Bibliographic Information

Search Engine Optimization Secrets: Do What You Never Thought Possible with SEO

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Pub. Date: March 29, 2011
Print ISBN: 978-0-470-55418-0
Web ISBN: 0-470554-18-5
Pages in Print Edition: 455

7.5. ESTABLISHING PRICE POINTS

The easiest way to get involved with these communities and meet people is to interact with them online. I recommend starting to read and comment on SEO blogs. The most popular SEO blogs at the time of writing include:
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7.5. ESTABLISHING PRICE POINTS

At this point you are probably wondering how much you can charge for your services. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question. It depends on your skill level, your reputation, your local market, your currency, and the time of year. In this section I do my best to explain how SEOmoz came up with their prices, and I try to use a multiplier to help make this more useful to people in different circumstances.

7.5.1. Your Skill Level and Reputation (Multiplier)

  • When doing consulting like this, you need to look into the tax implications of this supplementary income. You should meet with a licensed tax attorney to figure out what set up is best for you.

Just like they do for a professional sports star or actor, your skill level and reputation as an SEO dictates how much you can charge. In this section I provide formulas to help you narrow down how much you can charge for a specific service. Table 7-1 shows rough guides for figuring out how much to charge for your services.

Table 7-1 is based off experience but will vary greatly by your location and the state of the SEO industry at the time you are reading this. These rates are based on the state of the industry in the United States in the year this book was written.


Table 7.1. Skill Level and Reputation Multiplier
LEVEL DESCRIPTION MULTIPLIER
Elite An elite SEO is someone who works primarily with Fortune 500 corporations or equally influential websites. They frequently keynote marketing conferences and own big name SEO companies or are in-house SEOs for major brands. They have at least 5 years experience in doing SEO consulting. X = 4
Advanced An advanced SEO is someone who works exclusively with large companies and/or big budget websites. They frequently speak at marketing conferences and may have even keynoted smaller conferences. They own an SEO company, work at a big name SEO company, or are an in-house SEO for a large company. They generally have at least 3 years of experience doing SEO consulting. X = 2
Intermediate An intermediate SEO is someone who has worked with major companies but generally works with medium sized companies that are big locally. They have spoken at some SEO conferences but do so infrequently. They might work at an SEO company or are working in-house with SEO as their primary role. They generally have 2 to 3 years of experience in SEO. X = 1
Novice A novice SEO is someone who is new to SEO and has held at least one part-time SEO position. They have attended a few SEO conferences but never spoken at them. They generally have less than a year of experience in SEO. X = 1/2
Beginner A beginner SEO is someone who is brand new to SEO. They maybe in their first SEO position or hold an Internet-related position and are looking into SEO as an interest. X = 1/4

7.5.2. Report Price Ranges

The following price ranges are estimates and may vary depending on a multitude of factors including demand for SEO, geographic location, client knowledge of SEO, client size, client reputation, client resources, and/or time. All prices are in U.S. dollars.

7.5.2.1. QUICK HIT LIST

$1,250.00 * X

Additional factors:

  • Length of report

  • Detail of the report

  • Amount of websites

7.5.2.2. COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATIONAL WEBSITE AUDIT

$4,250.00 * X

Additional factors:

  • Length of report

  • Detail of the report

  • Amount of websites included

  • Tools available

  • Proprietary data available

7.5.2.3. COMPREHENSIVE E-COMMERCE WEBSITE AUDIT

$5,000.00 * X

Additional factors:

  • Length of report

  • Detail of the report

  • Amount of competitors analyzed

  • Tools available

  • Proprietary data available

7.5.2.4. LINK BUILDING

$50.00 * X – per link

NOTE

This number is completely dependent on the quality of the link. The preceding number would be for a relevant link that passes a mozRank of about 5.00.

7.5.2.5. REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

$3,000.00 * X

NOTE

This number is extremely dependent on popularity of the brand and the amount of work you do for them. This number is based on SEO brand SERP work and social media services. For example, this might include helping a website outrank a competitor who is spreading damaging information about the given brand.

Additional factors:

  • Current standing of reputation

  • Size of brand

  • Brand resources

  • Difficulty of management requirements

7.5.2.6. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

$2,500.00 * X

NOTE

This number is extremely dependent on circumstance. For example, the proceeding number is based off a one-off social media audit along with the registration of relevant social media accounts. The audit covers social media impact on traffic and links. It does not involve reputation management or the design or development of creating social media accounts.

