The goal for each client is based on starting organic traffic and conversion rate. This program is for sites that don’t need web design and just want more traffic. This program costs $200/mo to start and goes to $600/mo upon reaching goal.
WHAT MAKES OUR SEO PROGRAM UNIQUE?
WHY DO WE OFFER THIS PROGRAM?
WHAT ARE PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE COMPETITORS DOING?
The first competitor we looked at was resultfirst.com (https://www.resultfirst.com/services/pay-for-performance-seo/). The program is advertised as pay only if you get on the first page for the target keywords. This program is run out of India where payment is tiered based on the search position achieved. Position 1-3, Position 4-6, and Position 7-10. We don’t personally like this type of pay, because it is nearly impossible to account for rank with Google offering different search results to different individuals based on geography and other patterns and search position does not always directly translate to traffic. However, the big caveat of their program is the following quote from the bottom of their page: “You don’t spend a penny if we don’t improve your ranks. All that you have to pay is the initial set up fee to cover the cost that we incur which is determined based on the industry, man hours, keyword difficulty, current SEO score, and several others.” The fact is that their free program is not free.
The second competitor we looked at was rankpay.com (https://www.rankpay.com/pay-for-performance-seo/). This program is free to start and bases their pay on a tier result first, but they have more tiers (1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-20, 21-30). The issues we see with this program are that positions 11-30 do not really provide much value and are exponentially easier to achieve. In addition, they charge for improved rankings on Yahoo and Bing, which do not provide much value but will still trigger payments. Our concern, in addition to the general concerns about paying for position, is that looking at the pricing of test keywords relative to projected real value makes the service very expensive. An easy-to-achieve long tail keyword with low traffic will still trigger fees. If a search gets 300 searches a month, 5% will click somewhere on page 2. If equally weighted, that means that 6 will visit your site. A search in that traffic range will cost between $66 and $123 if you are found on page 2. That is a cost of between $10 and $20/click. ROI would get better if you get into the top 3 (same search volume would mean 100 clicks for a cost of 2.37 per click), but the likelihood of achieving a 1-3 position is far less likely without significant investment of time and money. We cannot speak to the success of their program but would predict most clients are paying on keywords ranking on the second and third page.
FUNDAMENTALS OF SEO
The fundamentals of SEO are links to your site and content. Despite evolution over the years, links and content remain the foundation of the Google algorithm. Every search engine optimization program should have link building and content at its heart. However, both content and link building can have very wide costs depending on quality. A link from harvard.edu will carry much more weight than a link from your personal blog. It will also be exponentially harder to get a link from harvard.edu than linking from your personal blog. Content also varies considerably with the most common form of content being written by robots, low-cost foreigners, or outsourced content writers. ThinkBig has dedicated content writers or marketing directors that write content. However, in the industry, rarely is content written in house these days because you can’t get a client to pay what a quality piece of content is worth.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH SEO?
The problem with the SEO industry is that most of the inexpensive and scalable ways to produce links and content have been largely invalidated by Google. Ten years ago, SEO was really quite simple and straightforward: have someone write a bunch of articles and syndicate the articles to directories across the web. Your site gets a link back from every article directory. Then, use a bot to post random comments on WordPress blog sites automatically across the web. Then, fill the pages you are trying to rank with the target keywords over and over and over and over. Because it worked so well and was so straightforward, it could be packaged into a defined program and outsourced to another country. Soon enough, nearly all SEO agencies were really just salesforces selling defined packages run out of India. However, starting in 2012, Google began systematically penalizing any company using these techniques. Article directories and article syndication was one of the first to go. Then, duplicate content in any fashion was invalidated. Blog sites started blocking auto posting, etc. Google turned SEO from a program back into a profession, but people were addicted to the low costs born out of SEO as a program. This forced the industry into a tailspin where margin is driven by maintaining very low overhead rather than delivering true growth.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PERFORMANCE-BASED SEO?
