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Link Building Costs
Posted 12 September 2006 - 08:04 AM
I've just done some link building costings and was wondering what you guys thought of the calculations -
Total # of links of top ten competitors divided by 10 = # of links required for a top ten position.
Page Rank for top ten competitors divided by 10 = average page rank
Multiply Average # of links by 20% (to allow for the continued link growth of competition)
New total links multiplied by costs incurred for link (e.g. PR 6 = £35.00) = Total costs.
I'm fairly happy with this, but is there anyway I can work out it accurately if a client wants say top 3 position? I know I could just take the top three and divide by three but unless I know the exact PR of the links to the competitor it may not give a true picture (e.g. position # 1 may have less links in G than position 2 but of a higher PR/ value to G).
I know this sounds a bit like link mongering but I will of course be looking at relevant links!
Posted 12 September 2006 - 08:35 AM
You're starting off with a false assumption in your formula adybee. Actually a few false assumptions. The problems:
1. All links are not created equal. Some are worth more than others on the old link popularity scale.
2. There is not any reliable way to find all incoming links. Unless you've built your own spider that runs around to every page on the 'Net you're going to have a data corruption problem.
3. You seem to think the displayed PR is at least close to correct. It's not. There's not much in this world that could be farther from the truth for any specific page/site you're analizing.
Given those problems with the data that is being fed to your formula, I don't see any way in the world anyone could be even moderately confident of whatever it spits out.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:27 AM
I agree completely that PR is not a true representation of what value a link has to G and in that instance the calculation is somewhat flawed but how else can we agree on costings, timescales etc. with a client for a link dev project?
If I go in to a meeting with a client and tell them that I don't know how many links it will take, how long it will take to get them into the top 10 (or top 3) or moreover how much it will cost - it's gonna have a negative impact - at least if I can give an approximate or an assumption we have something to work to. Also how can I work out what sort of costs the project will incur for me if I take the project on.
Would you consider that PR goes somewhat towards giving you an idea of the quality of links going into the site? In that instance PR is useful for picking up "quality" sites on G.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:47 AM
Yeah, but it's the truth.
Making something up just because it sounds better is not usually the best way to go.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 10:06 AM
If you can not get across the truth of how it is, then you will struggle for a long time.
If an athlete comes to a coach and says, I want to run the 100m in 11 seconds. Can the coach tell him to the day when he will achieve that? Of course not, and the reason is that there are too many unknowns, like how his body will respond to training etc. Now how about he comes to you and says he wants to run 11 second/100m AND beat his opposition? We have just added another unknown, that being what the opposition are doing in training.
SEO by numbers does not work. By all means do a quick calculation and say. the opposition has 11,000 backlinks, at x per week this will take x weeks. but that is not going to cut the mustard.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 10:08 AM
It's difficult. The very nature of SEO is that we work to some extent on assumption - not ideal in business. I agree with both you and Randy that this is the way forward ethically but it proves very difficult business wise to convince clients to have faith in something that I don't have any real metrics for until the project has begun.
I always tell clients that it will take less or maybe more links than the calculations to improve their position in the rankings and that it may be a long term project (12 months +) depending on the industry sector. I also show them my past results which thankfully have been ok (couple of top 3-10 results). Once the project is up and running I can see an improvement in traffic if all goes well which is normally enough to convince a client of the value of the project. Just getting to that stage thats hard work!!
Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:00 AM
If you go into any meeting with a prospective client promising to get them into the Top 10 Period - Full Stop you've just made a fatal business mistake.
You do not control the rankings, so you cannot guarantee them. Like OWG said above, you need to simply be honest with clients or you're going to be sorry and probably end up either giving a lot of refunds or in court a lot.
To borrow OWG's sprinter example, it would be like a sprinter going to a new coach and saying he/she wanted to win an Olympic medal, and wants a guarantee as to how long it's going to take. As the coach you would know that they're probably going to have to run the 100m in well under 11 seconds. Probably under 10 seconds. So you can sort of use this figure as a guage.
But there are still too many unknowns, even if you can help them accomplish this amazing feat of a sub 10 second 100m run when it counts. For all you know, by the time you get them trained up to consistently run what are competive times in today's world, a dozen other competitors may have improved enough to be running the 100m in 9.5 seconds.
Meaning not only does your guarantee to get them an Olympic medal fail, but they'll be lucky to even make the Olympic team!
Do you see why you shouldn't be making such promises yet?
Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:07 AM
Your analogy's right and you can't really do seo by numbers - but that's not what i really want to do - I'm just trying to figure out an approximate costing so that a client (and myself) has some idea of what it's gonna cost. etc. Nobody would ever buy a service without some idea of basic costs. The downside is that the costs incurred by calculations may put clients off right at the start with very competitive terms. In this case I would look at some sort of weekly or monthly # of links alternative so that this would spread the costs and bring in some sort of income if the client was determined to rabnk for a particular term.
Saying that, we all need to make a living and taking on a project means costs incurred to myself. I need to figure out these costs and whether it's worthwhile for me. Obviously the cost of a link depends on the PR/value of the link and I would adjust that accordingly.
It's a very difficult area and while I agree about the lack of true data and the impact of other outside elements i'm finding it really difficult to come to terms with how we can get this to work. I've done link work before and it's incredibly time consuming. One possibility is that I could charge by the hour or simply by the number of verified links per month.
Essentially it doesn't really matter how many links are in place but what impact it has on client positions but the clients always ask how many links they've got in place by nature.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:31 AM
Sorry - should have said "may take to get them into the top 10". I would never promise any client top ten rankings in a meeting- there's too many variables (exactly like you said) to guarantee this. Building up a clients hopes and expectations is fatal in SEO. a client wants results however and you've got to give or show something to convince them that you can do what is required. You can show your previous results & SEO projects to convince.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:53 AM
It's difficult. The very nature of SEO is that we work to some extent on assumption - not ideal in business.
I've been in plenty of real business situations where people worked on the basis of assumption rather than fact, but in SEO there are plenty of facts available.
Fact number 1: It's not all about links.
Your SEO strategy is to hyperoptimize your client sites through link building. Linking should be the lowest priority because it takes the longest time and the most resources. There are other things that should be addressed first, like client expectations and goals, keyword research, site design and navigation, on-page content, and alternative sources of promotin and creating visibility.
Fact number 2: Even in highly competitive queries, some people can shoot to the top almost overnight.
You may end up with a client who has a truly innovative product or service, even for travel, real estate, insurance, or other hard-to-rank queries. When you land a client like that, you need to think about how to create a buzz so that other people will do the work for you.
Fact number 3: The search engines are constantly tinkering with their technologies.
You cannot count on links the way people used to count on them. Links have been abused and search engines are clamping down on the abuse. So now many links no longer help, but you have no way of knowing how many links have been filtered out. Link analysis has never really been a science, and now it's more a guessing game than ever, with respect to how people achieve rankings based on linkage.
In my opinion, link analysis should emphasize the visibility and popularity by reference (do people actually talk about the site) of potential linking sources and existing link sources. The better links should be the links provided by high traffic sites in prominent, favorable locations on relevant content pages.
Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:41 PM
This is where it gets fun.
What sort of results are the average business person looking for?
They may think they're looking for rankings on certain keyword phrases, because they've heard or read too much complete dross.
What they really want --even if they don't realize it immediately-- is more sales. More conversions for the amount of money they're spending to get traffic.
How to do this means getting better qualified traffic on the front end, not necessarily more traffic. It also mean optimizing the site so that more visitors who fall within your target audience Convert into being paying customers.
It's all about educating the client.
Is that easy? No. Are you going to lose some potential clients because they've been listening to too much complete to be turned around right now? Yes you are.
But by the same token, if you know what you're doing and your efforts can actually increase sales without driving up other costs, you'll end up with more business than you can shake a stick at without ever spending a dime on advertising. The word of mouth after you get a couple of successes where you've taken the time to educate the client will cause you to have a loooooong waiting list.
Posted 13 September 2006 - 03:34 AM
I think you're totally right - absolutely bang on - about educating the client - about conversions and sales etc. In fact everyone who has had input into this discussion has had a valid point.
It's very difficult to convince some clients of the value of SEO and SEM and I agree you should let those go if they are not going to get what you're doing and what value it will bring to their business. I let a client go a few months ago - just didn't get why his PPC campaigns needed management - they were burning up for 11am on Overture and switched off for 11am on Adwords. He wanted to be top for every single generic term in his industry with no real value in terms of traffic.
What I'm really looking for some way of showing a client how successful a project could possibly be. Past projects + some form of approximate metrics. WOM is one of the best ways to build a business I agree.
Thanks guys - sometimes I think I tend to overcomplicate the situation but I don't think there is any harm in trying to give a client some approximation as long as it's stated as an approximation or an assumption.
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