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"we're Not Paying" Until Our Rankings Improve...


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#31 myebizcoach

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 06:24 PM

QUOTE(heroforhire @ Nov 18 2005, 10:26 AM)
I'm just always dealing with people who are web illiterate.  So when I start talking to them about Google's ranking methods and why I can't guarantee things (in very, very basic terms) some of them wouldn't suprise me by saying "what's Google?"

Not really, but I feel as if many think they're getting the snake oil speech.  So, when I can beg them to sign on, they are still highly doubtful and are looking for quick proof to be sure they're not wasting their money.  I am having lots of trouble getting past that "riptide" in the relationship. 

I need to find clients who will ride with me through the rough spots and look at things over longer term, but I've yet to accomplish this smoothly.
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This post sums it up. It's time to raise your game. There will always be clients who are skeptical and doubtful of your internet marketing abilities. No matter how good you are at what you do, certain elements of the search game are outside your immediate locus of control.

When it comes to bringing on new clients, I've learned the hard way, not every client (no matter what the size of their budget) is a good fit for me. You can do the work sooner or later. Qualify your new clients to the hilt. Make sure there is a cultural and mind-set fit. If they're scraping pennies and hoping your SEO work will take them from obscurity to search engine stardom in 90 days or less, both you and the client are setting yourself up to fail. Find out who they hired to do the work before you and why they're not using them anymore. Listen to how they talk about their other suppliers. If they're always complaining that they're not getting enough for their buck, then you know you have a client you may not be able to please.

Hopefully you've already resolved the issue, but you may want to ask your client if they would be willing to give away their own time, products and services absolutely free.

Let your clients know where you're comfortable negotiating your fees on performance and where you absolutely need to be compensated for your time, know-how and expertise.

This client is coping out. Don't back down on getting paid.

[URL address remvoed. Please use My Controls above to create a signature.]

Edited by Randy, 01 March 2006 - 07:11 PM.


#32 myebizcoach

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 10:48 PM

QUOTE(dmcconkey @ Nov 19 2005, 07:08 AM)
Out of curiosity, Randy, how long did that take you to turn a profit? I've been tossing that idea around, but every hour I spend for me is an hour I can't bill a client. Back when I could only find 10 hours of work a week, that would have been fine. Right now, though, I'm already sacrificing most weekends to meet client deadlines.

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Off the original topic, yes. But a very important question in my view. I can never resist this question.

Dan here's an oversimplified calculation of ROI based on setting up your own site/products for sale vs. dedicating that time to client work.

Let's say your time is worth $100/hr. when your clients are footing the bill. Now let's say you decide to set up a subscription site or an ecomm site on the side selling your valued expertise and information or some other product at a modest annual average sale of $49 per customer.

Let's say it takes 60 hours of your time to get your site e-comm ready and optimized. If clients had paid you for your time, you'd have made $6,000. Now image that your product sells well and you attract 100 clients, that's $4,900 (for your 60 hour investment). Ah you could have made more than that working for clients, but the key is, your costs to sell a 1000 are only marginally higher than the cost to sell 100.

So what if you could sell 1,000 products/subscriptions in your first year. At $49 a pop, that's $49,000. Hmm... compared to $6,000, when you do the math, it just makes sense to pay yourself first by squeaking out the 60 hours.

You just can't beat residual income.

Again the numbers are over-simplified to make a point, but this is a challenge we all face, working on the client's projects vs. our own. The reality is we should be doing both. Once that residual starts to flow and you realize you're making money every hour of the day, whether you're sitting at your computer or not, you've hit the real sweet spot of success.

Edited by myebizcoach, 01 March 2006 - 10:57 PM.


#33 FP Guy

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 07:52 AM

QUOTE
I have clients now at #1 in Google, MSN, and Yahoo at the same time that are hesitant to pay me.


My first reaction to this was that the customer did not see an increase in ROI. I used to say that SEO cannot be just placing the keywords right or just creating a linking strategy or just doing the research, it has to involve all of them.

But in the near future, especially with Google's search getting better and better, SEO will die. So SEO and SEM will have to merge to be of any value to anyone. Isn't it true already today? Sure you can get to the top with some obscure phrase and sure you can get to the top with a phrase searched often, but if the ROI doesn't change it isn't going to make most people happy.

Most people think, "High search engine rankings means high profits!" Which just isn't true! When I explain to clients that yes I can get them to the top of search engines and yes I can brings hundreds of more visitors to their sites relatively soon, but to increase ROI they have to market their site, examine traffic patterns and trends to their site, adjust their site accordingly, etc., etc. They really lose interest then.

