Anyone want to work for free? I guess the answer is ‘no’? how about asking someone to work for you without payment until a specific objective is achieved? With the recruitment industry, this is generally the case, but at least a candidate can definitely placed and we can all verify that.
In SEO, there can be no absolute guarantee of taking any website to the number one spot on a search engine.
Here in the year of our lord 2023, we have ‘business leaders’ asking people to work for them for free. Time is money.
To become number one with SEO will take time; if it’s even possible. Want to be number one for the term ‘website hosting’? Good luck with that sometime in the next thousand years. Other keywords are more realistic, but then it will still take time. Getting to number one for a brand name, is probably the only result anyone should work towards for free.
What Keyword Should Rank Number One?
Before how much business access is offered is even on the table, the first question we need to ask is ‘what’s the keyword?’ That will tell you how much effort and indicate how much time it will take to get there.
Getting To Number One
Getting to number one requires links, mentions and content among however many secret ranking factors search engines have that we can’t know for sure how they work or relate to each other. Put simply, it requires EAT. That is Expertise, Authority and Trust. And how much time does it take to gain and or demonstrate expertise, authority and trust?
To gain that EAT, you need time and a budget. Someone is supposed to reach out to build links, get features on websites to build links, write great content or use their blog network, which cost time and money to build anyway. How much money is available for getting number one spot at the end of the day?
Define Number One Spot
Snagging the number one spot is a big challenge and the first thing to define is what constitutes completion of the task? Is it number one in image search? Number one on the text SERP? I’ve seen ‘SEO consultants’ claim a featured snippet as getting their client to number one. As challenging as it can be to get a featured snippet, it definitely is not number one spot.
No doubt there are a lot of clients who would fall for a featured snippet represented as number one spot. With that same type of person, if their brand was actually number one in search, they’d never believe it if there was a snippet above number one spot.
Tracking Number One Spot
How then do we track number one spot? Does whoever setting the challenge understand tracking an measuring SEO results? Do they track rankings properly, or just stick the keyword into Google at random points in time?
If you give them evidence the challenge has been met, will they believe you? Will they change the goalposts and say ‘yeah, but it was only number one for a day, I’ll pay you once it’s been there for a week’. One week becomes one month, one month becomes six, six become nine, nine months turns into one year. You get the picture.
Anyone taking on a challenge to make someone rank number one without any pay until the target ranking is ‘achieved’, is going to have a tough time getting paid.
The Marketing Issue With SEO
There is a deeper issue here, but is the problem with the SEO industry, or the general business community? Is it that too many leaders expect instant results, so everyone has to pitch as though their results are instant and they can guarantee number one spot? If they don’t they’ll never get employment.
Or is the problem because too many practitioners promise number one spot? Sure in the old days it was 100% possible to guarantee that when search engines were easily gamed. At least until another SEO fudged their way to number one. Is a one and done simple one week process to rank number one all it takes and you’ll be there forever? No more work necessary? Ever?
Challenges To Rank Number One
In any situation, there will be several players in an industry or niche and they probably also want to rank number one. Take the ‘website hosting’ example from above. That’s a super competitive niche with hundreds of companies vying for number one spot. If so many people are all working on SEO to be number one, how many of those industry players can actually hold the number one spot at any one time?
We all need to take a step back and recognise SEO takes time. We can’t always get to number one, but we can take steps forward. Nobody should promise a number one spot and nobody should EXPECT a number one spot. Number one should always be the target, with a strategy for getting there with plans covering areas including content, technical SEO and social media. Work towards the end goal with smaller milestones along the way so you can see how things are going.
Time Isn’t Free
SEO consultants should be paid for their time, like any other employee or external consultant. There are different price points available and anyone looking for SEO work should note that. Have a plan, pay what you can afford, track progress and you will strike gold. Just bear in mind the success stories we see are only the end of a journey.
Like a website needs EAT to rank, people need to eat. We need the ability to respire which comes from energy. Energy derived from food which we can either purchase, or prepare in the place of our abode, which generally also costs money to get. Working for free is fine if you don’t have those things to worry about or if SEO really is a simple one and done task.
Nothing in business is free. Unless you’re giving away your products and services for free until they’ve proven their efficacy, you can’t expect anyone to work without remuneration. Talk to consultants and agencies, see what their plan is, choose one that fits with your budget and time-line, then go from there.
Choosing An SEO
It’s understandable if you’ve been hurt by SEO in the past, but asking for free work is not the answer. The answer is to ignore the random pitches and seek out an agency or practitioner you reasonably believe can do the work you need, for a price you can afford and let the process take its course.
I’m available to talk if you need some guidance.