Have you been burned by an SEO company?

 

Are you the business owner that has been burned many times by SEO companies that promise enormous results, yet you end up with nothing over and over again?

Welcome to SEO in 2015. Almost every time without fail when I talk to a potential client, I hear the same sentiments over and over again – that they’ve worked with so many SEO companies and never hit the first page

Why is that?

SEO used to be extremely simple. Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true it was simple compared to what it is today. In the past, everything could be automated. Companies would press a button and your site would sky rocket to the top of page 1 if they knew the right programs to use

What changed?

Google became smarter, a lot smarter. Google’s algorithm is sophisticated now that companies realized that without spending an incredible amount of money on SEO they can’t rank customers. So what did they do?

  1. Step 1 – Promise big results and excite you
  2. Step 2 – Close the sale with you and try to deliver as much useless reporting as they can to maintain you as a paying client while they fill their sales pipeline again
  3. Step 3 – Lie and tell you that they’re implementing everything and that it won’t be too much longer until you rank on the first page
  4. Step 4 – Repeat

SEO is the only business that I can think of in the world where there are no real “deliverables” except for results, which are arbitrary. There are so many factors that go into ranking now. It can’t be outsourced anymore overseas and done with the cheap labor anymore like it used to. Companies went from making a killing with the press-play ranking methods that used to work to realizing they couldn’t rank anything and turned to selling “air”.

They sell you on the emotion of your dreams and goals and how they will achieve those for you. They know full well that they can’t do anything for you yet charge you every month anyway. They try and feed you so much useless irrelevant crap about what they will do to rank you and get you where you want to elongate the amount of time you keep paying before finally giving up

That is SEO 90% of the time

Now, with that said – There are definitely companies and people that can rank sites. No question about it. But it’s just not the same like it was before.

I have gone through with my business updates time after time, and always get so fed up with how smart Google is and it really takes a paradigm shift for SEO to work now. SEO is hard, and the only way to become a recognized brand, is hard work. A lot of it.

So What Does This All Mean for SEO companies?

Spending for results

For me, that means that when I bring on a new client at for example $500.00 per month, often for the first 3 or 4 months I’m actually spending 3 times what they are paying [$1,500 per month] to rank them (Factoring in my time, what I have to pay the people who work for me, my costs, expenses etc).

Why?

It takes so much work to rank one client, but if you put in the work and you communicate that during the process you WILL be the only company they work with, the only company they need to work with, and they will be loyal to your brand.

So how do you make money? 

Building a loyal base of customers that stay with you is something that only people with a clear vision can do. But once you do this, people appreciate it and turn to you when they need help on other things. That means that now I do their PPC, their email campaigns, social media, web design, and whatever else they need. It means that we get a whole lot more business from a loyal client. It means that they refer their friends to us and we can spend less money paying for marketing and more spending it on our clients to get real results.

Adapting this methodology brings customer loyalty.  EVERY single one of my clients has stayed with me that has started working with SearchBoost in the last 18 months. Something that I suspect almost no other SEO company in Canada can say.

Why are the costs so high to rank websites compared to before? 

Google rankings come from quality content, proper page optimization, and most important of all links. The more websites that link back to yours + the more authority they have – the more likely you are to rank for your keywords. Another big factor was anchor text, you can see how those 2 words “anchor text” if you click on it, opens a new tab going to www.Google.com. That means that now wikipedia has another “Vote” in google’s eyes to rank for the words “anchor text” in Google. In the past, all you had to do was build all of your links that point to your website with the anchor text you wanted to rank for. That means if you were a dentist in Toronto, you would post the same article to 1,000 different sites that have the anchor text “Toronto dentists” and within a couple weeks, sure enough you’d be on top. There were even software’s that would do this for you. Those days are long gone.

