Several years ago I listened to a talk at a search engine marketing conference where the speaker insisted that whatever we were charging, triple it.
I kept waiting for the presenter to talk about why our fees should increase that much. No reason was offered other than, “You are not charging enough.” I was still doing SEO work along with web site usability testing and charging from “give away” to not much more than a building contractor would earn per hour. It took me a very long time to inch my fees upwards.
When I was sub-contracted by a famous company to perform one of my specialized skills, I under-quoted and the Project Manager encouraged me to ask for more. That was many years ago and while my skills are more refined in that area of my practice, I never increased my rate and to this day Project Managers ask me to increase my rate.
At another conference a conversation with someone was again about what I should charge, with the advice being given from somebody who has never seen my work and only knows my reputation. The recommendation was to ask for five times what I would charge a small to medium business client, which I was counseled not to target. I was to use my name to position myself higher to get corporate clients with free flowing budgets.
Once again, advice on pricing with no need to prove my expertise. All I needed was a short skirt, teased up hairdo, knee hi boots and a street corner and I could be rich in the SEO world.
Which brings me to the saga of the SEO Snake Oil Salesman and SEMPO’s meeting this week at Pubcon about ethics and compliance with some kind of unified code of conduct.
My company, Creative Vision Web Consulting, LLC puts together projects for any size company wanting a website that will be found in search engines from any type of digital device. I partner with carefully chosen companies, each of whom abide by a common belief, which is to never overcharge anyone and they deliver methodologies that will never, ever hurt a client’s website.
In addition, I am approached on a weekly basis by site owners and large agencies seeking my recommendations for reputable companies to hire for PPC, link building, and social and Internet marketing because they have lost money, been penalized, or treated badly.
Finding reputable referrals has proven to be difficult and sad.
For starters, the pricing for those services has skyrocketed. If a company does not have $5000/$10,000 per month to spend, they are not considered to be candidates as clients. If a company has that budget, in no way does that automatically translate to receiving expert service.
Some of the problems are in education. For example, there remains an enormous amount of outrageously incorrect information on all forms of search engine marketing. One famous global organic healthcare products company that has resellers provides them with their own free website and “website submission” services. The free website template alone is so poorly designed as to be hysterical even for someone who has no training in usability and user experience design.
The problems with finding affordable healthcare in the USA are made worse because not having it can mean fines. This allows health care companies to manipulate services and pricing. The SEO industry knows that a similar situation exists in their favor because not having any type of search engine marketing strategy results in no business.
They know, too, that companies come seeking help for marketing with websites that don’t work well, and rather than tell their clients that the website itself needs usability testing to uncover issues and hunt for positive user experience opportunities, they pocket the links, PPC and content marketing money and promise the client miracles in search.
SEMPO is not about to try and sell a new culture and this is why I feel they will struggle to convince people to agree to their proposals. The SEO industry has gotten away with pricing many companies directly out of the right to compete with Fortune companies for years.
Charging 3 to 5 times more than competitors does not mean a company is doing reputable work. It does not mean that companies that charge high hourly rates employ skilled people. In the SEO industry, it is a myth that you get what you pay for. Ask any website that is penalized by Google or company that has never recovered from link buying schemes that cost them countless thousands of dollars.
It takes a tribe to raise a website these days.
Start with smart council.
My new company, Creative Vision Web Consulting, LLC, is raising funds for a colleague who was severely injured in a bicycling accident and not expected to walk again. She is very brave, in terrible pain and making progress on some days, and sliding on others. I am paying a seller fee, referral fee and part of my fee’s in an effort to help.