David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …



Archive for the ‘clients’ Category

Are you getting paid enough on client projects?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Do you track your time for client projects? Should you? And if so, how best to do it?

Tracking the time you spend on a client’s project might be easy for you. Or it could be a nightmare. The more a person works in a silo, the easier it is. The more a person multi-tasks, the harder it is.

There are two reasons why one would want to track project time. The first is the most obvious; if you charge by the hour, you need to track those hours. If you don’t, you won’t get paid for your work and the clients will not be satisfied as to how much work they are paying for.

The importance of time tracking


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How to Transition Successfully from In-House to Agency Work

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Companies as well as individuals are usually drawn to agency work because it is so specialized. Agencies are filled with people who have the same passion and the similar projects and problems, so collaboration is easier and you know that nothing will slip through the cracks. However, transitioning from in-house work to agency work can be difficult no matter how exciting.

There are a few dynamics that are different when you’re dealing with an agency:

  • You have to juggle multiple projects at once.
  • You have to learn to communicate with different clients.
  • Those who have assigned you a task will likely not be working in the same office. This makes questions and visions harder to get across.
  • Agency work is dependent upon the number of clients available. In other words, it can be a bit less stable and less predictable than in-house work.

Making this transition can be tough whether you’re the employee or the employer. If you are a business owner who is used to working with an in-house staff, outsourcing work to an agency will be a big change. Consider some of the ways that you can help make this transition smooth and successful:

Top 3 Ways to Help Smooth Your In-House to Agency Transition

1. Lay Out Your Day on Paper

It might sound elementary, but having a written out plan will help ensure that you’re prepared. It always helps to know what comes next in your day when trying to learn something knew. This often puts people at ease because they know that there will be no surprises and that they will not forgot anything. If you’re an employer, you should write out a plan for your agency so that they know exactly what you expect. An employee of the agency, on the other hand, might want to create a plan for the day for his/her own personal work (clients, projects, meetings, etc.).

2. Connect Via Social Media

One of the biggest changes that will occur is communication. Working in an agency generally means that you will not be steps away from those “in charge” of the project. In other words, you will not be sitting next to your clients or next to those who are working for you. This makes communication extremely important, so it’s best to connect on all levels. If something were to happen through email and you need to come into contact quickly, social media will be critical. It always puts both parties at ease when they know they can get ahold of that person when necessary.

3. Know Who Is In Charge

Working in an agency requires a lot of decision making. Because the client is not there to hold your hand like they would be if you were working in-house, it’s important to be independent and be able to make decisions. It also helps to know who is in charge in your agency should you have a question. From an employer’s perspective, it is important to realize that the agency will have a lot of clients. They will give you their full attention, but the trust needs to be there. It’s a big transition.

Most find that working for or with an agency is very different than in-house and end up switching back to the way they feel comfortable. However, it takes time to get used to this type of change, and going through some of the suggestions discussed above should help make the transition smooth.

Have you ever had to go from in-house to agency work? What helped you make the change quickly and efficiently? Let us know in the comments!

Guest Blogger: Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger at Highervisibility, nationally recognized as one of the top seo firms in the country. Connect with HigherVisibility on Twitter to learn more!



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How NOT to redesign a website

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Sorry, but I just have to share this with you.  I won’t bother with the long-winded email exchange between myself, the prospect and Cindy (our designer) – I think my final email message sums it up fairly well (and hopefully fairly diplomatically): 

I understand that you have opted to have your website redesigned for $150 in India.  There are a lot of very talented technicians in India who work for very little.  I am constantly being approached by Indian web folks offering to outsource my web design, SEO, and other items.

I understand that this time you made your decision on the basis of expenditures.  If at some time you decide to choose a website designer based on the income you want it to generate for you, I hope you will look us up.

Best of luck.

Website design is not just about art. It’s about the elements on the page and how they are used to engage visitors, offer them choices, answer their questions and move them through the sales process (or the sign-up process, or the lead generation process, or whatever the goals of the website). This gentleman will most likely waste $150 and a lot of time, probably suffering a fair amount of frustration wondering what went wrong.