Google updates it’s algorithm quite often. Most of the time they are small updates to penalize people doing shady things. They are always staying ahead of the curve. In the (g)olden days (pun intended) – You used to be able to have programs that integrated with a lot of crappy websites, where you could write one article with an embedded link and you’d fly up the rankings. SEO companies could print money. Google released several updates in the last 12 months that really changed the way SEO works. They came out with 2 different updates (The following are very real terms)

The former of the 2, “Penguin” focused on removing bad websites and de-indexing them from the search engine. What this meant was that people who were building 1 or 2 page websites to use to make back links to the websites that they wanted to rank, no longer carried any weight.

The latter – “Panda” was used to create a very complex algorithm that analysed a websites quality of content along with a few other things which means that companies can no longer use article spinners (Which take one article and make 1000 different versions by subbing in common synonyms in different positions throughout the article in order)

Now what does this all mean to the average business owner who doesn’t care about Google’s zoo?

It means that the tricks that used to rank your websites on the cheap don’t work anymore. It means that a lot of these companies are still using these methods and they are a surefire way to get your site either penalized or completely removed from Google. It means that companies that were making a lot of money selling a product they could stand behind, don’t want to lose that business so continue selling you something that you won’t benefit from. It means that SEO, is hard work.

So what are your costs then?

Since ranking websites require back links and we can’t target certain keywords anymore using anchor text it requires a lot more content generation and attention to detail in the websites that we link back to your website with.

Basically any good seo company uses his / her proprietary built network of high authority blogs to link back to your website to rank you. Some of them purchase these kinds of links from backlink sellers which is a great way to find yourself being banned on Google but something that still a lot of companies do because it gets you short term results, and therefore your wallet opened up.

The Good companies, use their own network. Basically what we do is buy big blogs with large followings that are well designed legitimate sites producing real content that’s valuable to the web. We update these sites religiously, and make sure that they are still doing what they were designed to do – produce good content. An average site like this sells for $300-500. We have over 300 sites like this.

We need websites in every niche, so that they relate to any client who comes on board.

If I have 100 websites that are high authority, but they’re all based around financial news for example – are my links going to rank the local florist? They might if they’re strong enough, but probably not. Google expects links to be coming from sites with related content.

These are the basic costs involved in doing the SEO (Properly) for a new client that comes on board

1. Content 

Very time consuming process. We have 4 full time writers who are university students that produce all of the content we need for our blogs that link back to client sites. We update these blogs weekly for their readers, so we’re updating literally 300 blogs on a weekly basis. When a new client comes on board, we have to create content that focuses on your business; Meaning if we need to build 30-50 back links to get you ranked in your niche (Which is pretty average for a medium competition local small business) we’ll need to write about 30,000-40,000 words of unique, well written content.

2. Back link building

This is a very expensive part of the process as well in terms of “net” costs. The network of blogs that we maintain is very expensive. On any given blog we’ll only link out to approximately ~ 10 or so clients. So that means, if one blog costs $300-500 to buy just the static site, then you have to add the content, pay for hosting, pay for the domain and other misc costs associated with operating that blog – let’s say one of those blogs that provides 10 client links costs us $500.00. That one blog then links to 10 clients, or in other words about $50 per link for the good blogs.

Then, we use 30-50 of those links for a local search med. competitive niche – that means an average of about $2,000 worth of links alone not including the price or time to build all of that content

3. Social aspect

Once all of this is done we need to make sure that it’s being syndicated properly around the social networks or in other words, show Google that the “Content” that was produced that’s linking to the client’s website is being “talked about” online, and is relevant.

When you factor all of these costs together you’re looking at several thousand dollars to rank a small local business in Google in the organic listings. This is exactly why companies tell you it takes 6 months to rank your site.

Now, I’m not saying that you can rank a website overnight or even in under 30 days (Unless you’re already at the top of page #2 then maybe it’s do-able) but it certainly does not take 6 months.

What’s the quickest it can be done?

This depends on a ton of different factors

  1. Where are you ranked now?
  2. How long has your website been around?
  3. Has someone else worked on your website in the past?
  4. What keywords are you trying to rank for?
  5. What’s the competition in your niche?

This is what we base pricing on.

