How the SEO Industry Is Failing Its Clients

by Adam Kreitman

Have you hired an SEO firm to try to help your website climb the rankings?

How’d that work out for you?

For some of you, it may have worked out pretty well.

If you’re like MOST people, however, you’re probably more than a little frustrated with SEO and those you’ve hired to do it.

Truth is I’ve been frustrated with SEO too. In fact, that’s part of the reason I’ve primarily focused on PPC over the years.

The issues outlined below have been weighing on me for a while and the time has come to get them out in the open.

So sit down and buckle up cuz this IS gonna be a bumpy ride! Okay, here goes…

  • Maybe you’ve been promised page 1 rankings that never materialized.
  • Maybe you’ve tasted the sweetness of TOP rankings on Google only to have them heartlessly ripped away from you due to the Penguin and/or Panda algorithm updates Google’s unleashed on us over the past few years.
  • Or maybe you’ve paid A LOT of money to different SEO firms over the years and never really seen your rankings move all that much one way or the other.

Now, as you may have suspected from the title of this article, I’m about to go on a rant on the SEO industry. And I’m going to expose why much of what SEO firms are selling these days isn’t in the best interest of clients.

(And I’m not even talking about the self-described “reputable” firms whose daily emails tell you how badly your site sucks when it comes to rankings and promise you a spot on Page 1 for $99. Those emails are complete crap and I hope everyone reading this knows that!)

Here’s the thing though… even many of the SEOs around who truly have their clients’ best interests at heart are failing their clients. And I’ll reveal why in a minute.

Before I do, however, I must point out that you, dear SEO consumer, are NOT faultless in this mess. So I’m calling YOU out in this article as well, so be forewarned cuz you may not like what you hear! 😉

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

First Things First – What The Heck is SEO Anyway?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of trying to get a web page ranked HIGHLY in the organic search engines.

(These are also referred to as the “FREE” listings (compared to PPC where you pay to show up in the rankings). That said, all website owners with high rankings for any sort of competitive term in the organic search results know getting there is ANYTHING but free!)

Where a web page ranks on Google (and other search engines too, but let’s get real here – most people do SEO to get their site ranked on GOOGLE!) is determined by a complex algorithm that gets updated on a regular basis. So things that may have worked well 6 months ago may get your site tanked today.

No one knows exactly how the algorithm works though those who do SEO for a living have a decent idea (or at least should) of what moves the needle when it comes to getting web pages ranked highly.

Why SEO Isn’t For Those Looking For a Sure Thing

But here’s the deal – it’s an inexact science and there are no guarantees when it comes to SEO. And since every web page can’t be on the TOP of Page 1, there are only gonna be a few winners (and A LOT of losers) in the SEO sweepstakes.

That’s just the nature of the beast and you, as an SEO consumer, have to understand this going in and have realistic expectations.

  • If you want a GUARANTEED spot on Page 1 of Google for competitive keywords, SEO isn’t for you.
  • If you want results QUICKLY and don’t have the patience to wait at least 3-4 months for an SEO program to kick in, SEO isn’t for you.
  • You want quick results? You want to pretty much guarantee a spot on Page 1 of Google? GREAT! Try Google AdWords cuz SEO isn’t for you.

Now, that said, SEO can and does work and has the potential (depending on the niche you’re in) to drive a lot more traffic than PPC and do it at a lower cost per lead than PPC.

However, there are some problems with the way the SEO industry operates that stacks the decks against website owners.

4 Reasons Why The SEO Deck Is Stacked Against You

1. Bogus Reporting

What REALLY matters when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of SEO?

A lot of you probably answered high rankings. And that makes sense, right? If the goal of SEO is to move your website higher up the search results, it’s the RANKINGS that matter.

And that’s exactly what most SEO firms report on. They send their clients pretty charts that show where your website ranks for a bunch of keywords and if rankings are moving up – great! If not, well, let’s see what happens next month.

But here’s the thing – rankings are a RED HERRING.

Because at the end of the day, you don’t do SEO to rank higher on Google. You do it to get MORE TRAFFIC to your site. But even that’s not the ultimate goal here.

You do SEO to get more LEADS and business!

Right?!

Yes, there are some business owners out there (and you know who you are!) who just want to see their website ranked #1 on Google. (I call this “ego-marketing”.) And there are plenty of SEO firms around who’re happy to charge a lot of money to get their clients ranked #1 for crappy keywords that don’t have a shot at driving quality leads.

But most of you only want high rankings because you think they’ll bring MORE leads and business your way. And while they very well may, you really have no clue whether they do or not.

So really, any reporting that doesn’t clearly show how many leads SEO is producing for your business is garbage!

