POSTED by:on 11/11/2010
One of the problems with SEO is “what exactly are you buying”. With a website it’s easy. You pay your money and you get your website. Same thing goes for a Promotional Video. But with SEO it’s not so clear. You know you want to rank higher on Google but how do you get there? One thing people have tried is “Performance-Based SEO”. The idea here is that you set a target goal such as: Reaching the first page for a given keyword (or group of keywords) and the SEOer gets paid only if the goal is reached.
Sounds great you say, what could go wrong? Well, judging by the feedback from some of the people who have tried it, a lot.
Here is a list of some of the problems people have had with certain performance-based SEO companies. Watch out for these tricks…
Money for nothing
Some performance-based SEO companies will give you a range of prices depending on the performance goal. Here is an actual example for a VERY competitive keyword:
- ranking 1-3: $90 a month
- ranking 4-6: $72 a month
- ranking 7-10: $54 a month
- on page two: $36 a month
- on page three: $18 a month
At first glance it looks good. Suppose for example you currently rank #28 for the VERY competitive keyword, then for only 90 dollars a month you can rank in the first three. A bargain!
But look a little further. If you reach page three you have to pay $18 a month, but you’re already on page three! So even if the SEO company does absolutely nothing, there is a good chance that at any particular time Google will rank you #27 or #26 or even higher and you’ll be out $18 each month.
Now multiply that by a thousand or ten thousand customers. Pretty good income for doing nothing. And of course it’s even worse for the people who are already on page two or page one.
Paying for No Traffic
In terms of bringing traffic to your site, being on page two or three of Google is virtually worthless. And as if that’s not bad enough some performance-based SEO companies will actually charge you if you’re on page two or three of Yahoo or Bing, which have much less traffic than Google. (and they won’t let you opt out).
Here’s one that’s a bit technical.
One performance-based SEO company charges you based on what your rank is on the first of the month. But apparently, and this is the technical part, they pick and choose which of the Google Data Centers gives you the highest ranking.
As one disgruntled user puts it, “You’re constantly in this circle where your rank keeps dropping, yet by some miracle, on the first of the month, your rank increases (while your wallet decreases).” Also see: Google Dance
Monthly Search Volume
Some performance-based SEO companies will provide monthly search estimates for your keyword. In theory, this would allow you to make a rough estimate of your ROI. The problem is their numbers aren’t very accurate. An example from a disgruntled user… “The estimate was for 8,000 monthly searches. It turns out the monthly searches were only 320 for this particular keyword. Needless to say, this mistake currently costs me $44 per month for a measly #22 spot in Google.”
Six Month Contract
One of the biggest problem with Performance-Based SEO is the long contract. Often times there is quite a bit of a delay between making SEO changes and seeing results on Google. So imagine a legitimate SEOer who works diligently for six months or so and finally gets the customer’s website onto the 1st page, only to have the customer cancel the contract. The legitimate SEOer works hard for all that and receives nothing.
On the other hand, suppose during that six months the websites ratings go down! The customer is locked into a six month contract, it’s a disaster.
So what’s the solution?
Hire a legitimate SEO company with a proven track record. If any company asks you to sign a contract that extends beyond month-to-month, find someone else.
Remember: If anything they say sounds too good to be true, it is. Anyone that says they can rank you for multiple competitive keyphrases for $100.00 a month, can’t.
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