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Should you pay for SEO before you see any results?

Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
You really could use many methods to run an SEO business

There is a problem debating this, most people on this forum are well versed in the ways of online business and to some extent SEO, although very few sit at the top of Google, not a dig just a fact. So the ideas discussed may seem to hold some merit but reality they don't work.

The reason they don't work....The average punter comes to an SEO provider because their site is under performing, of course they are interested in the clients I have provided services for, the techniques I use and the ranking of my own website, however their main question is always cost related. If they find my charges acceptable, most want to pass over the reigns and leave me to it and rightly so most have to spend their time running their own business.

A new client expects results and quickly, sort that out and the relationship prospers. If you can't they leave.

Introducing staged payments, PFP or any other scheme indicates I am untrustworthy, something that is certainly not the case. My lasted client, Jase dotwhat (dot) net signed up last week, he is a well educated 'techie' who asked for a free trial period, I said no and explained the terms of service, leaving him to decide, an hour to make his mind, paid a month in advance and I added his site to the pot. If I produce the goods he will stay a long term client, if I don't he will look elsewhere.

I believe simplification is a USP in SEO

Pete

It may be for you but for many businesses they need a bit more confidence before parting with hard cash up front.

I do not as long as trust is built by provable results but many small businesses will have a problem with parting with cash upfront.

When you place your business in a space that demands those terms , when any potential client can find several more companies that can do what you do without the same terms in about 5 minutes are you not placing your business in an difficult position?

I am sure you are aware that they are many , many good seo/sem firms and we are also aware that there are lots of crap ones.

What happens to your clients tomorrow if you are sick or worse you are run over, do you have a team as good as you, do your clients know what happens in that situation?

Just pointing out that it is very easy to have a system and think it is right, but all systems need reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Normal credit terms are not untrustworthy nor are stage payments , they are just normal business processes that exist and are used and when SEO/SEM act out with them it comes across as strange to experienced and serious business people and therefore raises questions.

I have today signed stage payment deals worth most SEO companies annual turnover that would not have been signed had the supplier wanted upfront payment.

You seem to be operating a business on a personal level which is fine if it suits you but if someone gave me a hour to decide on a project I would take the hour to stop laughing.

Peter
 

peteark

Banned
Good morning Pete

I will try and answer your questions to the best of my ability although be warned its early...lol

I personally think there are more crap SEO firms than good ones, most sell a dream but cannot prove their skills on their own website. I understood from the very outset that I needed to get my own website well positioned before contemplating working for other people.

What happens if I am sick? A great question, honest answer is there are no contingency plans in place for my business. As for getting run over well I guess I would have more important things to consider. I imagine most in the SME sector would be stumped

This is how I operate...At Easter I took my family to Hemsedal for a weeks skiing, although I have Internet access, I didn't fancy working 10 hours a day, so I informed everyone of my plans, that was to work extended hours and weekends a few weeks before I went away. The result, all my clients wished me a good holiday, I guess they realise the work I provide is of value to them and we all need a break from time to time, none requested or asked about a refund.

I think the other difference between my business and that of other firms is the amount I charge per month, it is considerably less than most providers, therefore the risk is less. Although I strongly believe the quality of service is on par if not better. There are not many firms that have a 100% track record in improving the business models online, with proof.

Yes I run my business on a personal level, I think this is one of my strengths, although others may view this as a weakness. I am no salesman, people contact me, we have a chat, they decide their own fate, after our chat most realise they need some kind of work doing, sometimes this is just design work, hence I am always on the lookout for quality designers, which thankfully is working as the number has gone up one recently.

You misunderstand about the 1 hour, I would never give anyone any ultimatums, I had a chat with Jase, he wanted a month or 2's free trial, I said I couldn't do that, he then came back to me.

Of course there is a risk reward balance out there, for some the risk is minimal for others is a worry. I have some very wealthy clients who see my charges as a drop in the ocean. Chris Slay and John Godfrey both informed me a few weeks ago, if you are fortunate enough to find someone good at online marketing, you dont let them go. These 2 can make 10's of thousands from one lead. Paul Taylor a London based landscape gardener informed me last night he had a very lucrative lead from his site, he can make a ton of cash from that single lead, probably enough to pay me for 10 years.