And to get that kind of reporting means…

  • Having forms on your site for people to fill out
  • It often means using a call tracking service (which should NOT be optional if you get leads by phone!)
  • It means setting up Goals in Google Analytics

Yes, it requires more work but that’s the only way you can accurately measure the results of your SEO campaigns.

However, many SEO firms aren’t willing or able to do that for their clients so clients can’t really judge if SEO is paying for itself or not (and many times this is done VERY much on purpose because they’re charging you an arm and a leg and you’re getting squat in return).

Not to say reports that include ranking information are worthless. But if you’re not ALSO getting information about the number of leads SEO is producing for you, the reports ain’t worth much.

2. The Challenges With Changing a Client’s Website

Back in the good ol’ Wild West days for SEO links made the world go round. Send a bunch of links to a website and, no matter how crummy the site, you could send it shooting up the rankings.

SEOs didn’t have to lay a finger on their clients’ websites to get good results.

NO MORE.

The content on your web site is more important now than it’s ever been!

  • That means having content that’s 100% unique.
  • That means having “meaty” content on every page of your site you want to get ranked (300 word blog posts ain’t gonna cut it).

And pages with duplicate or thin content don’t just affect those pages… they can bring down your ENTIRE website and keep it from ranking well.

So to do SEO properly these days, being able to make the necessary changes to a client’s website is a MUST. But that’s not always easy to do.

There are any number of reasons why…

  • Some clients just like their website the way it is and aren’t willing to make any changes. (If that’s you, save your money and just avoid SEO completely cuz no SEO professional, no matter how talented, will be able to overcome your stubbornness.)
  • Some clients hired unscrupulous web designers and can’t get access to their site and/or domain name so no one can make changes even if they want to.
  • Some SEO firms require their clients to create all the new content that’s required. And since most clients are busy running their businesses and don’t have the internal capabilities to do that, the content never gets created well (if at all).
  • Plus, you have to be careful about the content changes you make because while they may improve rankings… they may kill conversion rates so you end up with more traffic but fewer leads (which gets back to problem #1 in this article – because if you’re not tracking leads you’ll never know if this is the case or not).

Oh, and then there’s the issue that a website can be penalized by Google for bad SEO that was done years ago. Figuring if past issues continue to plague a website in the rankings can be difficult to do. And, even when detected, the site may be in a hole that’s really difficult to dig out of.

So as you can see, depending on the situation, doing SEO on a client’s existing website may not be practical because ANY or ALL of the above can sabotage SEO efforts before they even get a chance of working.

3. Focusing On Only 1 Website

Okay, stick with me on this one because it’s a biggie that almost NO ONE is talking about!

The firepower of most SEO campaigns are 100% focused on the client’s one and ONLY website.

And that seems to make perfect sense… I mean, what else would you do SEO for a client on besides their website, right?!

Well, not so fast. Think about it this way…

It’s kind of like you’re fishing with ONE line in the water. Even if you’ve got multiple hooks on that line, there’s still a limit to how many fish you can catch.

(And if your line gets tangled or cut, you’re done fishing!)

But what if at the same time you:

  • Dropped multiple fishing lines in the water (with different baits on each)
  • Threw a few nets in the water, and…
  • Had a few buddies in the water spear fishing?

Well, you’d significantly IMPROVE your chances of catching A LOT more fish, right?!

And if you had a glitch with any one of those things, you’re not done fishing! You’d still have OTHER lines, nets and spears in the water ready to catch any fish that come by.

See what I’m getting at here?

Why limit yourself to just ONE website?!!!

The MORE web properties (think mini-websites, YouTube videos, Press Releases, Web2.0 sites, etc.) you have out there, the MORE web pages you can rank… the MORE spots you can take up in the search engine rankings… the MORE you can dominate the search results… the MORE leads you’ve got coming into your sales funnel!!!

In fact, this approach to SEO may make ranking easier. Why?

Because it’s often easier to get YouTube videos, mini-websites targeting specific keywords, Web2.0 properties, press releases, etc. to rank than your main website!

So not only can you potentially dominate more of the search engine rankings by trying to rank multiple properties (ie. SQUEEZE out the competition), but the easier it may be to get your properties ranked!

So, again I ask… why limit yourself to just 1 website?

Well, because building more web properties is too much work for most businesses and SEO firms. Yet, as you can see, it’s TOTALLY worth it because of how much it can potentially amplify your results.

Oh, and there’s another big advantage to building and ranking multiple web properties which I’ll share in a just a minute. But first, you have to understand the 4th problem with SEO…

4. What Google Tells SEOs Not To Do Actually Works (And Works Well!)

SEO has largely become a defensive industry these days.

