Suggestions for a small business SEO program

14 replies
  • SEO
  • |
Hi guys I am a website designer who has a lot of small business clients and I'm looking at starting to offer SEO services. I'm not really into Internet Marketing as such but I like to pay attention to what is going on in this industry and I get a lot out of following some of the guys doing well here.

I am after some feedback on how to structure the program. I'm thinking of charging something like $100 a month and for that I will do a few hours work. What I'm really interested in is people's thoughts on how to best spend the time for maximum return. I only want to use techniques that don't run the risk of the client getting slapped by Google and I'm prepared to outsource if people can recommend good providers for certain aspects of it - i.e. directory submission, general link building, blog commenting etc. But budget will be tight so any outsourcing will have to be pretty cheap.

These are real businesses (i.e. bricks and mortar type businesses) not online businesses.

Thanks in advance I'm also actively digging around this forum and other places and gradually building up my list of ideas.
#business #program #seo #small #suggestions
  • Profile picture of the author esdavis
    Check out the Offline forum as well. There's some cross-fertilization of ideas there and it can be very specific to offline business service provider needs.
    Always Interested in Hearing About Cool SEO Tools and Useful WP Plugins via threads or PMs.

    Interested in Social Media Tools and Content for The Local Marketing Expert clients.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4166300].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Andrew S
    If you're doing SEO for offline clients you'd probably want to look into citations for ranking, can anyone confirm this?

    I have never done local seo before.
    Marketer's Center is creating free tools for the SEO community!
    Sick Analytics: Find and fix your worst pages. Entity Explorer: Make your content better with related entities.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4166345].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author diabloepic
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4166392].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author JohnnyPR
      Originally Posted by diabloepic View Post


      Seo is the search engine optimization and you can using it to optimize the keywords for the websites and earn a lot of money including start the business.

      There you go, what great advice, now you know exactly what to do

      In all seriousness, you need to be building quality links consistently if you want to see your clients sites move up in the SERPs. I have found from my previous customers that offline sites generally move up very quickly when building links as the competition is much less than generic online keywords like "How to get rid of acne"

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4167383].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author bmsmarketing
    wow, you might be in over your head. Skype me, or pm me, and i can help you in the right direction. If you want to outsource all that to someone (pay them a fee for each location, you make mark up and dont have to do any work) then i am your guy.

    I manage over 2500 google places pages and citations. I guarantee you wont find anyone who has built more, or manages more than i do.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4313902].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JaySam
    Many companies and individuals are claiming that they are the best and the most effective when it comes to online business through using SEO method. For me, there is no expert/s here in the industry, they have only the experience, and I should say that Google is wiser than you think.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4314284].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author webladder
      Originally Posted by JaySam View Post

      Many companies and individuals are claiming that they are the best and the most effective when it comes to online business through using SEO method. For me, there is no expert/s here in the industry, they have only the experience, and I should say that Google is wiser than you think.
      Totally agree. The best way to get good at SEO is by doing and learning. I'm one of those people that likes to "learn by doing". If you fail the first time, then you've learned what NOT to do and the second time around you can adjust your strategy.

      Prepare to be constantly Googling things for the rest of your SEO career if you would like some help/advice on where to get started, feel free to SKYPE me.
      WEB Ladder Consulting, LLC
      Search Engine Optimization and Consulting
      Local Search Specialists!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4315878].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author websitedesigner
    Hi guys thanks for all of the replies, I'm not sure why but I hadn't seen these. I've been spending a lot of time building the program. I've got it all documented, I've got a team and we are working on testing it out on our own sites.

    I've presented the components of how it's looking here and I am very keen to get any feedback. At the end I've listed specific areas of concern for me.

    Basically the entry level program at the moment is comprising of:

    Setup - which includes keyword research, content strategy including blog setup and optimisation (there will be a big focus on SEO), on-page SEO, blog adding to our reporting system.

