SEO solicitations to an SEO.

The following is an email we received. We do this stuff, so why did I get this? Maybe it was meant to happen so I could dissect it and warn others...

"Hello Sir/Ma'amHope you are doing fine. This is (removed). We are a Microsoft
Certified Partner and a professionally managed IS0 9001:2000 Web Design and
Internet Marketing Company with 6 offices in 3 continents. We have over 5+ years
of experience under our belts and have been Service Providers for Fortune 500
companies like (removed) to name a few.We can offer you visually appealing and
marketing savvy solutions which would ensure that your site gets highly
qualified focused traffic that leads to higher conversions."

Whoa who can ensure that?

"We would like to inform you that we have partnered various Web Design, SEO and
Link Building Companies. They have been regularly outsourcing work to us and
assure you that we are the Best SEO Outsourcing Partners that your company can
have. To provide a perfect solution we offer you three most effective tools to
increase traffic to a site, SEO(Search Engine Marketing), Link Building and PPC
( Pay Per Click)."

Another person that thinks SEO = SEM

"SEO can be broken into two distinct methodologies – "on-page" factors and
"off-page" factors. On-page factors like optimization include anything that you
can affect on the page itself, such as the title tag, body copy, H1 heading
tags, image “alt” attributes etc. On the other hand off-page factors like link
building encompass things that influence rankings but are not on the page
itself. "

Wow something relatively true!...but then they have to go and ruin it with this “fact”...

"The latest news in the SEM world is that Google has updated its algorithm and
their new evaluation criterion (after Google Jagger Update) is that links have
become 70-80% important in Search Engine Optimization. Standard search engine
optimization constitutes only 30% criteria to get top ranks/higher page ranks.
Similar evaluation criteria are being used by other search engines also."

Only morbid curiosity kept me reading further

"Please see below the details of our services:
LINK BUILDING SERVICES Link Building is one of the STRONGEST off-page factors to improve rankings and declare one’s web presence. Building links to one’s website is of huge importance and something that should be focused upon significantly if getting ranked high in
the search engine results is important to a webmaster. The amount of link-backs
to one’s website ultimately determines a website’s popularity with many search
engines. The core benefits and objectives of Link Building are -a) To improve
chances of deepest possible indexing of a web siteb) To improve rankings of very
targeted keywords on GOOGLE, YAHOO!, and MSNc) To increase the PR of the website in the long run and turn the web site into an authoritative web site"

They must have copied that part from someone, OK back to the BS…

"Also reaching these links will give you breakthrough in the following ways:1)
Top Ranking for keywords that are promoted in titles and descriptions of these
links.2) Chances of Search Engine Crawlers coming to your sites from relevant
links and indexing and ranking your sites.3) Google's new evaluation criteria
(after Google Jagger Update) is that links have become 70-80% important in
Search Engine Optimization.4) All Search Engines regard SEO and submissions as
self-advertising but if someone is recommending then they regard it as positive
vote/reference for your site. Hence Links are critical to website’s success on
the net by getting top ranks, promotion specific keywords, getting targeted
traffic, deep indexing etc. "

1. Guaranteed? gets one HA
2. This would probably sound good to someone just learning about, SEO, but c’mon… Gets two HA’s: HA HA
3. HA HA HA HA HA etc…
4. HA HA HA (GASP just choked on my coffe) HA HA

"We are offering 20% discount on the entire Link Building projects and our
revised discounted rates for 100 Inbound and Reciprocal links are as
follows:INBOUND LINKS Link PagePR 2 $1000(i.e. $10.00 per link) PR 3
$1500(i.e. $15.00 per link) PR 4 $2000(i.e. $20.00 per link)PR 5 $3500(i.e.
$35.00 per link)HomepagePR 2 $500(i.e. $5.00 per link) PR 3 $1000(i.e.
$10.00 per link) PR $1500(i.e. $15.00 per link)PR 5 $2000(i.e. $20.00 per
link)RECIPROCAL LINKS PR 1 $250(i.e. 2.50 per link) PR 2 $375(i.e. 3.75 per
link) PR 3 $500(i.e. 5.00 per link) PR 4 $750(i.e. 7.50 per link) PR 5 $990(i.e. 9.90 per link)Links are obtained manually by doing correspondence with the relevant sites by our link building resources."

Well some would argue this is legitimate, but pricing links based solely on PR has always been about twenty HA’s to me.

