I’ve been noticing a disturbing phenomenon in client SEO land.  Now, I’m not going to call out any Phoenix SEO companies specifically, but if you’re reading this, you probably know who you are.

Some of the people in the industry that I pegged as pure BS artists are landing clients faster than those with the skills that SHOULD pay the bills.  And it is not by virtue of their ability to rank a site or run an advertising campaign, it’s their ability to BS clients that’s getting them the work.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect your hustle Mr. Snake Oil.  You make more calls, kiss more ass, go to more “networking” events, and hand out more business cards.  You work for yours.  But where are your clients’ sites when you’re done with them?

I’ve been on the frontlines recently.  Pushing out proposals like a madman, researching people’s sites, and checking out the work left behind by previous SEO firms.  What I see, quite frankly, embarasses me.  Mostly because I am getting lumped in with these guys.  Then I get the client’s sob story about their previous experience.  It usually sounds something like this:

They were great.  We had bi-weekly phone meetings, we used this neat little tool to track our progress, I got reports with graphs in them, and I even rank number one for “Arizona Mortgage Refinancing Specialist Ahwatukee AZ”.  But I just can’t afford the 8k a month retainer anymore“.

Or worse, this:

They were terrible.  I had a really bad experience with [insert well known company] who promised me rankings.  They charged my 8k a month, and even had the gall to send more invoices when I asked for even the smallest changes“.

My interpretation of both scenarios leads to the same conclusion.

Scenario 1 – You’re a  good bullshitter.  You made your client believe they were getting a value from your shoddy service, overcharged, and dried up the well.

Scenario 2 – You’re a good bullshitter. You made your client believe they were going to get a value for your shoddy service, overcharged, and scared a client from using a better company’s web marketing services down the road.

You’re Doing It Wrong

Either way, I am seeing shoddy work from previous firms and agencies. They’re leaving huge holes in their campaigns.  I’m proposing lower prices than companies were used to paying their old crappy vendors.  I’m seeing low hanging fruit and easy wins for my potential clients.  And I am still having to hustle way more than I ever thought I would have to, just to save a potential client back to the good side of the force.  The fish that normally would be jumping in the boat, are still on the edge.

In cases like these, where clients have been burned, it doesn’t matter that I have rankings and case studies to prove my ability.  It doesn’t matter that I have ringing endorsements from referrals.  It doesn’t matter that I have no problem contracting out clauses or adding performance clauses to mitigate cost risk.  People just have a harder time trusting SEO companies in general, because of the BS artists who left trash in their wake.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em?

Part of me wishes I had a better line of BS. Maybe I should have gone to more events to glad hand realtors, lawyers, and loan sharks.  Or maybe worked on my fake smiles a little more.  Tried to kiss more ass…

But that part of me IS BS.  I’m actually happy with the being a “no bullshit” kind of guy, even if I am not getting as many clients as more polished sales persons with less skill.  It’s just a shame that the pool of potential clients out there has been tarnished by slicksters who are all style, and little substance.