    Monthly link building - So far I've included:
    1. Post and promote 1 article on their blog
    2. Automated article submission using AMR
    3. Manual article submission to 10 article sites
    4. Creation of web2.0 properties (blogger, ec)
    5. Video submission using Tube Mogul
    6. Directory submission (automatic using and manual to 10 of our list of directories)
    7. Ping all new properties and bookmark 10 of them.
    8. Update their automatic report with the work we have done

    Main concerns so far

    1. I don't want to do any of the work on this myself going forward so I need to develop a program that my team can do by following the process month by month entirely themselves so I sort of feel like I can't do some of the things that pop up. For example one-off WSOs that might give us a chance to build a few links but it might not be the sort of thing we can do month after month. By the time I get my head around it and document how it's done and do it once, we would have spent more time than it's worth on the client. I'm thinking perhaps a solution to this is to have an entry level plan which is a basic structure link building plan and then have a premier plan which includes "pro-active link building" where if we discover new opportunities we'll implement those opportunities for the client.
    2. I'm still not sure whether I should be creating new sites on the web 2.0 platforms (WordPress, Blogger etc) each month or whether a client should just have 1 presence on these sites and each month we add a new article to their presence. I'm thinking there is probably no benefit in setting up a new account on each of these sites every month?
    3. Bookmarking - At the moment we are using Only Wire to social bookmark 10 of our new article sites or web 2.0 properties. But I'm wondering if it's a better strategy to just take each property / article site and maybe submit it to one social bookmarking site? I have also asked this question here.
    4. Competitor research - other than at the setup this is more or less non existent. What I would love is to find a tool that can very easily give me a list of hit PR do-follow links going through to their competitors sites so they can go through them themselves at the start to see if there are places on there that can get links from them. I have posted a thread here about this but have also mentioned it in this post to be thorough.
    5. Black hat / Grey hat techniques - I am still really torn on how to approach the whole black hat / grey hat / white hat thing. I kind of feel like everyone says they are white hat but everyone is using these techniques that are against Google's guidelines (like paid links). I feel like I'm missing out on opportunities for my clients if I'm not tapping into things like blog networks etc but I'm also concerned that despite what people say, if I am paying for the link just for the juice then it's technically black hat and there is always the risk of being reported.
    6. Links spreadsheet - One thing we are not doing is keeping a spreadsheet of links that we have built. It's just a bit hard to document instructions on how to do this for my staff. I'm wondering how important this is. I saw a good video recently that was saying you should do this and keep an eye on which links are listed in Google and only bookmark the ones that aren't listed to save yourself time. But at the moment I'm planning on taking a more blanket approach and I guess assuming that over time the links will build up.
    Sorry for the mammoth post but all help is appreciated, thanks.


    Free internet marketers dashboard Web Control Room

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4443803].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi websitedesigner,

      The type of "SEO service" that you are proposing is really an "SMO service". SEO is something you do to content, your service as described, is more website promotion that includes search engine optimized content. This is not just a difference in semantics, it is important to understand the differences if you want to be considered a professional within the industry.

      I think you are taking the right approach by developing and testing on your own sites first. It may take some time for you to figure out how to get this stuff right. You need to bring in folks with a lot of experience, or develop that experience yourself before subjecting your clients to the often painful and expensive learning process.

      Search engine marketing is based on a lot of relatively simple tasks, however your clients may be facing competition that has learned to combine these basic techniques into advanced tactics using sophisticated strategies.

      After reviewing your last post I would say that you still have quite a lot to learn.

      Addressing your concerns:

      1. Nothing wrong with outsourcing your work, or using inside staff. Offering a tiered service is a reasonable idea, especially since each client will have different needs and different resources.

      2. Just one account per community is fine. There are some advanced sophisticated strategies that may involve multiple accounts, however they tend to be black hat techniques and you shouldn't do that type of service without the client's express permission and informed consent.

      3. Social Bookmarking can be problematic if you are not paying attention to the social aspect of it. Bookmark responsibly if you do not want your accounts closed for spamming.

      4. You are so wrong about this. Competitor research is important as long as you have competition. You do plan to keep clients for the long term, right?

      5. Again, documented informed consent is absolutely necessary if you want to avoid being sued by your clients for malpractice when you get them de-listed for your bad behavior.

      6. If you are relying on other people to do the work, you would be wise to have everything documented. If it's not documented you can't ethically charge your client for it.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4447806].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author websitedesigner
        Hi Don (is that your real name? There's a famous TV gardener guy in Australia called Don Burke!). That's probably not that interesting. Anyway thankyou very much for the reply I appreciate it. I'm constantly amazed by how little I know, despite making a living being a web design expert for the last 5 years (and getting most of my business through Google). I'm absolutely loving learning about this stuff but there is a hell of a lot to learn.

