The Post-Launch Sales Call Flurries

I’ve been getting a flurry of sales calls lately, mostly offering me costly SEO services (typically $1000-6000). I think this is due to the fact that I’ve just launched DigitalFrameGuy.com and I guess it hit some list somewhere of newly launched e-biz sites.

Problem is, I’m becoming increasingly calloused to sales calls because I’ve been taken in by a few things in the past, and I don’t really have a great desire to throw more money down the golden toilet.

So I’ve learned a few statistics, courtesy of my friendly cold-callers. Here’s one: 92% of all web sales apparently come from search engines, hence the high focus on rankings. These people seemingly completely write off all other forms of marketing, which I think is incredibly narrow-minded. Yes, I will agree that for a web-store, SEO is incredibly important. But to take the line that it is more important that anything else, and that you’re basically wasting your time if you think of doing anything else (hahaha – you newbie moron! – you’re doing PPC?). I know internet marketers who have had amazing success just using lists, and others who are producing amazing results with social media marketing. Personally, I’ve had tremendous success with pay-per-click.

The problem is that these phone marketers don’t know me from Adam, and don’t have a clue that internet marketing is what I’ve chosen to do. I realize I need help along the way, but primarily, I want to learn how to do it myself, not turn my site over to some outfit who will charge a couple grand for an XML sitemap and a few hundred directory submissions.

One outfit guaranteed me page 1 or page 2 on Google, within six months, or my money back. Now that is an offer that is more interesting; however I have this desire to do something for myself. I want to achieve something on my own here! I suppose you could make a business model on having people do everything for you, all the time; however I think it would be a very expensive one. Being naturally techie minded, I’ve learned so much along the way that I can now do in minutes, which other people outsource. Yes, they save a small amount of time, and at some point if life gets busy enough I may do the same. However, I think that until you truly understand what the key elements of your business are you won’t truly have the keys you need to get ahead anyways. Putting 10 outsourcers together is brilliant; and I hope to do it one day, but I MUST know what each one is doing, and why, and how they relate to each other. That knowledge will likely only be gained by doing it yourself, at least the first time.

I’m getting off topic. Back to the sales calls. I am typically polite to callers, and I usually try to hear them out. Sometimes I even learn something. But I really wish they could somehow get a better grasp of who I am before they launch into their one-size-fits-all sales rant. If they actually took the time to find out where I was coming from, I’m sure they would be a lot more effective.

11 Responses to The Post-Launch Sales Call Flurries
  1. bbrian017
    May 26, 2008 | 10:19 am

    I was so close to getting blogengage optimized from professionals and then I decided against it! First the price was retarded. In order to get in Google’s top ranking for bloggers, blogging, traffic, marketing etc… It was extremely costly. I decided to just do it all my self. I’m talking the simple basics like creating specific site related Meta tags, adding Google webmaster tools, adding my domain name to msn along with other stuff I did. In the end I think I’m doing okay. Blog engage has been up now for 7 months and to day I got over 10,000 hits from Google alone with no professional SEO work done.

    I’m going a little off topic here but hey it’s follow the leader and you did too so now we’re even… I’m a salesman and have been for about one year professionally. I’m a Graduate of a Business Administration Marketing Degree and when you said these sales representatives are calling you, cold call, with no information on your specific product or end goal they will never sell you.

    It’s like SAP calling Nike saying hey we have generic turnkey software for your company, will Nike listen GOD no but if you call Nike and say, hey we have Apparel and Footwear specific software for your company that deals with style color size you might get their attention.

    Have you purchased any seo work since this article or you still going independent?

    bbrian017s last blog post..Engage, Vote, Submit, Discuss, Digg, it’s all here

  2. Jonathan
    May 26, 2008 | 10:42 am

    Hi Brian, I didn’t realize you were from BlogEngage! That’s cool! I signed up there a few weeks ago (and I believe I found you through Google too =). I’m going to head over there and check it out again now.

    I too have a degree in Business Admin, focusing on marketing and some of these sales guys are really a piece of work.

    Funny story though. I was chatting with with a sales guy from visible.net last week and he pointed me to an SEO tool they have on their site:
    http://www.visible.net/tools/analyzer/

    So I analyzed my store and it came up with a score of 121/300. Okay, so at first glance, it’s not so great. Well we talked for a good hour, and it boiled down to this: They’re selling a service where they do SEO for me, and I’ve picked a job which involves me wanting to learn/do SEO (in conjunction with other things). I tried telling him I had just quit my normal job in favor of my own business where I could do these sorts of things myself, but I don’t think it was registering.

    So long story short, he told me that he would phone back next week, and if my score hadn’t improved (working on it by myself), would I do business with him? So I said maybe…

    Anyways, got off the phone and over the course of 3 days and a total of about 45 minutes I brought my score up to 156/300. Not terrific, but that’s still a 35 point improvement. On top of that, I ran three of my competitors through the tool and most of them came up well under 100! And they’re all page 1 on Google! (All have thousands of inbound links too though).

    So I figure at that rate I should have a half decent chance on my own. I have yet to see if he phones back, we’ll see!

