a high quality site.
  5. What page of this powerful site did you get a link, a deep page 5 levels down or right on the home page? So you got 100x spammy links from worthless low quality junk sites that link to you from 4x levels down in their site structure, take your hand of your back and stop patting it as you just wasted your money.
  6. How difficult will the last 20x or so results for a phrase be to move through and rank high? Do a SEO review of the top 10x sites ranking for the phrase in question then assign a more accurate assessment of the phrase.
  7. A price should be quoted based on the nature of each individual phrase, as no two phrases are alike, thing of each phrase as it’s own min-SEO campaign with it’s own strategy.
  8. There are lots of ways to measure quality and performance but you get the general idea, the main idea is be very skeptical and weary of any kind of packages based on quantities esp. with no mention of quality of the content and links and methods they’ll be using.

Stijn Amundsen is the Founder and Principle at GlowHat of Scottsdale Arizona. He enjoys sharing his passion for internet marketing and helping others reach their true potential in business and life. Stijn has been helping clients market high performance web sites for over 10 years, generating millions of dollars of business through high ROI strategies.

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