Though Search Engine Optimization has become more widely known and accepted as necessary for businesses to thrive in today’s world, SEO is still considered a “necessary evil” in business.
The root of this SEO fear, I believe, is based off these notions:
- SEO specialists won’t tell you their secrets/methods of ranking
- You pay a lot of money for SEO work
- It typically takes several months before results are manifested (so why pay in the meantime?!)
- Circulating horror stories of black-hat marketing techniques
I will dive in deep to explain the fears listed above, but I’d first ask you to watch the short clip below. This video does a nice job explaining the basics of SEO and what people like me do. Also, this article does a good job outlining what SEO is: http://searchspartan.com/search-marketing/search-engine-optimization/
1. SEO specialists won’t tell you their secrets/methods of ranking
If you’re entrusting your online portion of your business into the hands of another business, shouldn’t you be privy to knowing what they’re doing with it? Yes and no.
Here’s the yes:
As the client, there are many elements you should be aware of. You need to feel confident that the SEO specialist can safely get your website to page 1 of Google.
You should only hire an SEO specialist who knows and understands the how the search engine works. He should be aware of the latest algorithms updates– and know what that means in terms of SEO. These updates will invariably change how your website is viewed on search engines like Google. So if a non-professional uses outdated methods for ranking a site, they could get your site burned. Bad SEO practices can essentially ruin your online presence, or at least make it so Google won’t allow anyone to find you. That’s a costly mistake. Can you afford bad work?
Then there’s the no…
No, you should not know every detail of what they’re doing. And here’s why:
A good surgeon would never tell you every detail of a surgical procedure just so you can make sure he’s doing it correctly. Why? Because you’re not qualified to grade his work.
It would be a waste of his time to explain every detail in performing a quadruple bypass heart surgery … especially if you don’t know the first thing there is to know about the heart and how it functions. Unless you are also a heart surgeon and have performed a similar procedure, you couldn’t properly critique his work. You can, however, look at his results and reviews to know if their work is good or not, but to expect every detail from the surgeon isn’t appropriate. There’s not a compelling enough reason for a surgeon to divulge every method he uses in a quadruple bypass heart surgery. He will inform you of exactly what you need to know.
This is similar to SEO specialists. I am a Google Partner, I have many years under my belt of internet marketing, tested out search engines’ algorithmic changes, invested thousands of dollars in software and training to properly analyze and diagnose websites and their online presence. In the process, I have developed specific strategies that qualify me as an expert in my field.
I want every client to feel comfortable how I conduct my business using industry best practice, but I don’t feel obligated to share every strategy. Why? Because it would be a waste of my client’s time… and mine. Like a doctor/surgeon, looking at my results and my reviews/testimonials will be the most appropriate and accurate way for you to grade my work.
2. You pay a lot of money for SEO work
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” –Red Adair
A good SEO specialist will likely not be cheap, and nor should their services be one-price-fits-all businesses.
Much of a search engine optimization expert’s work will revolve around fixing what got ruined by amateurs. They’ve got to undo the crap that got your website dinged, penalized, or even deindexed. This is a skill.
If you want SEO specialists to take your business to new heights and get you loads of organic online traffic, then you should expect to pay them more than a part-time worker at Taco Bell. If you’re earning an extra $250k+ in revenue from good SEO work, then paying them $5k a month is very reasonable. Paying them $499 a month is not. Kind of messed up, really. 🙂
If SEO work is offered to every business across the board as one-price-fits-all, then this is probably why SEO companies have such a poor reputation. Say your company is going for a competitive national keyword search term, there is no way someone could rank you on the front page for just $499 a month. Why? Because some of the properties I would even have to purchase to get you a national first-page ranking could cost thousands of dollars. So to give a lowball flat price like $499 monthly won’t get you–the client– the results you’ve been promised. And I can guarantee that this SEO amateur won’t be spending their monthly $499 to buy the necessary properties. You get what you pay for. Especially in the SEO world.
Some companies don’t have a budget for marketing; they don’t see the value in investing back into their company. And thus they are losing money. Seems backward, but it’s true. Your competition is putting money back into their business by advertising their services. This advertisement is getting them clients. If someone is looking online for a local dentist, then they’re likely going to hire the person that jumps out of the search results page first. If you’re not in the running– if you’re not on page 1 of a search– then you’re losing money. Can you afford to lose money?
SEO– good SEO– is a highly sought after skill. Not just anyone can jump in and pretend to do SEO. You’re paying an SEO expert for their knowledge, skill, and implementation; for the costly software programs used to properly dissect your website; for the expensive properties used to power-up your website; and for the ultimate result– organic traffic coming to your website that’s on page 1! It’s a lot of work.
