Bad clients will waste your time and destroy your business. Since SEO can deliever such cheap marketing sometimes it is easy to sell yourself short, taking on bad clients.
The worst prospects I have ever encountered are:
those burned by SEOs who have no trust left
those who used to rank well, feel they deserve free top rankings, and are unwilling to change with the algorithms
those who think SEO should be free marketing
A person recently emailed me, telling me they were having a rough situation, wanting me to commit to them, but not wanting to pay anything before their problems are guaranteed to be solved. Sometimes even analyzing a situation can take hours, and you would be a nut case to do that work free unless it was for a cause you believed in.
Eventually they even thought they were going to taunt me into fixing their problems for them:
Having read your blog I had thought you were up for a challenge to put right what is not only an unfair penalty, but potentially one that shows that Yahoo applies one set of rules for its 'channel' partners and another to its 'channel' partner's competitors.
If you are at all serious about what you do, check out this search and tell me if Yahoo should be penalizing this website.
This person assumes that there is a hidden agenda, where the search engine is out to get them, unwilling to look in the mirror to see if he is providing the search engine with something they would like.
As far as that want a challenge bit goes, there are many challenges in life:
Sometimes it is easy to feel tooimportant, but you can only do so much, and there is no reason to spend your life helping someone who wants guaranteed results who pushes blame on others. Last time I had a lead like that I blew them off. A friend later worked for them, and is still regretting it.
Now a bunch of what you read in the forums is rubbish, but there are some strong alligations about Keyword Ranking in that thread:
They go after small companies, persistient sales force who promises everything, once you sign you find out that for the money you pay them YOU do all the work.... it's like hiring someone to read you a book on SEO. They provide generic canned reports, basically "find and replace" company name, no specific analysis to your site, only what you provide to them they take an reformat into another useless report.
Keywordranking has a shoddy record with the BBB.
Visit the website of the Better Business Bureau and search for "keywordranking" under the section "Check It Out". The BBB report on Keywordranking / Websourced states "The Bureau has processed 22 complaints about this company in the last 36 months concerning unfulfilled contract and refund and credit issues. Eighteen of those were processed in the last 12 months"
Can you find any other large SEO company with such a bad BBB record? I couldn't!
bhartzer, a fellow JimGuide, even worked Traffic Power into the thread!
I am sure I am going to get some hate for this post, but at what point should large SEO companies also have people who work the forums, and not just the phones?
Clearly they have many bright marketers over there, some of the best in the industry, and yet they are getting torn up on forums where they moderate at.
On another front, that thread is over 5 months old. You would think a company trying to position themselves as a cutting edge marketing firm would track what the major channels say about them at least a few times a year, wouldn't you?
So most people are all driven by emotions and a desires like
If you fill someone's needs there is limited profit potential in that market space as others will try to fill needs cheaper. The key is to fill wants and desires.
You can buy links all day long, but the more your site launch conveys a social element and fills people's desires for at least one of the above the better the chance it will succeed. Fathom's Keyword Price Index is in my opinion fairly arbitrary. Much of the search profit growth is driven by search volume, but Fathom created a system to give people a set of numbers to track click prices by sector and report them each month. Since some people feel the data is important they may feel their site is incomplete without it. Thus we talk about it.
Other marketers will need to pay for that type of exposure, and even then many people discount or ignore ads. I ALWAYS prefer to buy content advertorials over traditional ads because they look less like ads and converts better. It is the reason behind the whole page editorial looking ad and a large part of the exceptional profitability of AdWords (the other part is of course precise targeting).
The below example might be full of crap or easy to do wrong, therefore it is no formal suggestion and the author of this post shall not be held liable for the use or misuse of this information / post / idea.
A friend of mine recently wanted to launch a site about celebrities and asked me what I thought of it. The design looked good, but the writing could have been better. I told my friend that the site had low content quality. But what does that really mean?
On this blog I miss out on many link opportunities by randomly whinging about and not putting much effort into editing. When I told my friend their writing could have been better the editing was an issue, but that really was not the flawed part of the idea. The flaw was that the idea ignored the social structure of the web, why people link, and what keeps people coming back.
If I was going to launch a site about celebrities here are some of the things I would do:
Either make the idea niche (about a few celebrities) or try to get some funding.
Get a killer brandable domain name that conveys something more. For example, a parked page rests at www.dirt.org and some of the other similar domain names might be available cheap. Dirt.org, Dirt.net, or Dirt.com is a great web brand waiting to happen.
Create something people could not get elsewhere. If people are looking up celebrity information sure their birth date is cool, but why not have sections like:
Recent Sexual Partners (rumoured)
Illegal habbits and fetishes (rumoured)
You could further extend that "what you can't get elsewhere" idea by showing:
the connectivity of degrees of separation between sex partners (confirmed or rumoured)
links to people who got in trouble for the same illegal activities
links to people who share the same fetishes
etc etc etc
To make the idea more social, give away free fan blogs and use a social software program which allows people to rate the best pots and channels to make them more visible. Also hire some editors and grab some news feed to help the network work and ensure there is a decent level of content quality.
Encourage people to report the dirt. Perhaps even offering cash rewards.
The site might even be more over the top by offering ad space to sketchy advertisers that deal in semi illegal or intrusive stuff such as paparazzi photos and the like.
At the end of the day if you can cause people to talk about something your bank account will swell (unless you get sued). Sometimes lawsuits are a cheap form of marketing as well though. Also many times people are required to inform you of what you are doing wrong before they can sue you for it.