"PPC SERVICES:Our PPC Campaign is highly client oriented. (REMOVED) specializes
in addressing the various facets of a PPC program, which include, Managing ad
campaigns, selecting the relevant keywords with high quality score and setting
the right bid to ensure not only a high click through rate, but also ensures
high conversion rate which further provides great ROI .We analyze the needs of
the visitor and recommend changes in the landing pages for rich user experience
and thus maximum conversions. We are Yahoo Ambassador for Search Marketing and Google Adwords certified Professional (logos displayed on our website REMOVED ) which will provide access to effective Marketing Tools that will help in promoting your website."

sounds good…once again probably stolen from another site, but wait…

"Extensive and keen keyword research is a necessity for pay-per-click campaigns.
The first step in our research will be to expand your list of keywords to those
most used in web searches plus with the keywords having high quality score.
After the initial research you will be provided a list of keywords. You will use
this list to choose those keywords that have the most relevance for your
business. This shortened list will be the keywords we use in our competition and
pay-per-click competition research. "

hmm I guess the long tail kw’s must stink, and the client always should pick the only kw’s that are relevant…

"The most crucial aspect of a PPC campaign is that once a thorough initial
research is completed and the campaign is setup, one constantly needs to monitor
and make changes to derive the maximum ROI over PPC campaign duration.CHARGES FOR PPC: We will charge $800 initially for the first month for setting up the PPC Campaign. FOR ONGOING PPC CAMPAIGN: We will charge $800 per month for PPC Campaign per site. "

this company works with Fortune 500? do they know what kind of PPC proposals they will be competing against? Also it must be that tracking is an unimportant aspect of paid search, and obviously needn't be mentioned..."one's monitoring" will be enough...

"SEO SERVICESWe provide a host SEO solutions to meet the varied needs of our
clients. The client's needs are strategically addressed through in-depth market
research, code analysis, study and revision of keywords, content enhancement,
suitable website design, and strategic search engine submission to ensure the
presence of your website on the Internet. We are a leading SEO Service Provider
and strongly believe that marketing an idea is as important as developing it so
we will provide you our complete SEO Platinum Package WORTH $1500 at a
DISCOUNTED PRICE of $800. Our SEO Platinum services include the following SEO phases: 1) Client Interaction: Study of existing site, Q&A Session, Initial
questionnaire, Target Audience, etc2) Keyword Research: Collection of keywords
based on initial questionnaire, site Research.3) Site Optimization: Optimization
of the website based on the keywords, editing Meta Tags, and other Optimization
as required.4) Submission to Search Engines 5) Submission Report: Submission
report to be provided to the client HIGHLIGHTS/FEATURES OF SEO PLATINUM PACKAGE
1) Optimizing your website for 100+ relevant keywords, 2) Manually submitting it
to 300+ Search Engines, 3) Guarantee of more than 10% keywords on top, 4) FREE
1.5 months maintenance, 5) FREE paid submissions at MSN Please refer to the
following link to have an idea of our leadership in this domain: (removed the
link was broken anyway)Attached with this email are the following documents:1)
SEO Proposal Case Study: Introduction to general SEM and our SEM methodology.2)
PPC Proposal : Introduction to PPC.3) Keyword Ranking Report: This report
contains the High Ranks achieved for various keywords of the website optimized
by us.4) SEO_intmktg.pdf: (removed) SEO Brochure explaining our SEO Expertise.
Our payment terms are 30% upfront, 25% on 55% project completion, 25% on 80%
project completion and remaining on final project delivery.Please fill up the
attached SEO Questionnaire, so that we can prioritize your project and can make
you customized and professional recommendations relating to the project.Please
feel free to contact me at (removed) any time for further queries. Please also
provide me with your phone number as it will help me in explaining you our Link
Building methodology more properly."

After re-reading this, thinking I must have missed something... that for $800? Where's my...

"BUT WAIT, get one site free!"
Anyone wonder why SEO’s are getting a bad name? I could spend a while on this last part...but I'll leave that up to anyone who wants to comment.


My plans for SES NYC 2006

Just a quick post to inform anyone who doesn't already know that I will be attending the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo in New York next week. Danny has asked me back to speak at my usual session: Linking Strategies. I will also be very busy covering other sessions for the Search Engine Roundtable Blog.

Please feel free to post questions in advance or after the conference as a comment to this post or to the recaps post I will write then.

I also plan on helping to cover the SEMPO booth on Wednesday and maybe a little on Tuesday, so keep an eye out for me if you are going!



Valentines Day PPC Battles

So we have a few clients that are bidding on V-Day terms, and I still have some old consulting clients doing the same. Is it just me or are there about a million more competitors this year than last?

I have one client in San Diego bidding locally on terms in AdWords and the min bid to show up consistently against the national competitors is $6.00! CPC is obviously a little lower, but this is just a sign of things to come. I better start prepping clients for Easter budgets now...I can't imagine what next Christmas is going to be like.

