The ultimate collection of SEO tools

Ann Smarty over at Search Engine Journal has been a busy girl.

She’s put together her ultimate collection of SEO tools and guess what? They’re all free.  And if those aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you might want to check out the 20 Must Have SEM Tools and the 20 MORE Must Have SEM Tools that I reviewed for SiteProNews last year.

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Q and A: Should SEOs take on jobs involving a mix of SEO and design?

QuestionHi Kalena…

You give all kinds of great SEO advice on your site. This question is more about the business of SEO.

When you are applying or looking for SEO jobs you see a lot of postings for SEO and Design in one job. Most SEO’s I know aren’t designers. Since I don’t classify myself as a designer but, like any advance SEO consultant, can do some design/webmaster work, my question is when you see job postings like this one, what do you think? I spoke with them and in order to be completely effective the direction they want to go will need some design work. What do you think about these types of jobs for an SEO?

Thanks
Chris

Dear Chris

It all depends on whether you know you can do what they are expecting and also on whether they are a good *fit* for your business. I find that when taking on new clients, half the battle is in educating them about what they want vs. what they need. Many prospects come to me with a specific idea of what they think they want, whether that’s top 5 rankings in Google, more sales, more traffic than their competitors or simply more exposure on the web.

Nine times out of ten I need to re-educate them about what’s achievable with SEO (or PPC) and help them shift their goals to ones that would actually benefit their business. If they aren’t willing to take my advice and trust me to take all steps required to achieve their goals, I would rather walk away from the business.

Example: I had a potential client come to me insistent on wanting to be number #1 on Google within two months for a particular (very competitive) search query. Researching his competition and the top rankings on Google alerted me to the fact that it would be almost impossible to achieve that goal for him without resorting to aggressive short-term, risky, link building / buying. I wasn’t prepared to do this when there were so many other search queries he could target using SEO that would have brought him just as much, or even more, traffic combined. But he couldn’t let his obsession with this particular search query go. So I refunded his deposit and told him to look elsewhere, despite having invested a considerable amount of time and effort.

So my point is – make sure the communication between you and your potential client is crystal clear about what you can or can’t do for them as well as what you are or you aren’t willing to do for them. If their site will require a complete re-design, don’t sugar-coat the news, tell it straight and explain that they will recoup the additional cost once their site is search engine compatible. If you can’t do the re-design yourself, outsource it and pass that cost onto the client in the fairest possible way.

But you’re right, many SEO projects these days do require some design work. If you can’t do that side of things, or just prefer not to, my advice is to partner with a few trusted web designers in your region to whom you can farm out the design aspects of any SEO projects you take on. Good luck!

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Q and A: Is it normal for SEO/SEM firms to disclose their process to clients?

QuestionDear Kalena…

Is it unusual for a SEO/SEM firm to NOT disclose to their clients what their process for SEO/SEM is?  Isn’t it the client’s right to know exactly what is being done on their behalf??

Thanks,
Susan

Dear Susan

I certainly advocate education between SEO and client, but I do know of many SEO operators that prefer not to reveal their process. By the same token, some clients will be very interested in learning what is being done to their site, while others will have no interest at all.

I particularly hate it when SEO/SEM operators claim that what they are doing is “proprietry” or “secret” – really there is no secret sauce for SEO – just acquired knowledge, experience, trial and error!

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Q and A: How should I charge for SEO services?

QuestionDear Kalena…

I’m very excited about finishing the SEO course today and getting my certificate! Thanks for a great course.

One thing I was hoping I’ll find in the bonus lesson and I didn’t, was some information on service pricing. I personally started providing web design services to my clients then wanted to add SEO to my services. How do you recommend I charge for this “extra” service?

Thanks,
Lamees

Dear Lamees

I’m so glad you enjoyed the course and are preparing to launch SEO services to your existing clients.

Regarding SEO pricing, Patrick Altofts recent blog post Peanuts, Monkeys, Tailors and Charging for SEO should help you. Also check my older blog posts about salaries in SEO/SEM.

For anyone interested in starting a career in SEO, I suggest you read my article about the subject.

Best of luck Lamees and please stay in touch.

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Enter Marketing Pilgrim’s $10K SEM Scholarship Competition

Marketing Pilgrim SEM ScholarshipWe are thrilled to be sponsoring Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship once again this year. The competition involves submitting an article on any subject related to search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or social media optimization (SMO) before May 23.

The 2008 scholarship is MP’s third in the series and offers the biggest prize pool to date – a USD 10,000 prize package that includes training, subscriptions, consulting, books, an Amazon gift certificate and broad online exposure for the winning article.

As long time sponsors, Search Engine College will be donating enrollment in our Certified Search Engine Marketer Pathway for the lucky winner. I’ve also been asked to judge again this year, so I’m really looking forward to reading all the entries.

On June 30, the five entries that have achieved the highest overall traffic will be selected. To ensure quality traffic influences the outcome, if an entry achieves an average “Bounce Rate” below 75% it will be awarded a bonus equal to 10% of its total “unique views”. If an entry achieves an average “Time on Page” greater than 2:00 minutes, it will be awarded a bonus equal to 10% of its total “unique views”. On July 7, Marketing Pilgrim will announce the grand prize winner, which will be the entry that receives the most votes from the panel of judges.

Good luck everyone and make sure you get your entries in early.

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