SEO? That Sounds Like Work

I probably lose more than my fair share of SEO proposals that I send out. And I’m completely fine with that.

It isn’t because my SEO firm isn’t qualified. And, unless someone is expecting SEO truly on the cheap, it isn’t usually a matter of price. The reason we don’t end up “closing” (I hate that word) more of the proposals that we send out is probably because we’re upfront about the dedication needed to see through a SEO effort.

Many people lack time, especially in these leaner economic times. Companies have downsized and the remaining employees are asked to do more. Everyone’s time gets crunched a little.

Let there be no mistake: if you’re going to do SEO properly — unless you’re willing to outsource everything to an SEO provider — you’re going to need some folks on your team to chip in.

A well thought out SEO effort means bringing all of your assets together and working toward a common cause. This means press release copywriting/distribution, blogging, social media marketing, and Web design/development.

When I review a prospect’s Web site and their competitive landscape before writing a proposal, I’m very upfront about what they’ll need to do to enjoy long-term success.

I’ve previously shared a case study of the type of involvement that can be necessary in a SEO effort. This case study was based upon a client project in which we had the client writing about 100 to 300 pages of new copy every single month. Yeah, that’s a lot of content.

Keep in mind, this client had a long way to go in order to build up the trust and authority with the search engines. They had fewer than 100 pages of copy indexed in Google (now the site has over 3,700 pages indexed in Google), while their competitors had thousands of pages of copy, so they had to catch up.

For many companies, however, if they hear that they need to create hundreds, or possibly thousands, of pages of copy, they say, “Forget it. It isn’t going to happen.”

That’s a real shame. But I’m completely fine to lose this business early on, rather than the alternative.

What’s the alternative?

Many SEO firms will sugarcoat the heck out of a SEO program to make it sound like it’s so easy and results are only weeks away, without so much as looking for a minute at the competitive landscape. They’ll tell the prospect all the things that they want to hear, get a few months worth of money in the bank and then — three months from the start date — the client starts asking, “Where are the quick/easy results?”

How motivated is this client going to be to find another SEO firm after this kind of experience?

It’s better if every SEO does their best to explain the work involved in a solid SEO effort. Let’s start talking to these companies about the need for effort on their part (or additional money if they want to outsource everything), and start treating SEO as a very legitimate — and very important — marketing initiative. Today’s SEO is about building brands, community, public relations, and — yes — traffic/leads/direct sales, and each of these require budgets to support them being done well.

Too often, people want the easy answer or the shortcut. There are no shortcuts in life (my mom taught me that). Work hard and your efforts will be rewarded.

The other important lesson taught to me was, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” I’ll stand firm in my position of sharing with people my insights, and trying to educate and help people realize what it really takes to be successful. I think our clients appreciate the honesty.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies San Jose, August 10-14, 2009, at the McEnery Convention Center.

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