After watching website after website tumble in the rankings due to Google’s algorithm updates, a lot of SEOs are operating under the “DO NO HARM” mentality.

They don’t want to risk doing anything that could potentially tank their client’s websites. And who can blame them?

The problem though is that when you’re operating from this sort of defensive posture, it makes it more difficult to get results.

And that leads us to a dark secret about SEO… a lot of the things that Google tells you NOT to do when it comes to SEO actually work.

In fact, some of them work REALLY well!

They can get your site ranked higher and quicker than just sticking to the strategies Google tells you to.

However, they come at a risk because if Google notices you’re doing them, they could penalize your site and send you skidding back down the rankings.

Now here’s where things get interesting.

Remember that OTHER advantage of building and ranking multiple web properties I mentioned a minute ago?

Well, if you successfully build and rank multiple web properties, then having one site crash and burn in the rankings from time to time ain’t no big thing!

Which means you can take advantage of those riskier strategies to get sites ranked higher AND quicker!

The Bottom Line

So here’s where we are…

  • We have companies paying SEO firms big money to battle over precious few spots at the top of the search engine results… using a strategy that’s not guaranteed to work.
  • Most of these companies are putting all their eggs in one basket (and likely a badly damaged basket at that) and don’t have the right tools to fix things.
  • AND because they’re not measuring the things that really matter (ie. LEADS), no one really knows the most important piece of information… are they making or losing money on the whole deal?!

If all that sounds ridiculous to you, it’s cuz it is!

Now, I’ve never liked people who complain all the time but never have a solution.

So, I’m actually going to put forward a solution here…

A Proposed Alternative

This solution won’t work for everyone. It works BEST for businesses to which a new client is worth 4 or 5 figures or more. (So, if you’re selling magazines or T-shirts, sorry… this isn’t really for you.)

But if a new client is worth 4 or 5 figures to your business and – especially if you own a local service business (ie. attorneys, chiropractors, kitchen/bath remodelers, roofers, etc.) – LISTEN UP!

We’ve started implementing a new business model for SEO that works like this…

We start with a clean slate and set up a series of web properties that we own. All the sites have form and call tracking so EVERY lead each property generates is tracked.

Now what I just described is short and sweet but DON’T underestimate it’s importance. Because setting things up this way allows us to get around the 4 problems we just covered…

  1. We avoid any and all issues associated with working on a client’s existing website.
  2. ALL leads from all the properties are tracked so reporting is based on what matters most – leads!
  3. We have MULTIPLE web properties which increases our chances of taking up a bigger percentage of the search results with multiple Page 1 rankings.
  4. And, because we have multiple properties ranking, we can be more aggressive with our ranking strategy because if one property falls in the search results, we’ve got others that are still producing leads.

Not only that but, because the properties are ours, we assume a lot of the risk associated with SEO – it’s not all on your shoulders.

And, perhaps most important, is the pricing structure we use. It’s not based on rankings but on the actual LEADS our web properties generate.

Even more than that, we build protections into our contracts with clients so you’re protected against any drop off in lead flow. So essentially you’re pretty much guaranteed an ROI!

(Oh, and no battling it out with your competitors for these leads… we only work with a single, exclusive partner in each niche we’re in.)

After largely being out of the SEO business for a number of years, discovering this model has us back in the game because we feel this model is just a better, fairer way of doing SEO.

This Is NOT For Everyone

So if you’re fed up with SEO and are ready to try something different, a few things first…

  1. We’re not looking to work with just any business on this. Because we assume a lot of risk here, we’re VERY careful about the niches we enter and companies we partner with.
  1. We want to work with businesses that have a strong front-end sales and support system in place so that prospects are getting phone calls & emails returned right away. That’s essential to getting the best ROI from our services… and we sincerely want our clients to get as strong an ROI as possible. (Trust me – everyone’s SO much happier that way!)
  1. We want to partner with businesses that have the ability (and DESIRE!) to grow their operations. Because when we find businesses that are a good fit, we can really scale things up!

So, with all that said, if you think this may be a good fit for your business, we’d be happy to talk to see if it makes sense for us to partner together or not.

The first step in that process is to fill out a short questionnaire. Once you do, we’ll get back to you within 2 business days to let you know whether partnering together makes sense. If so, we’ll schedule a call to discuss the details.

SEO is a dog fight these days. And the strategy most SEO firms are using doesn’t do their clients any favors.

If you’re looking to get a fresh start and try another strategy to get search engine LEADS (not rankings) – fill out this form and we’ll see if we can help!

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