We think it’s a big deal, but apparently the SEO industry thinks you are, well, small potatoes. They have bigger fish to fry. And to add another metaphor, you are not the low-hanging fruit SEO companies love to pick and get into their baskets.
Simply put, you just don’t pay enough in this get-rich-quick mentality that has dominated the SEO industry thus far. Which brings to mind another metaphor – I guess I’m the giraffe trying to reach the harder to reach fruit – like you small businesses in small markets with small budgets.
Why would I bother? It’s in my DNA. I was (and still am) in your shoes, and not just as a web company.
Your Budget is Just Too Low Bro.
OK, enough metaphors for now. Let’s talk statistics. I know, boring, but stay with me. You are a really nice statistic.
Most of the SEO industry caters to companies that have marketing budgets over $500 per month. Only 5% of businesses have marketing budgets like that. For the folks in Benton City, let me put this more simply, that’s only one out of every twenty businesses out there. If you are reading this chances are you are NOT one of those one out of twenty but are one of those nineteen out of twenty who’s marketing budget is less than $500 per month. Heck, you might not even have a marketing budget at all. Which may be why you are not making much money even though you are working hard for it. More on that later.
Ah so that’s why when you get quotes for SEO for your website the prices come in quite a bit over $500 per month, sometimes in the thousands. They are looking for the ones who understand the importance and value of SEO to their business growth and are willing to pay for it just like I was willing to pay $800 for a computer at Fred Meyer in 1988 that had less computing power than my cell phone. And it had a floppy drive. But no internet access. British physicist Tim Berners-Lee hadn’t invented it yet. Eight hundred bucks – what was I thinking? (sigh). For me it was a must-have so I bought one instead of a car. I was one of those low-hanging fruit the computer manufacturer was hoping to pick.
Technology is a Game Changer for Small Businesses
Here’s the thing: with the state of web technology the way it was five or ten years ago SEO companies could afford to offer services to companies with marketing budgets that put them in the top 5%. With recent advances in web technology, such as Open Source Content Management Systems like WordPress that are search engine friendly right out of the box, and if you can write with enough ability and expertise in your industry, SEO is much more within the reach of many ma and pa businesses. If you are inclined to do the work and you know how to work smart you can get yourself some good ranking without spending much money at all.
So why is the SEO industry not going after small potatoes like yourself? Probably because you are small potatoes. It’s just in their DNA.
Sure, there is a horde of bargain-basement SEO companies from India sending you long lists of “activities” they will do for you in your budget range. Here’s the last email I got from one of them:
Our basic package starts at : – $150 USD per month for 10 targeting keywords.
1. 20 Search Engine Submissions
2. 200 Manually Directory Submissions
3. 15 Article Submissions (1 Articles Submit in 30 Top Directories)
4. 10 Press Release Distributions (1 Press Release submit in 10 Sites)
5. 5 Web2.0/Blog postings (Using pre-written articles)
6. 30 Social Book marking Submissions
7. 5 Forum postings
8. 3 Unique Article writing (400+ words)
9. 1 Press Release writing (350+ words)
10. Keywords Mapping
11. New pages suggestions
12. Keywords research
13. Competitor Analysis
14. Title Tag changes suggestions
15. Meta tags changes suggestions
16. Alt tag changes suggestions
17. HTML Site Map
18. XML site map setup
19. Anchor text optimization
20. Google webmaster setup
21. Google analytics setup
22. Fortnightly Ranking Report
23. Fortnightly Full Detailed SEO Work Report in Excel
Though the grammar and spelling are less than impressive, that’s certainly an impressive list of activities they can do for $150 per month. But will it do any good? Probably not. It might even do some harm. The Indian SEO companies certainly have small business in mind when they offer services like this at that price point but they usually can’t produce results. They just produce activities. Many of them don’t even do that knowing they can get you to pay for several months because they know that you know that it takes several months to get ranked. By the time you figure out they aren’t doing you any good you have already wasted more money than you can afford on services that don’t bring a return on investment. Though they may think small businesses like yours are a big deal they are looking your way not because small business is in their DNA but because they know they can impress you with how much activity they can afford to do for what they want to charge you because they have dollar-a-day laborers doing it or one of their legion of software engineers has figured out a way to get a computer to do the work.
What the SEO industry so far has not realized is that SEO for small businesses in small markets with small budgets is fairly easy to do because there is not much local competition. Heck, a good number of companies in these markets don’t even have a website, much less have one that is optimized for search. The biggest competition in these markets is from big national directories like Supermedia, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and Yellowpages which are everywhere but not very strong anywhere.
WordPress developers around the world have continually made web design more and more doable for non-techies and thus made it more affordable. As this young SEO industry matures I think small businesses in these small markets will see more genuine low-budget solutions that are actually real solutions. Perhaps the Indian software engineers can contribute in some way with software that real SEO’s doing real SEO work can make use of to increase the efficiency of what they are doing for the benefit of the 19 out of 20 businesses whose marketing budget is below $500 per month. We shall see.
Having said that, we don’t need to wait for the hordes of software engineers in India to develop time-saving software for us. The making of SEO services affordable to small businesses with small budgets in small markets has more to do with with realizing that it’s just a lot less work to get them ranked than for a larger company with a bigger budget going after a competitive national market.
Small Businesses Need Our Love
As for me, I am continually trying to figure out ways to easily analyze a potential client’s business to see if they need a $200 per month SEO plan to get them ranked, get the traffic streaming in, and get the phone ringing, or a $500 per month plan. Or a $1200 one-time fee that works for at least a year. Yes, I’ve done that before, with less than 6 hours of my time. $200 per hour for someone who’s not a big name in the industry isn’t bad compensation at all. Now to figure out a way to figure out for which sites that will work and be able to reach out to them on a large scale (Indians, are you listening?), and then figure out a way to hire and train people to do the work . . . that’s the kind of thinking small businesses need us to be engaged in, not how to reel in that $4000 per month SEO client that’s more likely to go to a big name like Bruce Clay, to whom I just passed on some link juice. You are welcome Mr. Clay.
I know an SEO new to the industry who has on her website SEO packages starting at $2000 per month and going up from there. She obviously thought those kind of companies that can afford that kind of SEO work are a big deal and wants to get a piece of that pie. Problem is, she has not established herself as someone worthy of that kind of pay and I seriously doubt after a year of trying she has any clients. Meanwhile, there are hundreds if not thousands of small businesses right in her back yard that she could get to know personally that could use her services, but she can’t see them because they just aren’t big enough potatoes to go after.