I have seen traffic that is worth nearly $120k per month! (Meaning if you were to run a Pay-Per-Click ad campaign, it would $120k a month to get your website into that first-page placement on Google for the high amount of traffic searching for those specific terms.) An SEO expert who works solely with driving organic traffic to your site might only cost $3k-$8k.
Worth it? It is if you’re getting all that organic traffic for a fraction of the price.
3. It typically takes a several months before SEO results are manifested
… so why pay in the meantime?!
There are many factors to ranking a website. Some of these are the age of the domain, the domain’s trust flow, backlinks, and quite a few other factors.
If you have a brand new website then it would be unwise to quickly build your site out. Google (as well as other search engines) wants to see that you’re not trying to manipulate the search. Trying to give your website a whole bunch of authority from the get-go could be damaging to your site. Google needs to establish trust with you. They need to know that you offer value to people who visit your website. They want to see relevance. If you build up too quickly, it could hurt your site. (It’s like giving an employee-of-the-month award to someone who was hired the day before. Doesn’t make sense. And it’s a little fishy.)
There is a lot of footwork that goes on in the very beginning. A lot of behind the scenes work. We go into your website and essentially translate elements of your site for Google.
Example: Google doesn’t see pictures like we do; Google reads descriptions about the pictures. So when Google reads an image named “DSC_1242.jpg” they have no idea what you are trying to show your audience. It might be a dentist in Fortworth, TX, or it might be a pornographic picture. Search engines have no way of telling other than what we tell them. When an image is unproperly labeled, then they’ll protect their users (people who are using their search engine to search for stuff) by hiding/removing the potentially spammy websites. Google doesn’t want to risk people leaving their search engine– it would cost them a lot of money. So instead, they push down the threat (the website with the unknown content).
This is just one task we perform that is behind the scenes. There is a rather large checklist we have to go through onsite (meaning on your website) before we can advance to other, more powerful methods. We want Google to absolutely love your site before we get your site powered up in a more potent method.
Now ranking does take time, but a good SEO plans out the perfect timeframe for powering up a site. Their job is optimization. Methodical optimization. Too soon and it will backfire.
Back to the doctor analogy– you likely won’t be 100% up and running around for some time after a heart surgery. It takes time to heal and to advance into better health. This will depend on your body’s unique situation as well as the doctor’s skill and performance. You still pay a doctor while everything comes together.
It’s similar to SEO; it takes time to make a full recovery (that is if an amateur messed things up) and it will take time to advance into a better position, like page 1 rankings!
Making a hamburger at fast food restaurant is an instant service, one that doesn’t require much skill. And they get paid accordingly. (I mean no disrespect to fast food workers. Just using this to make a quick comparison.)
This whole process requires a lot of building; Every day requires building. Google has algorithms in place to tell who’s trying to manipulate the search. The first few months of a new domain, in fact, will fluctuate the rankings of the keywords to ensure you’re not just going to hurry and add/remove links if the rating goes down. They want to see that you’re actively building for the betterment of your reader, and not just to take the lion’s share of organic traffic.
4. Circulating horror stories of black-hat marketing techniques
If you’re not familiar with white-hat vs black-hat SEO here’s an article we wrote about the two styles of SEO: http://searchspartan.com/search-marketing/white-hat-vs-black-hat-seo/
There will always be horror stories in any field– doctors, restaurants, mechanics, etc. 1-star hotels will naturally have fewer positive reviews than a 5-star hotel.
In fact, I recently read an SEO horror story. There’s a company that hired a digital agency to do a seemingly simple task. The task took much longer to complete because the previous company had messed things up pretty badly using black-hat techniques. They essentially got her site taken off Google and they masked it by saying it a standard procedure by Google. This “standard procedure” took months before anything was fixed– and not by the amateurs. This new agency hired was more expensive, but she got exactly what she was needing from the beginning–without the headache.
Seeing their results is a major indication if they can stake their claim. Can they rank a site safely? Do they understand search engine updates? Are they working for peanuts, or are they committed to getting you the amazing results they promised?
Final words on SEO fears
SEO is an investment. What’s nice about SEO is that the conversions are measurable. A billboard is good… if you can ensure it’s going in front of your desired target audience. We know a company that pays $10k a year for one billboard that’s not even in a good location.
What are you willing to pay if you could ensure a target audience that is looking specifically for your services? I’m guessing more than $10k.
What would $100k more in sales mean for you and your company? Expanding your business to new locations?
What would it mean in your personal life? Paying off that student debt? Helping your son through college?
My advice? Hire someone who can get you safely there… so you can spread your wings and fly.
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