I started out doing just web design with SEO as an interesting hobby. Designing my sites search engine friendly until one day I started popping up in the rankings, then I specifically designed a site for a certain keyword phrase and had success. Since then I took on about ten clients without a proper SEO contract (Jill's husband would shoot me) and gave them the results they wanted explaining ahead of time that nothing is a guarantee and to treat it like the stock market.

With this in mind and the fear that this topic started out as I contemplated using my services just to help others. Such as keyword research, linking strategies, submitting sites to directories, offering tutorials, etc. Where I charge with services to help them, but not be responsible for the whole enchilada. If I were asked to do the whole thing I would hire a professional copywriter, and a couple of other people in conjunction to getting the job done right.

As for the future of me and the SEO business, it's still up in the air.

QUOTE
Since you're good at SEO have you ever seriously considered spending a bit of time creating your own e-comm sites instead of only working for others?

Sounds silly and simplistic doesn't it? But that's exactly what I did.


I've thought about this as well, and even considered doing affiliate sites optimized for the web for people to click on and generate a residual income.

QUOTE
Ever since I quit my W-2 job (about a year ago), I've adopted my clients as my "water cooler gang". I guess I just have an inner need to shoot the breeze a little. I don't see ever giving up the clients completely, but a (somewhat) self-sufficient revenue generator on the side could be a nice addition to my livelyhood.


Since I've quit my day job I've missed talking to everyone during lunch hour, but sure love to make my own decisions with the responsibility being my own!

Sorry this is so long, but I usually only get wind of these topics thru an email newsletter and join late. I enjoy reading everyone's thoughts on certain topics like this.

Michael

#34 jehochman

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 09:30 AM

Back to the main topic...

Most people are basically honest, and if they don't pay it's because they are unhappy, or they don't have the money but won't admit it.

The solution is to continue being nice, but stop doing work. When their need exceeds the amount they owe (and they've got the cash), they will come around and pay. You can help by asking why they are unhappy, and explaining how to solve the problems.

Patience is your ally. Suing, or threatening to sue, is a terrible business strategy because it ensures zero future cooperation, and may provoke a counterclaim.

#35 GBRD

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 01:39 PM

If you consider the actual elements of each campaign; search engine optimization does not require rankings to justify its validity.
Research, coding, content development, etc. etc. are valuable services in and of themselves especially when combined to form a comprehensive service.

As SEO's we cannot be in the business of selling rankings, it's just bad business to sell something that is ultimately not under your direct control.

I make certain that every one of my potential clients understands that we don't sell rankings; we sell optimization. You do not pay a surgeon based upon the outcome of the operation, the same principle applies here.

I find that if you are very clear about these points, you will avoid problems down the way. We balance this by making it obvious to our clients know that we are working towards their success, all the time, in ways that are flexible and creative.

Regular communication is a wise investment.



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#36 websearchengineer

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 02:21 PM

heroforhire,

Wow, what a good series of post!

And yes, some of us do in fact (me) have day jobs, kids (me - three all under four years old), and do SEO on the side (me - super early mornings, very late nights and weekends stolen away from my kids).

I feel your pain since recently I've had two clients that did not achieve the #1 spot that they secretly thought I could get them even though like you I told them there was no guaranteed rank what-so-ever.

One bit of insight I would like to share here is when it comes to communicating with clients up front I'm now telling them what I am shooting for in doing SEO for them is "not a high rank" in the SERPs, but a "broad reach," meaning, that by optimizing their sites for many theme-centric keywords they will "show up more broadly" for many different keywords which will increases their traffic just like getting higher targeted keyword rankings.

I see this as the "long tail" approach to my SEO for them - their site is found for many broad keyword queries, but not for the more competitive targeted keywords which in many, many cases is hard as hell to achieve for them in the first place therefor I have a better chance of obtaining a high rank for them for less competitive keywords broadly.

The other thing I always do is "up front" mention to them that they might want to also consider running a Paid Placement ad champaign if it turns out their SEO/organic listings I try to achieve for them are not stellar. This way I at least have provided them with an alternate solution from the get-go if the organic SEO doesn't turn out well which takes some of the heat off me and their frustrations with the whole SEO process.

Hope this helps you a bit?

Yours,

Richard

#37 FP Guy

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 03:02 PM

QUOTE
I make certain that every one of my potential clients understands that we don't sell rankings; we sell optimization. You do not pay a surgeon based upon the outcome of the operation, the same principle applies here.


Good Point! I'll have to remember that one.

#38 PSEO

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 08:57 PM

There are always going to be clients who want out of their contracts...in any business...no matter the quality or the results of your efforts. Even some clients who we get top rankings for complain that they aren't seeing an increase in sales (obviously their problem - not ours)

You MUST be selective in who you contract with. Make sure they are able to convert their PPC visitors, and that you are confident in your ability to acheive rankings. If you bring them increased revenues, they will be happy to pay you.

