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All about SEO budgets

We get requests for SEO proposals all the time.  Many begin with “I’m just starting out and don’t have much money” and move right on to “I want to rank #1 for dentist” or another very difficult term to rank for.  And then there’s the popular “I’ll pay $5 an hour”, which is less than the minimum wage in this country.

In the past, services connected with Internet marketing were priced low because the effort required was not that great and there wasn’t much competition to contend with.  Now, there is competition on every page of search results, because every page has potential revenue for someone.  If there are Adwords on the page, there’s money to be made and if there’s money to be made, there is value in being there.

So what is a reasonable budget for SEO work?  What is one visitor worth to you?  Not clicks, actual visitors.  We tell site owners that they really need to get a handle on their conversions to know how many visitors will turn into paying customers.  What is the lifetime value of that customer?  These are all metrics that companies with sophisticated marketing staffs monitor on a daily basis.  So if your competitor thinks each client is worth $200 per transaction, are you willing to pay $20 to acquire that customer?  Most companies would say yes because that customer may bring in $2000 over time.  The ROI on that acquisition is 1000%, and you can’t get that kind of return on most investments these days.

To take this example further, if you could get 1000 new customers this month, would you pay $20,000 if it meant your sales would be $200,000 more than last month?  You bet you would.  That is the way your competition is thinking.  That is why you won’t get the results you want for $5 per hour and certainly not first page results where all the monetizable traffic is.  Everyone else is thinking in terms of ROI and conversions, and you are thinking in terms of money out of pocket.

There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for.  And even though the Internet is relatively new in human history, that old adage still applies.




What makes a Chicago SEO company great?

SEO is one of those unregulated professions that have sprung up all over the Internet over the past 20 years. You can’t get a college degree in it, there are no licensing organizations and you don’t have to pass a test to hang up your shingle and pronounce that yes indeed, your firm can optimize websites.

Companies that hire SEO talent are wise to be skeptical about guarantees of first place rankings and wild promises of Internet riches from first place rankings. We have seen way too many companies get “fleeced” month after month with nothing to show for their monies spent other than cancelled checks.

SEO is becoming more and more difficult for a great many reasons, not the least of which are the billions of websites (and more each day) that are vying for the coveted positions on the first page of search engine results. What worked well last month, or last year, may not work as well this month or this year. Potential clients come to us with their sites that used to rank on the first page and now are languishing on page 8 or worse and they have no idea why or how to fix that which is obviously broken.

What is even more troubling is that these very sites were being managed by large agencies. Upon further investigation, these agencies were outsourcing their work to SEO companies that just so happen to have a large menu of “packaged plans” that happen to fit within clients’ budgets with enough room to make a tidy profit for doing absolutely nothing but selecting the outsourcer.

Our tips for selecting a great SEO company are as follows and are gleaned from our experience fixing the problems that clients come to us with:


  1. Make sure the people you hire are the ones that are doing the work.  Communication is a pivotal element in a successful internet marketing relationship.
  2. Choose honesty.  Rankings bounce all over the place.  That is the only constant.  If someone shows you a suspicious number of steady rankings over a year’s time, listen to your gut.  We are reminded of the warning signs from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme – no one can produce consistent results year after year without some variance.
  3. Rankings are great.  Conversions are even better.  It does you absolutely no good to get traffic that doesn’t convert.  Look for a SEO firm that focuses on both traffic and conversions.
  4. Choose experience.  It is part of Internet lore that the young guns are where the brains are.  Be careful because it is that wet-behind-the-ears college grad that will be in charge of your multi-million dollar Internet business’ marketing efforts.  Make sure they have had bottom line responsibility for more than a lemonade stand in their careers.

Follow these simple tips and you will find yourself, and your website, in a better position a year from now.



Internet Marketing Myths Video

Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds

Sometimes the answer to a drop in website traffic is an algorithm change.  You’ve probably heard of the Penguin and Panda updates from the past few years.  Most sites were affected by one of these changes.  And then there is the Hummingbird algorithm from August of 2013.  It was a big change and one that caught many website owners by surprise.

Leave it to Google to use black and white animal metaphors to address black hat and white hat SEO practices.  Very clever…almost worthy of a Google doodle.  But that’s precisely what these algorithm changes targeted: spammy link building, worthless content, thin content.

Hummingbird, a bird of many colors, is a bit of a different animal.   Hummingbird addresses a long term goal: to provide the very best answers when someone types in a search query. That’s,after all, Google’s mission.  No matter how a question is asked (it can be typed, it can be abbreviated, it can be spoken to Siri), Google wants to be able to intuit what the person really wants to know and provide the optimal solution. It has a lot to do with semantics, the way information is organized and related to the topic of the question.

We provide penalty recovery services for your website should it need it.  Most websites have been affected by one of these updates.  Check out our video below or give us a call to discuss your needs in this regard.  We can help.


Penalty Recovery Video

More information on the Hummingbird update can be found here.

Panda 4.0 Update

Perhaps you have noticed a change in your site’s rankings over the past month.  Our own client sites have increased in rankings across the board thanks to solid search optimization practices which have served to bolster  reputation among search engines.  If yours is one of the millions of sites affected by Panda, then we can help you recover your lost rankings.  But first we should tell what this update was all about.

Panda updates are usually about content and this one was no different.  Google hates thin content with no useful value to anyone.  We tell our clients to post at least 300 words to their pages so they can deliver worthwhile content that answers questions completely.  For more information on Panda, we have posted a video below so you can find out more how to avoid these penalties in the future.  Warning:  this video gets into the technical nuances of various updates and may be one of those videos that will make your eyes glaze over.  Never fear…if this is over your head, you can always call one of us and we will explain it to you as it relates to your site.  That’s why we get paid…so you don’t have to deal with Google’s  frequently frustrating updates.


Panda 4.0 News


SEO Benefits of Rich Snippets

Businesses can benefit from adding additional, informative text to their search results on Google. These are called Rich Snippets and they can provide searchers with more insight into what your page is about. Think about how you can use this tool to engage searchers and drive traffic to your site…and you can always call us and we can help you sort out the benefits of this tool for your site.

Google Authorship

Clients have been asking about Google Authorship and why it is important for them to start building content in their name. This will become increasingly important in the future so our tip for today is to start now. Take a look at this video from Google and see how they are going to use authorship to confer authority, and importance, to authors.

New to Marketing Your Business Online?

What is Search Engine Optmization?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is one of those industry buzzwords that people think they know what it means, but really know only a fraction of what is involved. Yes, you know you need your site to appear at the top of results, but what factors determine that ranking? This video will give you insight into the process.

How Search Works 101

Although this is a somewhat older video, the principles of search still apply. If you understand how search works, then you will have a better idea of how to make your site more friendly for the search engines, and your potential clients and customers. Always good to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and when it comes to Google, Matt Cutts is the one you want to listen to.

Search Engine Optimization Video – How Search Works

Start Up SEO

If your company is in its early stages of formation, you are probably working on a website.  Whether your site is an e-commerce site, a company site or a social network in the making, you will want to take note of these SEO considerations for your new site.  Google’s Maile Ohye goes over tips to keep you on the white hat side of SEO.



Start Up SEO Video