Importance of investing the right amount of time in SEO

  • To know the value of one year - ask the student who failed their final.

  • To know the value of one month - ask the mother of a premature baby.

  • To know the value of one week - ask the editor of a weekly magazine.

  • To know the value of one day - ask the wage earner with six children.

  • To know the value of one hour - ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

  • To know the value of one minute - ask the person who missed the plane.

  • To know the value of one second - ask the person who survived the accident.

  • To know the value of one millisecond - ask the Olympic silver medalist.

  • --John Maxwell

In SEO and SEM, time management is critical. Almost anybody in the industry will tell you that you can spend countless hours "tweaking" a website, looking at traffic analysis and conversion stats, and employing link building campaigns. These are all essential parts of a good SEO service, but at the same time, some limits have to be placed on the amount of time you will spend on these activities for any single client.

Newer clients, or those that have a lot of problems, need to have more time dedicated to each of the activities above. Yet, the SEO has to maintain a workable time budget in order to prevent profits from circling the drain.

We often find ourselves needing more time in the day to get things done. I know I've wished for more. I honestly don't know how people much busier than me do it. I have the same 24 hours to use each day as Trump or Obama have.

When I go home after a full day of what feels like non-stop rushing to manage one client after another, I often think about how these guys must feel. They have much more responsibility than I, but still the same number of hours in which to get stuff done, and always seem to find time for golf!

If I could have one wish, it would be to have more hours in the day and to require less sleep each night. OK, that's two wishes, but I'd settle for either one of those (preferably the latter.)

Value Add or Cost Add?

When a client asks, "What more can we do to stay ahead of our competitors?", one of the first things I do is look at their current contract. If the plan they have has any areas of weakness, I'll let them know what more can be done to reach their goals. Inevitably, it is based on their willingness to invest in the additional time and resources required for a more aggressive campaign.

Unfortunately, that usually ends the conversation for some clients.

When they are asking "What do we have to do?" What they really mean is, "What more will you do?" I'm always willing to do more, but there is that pesky issue of our time and whether we're willing to work for free or not. Usually not.

I never mind providing a value-added service every now and then. Sometimes we'll do less of one thing so we can do more of another. But, eventually there comes a point of diminished profits, unless the client is willing to step up and pay for what they want us to help them achieve.

Accurately Budgeting Time for Process and Results

Whenever I put together a proposal for a prospective client, my goal is to estimate the number of hours that will be needed over the contract's duration. This includes one-time only tasks, monthly tasks, and yearly tasks. All of that gets thrown in to create an estimated number of hours that we then use to figure a monthly pricing level.

That becomes our benchmark, and we use it with the knowledge that clients will occasionally need more time spent each month on a task (especially in the early months), and less time in other months.

Trying to accurately predict the number of hours needed over the next 12 months can be daunting. I have to look beyond time spent on research and implementation. Both ongoing consulting and client communications factor in a great deal, as does analysis. Most clients don't realize that every call or email requesting a status update is time that is taken away from research, analysis and implementation.

Every SEO must determine how much consulting time will be factored into the campaign cost. Ultimately, the client wants, and needs, to feel taken care of. Failure to factor in consulting and management into pricing will reduce campaign performance, or create a client that feels out of the loop. Both can be hazardous to client satisfaction.

Time management, regardless of your field, becomes one of the most important aspects of your professional and personal life. It affects what you can do and what your client feels you should do. Those that don't manage their time wisely are doomed to fail.

If the SEO wants to be successful - and if the client wants the SEO to be successful - then both must consider the time involvement in any new task or request being made. These things add up and eventually, if left unchecked, can tip the scales in bringing both the SEO and the client into unprofitable territory. This is a lose/lose scenario. But, if both manage time expectations and costs, both the SEO and the client and be in a win/win situation that will bring big-time success.

Follow me: @StoneyD and @PolePositionMkg

May 26, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


The scenarios you describe are completely "spot-on."

SEO professionals need to concern themselves with clients and unrealistic expectations. It's crucial that lots of questions are asked during the initial arrangement. It's absolutely imperative that you know your client, their decision process and their goals before you enter into an agreement with them. Without this information, I've had uncomfortable situations with clients that are expecting unrealistic expectations with budgets as small as $600 a month.

Great post.

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