SEO Business – Value and Client Expectations

I had an interesting day in the world of SEO yesterday.

On one hand I met a business owner who had spent 7 years doing SEO with one of the major Australian digital marketing companies, paying market rates all the way, and has left with 1 page 1 result and all but 2 of his priority keywords going backwards over the seven years. Many of these rankings went from page 1 to beyond page 10. This company continue to invoice him every month for this “value” they are providing.

In contrast, I had one of my long term clients, whose services today are discounted to the extent I am just above break even, where we are tracking over 100 keywords (for the price of a 10 keyword package), where 30 of his priority keywords hold the top position on Google, call me 3 times, then call the office and spend an hour on the phone with a staff member as I didn’t drop everything I was doing to help him immediately.

These two experiences contrasted so distinctly as they happened so close to each other. If they happened on a different day I may have missed it. It made me really think though about “Value in Business” – and in particular value in the business of SEO.

It was interesting as in the former example, the major agency continue to call their client each month telling him how well its going and the value they are providing. I looked at the report and felt sick – as I know it is this type of activity that gives our industry a bad name. The bigger players don’t seem to care. In the latter example though where there is clear over-value being provided, its a battle each month to have this acknowledged and there is a continual need for hand holding, over-administration, based on a one sided attitude of entitlement.

In a business sense where we have the opportunity to learn and get better every day, what is the lesson here? For me there are three parts to what I learned from this experience. These are:

  • Make sure you are creating value with what you are doing – if you don’t and try and “BS” your way through your lack of value – you are actually destroying an industry. Take responsibility. Do things right. Take ownership of fixing things that are not working
  • Value needs to be perceived for it to be of worth. As business owners we can forget this and forget that our clients, who are not in our industry, may need to be reminded and shown what the value is that we are providing. They may just not know or see it.
  • We need to be clear and firm on boundaries. We can learn when we let ourselves down in this regard and tighten up with this in our own businesses. In the second case for example, my standard services are turning into full on consulting gigs for which I’m not getting paid. Either the boundary needs to be made clearer or the price must be adjusted.

Ultimately business works well when the value we create is real, perceived and rewarded. When any of these things doesn’t work, business doesn’t work and it all falls apart. In my personal case I think I need to work on the third point, that’s my weakness and where I can improve my business from self improvement.

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