In an industry filled with companies that will do most anything to earn your dollar, it’s reasonable to heed the advice to only take what SEO companies say “with a grain of salt.” After all, the industry has earned itself a somewhat shaky reputation, in large part due to short-sighted practices, oftentimes exorbitant fees, and the all-too-familiar adherence to the “over-promise, under-deliver” philosophy of many companies. (If you don’t trust me, take a look at this recent survey) But on occasion, you’ll run into an ethical and honest company – and there are some great ones out there. These select internet marketing companies can be more than worth their weight in gold. Not only can they catapult your website to new heights, but they can also provide rather insightful advice that can positively impact your overall marketing strategy.
Recently, I had the pleasure of carrying on a conversation with just one of those types – the rare breed of SEO professionals that truly care more about the client than the money alone. And the words of wisdom that he passed on were simple but profound and largely divergent from the overall industry. He said simply, “if a business can’t afford to spend 12 months of funds on SEO services, then they just shouldn’t invest in SEO.”
Wait a Minute – An SEO Company Telling Me Not to Invest?
You heard it right. And this wasn’t a clever “take away” sales tactic, intended to make me feel as though he was taking away the sale, with the intent of prompting me to jump forward into partnership. Rather, he was being extremely sincere and honest – and for good reason. Simply put – properly establishing expectations of an SEO partnership, including the funding available and the timeframe to completion of success metrics will make or break an SEO campaign. In fact, this simple philosophy has a profound impact on both the client and the SEO company alike.
SEO Costs and Timing Expectations from the Client Perspective
From the client’s perspective, the measure of success of an SEO service is largely dependent upon the increase in rankings, traffic, conversions, and sales that are generated as a result of an SEO campaign. Many times, potential SEO customers don’t have a true understanding of their chances of success, the length of time that is required, and the costs that will need to be incurred to achieve success. Compounding this problem is the simple truth that “3 to 6 month” has been thrown out there by so many SEO firms that it’s almost become a de facto expectation.
Reality, however, is much different. To truly achieve great and sustainable SEO results in the current environment, SEO companies are required to work even harder than ever before and the timeline to the finish line is oftentimes longer. What was once achieved by creating hordes of links, has now been replaced with targeted relationship building that takes time to nurture. What was once a “set it and forget it” mentality with regard to website content has evolved into a perpetual pipeline of multitudes of content, carefully crafted to address the specific needs of different target markets. It’s imperative for SEO companies to set the proper expectations for success with their prospects and clients – and the timeline and budget requirements are only increasing if sustained results that can outlast Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and other future changes to come. While one year isn’t the end all answer, it’s a lot closer to the truth than many other companies would like you to think. Furthermore, companies can truly ponder whether or not they can sustain the investment of a year’s worth of SEO fees.
SEO Costs and Timing Expectations from the SEO Company’s Perspective
From an SEO company’s perspective, letting the client know that it will take an extended period of time to achieve success is a built in sales process to weed out potentially problematic clients. It’s completely understandable that many companies aren’t at the point in their evolution that they can be choosy about clients. However, deciding what constitutes a good client can save a lot of time and money in the long run. First, by setting proper timing and budget expectations, the SEO company will find out if the potential prospect has the appropriate budget to achieve success. In an industry where there have been so many companies that have quit at the one yard line, this is a very powerful piece of information. Second, by gauging timeframes and budget, the SEO company is actually learning more about the psychology of the potential client. Oftentimes, the clients that are extremely fixated on money and “how quickly they can get ranked” will be the most likely to quit prematurely. Similarly, the clients that have patience and some funding to endure the trials will most likely achieve success.
In a world where truth and ethical behavior are sometimes lacking, it’s time to set proper expectations. In doing so, everybody will be left in a better place.