Performance-based SEO is an attractive concept because it addresses one of the fundamental concerns with modern SEO. Namely, will it work? The inherent assumption is that if someone is willing to only get paid after showing results, then it must really work or it is no loss to me. However, with a carefully crafted program, one can still make money in performance-based SEO even if you fail to provide real benefits. It all comes down to how you structure the deal and managing costs. The easiest way to make money with performance-based SEO is to charge for rank growth regardless of whether it leads to site traffic. It is exponentially harder to show up on the first page of Google than it is to show up on the second, third, or later pages. So if you make pay based on rank growth or tier the payments based on the results page, then you can still get paid by reaching the second or third page even if a ranking on the second or third page brings virtually no traffic to the site. The other thing that happens is that for so many keywords these days, geographic locale is used as a ranking factor. This means that you can rank on the first page for a keyword in one region of the country but not in the rest. This is good for local businesses but bad for anyone targeting a national reach. It also means that rankings vary based on the IP address used for the search. If you don’t see the same ranking that your SEO company sees, it is likely because they are using a different IP address and that keyword that was supposed to provide 10,000 visitors if you are on page one may really only be bringing 1 visitor, but you are paying like it is 10,000. The alternative to paying for rank is to pay for traffic, which is the method ThinkBig uses in its performance-based SEO. There is a better correlation between pay and performance, but the system still has its challenges. Namely, the goal of SEO is to increase traffic to your site, but not all traffic is created equal. Someone searching for “Buy piano near me” is probably a better qualified lead than someone searching “buying a piano.” However, it is still traffic, and that article added value to the keyword density of your site and will likely improve rankings of other better keywords long term. If you pay for traffic, you may end up not getting the ROI you had hoped for. At ThinkBig, we believe that SEO is about building a robust and diverse source of traffic along with refining your marketing message. The goal of our performance-based SEO program is to demonstrate that our efforts can have a positive effect on your business before asking you to pay the real cost of doing the work long term.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH THIS PROGRAM?
In this program, we focus primarily on link building and content changes to the site. The only way we can afford to offer this program is by narrowing the scope exclusively to SEO. When you sign up, the only set up is Google Search Console, Google Analytics, user access to your website, and a list of keywords. From that point, we will begin making subtle changes to the wording on the site, interlinking keywords, and adding content to pages. When content is added, we will let you know of the changes so that you can review and comment/refine. Growth in traffic and increases in backlinks can both be seen in Google Search Console, so we do not provide any regular reporting, rank monitoring, or regular status meetings as these are costly program additions that are beyond the scope of this program. If you anticipate the need for regular guidance or training, you may wish to consider the marketing mentorship program or the POD Marketing Program.
WHY IS THE PROGRAM NOT FREE TO START?
Performance-based implies that payment is only made when a goal is met, however, this changes the economics of the business, which we believe does a disservice to you, the client. If compensation is only made after goals have been met, then the business is forced to rely on low- to no-cost tools and rely more heavily on larger quantities of clients, a smaller percentage achieving success, and longer contracts when success is achieved. In addition, it is common to set up easy to achieve goals that don’t necessarily provide noticeable benefit to the client. More importantly, we believe that the relationship between actions and results is more ambiguous if you don’t use some of the more costly tools. Consequently, we chose to share in the real cost of doing search engine optimization (SEO) with you allowing us to provide meaningful benefit to every client at a very low cost to start and shorter contract periods.
WHY IS THIS PROGRAM NOT RIGHT FOR EVERY CLIENT?
The performance-based SEO program is a costly program for us to run and requires a significant commitment by the client to ensure that the marketing message on the site is going to convert visitors to clients. This program is not right for sites that need significant improvements to their marketing message, design, etc. The program is also not right for companies that need too much traffic to profit $600/mo than can be reasonably accomplished in 6 months. We also find that this program is not right for companies that don’t have a good idea of what their current conversion is and how much traffic it will take to generate $600 in revenue. The POD marketing program was built for companies that need full service help with their site, message, and strategy. Ideally every client that starts with the performance SEO program will eventually transition to the POD marketing program or the remote marketing program.