On Hiring a Consultant To Improve SEO and other stuff to get more traffic/sales

One of my best friends sells an ebook on the Internet. Several years ago he was making a very tidy sum of money (over $200,000 profit each year) from selling one ebook at XXXXXXXXXXXX.com and this was after having paid 50% in advertising to Google (I really despise Google because of the way he has been ripped off by them), so he was actually making more than $400,000 per year for several years in a row. Despite this, he was doing VERY well.

And then some interesting things started happening. His advertising from Google skyrocketed and he was losing money. He was paying more than he was earning in sales! He found out about the famous “Google Slap” and hired people to help him fix the problem. I started to help him in this area because I was already helping him out part-time on his website and had really learned the in’s and out’s of intermarketing, SEO, keywords, Google marketing campaigns, etc. from my friend.

Google has lots of free training on the internet to teach you all the things that they expect from you and so my friend wasn’t really following those things and so he started doing that more rigorously. But that didn’t always help.

Google had a number of other “slaps” for people who used their advertising for this reason and that reason; this was their way of getting their paid subscribers of their advertising to optimize their sites to help Google maintain better results but the truth is that it simply gave Google tighter control over how much money to charge.

So, I learned about this as well and started to do research into what it would take to really help my friend. I learned a lot. I learned that there were several different methods you could use that would be FREE and that would give you higher SEO rankings! This included things like getting a blog, using a newsletter, opting-in subscribers, leveraging your expertise as a subject-matter expert on Yahoo! answers and other sites of that ilk, using affiliates, using Digg, Facebook, using tons of split-testing on your site, embedding lots of video as “value-added content” according to Google’s ideals and allowing your real-world results become your coach. I had developed a ten-point plan and training based on this which I started using with various clients.

I found that basically people don’t want to do these things. My friend didn’t do them. Even many of the clients I spoke to didn’t want to take the time to do these things.

Right now, I am the one doing these things for my clients. It’s not that they are lazy, they just don’t want to have to wear yet another hat in their business.

My friend is just now starting to do these things, but he has got to the point where he is only making a couple hundred dollars a week. He is not doing well financially and that is putting it very mildly.

In the past year, my friend has paid consultants (who could not offer guarantees) about $5,000 each to “rework” his website and optimize for SEO, blah blah blah. One of them had done a really nice job of upgrading the look of the website quite nicely, but they also put in a ton of “black hat” PHP files which Google will now shut down many sites if they are using it. He now has to pay someone who knows PHP really well to remove it by hand. He paid someone recently to rework his site and the guy really did a botch job; again, another $5,000.

My advice to people is to only hire someone who will guarantee their work in writing or someone who comes highly recommended at least a month after they have shown their work to produce the desired result. Everything else is a gamble and the fact that consultants will never (with only rare exception) guarantee their work is proof that this is true. In addition, my advice is to learn the free methods to boost “organic” Google search results AND USE THEM.

This means that when you type your keywords into Google search that you appear near the top or at the top because you are doing a better job with using a blog, using a newsletter, opting-in users, leveraging your expertise as a subject-matter expert on Yahoo! answers and other sites of that ilk, using affiliates, using Digg, Facebook, using tons of split-testing on your site, embedding lots of video as “added value content” according to Google’s ideals and allowing your real-world results become your coach. As far as I am concerned, there is no other game in town than that if you expect to continue to expand as a business on the internet.

Learning more about these things is a natural part of developing yourself as a business on the internet. This is also true about anyone who becomes a photographer and ends up learning how to become an expert on getting their work published in newspapers, licensed for textbooks, sold as postcards, etc. They also learn all of the technical in’s and out’s of their camera. They also learn about printing processes so much to the point where they can teach groups of other photographers about how they had completely optimized cotton press sheets for thermal inkjet printing (which is what my wife and I learned at a Lompoc Photographers Guild meeting earlier this month).

There are really two ways to do this: either learn it and do it yourself or learn it and hire someone to do the dirty work. However, if you are like my friend and you expect to get away with not learning it and also paying someone else to do it, then you will have neither grown as a professional or grown your business. My friend still pays someone to make minor changes to his website instead of taking a Dreamweaver class and learning how to do it himself; I think this is an absolute waste of money and isn’t very wise as a business owner. It’s like paying someone to only put your calls on hold when more than one call comes in or paying someone to sharpen your pencil when the lead breaks. I’m not saying that it isn’t smarter at times to pay someone else to do what you are not good at, but it also works in reverse where you can open yourself up to being charged to death for things that you should have been doing yourself all along.

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