Additional factors:

  • Which social media websites are being targeted

  • Amount of profiles being registered

  • Current state of brand

7.5.2.7. KEYWORD RESEARCH

$1,000.00 * X

Additional factors:

  • Length of report

  • Detail of the report

  • Amount of keywords

  • Amount of competition

  • Difficulty of niche

  • Popularity of niche

7.5.2.8. MISCELLANEOUS TASKS

$750.00 * X per hour

NOTE

This is completely dependent on the task and will vary widely. These tasks might include doing analysis of analytics, running training workshops, checking or writing code for search engine friendliness, gathering data, or writing up a SEO strategic plan. Price will depend on the specialized skills required for the task and the amount of time it takes to complete. The further outside the scope of traditional SEO deliverables, the higher the price.

A LA CARTE OR CAMPAIGN?

This section describes pricing for reports and activities on an a la carte basis. Many times, it makes sense to price projects in this format. Often, however, it makes more sense to group all of the reports into a global campaign that includes ongoing keyword research refreshing, refinements to recommendations, and regular analytics reporting. This is the way many search agencies price ongoing campaigns lasting a year or more.

In a long-term campaign, the client benefits financially because if priced separately, the reports and deliverables would cost far more than they do in an a la carte campaign. The SEO firm benefits by knowing that it will have incoming revenue for a defined amount of time.

11.3. IMAGE SEARCH

At the time of writing the image, the search is still in its infancy. The problem is that an image file is very different from a text document from the perspective of a computer scientist. The technological problems of searching for relevant text in a corpus of all text have largely already been solved.

Images are a completely different story for two primary reasons. First, image files are on average much larger than text files. Whereas a text document may be made up of thousands of 0s and 1s on the binary level, an image with the same dimensions may be made up of hundreds of millions of binary characters. This means that the computing power alone can become a bottleneck to solving the image search problem.

Secondly, algorithmically determining the meaning and contents of an image file is much more difficult than doing the same for a text file. Whereas a word may have only a few meanings and contain very little, an image can have millions of meanings and contain many objects. Imagine the difference between the word "crowd" and an image of a crowd. Although the word maps to the idea of a large group of people, the details of those people are not represented. This is not the same for an image of a crowd where the details of each person in the crowd are visible.

This of course is an oversimplification of the image search problem but it helps to illustrate its complexity. As a result of the complexity of these two factors (size and meaning/contents), search engines have relied on text-based metrics to rank images.

To make matters worse, these technical issues fail to address the social implications of image search. Whereas most search queries are done with the intention of getting information, the queries where images are the best result tend to aid people in stealing images. From an SEO perspective, this leads to the question of whether or not image search–referred traffic is even useful.

11.3.1. Is Image Search Traffic Useful?

This is the most common question I get when talking to clients about image search. They are right in that many image searches result in the user simply stealing the image and not giving credit to the owner or the site where it came from.
My initial answer to this question is two-pronged:
  1. I have never seen an example where image search referrals provide enough value that it warrants making image optimization worthwhile.
  2. At the same time, I think that everyone, regardless of limitation or disability, should be able to use the Internet. This includes humans and computers alike.
In order for this to happen, there needs to be a way to represent images for those who are visually impaired and those systems that can't understand them (which includes search engines). The best way to do that today is to optimize images just like SEOs do for a website as a whole.

OPTIMIZING FOR IMAGE SEARCH NOW

My final answer is that although image search traffic is not useful today, the demand for sophisticated image search will likely lead it to be useful in the future and thus is worth optimizing for now. I don't consider it a high priority but it is a good long-term strategy.
With that said, I recommend adding relevant keyword phrases to the alt attributes and filenames of images. (See the "Ranking Factors" section later in the chapter.) Additionally you should include these key phrases in the text that surrounds the image, including the copy preceding the image, and a caption if possible. These tactics make it easier for visually impaired people and search engines to understand what an image is displaying and have shown to boost the relevancy metrics for the page the image is embedded on.

