The #1 way SEO companies rip off clients, & 4 simple techniques to get down to REAL results

After reading this article and thought why give people 7 ways SEO companies rip off their clients when you can give 1?

The #1 way you might get ripped off by an SEO company is...THEY DON'T TRACK down to REAL results and you don't push them to. Easy.

When is the last time you saw an annual report delivered to a group of shareholders that talked about web site traffic, rankings, or links attained? NEVER! They usually talk revenues, projections, etc...

While there are few tools that easily track to ROI (I'm talking ROI not conversions), every SEO company should track traffic to as close to the sale as possible. Especially in a down economy, every marketing consultant should be tracking as closely to sales as possible to hold onto their piece of the marketing pie.

#1 - If you are a publisher, develop a revenue per page view, and track unbranded search traffic to page views

#2 - If you are a B2B marketer, now is the time to make sure you are tracking leads, even those that come by phone from search efforts, you can do this in a 1.0 way of making sure people ask how did you hear of us, or in a more 2.0 way that changes your phone number dynamically based on the referring site, check out Voicestar for this functionality.

#3 - B2B Marketers, you doing paid search? You using Here's a guide to connecting and Google Adwords. Here's the guide. This will help you also tell the quality of the leads we drive!

#4 - Lastly, make sure that your SEO company is not including branded search in their reports (or they should report them in a separate report) - SEO's can't take much credit for people searching for your brand entirely, while we contribute to some of it, conversions via your brand should always be in a separate report. E-commerce providers, if you don't have e-commerce tracking turned on in your analytics reports you are nuts!

Now don't run crazy with this report as very often we're driving unbranded traffic in the beginning that may come back in through branded search, so a SEO company should report on both.

One place where I disagreed with the article, was by the position reports , anyone can get a web site ranking well for something, the question is does that term get queried enough to make it worthwhile? That is the million dollar question, not where you rank, but do the rankings you achieved actually drive results, and by results I mean one of these three things, traffic, leads or sales.

SEO is NOT about rankings, rankings, # of links, etc are a distraction from traffic, leads, and sales.

A SEO company fully concerned about driving sales needs to explain to their clients that it is better to work on moving a term from 9 to 3 for a highly queried, highly converting term than to bring up a bunch of 30's and 40's for terms that have lower query volume and lower propensity to convert.

It is never about rankings, they are just a means to an end.

We are in a recession people, not tracking your SEO results down to traffic, and leads (where possible) is going to make your job harder! Keep your job stress free, here are my tips for lowering the stress of growing a marketing agency.

I did like this pointer most from that article: Hide behind intellectual property rights – This is so true, many companies talk about “proprietary” stuff all the time. Most of what makes a search company good is testing and their knowledge, it is rarely some home grown tool. It's like a bid manager, anyone can buy the software it is the people behind it, their passion, drive and expertise that adds value. Real SEO companies keep clients because they know that results and service that builds trust with clients NOT secrets.

I will say that valuing links, is the one thing where a company can build a tool to help them gain an understanding for link value very quickly – again that just helps us work more quickly, the strategies are what drives the value is still the same.

So all in all, marketers start holding all of your marketing "partners" more accountable, and marketing consultants, please start tracking down to results. If you can't track your work down to whatever metric ends up on that loan application or shareholder report, you are going to be in trouble. Don't want to take my word for it, well maybe you should listen to Big Blue! IBM is also saying: “Two-thirds of advertising experts surveyed by IBM expect 20% of advertising revenue to move from impression-based to impact-based formats within three years:”

IBM marketing shift Image from this exec summary by

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President