Never Do SEO For An SEO

by on April 14, 2011 | posted in SEO Theory

Never do SEO for SEO-related terms. Never do PPC for PPC-related terms. Never cook for a cook. Never build a building for an architect. Never clean the teeth of a dentist. Never do web design for a web designer. Never clean a maid’s house. Never blog about blogging. Never X for X.

This is a rule you should stick to. This is a rule you should engrain to memory. Doing X for X is the worst thing you can do – there is much criticism, and the other person knows the exact value of your services, making for a corrosive work environment where standards are high, but pay is not. As it comes to doing SEO for SEO terms and PPC for PPC, it takes on a slightly different form, but the end message retains continuity. Profit is low. You compete against others that are likely refined at their craft, therefore burning down margins and making things extremely difficult for you to profit as you compete viciously against others who are likely experts in your given business expertise.

The biggest gain lies at the opposite end of the spectrum – where you do your job in a market that knows the least about it. Because knowledge of your expertise is so disconnected, the perceived value of your services is essentially unknown, and margins can potentially skyrocket. Similarly, good work is also hard to define, so complaints are less likely to occur. A spammy link might as well be a link from the homepage of Google for a dog walker in Podunk, Nebraska. Perfect code might as well be sloppy cut-and-paste in the face of a webmaster who has never seen a programming language in his life. A 50% clean set of teeth could be an immaculate wash for someone who doesn’t know the difference between a good cleaning and a bad one.

This is the value of market research. We can use our skills to make money, but the biggest opportunity for us to use our skills to make a large profit are in the areas where we know absolutely nothing – because the people that know everything, there, also similarly know nothing about us.

Connecting those dots – and then taking advantage appropriately – is where the real opportunity lies.

  • Himanshu

    “but the biggest opportunity for us to use our skills to make a large profit are in the areas where we know absolutely nothing – because the people that know everything, there, also similarly know nothing about us.”
    Are you talking about ripping off clients by charging exorbitant fees. Sorry but it sounds like that. I think SEO educated clients are much better than SEO challenged. You don’t need to move heaven and earth to convince them for each and every move you wish to make to optimize their website. They understand the importance of SEO and know what really takes to rank a website. They take seo friendly business decisions and are great people to work with. You may get away with over charging seo challenged clients like medical professionals but you won’t be able to get any things done through them at least not with any ease. Plus they may dance on you heard for not ranking for keywords like ‘doctor’.

    • Ross Hudgens

      I’m not saying ripping off people, but I am saying maximizing the value of your services. SEOs know what goes into getting a link so to them, the value of your services is lower, even if the value of that link can create $800,000 in revenue. The person buying from you will always know what ranking #1 or #2 will get (approximately), so they will pay you accordingly to the value of what your services provide them back. An SEO will not.

  • Еduard Dimitrov

    Ross , all of this is true, but You may be thinking about also: never do SEO for SEO’s, only for yourself :)

    • Ross Hudgens

      Very true. Also one of the hardest jobs to do for yourself because of the investment involved though. :)

  • LinkMasters4All

    I have a different perception in this regard. You always get to learn something new, when you’re doing SEO for an SEO.

  • Jean Paul

    @Himanshu – Ripping people off?

    You must be kidding me. Do you think clients would hesitate to give you peanuts for the same job? There is nothing like exorbitant prices. Either people want to pay, or they don’t.

    The fact that someone else is willing to do it for less shouldn’t be your problem.

    The only thing that’s not right is when you lie to your clients. Charging them as much as they can pay is a good thing, as far as I am concerned.

    Back to the article….

    You’re absolutely right. You know what baffles me the most?

    You actually come across people who sell these services and don’t actually know what the’re doing!

    So many “internet marketing consultants” who think that building online presence means a beautiful website, or even worse, a great flash animation to “engage” visitors.

    Content? Err… it doesn’t really fit into the design. Besides… who is gonna read all that stuff.

  • john andrews

    I have worked with many seos. They key to a successful engagement is clarity about roles. If the roles and responsibilities are not clear, you are a consultant, not an SEO, and should be paid as a consultant. If they are clear, then the value should be clear (to everyone) and you can decline the job if it’s not adequate for you.

    If you call yourself an SEO and go in with some secret sauce, the hiring SEO will always be looking for it (to make sure he’s getting promised value). In my experience, that’s where “young” consultants drop the ball (and sometimes blame their client for “not getting it”). If you rely on secret sauce yet can’t control the engagement, you will be disappointed (or let go, etc).

    Some of the best engagements are with top tier SEO people… they ask great questions and have powerful resources that help clarify assumptions and move things to scale faster.

    On the other hand, many SEOs present themselves as needing help on Small Project A when in fact the real plan is to use you to do Big Project B. They think they can pay for Small Project A and they themselves will be the Grand Master SEO for Project B (using your advice and tactics). Will they succeed? No. That whole approach is a fail in modern SEO, but that is something they will have to learn for themselves (and sometimes they do learn that, during Project A).

    I think I learn from every client project, but I know I learn the most from those involving other SEOs, especially good ones. But I don’t go in with the SEO Grand Master hat and attitude… I go in as John Andrews, the consultant who brings his knowledge, experience, and insights to the project to help achieve business goals. It’s usually pretty easy to see potential clients who are just looking for the secret sauce.

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