This week I had a call from a very nice gentleman who wanted help with social media and blogging. He also mentioned the need for a little organic SEO. Great I thought, this is my thing and we’re a perfect fit for each other. I love the combination of social media, blogging, and SEO. To me this combination is like “Rebecca candy”.
What Lies Beneath is Always So Scary
At the end of our discussion I promised to review his website and dig further into his online presence. I’m not going to offer to help or even send a proposal, unless I know what help is needed. So I dug further and I did a fairly deep review of his website and his online activity. What I found did not make me happy.
As I reviewed his website, I realized his osCommerce site had some significant problems with core functionality. He didn’t have basic SEO features like an XML sitemap, H1 tags, SEO friendly URLs, canonical links, etc. What was worse, I realized his website only had products and all the product descriptions were duplicates of other websites’ content. So to sum it up, he had a website full of duplicate content that was also missing some fundamental SEO components. Oh what lie beneath is always so scary.
Pulling Off the Band-Aid
Sure I can help with social media, but in some cases I won’t. What? Really? You turn away business and future clients? Ah yes, yes I do. In some cases social media is only going to partially help and in most cases, the prospective client isn’t looking for partially as an outcome. He wants a game changer. He wants real results that provides real ROI. This gentleman wanted an immediate increase in traffic that would occur right before his peak season happened in October and November.
My proposal included setting up a blog, setting up social media accounts, and fixing his SEO. I quoted working with his existing webmaster to fix the website and I quoted rewriting his product descriptions so he had unique content. After reading through the proposal the prospect requested a call to discuss. Great I thought. I didn’t offend him with calling his baby (aka SEO) ugly.
Sins of the Past Always Cause a Stalemate
The discussion went okay. The prospect said the proposal was right on and the costing was completely in line with what I was proposing. Great. Yes I do think “great” a lot during the whole prospecting phase. He said he agreed that he did need everything that I proposed. But – oh why is there always a but in these calls?
A year ago this gentleman worked with another SEO consulting firm. I told him I could see that some SEO work had been done on his website. After all, all the products had unique meta titles and descriptions that used keywords and they were within character limits. The problem was he said he couldn’t tell what the SEO consultant did and that the ROI wasn’t there. He was still relying on his pay per click campaigns and they were expensive. He didn’t get ROI with the last SEO consultant, so he was hesitant to move forward with me. Snap! Not great and in fact a total bummer. Foiled by an SEO consultant I’ve never met and never will meet.
I am now at a stalemate due to sins of the past from another SEO consultant. I am saddened to say this happens a lot. This happens a lot more than any of us good SEO consultants would like. There are a lot of SEO consultants out there that stink. They have good intentions, but just don’t know what they’re doing and the clients don’t get the results they need. It is very difficult to convince someone to trust you when another, less educated you, already burned them. And I can’t blame this gentleman for being cautious. I would be too. Thus we are at an impasse, a stalemate, and what feels like a dead end.
Time for a Hard Decision
In our follow up call he asked that I review the proposal and that we take baby steps towards the end goal. What are some small things we could do to help drive traffic and could prove me as knowledgeable to him. I told him I would review the proposal and follow up. And I did. I’m sitting in New York at a conference and still thinking about this prospect.
Unfortunately there isn’t one set of tasks or changes that are going to drive the result he wants. He needs his website fixed for the missing SEO elements so Google will embrace it. Google won’t embrace it unless he has unique content that continues to grow. And he needs inbound links, which will come from blogging and social media activity. In my heart I don’t believe any of these things, set apart by themselves, will produce results. It just won’t work.
The mom in me wants to take care of his SEO and fix him. I want to heal him from head to toe. But I can’t. Social media or any small part of his proposal is a band-aid and it isn’t healing him. It is temporary and it would leave him without results.
He isn’t ready to take the leap of faith with me because his last leap ended up with him falling without a net. I get that, but it doesn’t change my view of his current situation, my desire to help, and the experienced internet marketer in me saying doing a tenth of what was proposed will not help.
It is time for me to walk away. Oh I hate when this moment occurs and I realize it is the best course of action. A business associate always says he “hates to lose” and me walking away would kill him. But winning a client and not achieving the results he wants is not winning. Well maybe in Charlie Sheen land is, but not in Rebecca land.
I am now off to write the goodbye email. The “I wish you luck” email. The “come back to me if you change your mind” email. Some may take this gesture negatively, while others may take it positively. I don’t know and I can’t control his reaction. I can only stay true to my beliefs and the business ethics by which I live.
In some cases, the social media band-aid does nothing more than cover the scary stuff underneath that will continue to sit there and fester and grow more and more ugly. While some may choose to apply this band-aid, I will not. I want to heal.