The worst thing about it is that more and more competitors now actually seem to know what they are doing...must sharpen my sabre!



The “Artiste” In Me

I guess I should have said “L’artiste,” sorry to any Frenchies reading this. J

I recently spoke to someone who expressed frustration in the past with trying to get developers to commit to and meet deadlines. I told them that I felt this was the “nature of the beast.” Developers, much like artists, have to be “in the mood” to do seriously good work, in my opinion. I was fortunate in High School to have an art teacher that let us come in and work on our own time. Since I boarded, I was able to get my work done in the evenings and on weekends, when I felt more inspired. This actually led to a few awards in our annual art show.

It seems from my experience that many developers push work off until they are ready to accomplish it, and generally do pretty well when they get around to it. Of course, some programming jobs are not as creative, especially if adding mundane content to a huge site, which can be probably done half asleep. I am talking about actual creativity here, and I feel that SEO’s like artists, fall under the spell of “writers block.” I know most people have heard of writers block, and I think this applies to my work as an SEO.

Some days I cannot get myself to write content, other days I work on two or three projects over the course of the day. Some days are better days for working on linking, and some days are best for sales. That is what I enjoy the most about my job. I have such a variety of tasks that need to be accomplished, that I can always find something I feel like doing. For example, this evening I feel like blogging, et voila!

Of course, the end of the month brings reporting, and that is something that I have to do in a timely manner whether I feel like it or not. PPC management duties and responding to web forms are also “daily grind.” When it comes to creativity though, let me be “L’artiste!” I look forward to others’ comments…I am curious if any of you SEO’s out there or perhaps an occasional developer, feels this way too.


MSN AdCenter Invite

So I finally got an Ad center invite. It was actually supposedly the second time they asked me to try it, but I don’t remember the last one. I look forward to setting up a couple of accounts in there and will come back to give a “from scratch” analysis of what I feel makes this a better/worse/equal system to the Google AdWords and Yahoo Search marketing systems. I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the other system, since we do a fair amount of PPC Management.

Fortunately, I have been following the thread at Search Engine watch about this topic, found here. Please feel free to post any advice in the comments, or shoot me an email if you have any secrets you wish to share with me.



Ahh...the dreaded "we only work with large agencies."

Just got off the phone with a prospect we had been working with last year. The contact was new, having taken over the role of "SEO-seeker." We had made a formal proposal last year and they never went with anything. So I got on the phone and was asked the usual due-diligence type questions. "Tell me about the company," etc... When we got to the fact that we only employ just over a dozen people, there was a noticeable shift in the conversation. This ended up with a "we prefer to only work with large agencies."

Now this is a legitimate top 5 business in a very competitive and popular industry, so I can sort of see why they may take such a stance in normal relations with an agency. SEO is not yet "normal" enough to be lumped into this, in my opinion. The majority of the "successful organizations" in this (SEO) business are probably less than 20 people, if not 10 or 5, working very personally with a client for about 6-12 months and then shifting into a maintenance mode thereafter. In my opinion and based on my experience, that is really what breeds success in this field, as many tasks are managed together by one to five people in order to ensure continuity in a project.

So really, if you are even a Fortune 100 company that is seeking SEO, I would have to highly recommend the established "boutiques" out there. I am not saying that some of the larger SEO firms are incapable of good results. They would not have grown to their size without success in the past. But I am speaking of agencies that are large but do not have their own established SEO departments yet. I feel what will happen is that many of these non-SEM or SEO-specialist agencies are simply going to outsource to a smaller firm, and the client is going to pay a hefty middleman fee in most cases.

As I said in the last post, we work with agencies in this manner, so I am speaking from experience. I wonder how many other SEO’s are out there that have experienced this same kind of “small-fry rejection?” If I was more insecure I would rush to jump to a large firm. It seems that many of the bigger SEO’s are in fact hiring at a rapid pace right now, perhaps partially because of this need for “size” (and also because of the increase in paid Search popularity – see below). I guess size does matter in the eyes of many organizations. Too bad for them, and good news for smaller SEM clients.

One more thing…I have recently noticed an obvious shift towards the popularity of paid Search. We have been getting far more leads this year for that than for SEO. Perhaps recent research and projections (buoyed by media cost included in the total anticipated spend in the field) have pushed SEO back a little, both in the eyes of marketers and the eyes of SEM’s that realize that good results are much easier to attain quickly with PPC. I am not saying that SEO is no longer the first proposal that comes out of my mind when dealing with most prospects, but I have been much more likely to highlight the merits of PPC lately.

Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?

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