1) 100% Objective tracking of SEO efforts
2) Total Autonomy to SEO consultant
3) Total Control of Client website (design, structure, delivery side etc.)
Each of us in SEO consulting has experienced that biggest roadblock to ROI calculation comes when analytics data is insufficient. If Site A is an e-commerce site and owner disallows tracking of sales (which is 10 on 10 probability), you are left in lurch with nothing to do except insert a ‘BCC’ on mails. There are occasions when you know the number of sales completed organically, still you have to keep a stoic silence lest client detects your undercover activities. You are left with no choice when client complains about poor conversions and states the inefficacy of SEO campaign. The pressure tactics never fail and you end up either lowering the rates or kissing his ass to keep the account alive. So very spiteful!
Far worse is the situation, when your BCC trick gets uncovered by a devious client and a heap of allegations of business usurpation are flung your way. Needless to say, you lose on two things: Credibility and ROI calculation. You’ll all agree that these are not Ivory Tower situations: daily occurrences. Another connected roadblock is the growing use of Toll free numbers on sites which totally shifts the credit of a sale from consultancy efforts to the front office sales team. You know it was your landing page effort that prompted the user to place a phone order, yet you can’t get the credit for it. Do you guys agree?
The other two obstacles need not be discussed beyond obvious. No website is perfect in all respects, code, structure, copy, aesthetics etc. included. Suggestions on revisioning it like removing a flash banner or flash layers are never welcomed. Some clients are a crazy lot when it comes to refining their pre-written site copy. Similarly there are situations in which optimization suffers in the absence of freedom to manipulate and maintain the site for desired results. Any talk of Performance Pricing Model simply becomes a big lie in such conditions.
Despite these downsides, bigger clients have started pushing for value-based SEO compensation these days. Coke, Procter & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch have already made clarion calls to the ad world to adopt Pay for Performance models in online marketing and SEO pricing. The economic turnaround maybe has led to companies demanding a bang for every marketing dollar they are spending kick-starting a new era of Accountable SEO Marketing. Accountable SEO marketing may sound good but how to implement it. One idea could be to use a metric where:
a) Pay X amount if 1st Rank on Google + X amount/month to maintain it.
b) Pay X amount if Top 3 ranks on Google + X amount/month to maintain it.
c) Pay X amount if Top 10 Ranks on Google + X amount/month to maintain it.
It can be a good metric as we can alter the value in accordance with ranking slots and SERPS on different search engines. A limitation here would be the keywords preferred by client for traffic and sales. Long tail keywords may not be a good proposition for traffic streams.
A variation of Accountable SEO Marketing could be assigning a dollar amount to percentage of traffic spikes. Drive unqualified traffic in droves and get paid for stats. This advantages the SEO consultant to play with both long and short tail keywords yet is of little value to any client. Linked with this is the Pay for Revenue SEO model. In Pay for Revenue SEO, depending on increase in profit or increase in sales, the consultant gets paid. It involves full faith on consultant by disclosing sales and revenue or vice versa faith upon the company regarding its declarations of profits. Both the scenarios are challenging and difficult when it comes to doing justice to efforts poured in a particular campaign. A lot of us have already burned our fingers and called it a wasted effort when some client intervention on website ruined the predetermined output. All I can say here is that this latest pricing model is best recommended if you are business owner and SEO consultant rolled into one. It’s your business and there are no borders to optimization.
Yes, you heard it right! We welcome Accountable SEO Marketing per se!
By Guest Blogger: Sanjay Joshi