    So to answer your question, I haven’t yet purchased any seo work, and at this point I don’t think I will, though I was extremely interested in the recent StomperNet launch (but its $800/month =(.

    I really want to try this out and do it myself, at least the first time around. I hope I don’t miss the Christmas season like one sales guy threatened though!! =:}

  3. bbrian017
    May 26, 2008 | 11:23 am

    Miss Christmas haha well if you have a better half, aka girlfriend you have no worries!

    You don’t miss anything important with them nagging at you! :)

    I went and looked at the site you linked and by far it’s one of the better website/Analyzer I have seen ever. FYI I got a score of 153 of 300 Points./ I’m assuming this isn’t bad. Even from the results I see places where I can improve with my own work and time.

    There’s a few places I’m not too sure where I would improve such as, Keyword relevancy, Author meta tags, Keyword relevancy to page content is very poor, and the size of my page is too large. I’m assuming these are things I can fix by changing wording, page size, and Meta tag keywords.

    bbrian017s last blog post..Engage, Vote, Submit, Discuss, Digg, it’s all here

  4. Jonathan
    May 26, 2008 | 1:31 pm

    LOL – I think he meant in regards to missing the Christmas retail season by having poor rankings in the SERPs.

    If this guy does phone me back, one thing I am going to ask him is what a typical good site scores on this tool. I know you’ll never get 300/300, and it’s not even worth aiming for as the site would be great for search engines but would suck for every visitor that came.

    I was able to improve my relevancy scores by decreasing the # of keywords in the keyword meta tag, and then really focusing on those throughout the rest of the page. IE, I took out “digital picture frames” (plural) but left “digital picture frame” (singular) and the score jumped up a bunch. I still have the plural form of the keyword throughout the page, but it isn’t in the meta tag anymore, and somehow that helped.

    Likewise, I played with the title and description fields in the same manner, getting them as succinct as possible, while maintaining a focus on the best phrases.

    I think what they’re really after is as much alignment as possible between what you’re trying to say your page is about (ie meta tags) and what it is actually about (body).

  5. Visiblenet
    May 27, 2008 | 8:38 am

    Jonathan,

    I helped to develop the Website analyzer you mentioned in your post comments. You are right on about the way the tool works and the fact that it’s in no way meant to be an end-all solution to SEO, only to show how well the header content relates to the actual body content and tags such as anchors, alts and outbounds.

    The page size, number of outbounds, robots and author tags, etc are meant to point out questionable factors, meaning they may be things to consider tweaking if not optimal, but won’t necessarily harm you any either.

    As far as the URL info like PageRank, Delicious/Technorati mentions and Y! Inlinks, they are meant to help webmaster such as yourself to determine how popular the page is according to a few authoritative sources (typically the number of inlinks and technorati links, if you have a blog, are a good relative measure of total inbound site links).

    As far as you question…

    “I am going to ask him is what a typical good site scores on this tool.”

    Typically, anything above a 150 is considered good. I have some sites that perform very well organically, but score lower due to the fact that I tend to design more for users than bots, so the relevancy gets thrown off a bit.

    As it states, all sites are unique and all webmasters should design for their site audience not bots. If it makes sense and helps users, but lowers your score on the tool, it’s probably not going to affect your rank, but may increase conversions etc. Take your unique circumstances into account and tweak accordingly, keep in mind these are just a few of the important factors SE’s look for. For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to have your title, desc, keywords etc all state you domain name and nothing more (which would probably give you a high relevancy score, but would certainly dwindle CTR and increase bounces). People looking for info may bounce when they see your selling them, or similar.

    Also, if you or any of your readers find that tool useful, we also have a keyword research tool that is free and offers up tons of related keywords for use within the site. It’s great if you just can’t think of ALL the different variations and related topics surrounding your niche, or to discover long tails etc.

    It can be found on our site at…

    http://www.visible.net/tools/keywords/

    If you select the boxes under the keyword or phrase field and enter a URL, you can also check rankings for the exact page you enter by clicking the little red G,Y,M links next to each word or phrase (stands for the SE you’re checking). It’s good for seeing which terms you already rank for, or not, so you can determine which ones you need to focus more, or less, on within page content.

    Hope this helps and you get some good use out of them, we encourage feedback or suggestions on improvement too, so feel free to let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see or don’t quite grasp at first, I’d be happy to clear anything up.

  6. Jonathan
    May 27, 2008 | 9:01 am

    Visiblenet,

    Thanks for weighing in! I must say I didn’t expect that, but I really appreciate it =). Quite honestly, of the half dozen or so SEO companies that have called, I enjoyed speaking with your salesguys the most.

    Thanks for the clarification on the scoring – I suspected 150 was a decent target, but wasn’t sure. The keyword tool you linked to also looks pretty good. Cheers!

  7. bbrian017
    May 27, 2008 | 10:26 am

    It was nice to hear some websites will have a low relevancy score! I’m in this boat right now and there’s nothing I can do.

    I own a social networking website where my relevancy changes per new submission!

    I wonder what I could do about that?