I simply charge my set rate, if a client goes on to make millions well good luck to them, my will remain the same. 2 years ago Craig Smith signed up and to pay the set rate at the time he was literally running his business on shoestring, he put his faith in me, today his business is flying along even in these times, yet his monthly charge remains exactly the same.

If you are a greedy person, you need to implement systems to improve profitability, if you need work you need to try different approaches, if I was looking for extra work, I would certainly consider some of the cracking points discussed here, the truth is I'm not and don't expect to be.
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
Good morning Pete

I will try and answer your questions to the best of my ability although be warned its early...lol

I personally think there are more crap SEO firms than good ones, most sell a dream but cannot prove their skills on their own website. I understood from the very outset that I needed to get my own website well positioned before contemplating working for other people.

What happens if I am sick? A great question, honest answer is there are no contingency plans in place for my business. As for getting run over well I guess I would have more important things to consider. I imagine most in the SME sector would be stumped

This is how I operate...At Easter I took my family to Hemsedal for a weeks skiing, although I have Internet access, I didn't fancy working 10 hours a day, so I informed everyone of my plans, that was to work extended hours and weekends a few weeks before I went away. The result, all my clients wished me a good holiday, I guess they realise the work I provide is of value to them and we all need a break from time to time, none requested or asked about a refund.

I think the other difference between my business and that of other firms is the amount I charge per month, it is considerably less than most providers, therefore the risk is less. Although I strongly believe the quality of service is on par if not better. There are not many firms that have a 100% track record in improving the business models online, with proof.

Yes I run my business on a personal level, I think this is one of my strengths, although others may view this as a weakness. I am no salesman, people contact me, we have a chat, they decide their own fate, after our chat most realise they need some kind of work doing, sometimes this is just design work, hence I am always on the lookout for quality designers, which thankfully is working as the number has gone up one recently.

You misunderstand about the 1 hour, I would never give anyone any ultimatums, I had a chat with Jase, he wanted a month or 2's free trial, I said I couldn't do that, he then came back to me.

Of course there is a risk reward balance out there, for some the risk is minimal for others is a worry. I have some very wealthy clients who see my charges as a drop in the ocean. Chris Slay and John Godfrey both informed me a few weeks ago, if you are fortunate enough to find someone good at online marketing, you dont let them go. These 2 can make 10's of thousands from one lead. Paul Taylor a London based landscape gardener informed me last night he had a very lucrative lead from his site, he can make a ton of cash from that single lead, probably enough to pay me for 10 years.

I simply charge my set rate, if a client goes on to make millions well good luck to them, my will remain the same. 2 years ago Craig Smith signed up and to pay the set rate at the time he was literally running his business on shoestring, he put his faith in me, today his business is flying along even in these times, yet his monthly charge remains exactly the same.

If you are a greedy person, you need to implement systems to improve profitability, if you need work you need to try different approaches, if I was looking for extra work, I would certainly consider some of the cracking points discussed here, the truth is I'm not and don't expect to be.

Hi Pete

All good points

Although I agree that there are more crap SEO/SEM firms than good ones their are still plenty of good ones around so no need for any potential client to work with the crap ones.

Your way of working suits you and you have enough business to keep going so there is nothing wrong with that model if that is what keeps you happy:001_smile:

I could not run a business in that manner but horses for courses and all that.

Peter
 

peteark

Banned
Peter

My problem is managing growth, if that is indeed the direction I want to go in.

I could outsource work or employ people with a view to building the business, then I would need to revisit payment terms possibly the whole structure of the business. The trouble with this will always be the working standards of others and having trust.

The hassle of growth is something that concerns me, of course I could earn more money, but the hassle factor would be multiplied. In my previous job I managed over 100 people, I seemed to spend most of my day sorting out rubbish, it has been nice working by myself, with no worries other than providing a good service and keeping clients well briefed.

Sometimes I think I don't ant the hassle of growth, I certainly earn enough as it is, I guess it helps that I am financial secure without working, so it comes down to quality of life balanced against challenging myself, something I often ponder.
 
Employment Law Services

Employment Law Services

EmployEasily Legal Services
Verified Member
In my previous job I managed over 100 people, I seemed to spend most of my day sorting out rubbish, it has been nice working by myself, with no worries other than providing a good service and keeping clients well briefed.