Cindy and I are working on preparing a couple pages on website re-design case studies, demonstrating how we have altered the various elements on the home page to help increase conversions.


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Ethical SEO and the non-client testimonial

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Sigh.  This SEO client won’t make me any money.

But first, a story.  Our fancy vacuum cleaner was slowly seeming to get weaker and weaker, until it really would just not suck anything up anymore.  This would have precipitated immediate action, except that we have a ShopVac, which at least can pick up most of the dust from out carpets. 

So “repair the vacuum cleaner” went onto our to-do list.  Which is a lovely place for something that doesn’t seem too urgent.  And as long as the ShopVac did 90% of the job, repairing the vacuum cleaner never really became as urgent as dozens of other things that would pop up.

If you have ever had items remain on the to-do list in perpetual procrastination, you will understand how over time they psychologically grow to epic proportions, to the extent where they become jobs that just seem too burdensome to want to tackle.

But one day, not all that long ago, I picked up the phone and called the vacuum repair guy.  OK, it actually took several days, because these guys don’t just hang out at the foot of my driveway, and over the years the Canadian rights to the vacuum brand had been sold to another company.

The repair guy asked me a couple questions and gave me a homework assignment.  Before charging me a whopping repair bill, he suggested that I check out the *****.  Which I did.  And the vacuum began sucking immediately.  I won’t tell you what ***** was, because I don’t want you to know just exactly how foolish I was and how little this epic repair challenge actually was, but suffice to say that I felt silly.  I called him back and thanked him for being so kind and so ethical.

Which brings me to the “testimonial” I received yesterday from a non-client.  The gentleman wanted some link-building for both SEO and targeted traffic.  After a bit of back-and-forth, it was clear that he had a few specific websites of the Fortune-500 variety in mind.  He also had good reason to believe he had a shot at getting those links, based on what he was offering related to their sector.  I had to tell him much what the vacuum repair guy ended up telling me:

It sounds like you are seeking somebody to pitch these very specific websites on the value of linking to yours.  Unless these are paid links, in which case money talks, you really are the best person to make that pitch.  While this is a superb idea, both for direct traffic and for some pretty strong SEO benefits, it is not something you need or should hire an SEO consultant for. 

The “testimonial” he provided was a short email back to me:

The advice you have just rendered indicates clearly you are the epitome of your firm’s motto “ethical seo services”. It is nice to know.

So those conversations made approximately $0.00 richer than I was before they began (plus interest!), proving that great non-customer service is just like my “refurbished” vacuum cleaner — it really sucks. But in a sector where so many fly-by-night charlatans look for ways to suck website owners into their own little vaccuums, I believe it pays to be honest in the long run (that’s the “plus interest” part).

Here is our ethical SEO consultant page.


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SEO Secret – how to get more value from your SEO consultant

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of our SEO clients is getting more than her money’s worth.  In fact, I should be charging her gobs more money than I am, but she is getting a whole lot extra work for free. 

How does she do it?  Am I a sucker?  Maybe I am, but there is a method to her madness, even if she does not know it.

You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.  A company might pay anywhere form $1000 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.  In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client.  This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.

My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite.  She eagerly seeks out information and I swear she passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.  It makes her project exciting and, yes, she gets more out of me than she is paying for.

You know that old adage “You get out of life what you put in”?  It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.  So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website?  Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?


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Google Blocks Automated Rank Checking

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Google has been threatening…er, promising to block rank-checking software such as WebPosition for years, and even mentions them by name in their webmaster guidelines.  It seems like Google has finally decided to honor its promise and block the software.

I was last able to check rankings on August 22.  Since then, nada.  A quick survey around the Web and it sounds like a lot of other people found their automated ranking checks were blocked on August 1, August 5 or August 7.

What does this mean for SEO?  Quite a lot…and amazingly little.