I am sure you can spam some information systems such as Tag Cloud, but if you can get your name, your site name, and ideas you made up to be semantically related to the subject of your content then you win. If DMOZ links to many of your celebrity content pages you win. If bloggers frequenlty link in you win. If many people desire your site specifically then it is hard for a search engine to penalize your site and you win.
Lots of other random ideas in my head, but I don't pay much attention to most celebrities. That was an example of how to future proof SEO techniques by making sure the idea is socially well structured for guaranteed longterm success.
Not sure if I have it in me to be a strong entrepreneur, but in a few years I might be willing to try out a bit more of my random ideas.
Leslie Rhode created a new seo blog, and a new Mastering PageRank video. His OptiLink was one of the first SEO tools I bought and one of the few I ever found useful, although the advancing algorithms are making link analysis harder than it was a short time ago.
Mirago's Context Stream:
new AdSense competitor spotted.
Spammy Directory Links:
Have still seen them working decent in Google, although I am sure that will eventually change.
About 3 months ago a friend launched a brand spanking new site on an expensive topic which already ranks in the top 30 for a well known short query. The site ranked there before being listed in DMOZ.
Other than a Yahoo! Directory link only a few links from on topic sites or sites that would be well trusted by an algorithm such as TrustRank.
Most of the links popularity comes from general directories. The site also has sitewide outbound links to a couple industry hub resources. Most other sites in the field are not well topically connected and are powered by fake hubs and the like.
Their search service now comes with a new search suggestion / keyword research tool. Similar to how Snap works, except instead of showing queries which start with your term it shows querries which contain your term. from TW
Since search sites themselves have no product other than the contents of other sites how do you launch a search site? How would you market a new search engine?
One idea I have thinking about is giving people the perception of user feedback. Since many search engines have editors (like Yahoo!) or employ remote quality raters (like Google) this data can be used to train the algorithms. You also could collect information from random surfers and use that as feedback, although Direct Hit proved that relying too heavily on that data is a flawed idea. The direct information from surfers may have a greater purpose though.
What if you did not necissarily use that data that much, but gave people the idea that you valued their opinions. You could maket the search service as your search. Tell the people that by searching and rating sites they personally were responsible for making the web a better place. If people believed it was true then to them it would be. If they could spread the idea far enough (telling many of their friends about how great it is) then maybe the search service could steal enough market share to sell enough ads to be able to afford the right people and algorithms to make the search the most relevant.
Of course the service would need to be fairly decent off the start as well, but it might be a decent idea. How would YOU market a search engine?
[03:07] random person: hello
[03:08] me: ?
[03:08] random person: how u?
[03:09] me: bot or person?
[03:09] random person: person
[03:09] random person: u?
[03:09] me: bot
[03:09] random person: :)
[03:09] random person: work?
[03:10] me: ?
[03:10] random person: do u work
[03:10] me: all bots do
[03:10] random person: no i mean do you have a job
[03:11] me: yes
[03:11] me: arbitrary question really right
[03:11] me: i mean if you didnt know that then why message me
[03:11] random person: just wondered if you had ever been involved in network marketing
[03:12] me: i market on the largest networks
[03:12] me: google, yahoo, msn, ebay, etc etc etc
[03:13] random person: doin well?
[03:13] me: again. arbitrary question
[03:13] me: well enough
[03:14] me: what do you do to where you IM random people
[03:15] random person: i dont im random people you are on my contact list and have been for a while
[03:15] me: hehehe
[03:15] me: well ur not on mine and I have been up for a long time
[03:15] me: my URL http://www.seobook.com
[03:16] random person: ill check it out
[03:18] random person: my URL'S [multi level marketing useless spam shit]
and so our conversation abruptly ended. I am sure it will pick up again in a few months.
In 1997, I wrote the "Do Websites Have Increasing Returns?" column, discussing the relative value of big and small websites. I predicted that small sites would generate 75% of the Web's total value because they can be more targeted than big sites. ...
Most current discussions of the long tail underestimate the non-hits and assume that each point on the curve has the same value. But on the Web, being small means that you can better target your content and thus provide higher value per unit than more generic services.
Jakob also mentions a few of his hits and misses and points out some of his Alertbox articles which he feels deserve far more traffic than they get.
I have a bit of a hard time balancing self worth and ego, but it is interesting to think that hundreds of thousands of people could read your not well received work and still view it as deserving of more attention.
It seems to me that whether a person calls something usability, long tail, conversion marketing, SEO, story telling, brand building, or whatever, the end goal is to create enough value to extract profits while serving customers needs.
Usually most of the tips and information can be generic in nature (ex: track results or increase usability) - or deeply specific using some random vocabulary set (ex: Use location based keyword modifiers and bid for third position on Overture for expensive terms. Daypart your bid prices or ad display times to match the optimal point on the profit elasticity curve.) - because most of these terms and ideas are geared toward creating websites or systems which specifically target the needs of a small group of people. It is easy to fill the needs and desires of a small group of people.
It also makes me wonder if I should broaden or shift some of my interests (and more importantly, the way I market them) to a label other than SEO.
When in the UK I asked a ton of questions about demographics, law enforcement, power generation, social services, transportation, and the like. I find it fascinating to watch how some systems scale. It will be amazing if / when people figure out something that can beat out AdWords. MSN's new product may offer more data, but it may be confusing and just a bit ahead of its time.