I had a pretty unusual conversation with an SEO prospect a few weeks ago and it was too interesting not to share. Let’s just say from the get-go my warning bells for a bad SEO lead were ringing loud and clear.
To kick things off, this prospect called my company and the first thing he wanted to know what was wrong with the SEO industry. He claimed to have called over 40 SEO firms in the past two days and only 8 businesses had picked up the phone. “Is your industry stagnant or something?” I told him I couldn’t speak on behalf of the other companies he reached out to, but I understand how frustrating it can be when you’re trying to get someone on the phone. Meanwhile I’m thinking to myself, “Well you’ve got me on the phone…doesn’t that count for something?”
About five minutes into the call he asked me for client references, so I directed him to the page on the Brick Marketing site where I post all of our client testimonials. He opened one up and random, spent a minute or so clicking around and then hit me with a “so did you actually do anything for this site?” Apparently some free online tool (I never found out which one) grades a website’s SEO campaign, mostly by counting back links. I explained that the client site he was looking at was an older client of ours, and yes, we did optimize the site and execute a full link building campaign. However, once the site is no longer a client (and this one had not been for several years) we have no control over what happens to their SEO. Since SEO is an ongoing process, it’s possible that once our relationship ended with this client than their SEO campaign slowly came to an end. I also pointed out that the client has created a new site with a new URL (the website redirected to their new site) and we didn’t have any part in their new website.
He then asked to see analytics data from previous clients to see what kind of work we do and how effective the SEO campaigns we’ve built have been. I explained to him that that information is confidential, so even if I still had access to a former client’s analytics I wouldn’t pull any data. Cue the ten minute tirade about how no company can afford to do SEO, and how is a company supposed to maintain their SEO once their provider is done executing the campaign, SEO companies are a bunch of rip-offs, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
This phone call was going nowhere, but it was taking its sweet time getting there. After a half hour on the phone the caller drops one of the biggest bombs I’ve ever gotten from a lead on me, “Why doesn’t your SEO company want to make money?” I didn’t understand. “Why don’t SEO companies make in-house sites and then use their SEO skills to make money? How can you understand how to help sites make money if you aren’t making any?” He harped on this idea about “in-house sites” for a few minutes, but I didn’t understand what he was talking about. He finally explained; why didn’t I create a dozen e-commerce sites of some kind and sell some product (any product that has nothing to do with SEO) to make revenue for the company. Surely, with my SEO skills and in-house team we could create all kinds of sites and make tons of money selling…something. “Why don’t SEO companies do that? How come none of you want to make money?”
To say I was a little frustrated is an understatement, but what can you do? I calmly explained that I do in fact use my SEO skills to help my company make money, by optimizing the company website, by writing great content in two blogs and for dozens of other sites, and by executing a strong link building campaign to help the Brick Marketing brand do well online. Yes, theoretically I could create a dozen microsites and sell various products, but that takes times away from my real business. I want to use my SEO expertise to help my own website perform, as well as dedicate my time to my client’s sites and not a dozen side projects.
I’m still not sure if he understood why I wouldn’t rather spend my time optimizing microsites….