The Solution (For most companies) 

What SEO companies in general started doing is they started feeding nonsense to business owners about SEO and how it’s done properly. Almost overnight it went from major SEO firms telling clients that SEO can be done in 8-12 weeks to 6-12 months.

What are they really doing? 

I can’t say that every company is doing this but I know for a fact that what many of them are doing is being dishonest about the process. They are telling potential clients that the process takes a lot longer than it really does in order to not scare away business.

If you were a small business owner and an SEO company told you it would cost $2,000 per month and only take about 6-8 weeks – and the next company you called told you all of this jargon about how SEO takes a long time and you have to build it properly, and it’ll only be $1,000 per month and it’ll take about 6 months but you get all this (insert all very elaborate versions of A. onsite optimization {20 minutes worth of work for a small website / 10-12 hours worth of work for large website} B. Elaborate content production C. Random variables of work that will be done)

In scenario one you have to write a cheque for $3,000 to a company and that is downright scary for anybody. But when you think about it this is what’s really happening

Scenario 1

You’re paying $4,000 over 2 months before you should start getting expected results. By the third month you’re likely yielding enough revenue in terms of new business from the traffic to cover the SEO costs and you can keep paying for SEO to get you even further.

Scenario 2

You’re paying $6,000 over the course of 6 months and getting absolutely NO business for 6 months out of your investment, at which point you probably will only get to page 2 or 3 (Still no business) and start looking for a new company (which most people do after about 4 months).

Which opportunity sounds better? The first. Which do almost every business owner react well to? The second. Why? Because money up front is scary.

It’s the same reason why 9 out of 10 of us had $300,000 in our bank account we’d rather finance a car that costs us $150,000 in total over 5 years than pay $100,000 out right for the same car. It’s human nature.

Our solution

We work to keep clients. We often spend the first few months losing money, to gain your loyalty & trust in the long run. For us it’s worth it. For us knowing that in 2 months when you start getting more business than imaginable that we will be to thank and will continue to work with you for a very long time.

This is the core value of which SearchBoost has been able to enjoy it’s success in the SEO industry over the years. I have the ability to make this decision on my own because we don’t adapt to the corporate culture that has to report their earnings to shareholders and stakeholders. The reality is that no board of directors in their right mind would ever approve an approach like this, most small SEO companies can’t afford it, and most big SEO companies are working with only enterprise brands, charging so much ($20,000/Month+) that they don’t have too do this at all because they can just spend a small fortune which most small business owners can’t.

Values

 

How many people do you think will adapt that into their core values as a company that they have to SPEND money for MORE than one month to be able to deliver what a client needs to become loyal to your brand?

In any other industry, operating business like this would be impossible. But with SEO, it’s possible. The results of TRULY successful SEO can completely change the landscape of any company. It can take a business with 0 customers and turn it into the leading brand in a city overnight

But that doesn’t change the fact that most people aren’t willing to do what it takes to do SEO properly. Something that will take some time but eventually weed them out.

The SearchBoost difference

If you look at our pricing page and read about our Performance based SEO you’ll see that we actually do offer performance base rankings where you only pay once you’re on PAGE #1. We currently are the only SEO company in Canada who does this

There are many SEO businesses that offer “performance based seo” except when you actually read the fine print, their definition is either something like this:

Performance based means that you’re rankings for any of the keywords that we work on improve over the course of 6 months

Or

We have 7 years to get you to page #3 or higher for 1/100 keywords or  else you’re entitled to a refund

OK I’m exaggerating a bit again, but you get the point.

At SearchBoost it’s no BS, we do this and we’re proud of it. However, we don’t just do it for anybody. Something that needs to be understood is that when we operate like this, we are spending a lot of time, resources, and money on working on your business and offering you a literally zero risk opportunity to get mega growth for your company, and the relationship has to go both ways

So then what should you offer?

We do offer performance based SEO but we require that the business has been existing for quite some time, operate in a niche where it is worth it to do so, and don’t have existing links that might effect our future work

What do you mean by niche?