  8. Visiblenet
    May 27, 2008 | 10:47 am

    bbrian017,

    What I would do if I were in your shoes would be to use the tool primarily for sub-pages, rather than the homepage only. Don’t worry too much about the actual score, its mainly there as a reference point and can be interpreted differently depending on the goals and topic(s) of the site (uniqueness to the Web).

    You can however, make sure communities, groups, channels, tags, profiles, etc on your network all target the right words and phrases in the right places throughout each page. Each sub-page should focus on one or two main phrases that have many various plurals, longer phrases and potential longtails within them.

    As a general rule I tend to include targeted words or phrases in…

    The title once or twice
    The description once or twice
    The keywords tag two to four times

    Page heading at least once
    Alt tag at least once
    Anchor tag pointing to the page at least once
    In the page filename
    Once in bold/italic
    Up to five or so times in the body content

    Be sure you link to the page you’re optimizing from another page using those targeted words in the anchor text. As a bonus, you can do the same for links from other domains to yours when link building.

    Hope this helps. I know what you mean about dynamic content or content that changes often while the meta data stays the same. It’s best to leave meta data lone once you’ve come up with the right mix and if you need to target other words, simply build a new page for them.

    I have a blog where the post on the main page changes every time I post, but the meta data is the same and the posts cover a wide variety of topics, so typically the score on my main page us under 100, while other pages are higher due to the reasons listed above. It’s ok to change content etc on sidebars, since the bulk of the body on sub-pages rarely changes to something outside the original topic.

    Visiblenets last blog post..Ecommerce Plans Topics – Ecommerce Blog by Visible.net

  9. Jonathan
    May 27, 2008 | 11:58 am

    Visiblenet,

    First off, thank you for your targeted, relevant advice – it really is funny dealing with two different parts of the company here.

    Your sales guy phoned me back this morning, so I asked him the question I said I would, about the relevancy score, and he told me that 300 was the score I needed. I never mentioned the conversation on this page. I told him I thought a 300 site would not be user friendly, but he said otherwise. I then asked him if this was the average score of a fully optimized site in the company’s portfolio, and he indicated that it was, however the only example he was able to give (getabag.com) displays no score at all. In fact that box is missing on the output page(!). He said this was due to the fact that it was getting 300, but I don’t buy it. That website is very well optimized, no doubt about it, and has many top rankings. However, why no score? All the other data shows up, relevancy, keywords etc. Speaking of, Getabag’s meta relevancy scores, in terms of percentages, aren’t that much higher than mine (mine are in the 40-60% range) so I don’t see how it could get a 300 score without 100% relevancy percentages. A cynical mind such as mine might suspect that this domain was banned from the score page because it is a commonly used example with the sales dept. and it would kind of hurt the pitch to present a 170-200 or so site as the king of the castle.

    One thing I didn’t appreciate was the fact that last week he had told me to try to improve my page score; then we would talk. However when we talked today, all of a sudden my improved page score became irrelevant. Now it was all about the competition (millions of pages), and getting submitted inside of the tiny windows of opportunity.

    In regards to the competition, one site (digitalframez.com) is very young – only coming online last year, yet it has snared several top spots across the SERPs. It scores 123. This gives me great hope that these keywords with millions of pages of competition are definitely achievable, and I don’t have to set my sights to low on only long tail stuff. If they can do it in a year, so can I.

    A couple things I’ve learned/benefited from this experience:

    1. I realize I need to put a higher priority on SEO than I have been, and to do it earlier rather than later (even before final site completion, I guess?). I’ve been treating it more like PPC where I will be driving targeted traffic, ready to buy, to my site. With PPC you want to have your site fully, I repeat, fully ready to take orders. SEO takes much longer and you can afford a few bounces in the beginning to get a headstart on the timeline. I’m still awaiting final activation on my shopping cart, so I’ve been putting off pouring time into this site until that is finalized.

    2. There are many different philosophies of marketing, not to mention SEO! One person says inbound links is everything, another says it is all about meta info, etc etc. I suspect the truth is far more balanced, using a bit of everything. Google wants relevant, well-balanced sites, right? Likewise, for an SEO sales guy to tell me that PPC is worthless indicates to me he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Both (along with other forms of marketing) should be done together, and are not mutually exclusive. Having made tens of thousands of $$ on PPC alone I will never write it off as a marketing strategy. However, being that I am most familiar with PPC I need to make sure I don’t lean on it as a crutch, seeing as it also is only one leg of the stool.

    So I’ve got myself another month, then my friend the salesman will phone back. In the meantime I get to do what I can to optimize my site, and generally improve my ranking. Might be hard seeing as it just launched; I don’t expect to really hit the SE’s in force for a few months, regardless of what work I do now, but I’ll still try.

  10. Visible.net
    May 27, 2008 | 3:19 pm

    Jonathan,

    Enjoyed our talk, hope I was able to clear up everything regarding our tools and processes in a suitable manner! See you around and good luck with DFG.

  11. Jonathan
    May 27, 2008 | 5:39 pm

    Matt @ Visible.net, thanks again for taking the time to call. I learned a bunch and you’ve given me a good place to start with the site as well!

    Cheers