        Regarding your points, at least in Australia among businesses SEO is the term given to getting higher up the rankings in Google. SEM is usually Adwords. Not sure what SMO stands for but I think if I called my service an SMO service no one would have a clue what it meant!

        That's good to have an answer on the web 2.0 sites, one account for each one per client right? I'm going through Traffic Grab at the moment and looking at this idea of building a second layer of web 2.0 sites that point back to the first layer. And then every month do we just post new articles on each of the web 2.0 sites? I'm just not sure if that's really going to help much since there is a link back to the site from there anyway?

        I think our blanket approach of social bookmarking might not be the smartest. I've watched a few vids of ping kaching and I understand it will be covered in the challenge this year so I might look at using that instead. Just one more tool to buy though.

        I'm still a bit confused with competitor research. We will do it at the start but I'm a bit unclear about how to turn it into something you do each month? Should I be looking at their competitors backlinks every month and see if there are new ones and see if we can get links on those sites? I just can't see this kind of process being time efficient but I think I need to learn more about this. I was thinking about having it as a one-off service where we send the client a list of sites with high Pr linking to their competitors and also a comment about each one as to how you might get a link on the site (i..e do they sell them, is it a blog you can comment on etc). Not sure if you have an opinion on this. If you can suggest anything to buy like a report or software that steps through this into a logical, repeatable process I would buy it.

        With that black hat comment I don't think I'm explaining myself very well but like one example is I see WSOs like this one and think that kind of thing would be good but really because you are paying for the links it's against Google's guidelines right so if Google cracked down on the network you could get slapped. Or another example is a lot of my competitors have links on a CSS gallery site which charges $10 / month to 'advertise'. I think I should pay for a link on there but again it's technically black hat right? I don't want to get into the really dodgy stuff but there are things like that where I think there's no way you'll compete with everyone else unless you do those things.

        Re documentation, I've been fueling up on this stuff for months, I have pages and pages of documentation and videos that I am creating but I think I just need some more advice on the best stuff to focus on and how to approach a few of these points.

        Thanks again for your comments.


        Free internet marketers dashboard Web Control Room

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4457165].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author dburk
          Hi websitedesigner,

          SEM is any type of marketing that promotes visibility in search engines, that includes both organic and sponsored listings. A section within Adwords does target search engines, but AdWords is not strictly search, their content network falls outside the scope of SEM. Obviously, SEO is considered a segment of SEM.

          I realize that SMO is more of an industry insider terminology, but then so is SEO. Many folks outside the industry have no idea what either term means. My point was that there are a lot of workers within the industry that have failed to grasp the proper terminology and really have no clear idea what the difference is between SEO and website promotion, many erroneously think it is the same thing.

          There has been a trend going on for some time where link builders like to call themselves SEO services, and while link building is an aspect of a true SEO service, There is much more to SEO than link building. Link building itself doesn't necessarily involve SEO, it is a form of website promotion that may include SEO services, but not always.

          The term SEO has become so watered down by improper use that one can never be sure of the meaning of that term. We might as well be using the word "stuff" or "things", as they are just as clear in meaning. I suggested the SMO term as it seems to more accurately describe what you were doing.

          I don't think you should use SEO nor SMO as a label for your services since many of your potential clients will not know what either term means.

          As far as using black hat methods, that is your choice. I just think it only fair that you let your clients know that you are putting them at risk of being kicked out of the index as well as having their reputation damaged. Full disclosure is a must.

          SEO campaigns are typically an ongoing process. You are literally in a competition for organic search listing positions. Since anything you do may be countered by your competitor, you need to pay attention to how they adapt to you as a competitor. A full service SEO firm would usually include an ongoing analysis of competitor's reactions to your campaign and counter strategies. However, I think I realize now that you are not offering full SEO services, but more of a contractor for certain tasks that a full service SEO firm might offer a client.