#39 heroforhire

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 10:43 PM

I could have never imagined that this post would become so rich with insight. It's been a while since I did the original post, and I have learned a great deal from all of you.

Several big changes I've made:

a) Productization

On the advice of a good friend and business planning genius, I set out to productize my offerings. That is, I gave them names and boundries. This is to serve two purposes: 1) To make it easy for clients to buy and 2) as a step on the way to creating distinct products I can package.

b ) Clients Fired

Early this year I "fired" 12 clients. It was very, very hard to do. I sent them statements and let them know they needed to settle their accounts to zero in 15 days. Those that didn't received a letter if disengagement. No lawsuit, nothing else. I just washed my hands. And no, unlike some of my competition, I did not leave a robots.txt bomb behind.

c) Client interview worksheet made

I now have a written client interview that I use on the phone. It's actually a 12 page excel workbook. The tabs go from SEO, PPC, Audits, Yahoo Stores, etc. and I can flip between them as I talk to clients on the phone. Asking key questions. It is now a huge huge huge help. I also sound like I have it together on the phone now.

d) No more ranking reports unless forced.

I stopped sending webposition reports to clients, and started sending clicktracks data. This lets me report on the broader performance of their site, and shows how fast people leave pages (e.g. evidence the content sucks.) My reports are entirely based on VALUE in overall traffic, customer flow, etc.

e) I'm taking a business coaching class (gasp $10k)

I skipped SES this year and am taking this instead. I have a business coach helping me with some of the issues in exchange for my experience in franchise marketing. Working great. Just got back from an all day pow-wow where we both got a ton done.

f) I raised my rate.

That's right. I raised it 30% and set minimums on my projects. It felt freaking great, too. Only one client balked.

g) I got a phone with do-not-disturb button and turned off my Outlook "new mail" sound.

Little things make such big differences.




On the idea of starting my own site and optimizing myself. I am definitely looking for that opportunity, but like others have said, I do well to just get nough sleep (looking at my watch, writing this post at 11:00 PM Fri Night)

To everyone who took the time to chime in. Thanks!

#40 Jill

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 11:17 PM

That's all great news heroforhire! Please stop by now and then and keep us up to date!

#41 heroforhire

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:30 AM

I nearly forgot one of the biggest and most important things in this post above.. the reason I went through all of this initially was:

a) I read the E-myth: Revisited. A book that EVERYONE should read about overcoming the small business woes. What type of business is SEO... should I hire an assistant? Is this possible? Etc.

B ) My interview to clients was partially based on concepts in this book. I am now able to recognize what stage of business these people are in when they call me (infant, adolescent, etc.) and do a little bit of prediction. Are they a PPC client? Will they tolerate the frustrations of organic SEO? Are they a good fit for my firm.

#42 Leann_Pass

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:58 AM

Awesome heroforhire!! Sounds like it is definitely coming together. All that you are doing now should help tons of people - some great stuff there! Thanks for laying it all out.

And, like Jill said, I hope you will drop by and keep us updated - I would love to know how things change/work out over time.

Leann

#43 BeGlobal

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 11:11 AM

That's why I prefer doing other SEOs job.. angel_not.gif

#44 Catz

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 11:27 PM

QUOTE
No more ranking reports unless forced.

I stopped sending webposition reports to clients, and started sending clicktracks data. This lets me report on the broader performance of their site, and shows how fast people leave pages (e.g. evidence the content sucks.) My reports are entirely based on VALUE in overall traffic, customer flow, etc.
Great thinking...

People used to only be interested in ranking but with the growing popularity of ClickTracks, which is so easy to use and easy for clients to understand, the focus needs to be more about what is going on once visitors make it to the site.

If clients can see how people move around once in the site, it can make a huge difference. This should help highlight the need to let you work on improving the content of various pages, which in turn could lead to more work with your current clients and a much more satisfied customer in the long run. goodjob.gif

#45 grooveitgolf_com

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 12:55 PM

QUOTE(dmcconkey @ Nov 19 2005, 09:08 AM) View Post
Out of curiosity, Randy, how long did that take you to turn a profit? I've been tossing that idea around, but every hour I spend for me is an hour I can't bill a client. Back when I could only find 10 hours of work a week, that would have been fine. Right now, though, I'm already sacrificing most weekends to meet client deadlines.


That's when you hire a young marketer to offload a large quantity of your lower-skill efforts and refocus time on higher dollar-per-hour activities. Yes, hiring someone is a serious pain, but it multiplies effectiveness much more than 2x. It also purchases your life back smile.gif




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