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SEO Marketing: Hoist by their own Petard?

SEO Marketing: Hoist by their own Petard?

Sara Holoubek’s January 16th DM News article
laments the distrust faced by SEO firms when they go to market. Prospective clients annoyingly want to know what exactly the SEO firm intends to do, which would force firms to disclose their methods before they get paid.

I would respectfully submit that this is largely a function of SEO’s past. There have been too many bad actors in the space, too much smoke and mirrors, and too little time to listen to all of their pitches. I can’t speak for others, but I tend to hold onto my wallet when a firm says to me: “I can’t tell you what we’re going to do nor can I promise results, just trust me it will be worth while.”

I think the question: “What are you going to DO for me?” is not so unreasonable. For many years retailer were told: “We can’t show you, because it’s like a treasure map, once you’ve seen it, you won’t pay.” That’s fine, the problem is the treasure map you bought five years ago looks an awful lot like the ones for sale now.

The best practices in SEO web page design are well known, so why not simply have your web designers follow these well established principles? If the issue is execution, does it really cost the rates Sara quoted — $25K per month is $300K per year — to do the work??? Seems like a big chunk of change to me.

The ultimate ROI from any SEO project should be measured, as Sara suggests, by measuring the increase in natural search traffic against some baseline, but with two important caveats:

1. Internet sales are growing rapidly simply because of greater adoption, so the measurement shouldn’t be “Growth over last year”, instead it must be “Growth over the existing upward trend”.
2. When measuring that growth, you need to extract the organic search on your brand name and trademarks, and folks who type your url directly into their browser. SEO projects aren’t driving these sales, these come from the power of your brand.

With these two caveats in place, I’d be surprised to find any companies that has found $300K annual SEO efforts profitable.

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