Peteark, if you do decide you want to grow but want to avoid having to manage all of the "rubbish" that goes with employing staff keep us in mind, we specialise in helping businesses to produce profits with personnel and can also support/drive change management programmes ;)

Back on topic though.........isn't a good measure of the ability / credibility of an SEO/SEM company their own site's SERPS........wouldn't it make sense to go with whichever company is top on google/yahoo for the keywords "search engine optimisation" and/or "SEO"? (obviously after checking them out to make sure they are using 'white hat' tactics AND don't want a big upfront payment...):001_smile:
 

peteark

Banned
Thanks Interpid, I will keep your offer in mind

If you want a shock, ring up the 10 companies listed on page 1 of Google for the term, 'search engine optimisation' get a quote. Make sure your sitting down when they give you their payment structure.

3 times in the past year I have had to sort out a mess produced by one of the above mentioned companies.
 

Boxby

New Member
Although with 256million relevant results for SEO, there may be more than just 10 of them that could be classified as "good". :001_smile:
 

peteark

Banned
When doing a search in Google use this string

intitle:"keywords here"

You will see how many people are targeting the exact phrase in their title tag, now there is a useful tip when it comes to keyword research.
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
peteark,

That’s a very useful search, and it does remove some of the chaff. You can refine the list of competing sites even further by using a combination of advanced operators.

For example

intitle:"SEO Services" inanchor:"SEO Services"

which should be entered as one search query

This time you get a list of pages that use the term in their title and links pointing to them. This gives a better indication of the pages that are actively being optimised for the term.

Boxby,

No one in their right mind would target "SEO" it’s a search term that reflects no commercial intent.
 

Boxby

New Member
Boxby,

No one in their right mind would target "SEO" it’s a search term that reflects no commercial intent.

Blimey, you just don't like me, do you?

The term "SEO" has 59 pages of companies Paying to run PPC campaigns on it.

That therefore must indicate that it some kind of intrinsic value, which bearing in mind most of those 59 pages of PPC companies are selling something, I haven't checked them out, but i'm guessing they're selling SEO, means that it must have some commercial interest to those companies at least.
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
Blimey, you just don't like me, do you?

Sorry Boxby if it came across that way, I was simply stating a fact that would have elicited the same response regardless who I was responding to. So please don’t take the rest of the comments I am going to make here personal.

Although the title of an ad may include the word SEO it does not mean that they are targeting that word exclusively. For example when you search for SEO how many paid ads are returned with just that single word in the title. I see none.

Add to this that SEO is also a Gaelic word so the number of SERPS will be slanted by this and SEO is also an acronym for Sewage Enforcement Officer. (OK, the irony is obvious to me too)
 

Boxby

New Member
The original comment was meant to be tongue in cheek (obviously missed :)) about the fact that there are probably more good SEO/SEM companies, than just simply those on the first page of google for the relevant term.

(and maybe still a wee bit sensitive about being called a "troll"! - appologies for getting all girly and hypersensitive!!)
 

peteark

Banned
Don't mention Trolls again....please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK I am sorry about the comment and if you want I will provide you with a FREE SEO report, to show my sincerity.
 

Boxby

New Member
Thanks

If would like to prepare the report then that would be great, and I will take it with thanks.

But, just to say, I did instruct and SEO company last week, and they are currently in the premlinary reviews/reports stages. So if you don't want to do it then i'll completley understand because there currently no chance for further work off the back of it.
 

peteark

Banned
I did not offer the report on the hope it would lead to more work

Drop Me an PM with your

URL
Main keyword
Forwarding email address
 

Boxby

New Member
I did not offer the report on the hope it would lead to more work

I didn't for one minute think that you did, it was just that i wanted to be upfront about where we were with our SEO, and didn't want to waste anyones time.
 
Employment Law Services

Employment Law Services

EmployEasily Legal Services
Verified Member
peteark,

That’s a very useful search, and it does remove some of the chaff. You can refine the list of competing sites even further by using a combination of advanced operators.

For example

intitle:"SEO Services" inanchor:"SEO Services"

which should be entered as one search query

This time you get a list of pages that use the term in their title and links pointing to them. This gives a better indication of the pages that are actively being optimised for the term.

Boxby,

No one in their right mind would target "SEO" it’s a search term that reflects no commercial intent.

