Posted on | February 22, 2007 | No Comments
I see this topic run in cycles. It comes and goes, grows and shrinks.
The constant remains, however, that there is a steady stream of folks who are new to search marketing and think they can make some money.
Whether they’ve read a book, taken a course online or purchased some software *shudder*, these folks all think they have what it takes to make a living as a search marketer. They feel they know enough to gain clients and deliver results, thus building a small company of their own and ensuring their own success.
In the forums I see, pretty much every day, folks posting up saying basically the same thing:
“I have a client who wants to do such-and-such. How will this affect their rankings and what should I do for them?”
Man, where to start? Let’s look at twenty reasons why you shouldn’t take clients:
1 – you think using software makes you a pro SEO
2 – canonicalization – you think this has something to do with a bra Madonna wears
3 – you think it’s reasonable to guarantee rankings to your clients
4 – you smile every time you get an e-mail saying yes to your link exchange request
5 – you scour the forums looking for the “one thing” that makes a difference
6 – you think it’s OK to use a yahoo, hotmail or gmail e-mail address for your business
7 – you’re looking for the top 100 directories to submit to
8 – you think it’s OK to learn the ropes while a client pays you for results
9 – you think it helps to submit sites to the engines
10 – you think quantity of links beats quality of links
11 – you think Page Rank is an actual metric
12 – you are keen to prove results by showing a client where they rank on a 5 word phrase
13 – you think analytics is a fancy way of saying “hit counter”
14 – you think submitting articles is the Holy Grail of link building
15 – you think “doctype” refers to a dentist or surgeon
16 – you think keyword research can be done once, in under 10 minutes
17 – you think “long tail” refers to a breed at Westminster
18 – you hear the word “supplemental” and think “income” or “health insurance”
19 – you think ranking # 1 on MSN means the campaign was successful
20 – you think the client’s new site will rank well in a couple of weeks – and tell them this
Now, I fully support folks asking the more detailed questions – heck, everyone needs a hand at some point with something. But there are so many basic things to consider on behalf of your client, that you need a solid baseline understanding of things, or you’re risking the clients future.
Taking a client, and their money, then setting about learning how to do the work needed to hold up your end of the contract, well that’s just wrong.
It’s a big part of why this industry faces some of the perceptional challenges it does.
The bottom line is this:
If you’re still on the learning curve, or looking for answers to the basics, DON’T take clients. If you do, there’s a high degree of probability that client will not only lose their money, but that their website will suffer negatively from your incompetent approach. An aggressive client might see this as fraud…
As for those searching for help…well, it’s pretty simple. Do your homework.
Don’t just take the first company that you get on the phone. Review their website yourself. Does it look professional? Chances are it does, so your next step is to request references – actual human beings at other companies you can phone and speak to. then make the calls and ask the questions about the search firm you’re considering.
Stop by some of the known posting forums on the topic and ask users there if they’ve heard of the company or can offer any ideas on what to look for. (www.searchengineforums.com and www.smallbusinessbrief.com are very helpful groups)
In the end, the best way to stop unqualified people from ripping off unsuspecting clients is to educate the clients.
There will always be some guy in India who purchased the latest SEO software app who thinks he can make a killing. Trying to shut him down is pointless.
Educating people on how to determine a real SEO from a scam artist or someone with a “learner’s permit”, well, that’s a whole lot easier – they have something to protect – their investment & business, so they’ll listen to sound advice.