The Value of Good Search Expertise

  |  September 29, 2008   |  Comments

If you want good search marketing services, you have to pay for them.

Nothing pains me more than seeing a so-called search expert offering to optimize a Web site or run a search campaign for a few hundred dollars.

A fully optimized Web site can take hundreds of thousands of hours to achieve. A site often has to be rebuilt to make it search engine friendly, and painstaking hours need to be invested in identifying key link-building opportunities and partners.

A paid search campaign typically takes daily or weekly testing and tweaking to become ideal. A campaign will continually be in flux until the optimal balance of keywords and ad messaging is achieved, particularly if a conversion metric is being measured.

This can't be done on pennies unless corners are being cut. This is why there are still sneaky activities being done in this industry; people are trying to make a quick buck when search isn't a quick game.

Search marketing is a game of persistence. Strong organic rankings or a cost-effective paid campaign that meets your goals doesn't happen overnight. It requires an ongoing commitment, which requires manpower and funding.

If something sounds too good to be true, such as top search results for little money, it probably is. Marketers who offer cheap services devalue the work we do as search marketers. They overpromise and underdeliver, making this industry seem more dubious than it already does.

If you want good search marketing services, you have to pay for them. Just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

The beauty of search is that you really get as much out of it as you put into it. So if you fund your search partner appropriately, you can achieve a strong ROI (define). That said, some agencies come with a hefty price tag but lack the expertise required to maximize your budget. To truly exploit search marketing to its fullest potential, you have to do it right. So it's not just about funding your search activities appropriately, it's about finding the right vendor that can deliver on your investment.

Each time our company has compared our results to a client's previous campaign (ran either in-house or by another vendor), we have exceeded past results. This is because, simply put, our team comprises true search marketing expertise. We may be more costly than a mom-and-pop shop, but our superior results justify the investment.

If you're a search marketer, don't devalue your services by offering a ridiculously low price. If you're truly an expert, make sure you get compensated for the expertise you bring to the table.

Sometimes when we first start working with a client, they ask us to reduce our service costs on search projects. However, once we begin to deliver results for them, they begin to understand the value we bring to the table. Sometimes it takes a bit of education about the level of effort involved in developing and managing search programs.

In the end, clients usually see it our way. Sometimes they don't, and we part ways. Ultimately, we offer valuable services and expertise, and we don't want to devalue that just to beat out a competitor's bid.

So when you embark on a search marketing project, don't start by considering how you can do it cheaply. Ask how you can do it most cost-efficiently. They aren't the same. A cost-efficient program might cost you more at the outset, but the results will make up for this investment. However, a cheap program will only result in disappointment.

Searching for end value versus upfront savings will ensure you ultimately work with a partner who has proven search success and whose efforts will result in positive bottom-line impact for your organization.

Join us for a new Webcast, High-Touch Personalization, The Successful Marketer's Secret Ingredient, September 29 at 2 p.m. EDT.

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Julie Batten

Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.

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