Very useful & very cool, thanks! Just checked HR Services and am position 1.woot, woot!!
 

stuarty

Banned
I "think" the OP was about paying for SEO :confused: I've only skimmed through all the posts and have no idea where to begin but I'll try.

Note: Google says no one can guarantee a rank/result/position etc. So how do you measure a result? Without any prior agreement you cannot prove/disprove a result. We don't guarantee results - never have - never will.

Someone I think said never work with a company who asks for money up front. I disagree and I'm not sure what evidence or established practice this is based on? The government has been advising small companies for years to take deposits and ensure cashflow - this is one of the prime reasons many small businesses go to the wall.

It "may" be an idea not to take money up front in certain circumstances - e.g. for small businesses as this is an expense that is hard for them to cope with. It's the decision of the SEO (or any service provider) to weigh up the risks.

Whento take money up front - most certainly with any new client or if you are dealing with medium to large enterprises.

When dealing with any M-L enterprises you will be asked what your terms are from the outset.You will be vetted by them quite thoroughly and expected to have a payment structure in place. Invoice after 30 days is considered sign of weakness/desperation. The last thing they want is a supplier who can't organise cashflow and screw up a project.

Pick up any tender from the OJ and you will see that 99.9% of tenders require your business to state your deposit terms. It's expected and goes towards your score in the tendering process. Anyone giving 30days on completion is marked down with a negative score. The supply2gov workshop in cosla at the end of the month is where you can see this all in action.

In the case of new clients - we always take a deposit. It's the SEO/SEM company that takes all the risks because it's very hard to reverse SEO with zero cost/effort. I agree that there are cowboys out there and this is where it can be a worry for some companies. However, it's really naive for any business not to check out a supplier.

Any new client telling "us" that they will pay after 30 days or after results sets off alarm bells. If they've done their homework they'll discover we have a good reputation and nothing to prove. It's entirely up to the client to prove to us they can pay their bills.

Any reputable company will use something called "due dilligence" when dealing with new clients. An SEO if reputable will have no problem showing results for client work they have done. Their reputation will have got them there in the first place after all.

Due diligence is a proven method and covers basic stuff like;

Does the new client have the funds to meet invoices?
Will the new client run off after the work has been done?
Will the new client use stall tactics to avoid paying or reduce agreed amounts?
Has the client a history of problems with other companies, late payment, judgements against them?

Something else to consider...how exactly do you also show performace after only a month in SEO/SEM? (notice I include SEM).

It takes a minimum of three months to gather vital data from analytics, splits, heatmaps. Keyword research develops over these three months because you discover most of your longtail phrases in this period - from here you have to start optimising pages for these longtails.

So... should the SEO company wait 3 months to be paid? The client is benefitting from exposure of their website and brand awareness due to the work the SEO company has performed - some visitors can take weeks and months to make a purchase decision. Sales cycles are not finite and this should be remembered too.

What happens if after 3 months the client decides not to pay?

Deposits are common place - the due diligence process is the key to any new project and it forms the key criteria in the final sale agreement. This will contain the exact details of the sale, the payment frequency of any ongoing work etc. There will be compromise on both sides to obtain a final document that is acceptable. Constant dialogue should be maintained to ensure no hidden surprises or liabilities in future.

In Scotland we have verbal contracts and I'm no lawyer but ours even advise us that it's extremely difficult to prove who said what so we do all our background work first. Your final sales agreement will cover both parties and leave all the grey areas exposed in the event of a dispute. That's why we have clients going back 11 years.
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
This thread has been a remarkable piece of market research and I thank everyone who has posted. I have been struggling for some time with the best way to frame a PFP offering to my clients and thank all who have posted thus far for food for thought. One comment that really struck home for me was:

For me its all about agreeing specific, measurable, achievable, realisitic and time-sensitive deliverables then identifying quantifiable milestones that cover the project end to end. Then agree a minimum fee based on the delivery of milestone A and/or B and a maximum fee based on the delivery of the completed project, secure a reasonable deposit upfront (10-15%) and agree on staged invoicing/payment terms upon the completion of previously agreed milstones through to completion.

From this I can easily imagine PFP working an extension of SMART objectives.

Thanks one and all.

Peter Hoggan
 
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