The end of monthly SEO packages?

by Tim Hill (aka Doodled)

March 1st 2014
End of monthly SEO packages
Are webmasters finally getting wise?

I haven't offered monthly SEO packages for years but I see many companies still advertising the concept. That '6 guest blogs, 1 press release, 1 video, etc. for $x per month' type of thing.

I can see why they are so attractive to many website owners, they are quantifiable and you can actually see that work is being done – even if rankings don't move. I don't do them because every website turns on its merits, it is an individual case that has its own unique needs and requirements.

“6 guest blogs” or “1 press release” may be of no benefit in one situation and well worth the effort in another. It may be an ideal activity this month and utterly pointless next month.

Many of my clients have come to this conclusion after burning through a fair amount of cash and that is how they've ended up with me ... or SEO firms like mine.

But it hasn't stopped countless of SEO companies from continuing to offer packages and it hasn't stopped countless webmasters wasting money in that direction … so why should it be changing now?

Quality not quantity

A year ago many of the webmasters who contacted me were only interested in the number of links we could get for them or the number of articles we could write or the number of press releases that we offered every month.

Today they are more interested in what quality links we might be able to build, or help them build; what real content we can create; what effective insights we can give them into their websites performance and how to use that knowledge.

A very welcome change.

The word seems to be getting through that, when it comes to anything to do with website promotion, not just link building, quality is much more important than quantity. A few scare stories of websites that have been completely thrown out of Google have all helped this along I'm sure.

Many webmasters are also increasingly understanding that running after the latest 'trend' is becoming an ever shorter term activity and they really need to hanker down to proper SEO if they want to be ranking in the long term. This is especially so since the latest fad of guest blogging was stamped on by Google so quickly.

A typical 'Monthly SEO package'

Here's a breakdown of the kind of package that still exists and why it's not really going to help. I've taken this from a real SEO company who offer more of the same, the more you are prepared to spend every month:

  • 5 editorial publications – this is the new name for article writing because some think article writing is a spammy activity but editorial publications aren't because they have a different name! Article writing isn't spammy if it's done right but a fair number of SEO companies can't seem to get their heads round this!
  • Product/business review – someone will write something positive about your product or business somewhere, and hope they are not found out for writing a phantom review while you hope you are not found out as someone who hired a company to write a phantom review!
  • 4 guest posts – because article writing is now a dirty word. Guest blogging is now also a dirty word so this may be renamed to something else soon! (Again, there is nothing wrong with guest blogging if it is done right).
  • 1 press release – which is another article. Most press release sites are treated as content farms by Google and the other major search engines. Call it an article site, call it a press release site, call it a blog that posts guest blogs – it's a content farm to a search engine crawler.
  • 1 original video – but of what standard if you are pushing out a video every single month?
  • 3 video channel submissions – they'll share your video on their social network profiles or submit them to others. Note 'submissions' so it doesn't mean they will be, or need to be, accepted.

But it works doesn't it?

More accurately … it worked. It worked because if you fired a machine gun into the air long enough you'd hit a bird. Just create enough content, put it in enough places and something will eventually happen.

But as Google and others get better and better at ignoring content that has been created for contents sake its effectiveness is sliding away. Some would argue it has already slipped away.

The example of the SEO package I've given above comes in at around $7,500 for the year and you seem to get a lot for your money in terms of content.

Paying more and getting less

So if I was to turn round to you and say I would write you 10 articles which would appear on 10 different article sites for the same price your lower lip might wobble more than a little.

What terrible value for money! Perhaps even a LOL.

But if they appeared on the right websites they would be a thousand times more effective than the 60 articles spieled off and dumped on content farms, the 48 guest blog posts uploaded to blogs no one ever goes to, the 12 press releases that make their way onto websites that the press don't use … you get the picture.

A good link builder has the right contacts to get links in the right place. It may cost you more “per article” or “per link” but the value is exponentially higher.

The point is spending much more time doing less but doing it a whole lot better. And only doing the things which actually benefit your website.

That might mean no videos at all or not writing articles but concentrating on guest blogging .... it all depends on your industry, your keywords and where the opportunities (and competition) lie.

How do you know what you need?

This is the second part of any real SEO package. Instead of firing a machine gun into the air and hoping, get a rifle and take shots that yield results.

For a website this means careful analysis of where it is and where it is trying to go. It means identifying where it does not perform or engage users and closing those gaps and, only after this has been done, carrying out specific and well targeted off page activities if they are necessary.

These needs are constantly redefined by analysis of the site's position and the data streaming out of sources such as Google Analytics. A website's rankings are like a oil tanker ploughing through the sea – they change slowly. Google Analytics or other data mines tell you which way the rudder is turning so you can take action early.

So any SEO package should also include monthly analysis which will identify what you need to do next, rather than just doing the same things over and over again when they may be having no effect or are not addressing the parts of your site that are actually in need of the most urgent attention right now.

So what should I pay for?

I find clients fall into one of two categories:

  • Coaching and training – those who want to understand what to do and then put it into action themselves.
  • Hands off – those who want us to analyse, define and take action on their behalf while they get on with running their business (or their life!).

How much the end bill costs and how much work needs to be done varies by website, industry and keyword.

But what none of the websites we manage need is “5 editorial posts, 1 review, 4 guest blogs, 1 press release and 1 video” every single month from here until whenever...