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The search engine optimization industry shifts gears on client expectation.



PAMPLIN MEDIA - Michelle Shaffer of the Better Business Bureau

Over coffee some weeks ago, a marketer friend told me the benefits of traditional advertising starting with print from magnificent billboard messaging to ubiquitous logos, thanks to the wrapping of city vehicles.

Via radio stations, products can be pitched to coveted audiences of educated professionals with offspring and disposable incomes. “What do clients ask for most?” I inquired. “Internet ads,” he said.

Professionals determined to get their message in front of the millions of eyes fixed on screens (no matter how small) with web access, grew Google’s ad revenue past $52 billion in 2015.

“Google has built a consistent, residual revenue stream unmatched in the advertising realm. As long as they’re returning great results for users on the engine, they can retain this billion-dollar behemoth,” says Clay Adams for Search Engine Journal.

With the number of advertisers in the millions today Google’s successful revenue climb has not been experienced by many business owners who contributed to it. Michael Weinhouse, Founder and Co-CEO of Portland’s Logical Position, an internet marketing firm and Google Premier Partner, explains some of the reasons for this:

“As the opportunity to advertise on Google emerged in 2000, so did a new group of advertising agencies. Low barriers to entry, coupled with minimal regulations, made selling Google AdWords an attractive business model.” Attractive, especially since potential clients understood nearly nothing about the emerging technology and the complex algorithms dictating the success or oblivion of a business website. Substantial money could be made by a novice agency fortunate enough to garner a couple hits for a client, but oftentimes several more misses.

“Some of these agencies charged clients a monthly fee with just a fraction of it going toward actually buying the Google listing. The client would Google their name or low volume keyword phrase, see the ad and be happy — though they were unlikely to get any business from it,” says Weinhouse.

My new car runs on SEO ... It stopped working a month after I bought it

Advertising is an industry where the most trusted representatives are the ones that guarantee nothing.

We must be suspicious of anyone that promises a result. It’s a rather unique industry in this way. The auto repair industry is only one of a few trades not privy to this ‘no guarantees’ protective armor: if your car is not running, paying someone to fix it means you can drive it home when they are finished. Advertising is an industry where expectations can be managed very differently and unscrupulous operators take advantage of this.

Today, business owners and industry experts agree that successfully managing online presence requires a massive time commitment.

“Optimizing for Google organic search is traditionally a reactive task. Algorithms change, new penalties pop up, new ranking factors are introduced and the SEO industry shifts gears to align with the latest changes” says Clay Adams.

Staying abreast of the rapid changes requires a commitment that organizations must adhere to in order to remain successful.

“Now it is easier than ever to make sure you are working with an individual or company that has been certified and is regulated,” Weinhouse said of those looking for professional assistance. “Beginning just last year, agencies qualifying as ‘Google Partners’ must comply with stringent transparency regulations that include disclosing management fees and advertising costs to clients.”

When considering working with a professional for web optimization, Weinhouse recommends keeping track of what you spend.

“Make sure the agency you choose to go with is completely transparent about its pricing. If a percentage of your monthly fee goes towards ad spend, verify the amount and confirm the percentage dedicated to ad spending is sufficient enough to get you results.”

The company’s technical experience is also something to know up front.

“Your agency should have proficient knowledge of search engine optimization, website design, and be comfortable with code, such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript,” Weinhouse states.

Google recommends steering clear of anyone not willing to share the cost and performance of an online advertising campaign; guarantees ad placement or engages in harassing or bullying sales tactics when working with a professional optimization manager.

Michelle Shaffer is the Oregon Regional Manager for the Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. She can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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