October 13, 2011

Selling SEO Services in the Cayman Islands: What can you expect?

I have been in the Search Engine Optimization business for the last 6 years in the Cayman Islands.   For the last 4 years I have been the Founder, General Manager, Accounts Person, Sales Person, Cleaning Person, Customer Service Person and every other person imaginable.

From a staff of 1 person (myself), Easywebsites has grown into a company of 15 employees (11 full time employees).  I have also personally had to transition from being an employee to becoming a business owner.  I haven't fully transitioned yet and everyday I am learning something new.    

One of the biggest challenges is becoming a Sales Person, selling Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is a big challenge because unlike other products and services, SEO is not a one time service.  SEO Services are consultative in nature and it would be very difficult to teach anyone how to sell a service that took me over 5 years to completely understand.  

Selling a service that requires a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the service made it virtually impossible to hire anyone in sales.  But to be fair, I never really looked ...   I made an effort to contact a person in the US to join our team in Cayman but she never made it, for some reason or other, and I just stopped looking as the company was doing really well in referral sales.  

Please note that I was inspired to write this blog from this article.   My blog is in no way meant to copy the article but to give it a different perspective for clients in the Cayman Islands.   It was also amusing how Mark Jackson's experience was relatively similar to my own except he hired a CPA who had a background in business process.   My personal background included understanding business process procedures under a CPA Consultant who worked at SGV Philippines when I was working for  IPVG.  I have Enrique Gonzalez to thank for that.  Up to this day, I have no idea why he made me the official contact of the business process procedures for the company but I will always be grateful. Having that kind of foundation is important for anyone in entrepreneurial-ship.   

Social SEO Vs. Traditional SEO 

I cannot speak for other SEO Professionals and their pricing models, but you can always tell the bogus ones from the real ones from their pricing.  Only a joker would provide a month-to-month plan (Cancel anytime = Waste of your money).  A real SEO contract should run for at least 12 months and have the price involved for internal work, external work, possibly a back-link package in place for competitive industries, and integration of Social Media.  In today's environment with Social Media in play, it is important to have an overall strategy in place and not an a la carte menu.  It is also important to note that Google's latest algorithm actually benefits from strong social media integration.

Traditional SEO is the old way (2 years ago) of doing Optimization.  Two years ago, the SEO Consultant would just have to manage link building, landing page optimization, bounce rate management and online advertising placements. The huge difference now is because of the advent of Social Media, which has pretty much taken over everything we are doing from having Company Facebook profiles to following the companies, brands and interesting people on Twitter.

Social SEO is ensuring that everything you have online whether it be a website, a Facebook profile, twitter, a newsletter, etc is all working and helping to add value to the Company or brand.   A Social SEO contract would include understanding and consultation on the following online aspects of the company:

  • Who is handling the company Facebook page and do they need assistance in understanding the bigger scheme of things such as the overall Marketing Plan?  Is the Facebook page adding value to the online presence of the company or brand?
  • Who is handling the company Twitter page and does it complement other online efforts? 
  • Who is handling the online PR efforts of the company and which online publications are they using? Is the company using an external PR company and do we need to coordinate with them to further push the objectives of the online marketing campaign of the company?  Are the PR efforts aligned with all the online presence of the company?
  • Are the Social Media aspects helping increase the company's brand credibility on two important levels:  Search Engine Rank and Users?
Cost of Services in Cayman vs. Cost of Services Elsewhere

Because we live in the Cayman Islands, we all know that the cost of living here is considerably higher than most places.  The advantage of hiring us would be because we understand the industry so much better than an outsider possibly could.  There are so many nuances ... for example, we know how important the Cruise Ship schedule is to a lot of local businesses and how Users from Cruise Ship searches differ from searches of stay-over Visitors.   Understanding the nuances of the Cayman Islands Tourism Industry gives us an edge over everyone else and could help make or break a business.  

Because of the disparity between cost of services elsewhere and to assist small businesses in the Cayman Islands, we decided to actually include Search Engine Optimization requirements in the websites that we build.  That's the reason our base prices for websites are sometimes higher than other web development companies on the island.  We ensure a lot of SEO features when building a website so that when and if the client does decide that they want to be on the first page of major keyword searches, the costs aren't as high.  

What to Expect from an SEO Contract

Ever since we started building websites that Search Engines "like" we have seen a decrease in SEO contracts.  Most of our clients are happy being on the middle part of the first page and even the bottom part of the first page.  It's hard to push the client to purchase a contract that could deliver a top search result when they have other expenses to worry about.  But aside from Search Engine Results, a business owner also needs to understand that being on the first page of Search Results is not enough. A proper SEO contract also includes: 
  • Usability Testing of Ease of Navigation
  • Smart SEO Content Writing that ensures a high click through rate (each landing page is carefully scrutinized by a proper writer so that Users will get the most value out of their time when they are on your website) 
  • Comprehensive landing page analysis that ensures a high Click Through Rate (CTR) 
  • Comprehensive Keyword Analysis and not just Keyword Research - this targets all keyword permutations that Users are searching for including the very important long-tail and seasonal keywords
  • Integration of all other Online aspects of the Company and ensuring that all online presence is meeting the Objectives of the Company
At the end of an SEO Campaign you can expect quite a few major changes in your business.  Since every industry differs, a general expectation would be:
  • Your website ranks higher in all keyword permutations
  • Your Facebook page has a high CTR to the website and the engagement level with the fans is much higher 
  • You have an effective Twitter stream that directs traffic to your website and/or physical location
  • Business has increased gradually in the last 12 months
  • You have more money in your bank account than you did the previous year 
For more information about how Social SEO can help increase your Company's bottom line, please contact us for a Consultation.  The first meeting is always free!