What I mean here is that if a business approaches us that wants to rank for keywords with 500 searches collectively per month, that might be great for them. Maybe they sell a certain type of industrial product and ranking for that keyword will bring them very targeted qualified leads. But we can’t really bank on that in terms of putting an actual dollar value on the traffic that we bring

The niches we aim to work with are ones where we can assess and be confident that we will be able to rank in a reasonable amount of time in an industry where leads are converted easily. Services are mostly what we work with in these cases for example,

  • Locksmith services
  • Plumbing services
  • Limo services

And other Google-dominated businesses. Any business where you would probably only book by going to google and searching for that product, and choosing the cheapest one – is typically the type of business that we work with on performance based structure.

In this case study you can read about the limo company that we generated over $1MM in gross revenue for last year with profits well over $500k with only SEO

If this company were to approach us on a regular payment structure campaign, us quoting $10,000 per month would sound ridiculous to a business owner. They know that most companies can’t actually achieve what they say they can so they are skeptical, which we understand.

So then maybe we can only quote $1,000 dollars per month without losing the business to a competitor who will give them nothing.

What if we were to pay the costs ourselves and once ranked be able to give them over $100,000 worth of business per month? Do you think if a business could receive $100k worth of business per month from websites already ranked on Google, and all they had to pay was $10,000 per month they would say no? Not a chance!

Perfect Analogy To Help You Understand

This is probably the best analogy that I’ve ever offered to a client to help them understand better

Imagine you needed your house cleaned for this weekend for a dinner you were hosting

Now imagine that it was actually normal that for every 10 cleaners you called and booked, that only 1 would actually show up and clean your house. Now imagine that every cleaner in Toronto said that you HAD to pay for the service to reserve the spot, even though there’s only a 10% that they will actually show up, or that you will ever hear from them again – and there were no refunds.

Let’s say this service was pretty much standard $100.00. So you’d call a company, pay $100.00 and they probably won’t show up and you’re out $100.00.

Now imagine a new business came into the picture saying that they will come clean your house, and you don’t have to pay until you get there – but they’ll charge $300 for the cleaning

You’re probably going to choose them if you want your house cleaned right?

Now imagine the same company was actually planning on showing up but asked you to pay the $300.00 before they came, you know that every other cleaning service you’ve called has never showed up so are you going to pay $300? No you’re not

This is almost exactly how SEO works, crazy right?

So if I can’t have performance based SEO what can I have?

You can take some comfort in the fact that we don’t screw around with you. We have a couple things that we offer to every client

For starters, depending on the goals of the campaign we can structure it so that you only make a certain amount of payments before you don’t have to pay anything else until you reach the goals we set out.

For example

Let’s say you’re a carpet cleaner in Toronto, you know that on page #1 for “carpet cleaners Toronto” you’ll receive about $20,000 worth of business leads per month.

You also know that ranking for “commercial carpet cleaners Toronto” and “rug cleaners Toronto” you’ll get about $3,000 per month in business leads each.

Obviously the former is a lot more business, but it’s also a lot harder to dominate the first page. We know this and understand it.

Did you know that the first 3 positions of Google get 60% of all the traffic?

Did you know that if you’re in #1 for a keyword, you get over 15x as much traffic as the business on the bottom of the first page?

So let’s go back to those keywords we were just talking about

Let’s say that first keyword has 20,000 searches per month. And in #5 you’ll get about 5% of the search traffic. So in that case you’d get about 1,000 unique visitors per month from ranking for “carpet cleaners Toronto”

Now let’s say we can get you to #1 for the 2 less searched keywords. #1 position gets about 35% of the search traffic. So we’re getting 35% in total out of 6,000 searches, or in other words 2,000 uniques per month.

If you asked a business owner if they would rather rank #5 for the first keyword or #1 for the other 2 less searched keywords, 9 times out of 10 they would say #5 for the competitor one

We do our best to educate you as a client to understand that it’s not just about RANKINGS, it’s about everything that goes into it and the bottom line on how much business you’ll actually get

We at SearchBoost have begun working in a performance / hybrid pricing. You can see more about our pricing here