John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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July 25th, 2007 by john andrews

SEO Service Pricing: SEO Grows up slowly

The SEO Pricing report is in and it looks like this (as of July 25 1am PST):

Service

Low End

Mid Range

High End

Site Review + Consulting $500 $2,500 $10,000
Hands-On Editing of Pages/Code $2,000 $10,000 $50,000
Manual Link Building Campaign $500 $5,000 $20,000
1-Day SEO Training Seminar $750 $4,000 $12,000
Keyword Research Package $100 $500 $2,000
Viral Content Development + Mktg $1,000 $7,500 $20,000
Web Design, Development + Mktg $5,000 $25,000 $100K+
Monthly Retainer for Ongoing SEO $2,500 $7,500 $20,000+

Those are the numbers promoted by SEOMoz, based on the experiences of the SEOMoz firm. You have to understand that the report is likely intended to promote good will in the SEO industry (get back links), support potential clients looking to better understand SEO as an industry (feel good factor), while still protecting SEOMoz from going out too far on a limb. Such a report also has to position SEOMoz properly, since they publish such high rates over there ($1000/hr for consulting.. does that make them high-end?). I don’t know anyone who has actually paid those rates, although I did witness one SEO firm pitch a client at $60k/month on contract. As with all business, I am sure the costs are backed by a business service proposal, so how can you critique based on cost? I’d certainly pay $60k/month to rank where I could boost my profits by $70k/month while managing risk within my established business model. Wouldn’t you?

Anyway notice the broad range of prices… a training seminar from $750 to $12,000 per day. That broadness pretty much guarantees no-one will be offended, but the reort still does a decent job of suggesting what can be expected when pricing SEO services. The only problem is… where is the SEO?

I do SEO training on a fee basis. I charge for my time, and my rates are reasonable. However, my requirements are also reasonable. If I travel, I am spending time on your project. Do you like to pay my hourly rate as I fly or wait in line for security? Of course not. But someone has to reimburse that time, right? So is there work to be done in flight? There certainly could be. So in advance, we can work out how much travel time is available for work, what work can be done that is of value to the client, and agree on pricing and deliverables. I don’t waste my time or your time while traveling, and I don’t have to inflate my seminar fees to cover the uncertainties associated with travel. See how business works? Now what is that daily seminar going to cost… $750? $12,000? How could any one know? Travel was one example.. how many people teach? What are their qualifications? Or perhap smost important of all, how many students will there be?

As SEO grows up it realizes it is not SEO but consulting. At the very least it is contracting, with a “general contractor” almost always needed, and of course taking a management fee. A “keyword research package” in the table above could be a scan of WordTracker and Keyword Discovery databases, or an investigation into the semantics of a competitive SERP. One costs $99 when outsourced, the other can’t be outsourced. Which are you getting for your $100 to $2000 price?

SEO as an industry is growing up. It’s really consulting, with an agency model available for those who want it. What happens to a pricing report in that case? Let me see, consultants charge between $10 and $4000 per hour, right?

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July 24th, 2007 by john andrews

Typepad blogs offline: tick tock we’re losing money…

Typepad.com services have been offline for almost an hour. Tick tock… subscribers are losing money every minute. This was reportedly received by a Typepad subscriber ten minutes ago:

Dear TypePad member,

The TypePad service is currently unavailable due to power issues at our co-location facility. This means that the TypePad application and your TypePad blog are not reachable at this time. This begin at approximately 1:50 pm Pacific Daylight Time today, Tuesday July 24 2007.

We are working closely with our hosting partner to bring TypePad back online as soon as possible. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this is causing, and we appreciate your patience. We will send another email update with more information as soon as possible.

Thank you,
The TypePad team

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July 23rd, 2007 by john andrews

When will Google charge for referer?

When will Google start charging a fee for passing a referrer string? Or, more in line with Google’s way, stop passing referrer except for certified Googlers in the Webmaster Central (console) registration system?

Every time I get a Google search referral, I am told (by Google, via the “referer” string) what search query resulted in that referral. I use that real-time data to deliver targeted ads to my visitors. Using this blog as an example, if a consumer searched “shower gel” and Google sent them to my ranking shower gel page, that page would know the user had searched “shower gel” and could therefore serve up contextual ads for shower products or more likely, health products that complement the reigning King of Shower Gel Land, Axe Shower Gel.

When I do that, I do not use AdSense. I do it myself, and keep all the profit of direct advertising. I am also able to better monetize my network, drawing more investment from my direct advertising clients, because of the obvious value ad I show with the Google-referrer-based in-network contextual advertising. Google, by passing that referrer string, is helpin gme serve up contextual ads. Google gets no fee, no slice o’ da pie. Nada.

We know how much Google hates organic search engine optimization because it is free and it competes directly with AdWords. If Google hates SEO, how must it feel about organic optimizaton which also monetizes contextually using Google’s assistance? That must suck for Google, no?

It would be so easy for Google to stop passing ‘referer’. When Google was a good Internet company, it gained a ton of good will from those referrer strings. Does it need that now? Hmmm.. Tough call. Google needs to show everyone how 65% of their web traffic comes from Google. That’s very important.

So what’s a competitive webmaster to do? Push the limits of optimizing the monetization of that Google traffic, using as much available data as possible. Organic SEO and contextual monetization, all the way until we don’t need AdSense anymore. Syndicated networks of contextual ads, based on Google referer strings… how much does that push buttons over at the ‘plex?

Webmaster Console…lead generation for Google’s future.

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