          I assume you services are being marketed to folks that are managing their own SEO campaigns and are looking to outsource certain aspects of it. Or, perhaps you are targeting SEO firms as your potential clients. Either way you could offer your "competitor research" as a one off service that can be reordered at whatever interval your client needs it.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4459475].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author websitedesigner
    Hi don, thanks again. My clients will be small businesses, they won't be actively trying to improve their positions in Google other than by creating content and being active in social media so my program needs to be comprehensive - any specific advice is appreciated. Keeping in mind I want to price the entry level program at $99 / month which means I can only really spend 2 days per client per month. I want to spend those 2 days doing things that are most likely to increase their natural traffic from Google.

    Free internet marketers dashboard Web Control Room

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4537692].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi websitedesigner,

      While increasing "natural traffic from Google" is typically one of the goals of SMO, it isn't always the primary goal. A well executed SMO campaign generates targeted traffic, most of which will be from sources other than Google. I think it wise to view your proposed offering as just such a service.

      With a budget of only $99 a month, what you can do is fairly limited. That level of spending is more typical of a hobby website, or perhaps a part-time business. If your client spends too little they will get virtually no traffic from Google.

      Since you need first page rankings on competitive keywords before you get any kind of real traffic, you clients may have a bit of a wait before they start to see measurable results. You know going from position 468 to position 23 isn't going to net much traffic. In some cases, competition will be weak and the $99 budget may be all that is needed, but not always.

      Many small businesses, despite being small, must compete with other businesses in their marketplace. Some of those competitors may be large regional firms with aggressive marketing budgets, and even smaller competitors can often bring highly aggressive marketing campaigns.

      For example I have one client that owns a single retail store in a large city with hundreds of very aggressive competitors. While this client started out with a small monthly budget, he soon realized the ROI for his web marketing far exceeded the traditional marketing he had been doing. With the local economy being in poor condition, I persuaded him to get aggressive, with the goal of forcing many of his competitors out of the local market.

      We have had tremendous success with this strategy, year over year sales up 30% in a mature market, during a recession. I can assure you that this client is spending far more than $99 a month and crushing every competitor that made the mistake of going with such a modest budget. We've seen 6 national chains fold or pull out of the local market during this campaign, along with all but one nearby local firm, which is currently teetering and we are going in for the kill.

      The point I am trying to make is that a one-price offering will only be suitable for businesses that just happen to need that particular level of service. What about all the other potential customers? And what is your client to do if a more aggressive competitor steps up? Do they keep spending $99, but never see a positive return?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4542639].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author websitedesigner
        One more thing, I think it's becoming obvious the more I learn about this, the more I need to learn!

        I'm thinking it might be a good idea for me to sign up for a private forum or something like that.

        I've seen a few around, I know this forum has one (although it's not specifically about link building I think it's broader).

        Do you have any thoughts on that?

        Free internet marketers dashboard Web Control Room

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4546482].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author websitedesigner
    Hi mate thanks again for your response, sorry I wasn't clear, I want my entry level plan to be $99. It's a number that's in my head, I believe there are a lot of small businesses out there who would be able to afford to pay this to rank well for a keyword that will bring them some traffic. The choice of keyword is obviously very important here. In a mature industry we wouldn't pick the most competitive / highest traffic keyword we would aim for something more modest - something that will bring 'some' traffic.

    Then they will have the ability to scale by purchasing new keywords or scaling up to a higher level plan where we do some more manual stuff and some more advanced techniques.

    A lot of the other companies operating in this space are charging thousands per month and I realise that there may come a time where we are competing for a keyword against these companies who are geared to doing more of the higher level SEO stuff that requires more manual work that we can't compete against. That is something I will have to manage in terms of expectations and is why I need to be careful with my pricing. I don't intend on becoming one of these providers I want to build a scaleable service, something that is an affordable entry point for small businesses to choose.

    With the black-hat stuff, I guess part of the problem for me is I don't even know myself half the time what is black hat and what isn't. So you can't 'pay' for links but it's ok for people to pay me to build links. Is something like #1 Rated Backlink Indexing Service | Index Backlinks | Backlinks Indexing to Boost Your Rankings or other private blogging networks black-hat? That's paying people for links. This one came up in another thread on link indexing and I'm looking at the site thinking that sounds good but it's black-hat right?

    Free internet marketers dashboard Web Control Room

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4546447].message }}

Trending Topics