Review of The SitePoint Search Engine Marketing Kit by Dan Thies

A while ago I bought Dan Thies's Search Engine Marketing Kit because I think Dan knows his stuff pretty well. Many people miss out on the fact that if you make your product just a little better by understanding what other related products are on the market and learning even just a few things from them you build significant longterm value.

There are some sectors of his kit and my ebook that overlap, but many sectors do not directly overlap.

things I liked about Dan's kit:

  • You can tell that he wants to help people do well. Self promotion is kept to a minimum. It is also obvious that the book is based on years experience.

  • Branded as the keyword expert it is no surprise that he covers keyword research in depth.
  • Throughout the book he reinforces how much the reader has learned. I think my ebook would be improved if I added a few more of the reinforcement statements like that.
  • He offers a good amount of tips on setting up and selling an SEO / SEM service. I think his goal when making the guide was to create something similar to the Web Design Business Kit for SEM.
  • He provides sample documents for prospective SEO businesses. Such as service agreements.
  • Most of his guide is wrote in a manner that it will not be outdated in a couple days, weeks, months, or years.
  • Talks a good amount about server, duplicate content, and technical issues. This is an area where I could improve my guide a good bit.
  • Has some useful interviews in it.
  • Focused on big picture concepts, not irrelevant and/or short term solutions.
  • Well edited.
  • I end my ebook stating that I think people should continue reading and learning about the web as there is no one source that is going to teach you everything to make you do well. He also did that and I think that is a necissary mark of a good book in this space.

things I think could be better:

  • The kit could focus a bit more on creativity, especially in the link building area.

  • Although we are both willing to mention them, he and I both do not usually use or recommend the most aggressive techniques. I think me being indepenant gives me a bit more leway though. For example, I can say I don't think most people need to cloak, but if you do chose to cloak go with the best, Fantomaster.
  • Dan could have done a bit more to talk about some of the social aspects of the web. Some of his examples and his interview of Scottie did help show some of these types of ideas in action though. I think did a fair job with it, but I think it is an issue that is sorely missed within the SEO community. It is impossible to stress the social aspects of the web too much.
  • The resources area at the end of the guide was a bit thin. I think this was a function of a few main factors:
    • My ebook links to a ton of sites and tools, so that may throw my baseline or expectation off.

    • What is a useful tool today may not be a useful tool tomorrow.
    • He did not intend to create a comprehensive tool list.

    The resources he recommend are useful and best of breed ones though.

  • One of the weeknesses of my ebook was that I did not link to much search research because I did not want to make my book too technical. I later added some links on that front due to people asking more about some of the topics and current research. I think he references some, but it would be hard for him to reference the Google patent that came out less than a month ago.
  • Some of the nuances to link building were not well versed. Of course Google sometimes rolls in almost random penalties and lots of concepts that may change over time. It is hard to be exceptionally in depth on the latest techniques and go through the whole publishing process.

How else our guides differ:

Process: Dan covers the importance of process. I do not stress that in my ebook. My philosophy is that it is easy to get stuck in ruts and the things you do should be efficient and flexible. Proccess makes some things efficient, but you should also spend a good amount of time doing unique things. Creative or original ideas do well on the web. I also think it is important to learn markets and learn how to react quickly.

Freshness: His book was crafted in a manner to where it would not go out of date in a day. That also means that it is not going to be able to go as far in depth on some issues and cover some of the newest techniques.

Target audience:
His book seems to be more focused on those aiming to sell SEO services. My book seems more focused on those who are aiming to buy services. We both overlap in covering those who want to do services on their own sites.

Generally I do not like selling SEO services as a business model. SEO is a flooded marketplace with a ton of scams in it. Most of the prospective clients have other problems and some view SEO as free money. It may sound arrogent to say that over 90% of the prospective leads are no good, but client greed and the invisiblity of the job make it hard to land clients worth working for unless you are smooth at salesmenship. If you already know how to sell stuff why not create your own products and sites?

To me it usually makes sense to build your own stuff and work on your own sites if you can afford to. Sure you may have a few clients off the start, but the quicker you shed service based work the quicker you can look at creating your own products and websites that logarithmically increase in value as time passes.

In each niche market there are opportunities for a few people to dominate. Many markets related to basic functions related to life and humanity still have zero competition. SEO on the other hand is fierce. Everyone sees Google's stock price and wants to get in on making money cheap as possible.

Dan Thies is the keyword research expert. Patrick Gavin is the link broker. Eric Ward is a site announcement expert with tons of contacts. Jen Sleg is the contextual ads expert. Andrew Goodman is the AdWords expert. Jill Whalen is the content SEO. Kevin Lee is a PPC expert. SEO PR is the company that optimizes press releases. Even writing an SEO book by the name of SEO Book meant that I was joining a crowded marketplace. It took over a year to see significant profits. I am not the best at selling services, but if you do decide to sell SEO services then doing following should help:

  • build brand build brand build brand!!!

  • niche your services
  • try to create services where your pay is not reliant on rankings or other arbitrary figures. get paid for results that matter or get paid upfront and create results that matter.
  • do not be afraid to say no to leads
  • create other revenue streams to make up for the fluctuations in demand.
Published: April 21, 2005 by Aaron Wall in book reviews


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