11.3.2. Bing Is Winning

I am a big fan of the underdog. At the time of writing, Google dominates online search and advertising. Thus, I get excited when I see formidable competitors.
Bing, though much less popular than Google, is winning the race to build the best image search engine. It provides more relevant results in an easier-to-navigate interface. For example, Bing image search presents an AJAX driven result set that uses scrolling rather than pagination to view additional images (see Figure 11-3). This prevents unnecessary page loads and makes it easier to use (and it's one of the reasons why Google recently created a very similar image results interface).
This is a fact that more and more people are realizing. I always use it as my preferred image search engine, and its popularity is growing.
Figure 11.3. Bing Image Search result for "seomoz danny dover"
A lot of the technology behind Bing image search and Bing maps is coming from Microsoft Research. This think-tank style department has made amazing strides forward with image technology in the past few years. As an SEO you should be aware of this trend and not be blindsided when it makes an impact on future search-referred traffic.

11.3.3. Ranking Factors

Although there is much research on image search metrics compared to other search verticals, most experts agree the majority of image ranking metrics are related to those that are listed in this section.
11.3.3.1. ALT ATTRIBUTE (ALT TEXT)
The code to include an image file in HTML takes the following format:
Alt Text
The parameter in the alt attribute (in this example, Alt Text) is displayed in the event that the image cannot be represented. This happens when the technology accessing the tag cannot display the image. This is most common when the image is broken or when it is accessed by software like a screen reader.
This text typically describes the image and is a very good ranking factor.
11.3.3.2. SURROUNDING TEXT
Many times the text that surrounds an image in a web document describes the image. This can take the shape of a caption or introduction to the image.
This information is very useful for image search engineers. It is relatively common for an image to rank for a query that matches the text around an image.
11.3.3.3. FILENAME
In theory a filename should always describe its content. Unfortunately, this is not the normal case for image files. Many times they will be named by a computer (like a digital camera) rather than a human. This makes this a relatively poor metric for rankings.
That said, it does help to include descriptive words in image filenames because it is still used as a minor factor in image search rankings.
11.3.3.4. TRADITIONAL ON-PAGE SEO FACTORS FOR IMAGES
It is important to note that the search engines still use normal ranking metrics for images (relevancy and popularity). This is usually done on the page where the image is located. (Note this is different than the image URL.)
This means that by optimizing a page in the normal ways, you are also optimizing its images. It is a win-win situation.

13.3. RECORDING RESULTS

All of your work performing tests will be futile if you don't take the time to appropriately record your results. I learned this the hard way when I was asked by a client about a specific test I had run six months earlier. I checked back through my handwritten notes and couldn't figure out the configuration of the test or what the results of it had been. I ended up having to rerun the entire test and redo all the work I had already done.
Although you can collect any data points you want, I suggest including at least all of the points in the following list.
  • Title: The title of the test that clearly and succinctly identifies the test. For example, "The value of a 301 redirect compared to a 302 redirect."
  • Status: It is also helpful to include the status of the test near the top of the document. I also recommend highlighting the status so the reader can quickly identify which tests are complete and which are still pending. For example, "Completed 12/21/2012."
  • Domain: It is best to also include the domain names for the applicable tests so that the reader can quickly navigate to them and see the test firsthand.
  • Keyword: Similar to including domain names, it is important to include the keywords used in the test so that readers can easily find the test online and see its results.
  • Start Date: The date the experiment started.
  • End Date: The date the experiment ended.
  • Question: The question that is trying to be answered. For example, "Which type of server redirect passes more link value, a 301 or a 302?"
  • Setup: It is helpful to include a paragraph explaining a high-level view of how the experiment was constructed. This is useful because it gives more credibility to the test and helps the reader identify problems the tester might not have thought of.
  • Null Result: This is the result that would happen if the changed variable had no effect.
  • Alt Result: This is the result that would happen if the changed variable did have an effect. Generally, there is more than one option here.
  • Hypothesis: In accordance with the scientific method, it is useful to include a hypothesis to help establish goals and identify possible biases, which can sabotage test results. I have found this useful when colleagues have noted that my hypothesis lead me to create a test that inherently made the results lean one direction. Example hypothesis, "I predict that this test will show that 301 redirects pass more link value than 302 redirects."
  • Outcome: This is the actual change that occurred after the variable was changed.
  • Since the outcome is helpful for those quickly scanning a report, if the outcome is known, it is often useful to include it right after the title of the test. For example, "301 redirects send more link juice than 302 redirects."
  • Conclusion: It is a good idea to write a conclusion after the test has completed. It is also the place to include any assumptions that were made and any conflicts that may have affected the results.

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Thursday, Oct 06 22