How do you know if SEO is right for your company?

I had an experience in a recent business meeting that will shed light on this question for you. Mind you, there isn’t one end-all answer to this question. The most general, accurate, and non-helpful advice you’ll get all over the internet is this: it depends. It depends on your business, your current website, your budget, your service area, bla bla bla…

So I’m going to skip the useless advice! Let’s jump right into my thought process:

This is how you know:

If you make $50 or less from a client, than you probably can’t afford SEO. If you make $500 per client, then you can’t afford NOT to be using SEO!

Okay, I admit that it’s not *exactly* that simple. If you’re a restaurant that needs a high volume of $50 paying customers, then Local SEO will help tremendously. If you’re McDonalds selling Big Macs for $1 each, you’re going to be spending millions on SEO every month. But you’re not McDonalds, and these types of situations don’t normally apply, so we’ll move right into the story that is going to help you get it:

The Story

I had a meeting with a potential client this week… Any time someone starts a conversation with: “Let me tell you what we need, and don’t try to sell me something else,” it’s a bad sign. Now, when a person speaks from a place of “I know best” and speaks in a way that clearly shows they haven’t done their homework on this subject at all, it is a recipe for disaster!

So I asked what their margins were on their service…

STOP! Read this important interlude with some relevant insight:

The critical question for SEO in your company is: What is your margin on your product or service? You can sell a widget or make a service call for $1,000, but if it costs you $800 to buy the parts and perform the labor, you’re working with a $200 margin. And your cost per customer acquisition needs to be lower than your margin if you’re going to make any money. So if you’re spending $1,000 a month on SEO, you need to sell at least 5 widgets a month to break even, and more to turn a profit. So it makes sense for a true professional SEO company to consider this, doesn’t it?

Back to the story… When I asked what the margin was on the service they wanted to sell, they responded harshly with a big “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH ANYTHING!” What they were really trying to say was, “I’m not telling you. I want to make sure you charge me as cheap as possible, because I don’t trust you.

The moral of the story:

Needless to say, I gracefully found a way to tell them that we couldn’t take on their job. Our clients need to start with trust in us if the relationship is going to work (SEO results don’t come overnight!). In the story person’s case, they needed a more robust plan than they wanted to hear. So when it came to “selling something” or losing a sale, we chose to lose it.

I won’t ever sell something that isn’t going to work.

The sad truth:

The sad truth is that some people need to get beaten up by crappy SEO companies, ripped off by freelancers and 1099’s that will take their money and not provide service, or waste money by buying into a “cheap” plan that satisfies their curiosity for a while and gives their competitors enough time to overtake them online.

Some people need to understand the value of being told what you NEED to hear even though you might not want to hear it. I’d rather lose ten deals in a row telling people the honest expert truth than gain one deal through telling someone what they wanted to hear. If I had a service business or a product to sell and was looking to hire an SEO professional, that is how I would want to be treated.

Over 50% of our clients come with a sad story of their own. They have paid 3-5 other companies to get results and have failed as many times.

If you are frustrated with SEO and want the truth, or if you want to deal with a company that actually shows what is being done each month aside from sending a bill or charging your card, maybe you should do what Ryan did...

We are not “yes” people. We are “get it done right” people. If you would like a no-cost consultation, we give out a limited number of 30-minute time slots each month. Just follow this link and fill out the contact form.

I wrote this article with fire in my belly… I hope it helps someone out there avoid the pain of an evil SEO company!