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Search Engine Optimization is not all it's cracked up to be!

This image is a great example of SEO representation and similar images can be found all across the Internet, primarily on websites and blogs touting the benefits of better search engine visibility. 

Unfortunately, SEO has always been and continues to be misleading still today. This is because there are more websites wanting to be on the first page of a search result than there are pages providing first page opportunities. 

Problem #1: Google listings take up the top half of a search page.

The majority of all google search intent is local. When you do a search for a local service provider you are presented with the map and generally three local business listings. There will be ads above the map and a few local websites below the map at the bottom half of the page mixed in with local directory websites. Google owned search page listings takes up about half the top of a search results  page.  

The overwhelming majority of all clicks to a search page happen above the top half of the page and Google is in firm control of that area. Roughly 30% of the search traffic is divided among the bottom websites which means having your website rank on the first page no longer has the impact it once did. Today, to fully benefit from local search traffic, you need to be one of the listings in the three pack beside the map. This is a service I offer.

Here is an example for a search of Nashville Plumbers.

Problem #2: SEO's over promise and under deliver, if they deliver at all!

There has always been an element of SEO that is less than ethical. While I was running my own local SEO agency, I was regularly contacted by other local SEO agencies and many webdesign companies wanting to provide SEO services to their clients. So, I offered consulting services to these various agencies. 

My first step was to review what they were doing as most had already been offering SEO services to some degree. The vast majority of these SEO agencies and almost every single webdesign agency I worked with were selling SEO services without actually providing much in the way of SEO. Many would create reports from Google analytics or other website traffic reporting programs without doing anything to optimize the website. They were simply emailing website traffic reports on a monthly schedule. Some didn’t even provide as much as a report. Others used free online tools to scan a website and provide monthly recommendations from those free scans. These unethical service providers were providing no SEO services at all. 

Not all of them but most of them. 

I would explain how I was able to rank websites and Google Local listings and assumed they implemented my process. My process wasn’t difficult but there was a small expense which many of those I consulted with hoped to reduce through shortcuts. Most agencies sell SEO services on a monthly recurring billing cycle to maximize profits. They would do this until the business owners finally cancelled the service. 

Problem #3: The cost extremes offered by many SEO agencies.

In my agency, I was the greatest expense to my services. That was because I did all of the work. On larger accounts I did use local content writers for articles and blog posts. My monthly fee for small local businesses started at $500 a month with the understanding that the rankings process would take three to six months at which time the service could be cancelled or go into a monthly maintenance service at a reduced cost. This made my service profitable for me and affordable for most small business without requiring a 12 month commitment. Everybody was happy.

Things are much different today.

I have seen SEO services selling for as little as $200 a month and as much as $1,500 a month. I can guarantee you that a very low cost SEO service will not offer much in the way of actual service and should be avoided. Any small business SEO service costing more than $1,000 a month needs to be a very comprehensive service. Obviously a service optimizing multiple locations will cost more and will take more time. Remember, no service cost is set in stone. All prices can be negotiable. If not, let the SEO know you have other options are are looking for the best combination of cost and service for your money. 


Problem #4: The outsourcing of the SEO work.

Now don’t get me wrong, outsourcing is not completely wrong. I hired content writers to write many articles and blog posts for my bigger client work. I found these writers by posting on Craigslist. One post would generate hundreds of responses from educated, professional writers looking to add to their income, all located in and around Middle Tennessee. The problems arise when the outsourcer lives on the other side of the world. 

SEO is a very popular with Indian professionals. The workers in India are very educated and eager to please but their command of the English language is not the best. There are differences in their vocabulary that is evident in their writing. The last thing I want to do is edit the content I have purchased. SEO’s hire Indian workers for a variety of SEO tasks primarily because their hourly rates and their article rates are very cheap. You can hire a Indian outsourcer for as little as $10 an hour. A 1,200 word article will cost less that $20, often for as little as $10. The content writers I worked with locally charged $50 to $75 for a 1,200 word piece of content. When it comes to content, you definitely get what you pay for. I never had to edit or rewrite any of my locally provided content.

Problem #5: The low barrier to entry for SEO

I started learning SEO way back in 1994 so my education has come from many years of experience, trial and error and from following the industry as it developed. Today, many college educated twenty somethings are entering the digital marketing field claiming to know SEO because they took a class for a semester where the basics of SEO were covered. Only lightly worse are those “SEOs” who have learned the craft by reading a number of blog posts on the subject and, as they say, know just enough to be dangerous. Over the years, I have come into contact with quite a few of these people. After they have quizzed me I always ask the one question a experienced SEO should know the answer to. I have only gotten the right answer one time.

Question: What is the best resource, free or paid, available to a SEO professional?

If you know the answer, contact me and I will buy you lunch anywhere you would like to go. Including a dink or two.

Local Businesses I Can Help

I have worked for hundreds of local businesses and some of the biggest brands online.

If I find SEO will not improve your online visibility, there are other options. Ultimately, you want an increase in new business and SEO is but one way to make that happen.

Let’s start a conversation about your possibilities today.


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