I make reference to a thread I started at the High Rankings Forum that pertains to prospective clients bartering for SEO services. When is enough, enough? When do you just tell people to go away and stop wasting your time? Is this a whine or whinge? No. This is based on the reality of supplying a service that cannot be withdrawn (undone) once the service is performed. The response to this particular thread was astounding to say the least.
It goes like this, in an abbreviated version, “Just recently I had a person enquire to employ my services which they had picked the package suited to them, and see what they could get before purchasing. The person stated they wanted to test me on one site and possibly employ me with some further websites. Great, no problem I said. Pay the money and we’ll get into it. The person wanted to barter with me for more services, restrictions and pages at the same price. This website was shocking. The look was great, but from an SEO point of view – shocking. After many emails telling this person to pay some money first prior to me supplying the service as advertised, they gave up and took my advice to seek services elsewhere if my terms where not suitable. Was I wrong in doing so? I think not. In my opinion it was all a bit suspicious and I approached the request with caution. When is enough, enough What do others do?” Now that was the interesting question that returned quite a response.
Everyone with a website thinks they are an SEO nowadays. Funny enough, these are always the people who end up on an SEO’s email inbox asking for help. What many people fail to see is this; what your qualified in to earn a living is what your good at. Now a professional SEO is good at what they specialise in because we make a living from it. I can read a manual on fixing my car engine, but that does not make me a professional. The standard will never be the same as that provided by a professional mechanic, with their specialised knowledge and experience. Why? Because they have the practical experience and detailed knowledge of disassembling and reassembling engines. They have learnt the lessons and know the mistakes before they make them. The problem with the web is that everyone thinks they are a web designer, copywriter and so on. Guess What? Your not, unless you have the same experience as the Professional Mechanic above.
What tends to make this worse is that a mechanic has recognised standard qualifications, where an SEO does not, as yet. What many SEO’s do have is generally a qualification and background in web design and marketing. This also comes with an extensive knowledge base of search engine functionality and years of practical experience ranking websites. Do you have the qualifications? This is what starts the bartering process of SEO. Do you barter to have your engine fixed or does the mechanic just tell you, it is going to cost “x” amount. Lets face facts, SEO is not cheap when you look at it. People say, “but its just a webpage”, how can a webpage cost so much let alone the entire website? Well, lets look at things from a different perspective. What dollar value do you put on your time, plus taxes, equipment, software, corporate licenses, ISP bandwidth and so on? The answer is, what it costs you to live plus pay all the bills and business expenses. The money it cost you to “invest” in a professional SEO is nothing compared to the return you will make when your website “is” ranking highly for your relevant keyword phrases.
We see it everyday, though Grumpus summed this up quite well from the cre8asite resource directory; “For people who can afford the work, then they are getting what they expect out of me. Those who think I charge too much don’t understand the value of what I provide for them and would think I was charging too much even if I was the cheapest in the industry – hence the “haggle syndrome” – or worse, the “that’s great, now can we do this?” “That’s not in the contract.” “I know, but it’s only a half hour, you can throw that in.” “OK.” “Great, now how about this. I can’t have that without this other thing…” and the game goes on.
Now this parallels with my previous example of the mechanic. If the mechanic makes a mistake that is his fault, then he fixes it at no cost, same as an SEO would do. Now if the mechanic had finished putting the engine back together for you, then you walked in and said you wanted bigger pistons, guess what? He is going to charge you to pull the engine back down and for the extra parts, labour and so on. Why do people seem to think that SEO is any different? A guess is that because it is a service and not something that requires actual parts, people tend to have the mentality that they should get more for the hours paid. Why? Because that’s human behaviour. Scottie Claiborne explained this a little differently at the forum.
My personal favourite analysis was by Scottie of Right Click Web Consulting and goes like this; “I have found across several types of business now that the people who haggle over price are the ones you don’t want to deal with. And it has nothing to do with their income level or ability to pay – it’s a personality trait. The “dealers” are nearly always more trouble than they are worth – their mentality of getting more for less doesn’t stop with a request for an upfront discount. In hotels, it’s the people who get the half-price deal that leave the biggest mess in their rooms. In the rental biz, it’s the people who begged for a discount that abuse the equipment and cause damage. In retail, the people who find an item mislabelled and insist on buying every one in stock at the wrong price, then they come back and try to return them for full price. In services, the people who are “on a budget” will always be on a budget. Regardless of the fact that you did twice as much work for them, they will think they overpaid for what they got”.
Another interesting one just the other day. Another website owner looking for an SEO, so I sent them my URL of the page most relevant to the service I thought they where looking for. The reply I received was kind of hilarious. It went something along the lines of, “I have a PR the same as your site already, so why would I want to employ your services?”. Now anyone who actually did some research and got everything in one sock before making comments like that would know that PageRank has nothing to do with actual ranking a keyword phrase. The next thing, PR is only applicable to Google, not all the other major engines. This is exactly the mentality of these, so called, know it alls that read one or two sources of information and then approach an SEO with rubbish. This person is now going to go and find any old SEO, professional or not, to perform the services because their website has a higher PR, not because the person can actually rank their website highly for the targeted keyword phrases. This type of nonsense is what gets many consumers into trouble in the first place, making them a little wiser in their second choice of SEO. Unfortunately, you have already lost your money by that stage in the proceedings.
Information is great, but practical experience is a complete different kettle of fish. What a person purchases with SEO is not information, it is a combination of skill, knowledge, and experience. This combination of factors must be implemented accordingly, with each websites unique nature, to obtain decent rankings. What works with one site is not necessarily going to work the same with another. It may very well have a negative impact. This is the type of information that people neglect to mention on the Internet about SEO techniques. The reason you employ a professional SEO, is to perform the best techniques applicable to your website, to ensure high rankings. So, when in doubt, stop troubling the professionals with half hearted analogies and your advice. If you know better than the professional then your site should reflect your ability. If not, employ a professional and listen to them so your website can reach its potential.
The exact context of the topic, can be located here. Extracts from this thread are used within this article with permission from Jill Whalen.
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