Online Media Consultant and Web Publisher
Why SEOs Don't Need SEO
It's ironic that, in an industry based around helping people get their sites found in the search engines, most SEO firms seem to derive comparatively little benefit from getting their own sites ranked.
I'm just speaking from personal experience, so your mileage may vary. It may be possible that good search rankings do help firms selling cheap SEO packages that actually accomplish very little but cater to people's concept of what they think they need.
But from what I've seen on my own sites and heard from others, firms selling high-value, high-priced SEO services that actually will help people don't seem to benefit much from that high search rank.
Case in point:
A while back I wrote about Jill Whalen's experiences being on page one in Google for search engine optimization:
...I get on avg. (according to my google analytics) anywhere from 100 - 160 visitors a day from Google on my number 2 ranking for the phrase search engine optimization...with just under 1% (.92%) filling out my info request form. Only .25% became forum members, and .1% purchased my guide.
That number two spot is probably amongst the most cherished in SEO, but the direct return is surprisingly small.
Aaron Wall ranks for just about every SEO-related term under the sun, yet here's what he had to say recently:
This site ranks fairly well via search, but most of my conversions come from other marketing mechanisms because there is so much hype in online marketing and so much distrust toward marketing ebooks. About the only search terms that convert for this site are searches for my name or the official name of the site (part of that is also because the brand name of this site is rather generic in nature). When selling unbranded commodity based products at low cost I think search works much better than expensive products or services that require building trust first.
My experience has been the same. SEO-related terms which might seem uber-competitive don't tend to sell $97 ebooks or consulting services. But a personal recommendation from a trusted source (even if they are an affiliate) will sell the pants off those things.
As Jim Boykin pointed out a while back, those high search rankings tend to bring in a lot of high-maintenence tire-kickers who're usually more trouble than they're worth (not the exact quote I was looking for, but close):
...most of the clients we take on are from referrals. We seriously get more leads than we can handle right now so I'm no longer even thinking of chasing the phrase "internet marketing" again...through things like bringing Todd on board, speaking at conferences, and blogging, I realize that rankings don't mean jack to me anymore.
The primary benefit to those high rankings seems to be the level of credibility they establish, and the way that credibility can be leveraged into closing prospects who might still be on the fence.
For example, Aaron uses the fact that his site ranks number one for "SEO Book" as a selling point to convince customers of his expertise. Never mind that the phrase didn't really exist before he invented it. To the fence-sitter who may not have much online experience, that's a killer selling point, and it's great marketing.
I run a website consulting agency called Kua Bay. This is my personal site.
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