It IS fair for SEO to be tied directly to Websites Sales

Today Ryan Kelly from Pear Analytics tweeted a blog titled “Is It Fair For SEO To Be Tied Directly To Website Sales“.  He discusses disappointed SEO clients who canceled their SEO service because they felt they did not see a favorable ROI.

Ryan wrote, “Every now and then we have customers who want to cancel their service because the SEO effort has not generated an ROI in terms of sales through the website.  While this is certainly reasonable to assume, it’s almost an unfair proposition given the amount of external factors unrelated to SEO that can drive a “sale” on a website.”

I went on to write a blog comment on Ryan’s blog, but apparently six paragraphs is more than the Livefyre comment engine he’s using could handle, so I was left with few options outside of writing this here blog to tackle some of what Ryan addressed.


It’s a sexy idea.  This awesome tactic called SEO that can make new people come to your website, even sexier when you automate that process so you don’t have to pay much time or energy helping it to succeed.  It’s one of those things that Dave Ramsey would say sounds a little too good to be true.  Curious why?  That’s because it is!

There are companies out there with entire teams dedicated to SEO, men and women who every day are out there generating content, creating linkbait, drafting infographics, leveraging social networks to build relationships and gain links, etc.  There are in-house SEOs, there are outsourced SEOs, there are fat ones, skinny ones, SEOs who climb on rocks!  You get the idea.  It takes PEOPLE to make SEO work correctly.

What Ryan is saying here, is basically shifting the blame off of his SEO offering and onto the client for not knowing as much as he does (should) about creating that inbound marketing funnel.  That is the SEO’s responsibility, not the client’s.  The SEO should provide the client with a complete snapshot of their internet marketing, not just a view so drilled down and focused on what can be automated or what comes out of some algorithmically created keyword report.  Our job doesn’t stop there.

It is straight irresponsible to assist someone in optimizing their website for the wrong keywords.  Taking the skilled SEO consultant out of the equation, you wind up with websites that only offer a local product, being targeted nationally for keywords that couldn’t possibly provide a buying audience.  Sure that national keyword is going to get more searches in a month, but someone in Phoenix, AZ is not even able to buy from someone whose services are only offered here in San Antonio.

Google isn’t stupid, and if your website is highly ranked for keywords that it does not properly deserve to be ranking for, the “bounce rate” (people who leave without visiting additional pages of a website) will be obvious to Google.  If I search again seconds after clicking on that site, that activity, we call it Click Through Rate, that “bounce” off of your website will hurt your SEO, not help it.  That shows Google that your website wasn’t worth staying on for people doing that search, and Google never forgets.

You cannot automate this stuff.  It takes real people.  It takes real people, real consultants, who understand the ins and outs of earning links to a website, optimizing a website, giving advice on how to improve a landing page, or how to improve that inbound funnel.  The SEO’s job isn’t to take a spreadsheet and do some SEO busy work it is to ADD VALUE to their clients sites.

We’re a little weird in our industry as Image Freedom has a very small team.  The standard is to get investors and then hire a bunch of low paid workers who will do as much SEO busy work as as they can, so you can then overcharge your clients, and wonder why they want to cancel a few months later for not seeing a return.

We’re “weird” in our industry for doing the exact opposite.  We didn’t just hire a bunch of anybodies and I’ve fired plenty of folks because they didn’t help me help our clients.

I don’t want a dozen kids right out of college who have never written a blog let alone built a backlink going anywhere NEAR our clients websites.  I hired slow, painfully slow, the best talent that I could find, and I only hire when I find someone that will help us help our clients.  Our team rivals any in the nation because they’re each accountable to themselves, and to each other.  They’re actual SEO Consultants.

You just can’t automate this stuff.  SEO is hard.  It takes energy, it takes creativity and it takes finding opportunities and good old fashioned Gary Vaynerchuck hustle.  An algorithm’s never going to have hustle.

Clients cancel their SEO services because they were probably only getting “SEO Busy Work” instead of getting true SEO Value.  That is why they don’t see an ROI.  There is a huge difference, and if I’ve ever made SEO look easy I apologize because we’re here every day hustling our butts off.  We are challenged each and every day to beat the other guy.

That’s what it takes to be a good SEO.  It isn’t something you can teach a Roomba to do, it’s something you have to get up every day and do yourself.