 It means that we cannot check dozens of keywords quickly and painlessly.  Manually checking 50 search phrases for, let’s say, a dozen clients, often going onto the second or third page of Google means…let’s see…1200 manual searches.  Suppose there are two dozen clients.  Suppose there are 100 search terms.  You can do the math and see how time consuming this would be.

However, let us for a moment suppose that we don’t do 1200 manual searches every month.  Suppose instead we do occasional searches to see where a client stands for a few major search phrases?  Or we check different searches on different months as we focus the campaign on different sub-niches?  What if we invest more effort in building rankings than in measuring them?

Yes, we do need to measure.  We need to know if we are moving forward.  We need to be able to show clients roughly the magnitude of the progress.  But perhaps we will be using a smaller basket of keywords and letting the long tail take care of itself.

For me, the main use of rank-checking across a broad range of search phrases was to determine which search phrases or family of search phrases need more focus as we ride the surf of algorithm changes, renewed competition and other happenings.

Of course, clients also require reporting…which we will no longer be able to do to the same level as we had been doing.  So the immediate effect is that over the next month or so, I need to budget a few hours to explain to clients why lists of ranking positions can no longer be the way to measure progress.


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SEO Results Are Not Predictable

Friday, April 4th, 2008

How long does it take to see results from SEO efforts?  This, roughly, is a question that almost every potential client asks.  Similar questions have been asked: 

  • How long does it take for grass to grow?
  • How far is “over there”?
  • How big is big?

As soon as you make an SEO-related improvement to a page, you have results…well, at least as soon as Google finds the change, indexes it and feeds it into the calculations that go into ordering web pages for the search term in question.  But moving form #1,893,027 to #1,783,446 at Google is not “results” in terms of what we usually think of.  In fact, moving to #31 is not even results if you check the top-30 rankings for your web page, although it is a sign that your SEO campaign is working and should continue to work if you keep plugging away.

A better question, would be how long it takes to get into the top 10, or the top 5 or the #1 spot for a particular search term.

Unfortunately, this is also hard to predict, especially as one gets closer to the top.  I try not to even provide an estimate past top-10, because it is hard to honestly do this.  There are just so many factors to consider, even if we assume the search engine algorithms, which we can only guess at, don’t change in the meantime:

  • How well optimized the top 10, 20 or 30 web pages already are.
  • How much effort the top 10,20 or 30 web page owners are putting in
  • How successful you will be at attracting links

There is also this little matter of how the search engines like to mess with our minds.  Like one client who has been for the past several days bouncing back and forth between position #2 and position #13, and at this moment is at #1 for its top search phrase.  I suspect it will settle around #8 to #10 in a few days, but who knows?

Predicting success is a tricky think in SEO as in any other sport.  We have a strong team, but at what point in the year do we know we will make the playoffs and how far will we get this season?  That is a question one can answer only with hindsight.


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A Degree in BS?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

We get requests for all sorts of writing, and every now and then somebody ignores the quote plastered on every page of our website about not doing their school papers for them and cheating them out of an education.  So on occasion we get to ignore a request like this:

I need someone to help me with a continueaction book report  on why should I celebrate thanksgiving , I have done part one  which was 12 pages part 2 need 38 pages  it is just that i have so much to do before I gradurate in may for my B.S. degree form bible college. 

 I think she might have taken the “B.S. degree” thing too literally!


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SEO tetsimonial – Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

When you get accolades from your clients, it’s worth sharing…and it’s not every day that an SEO company gets the kind of accolades that we have received this morning: 

Il y a aussi le fait que nous sommes, tout simplement, les premier sur Google, c’est tout un exploit qui mérite d’être félicité. Bravo à notre notre companie de référencement!. Il faut que vous sachiez que c’est d’une importance capitale”

If you don’t read French, trust me that these are mighty fine words to put spring in our step.  Or, you might try using one of those (ugh!) free translation websites.  The English would probably say something about how we roast warthogs in the bathtub, but you get what you pay for..


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This story is going to make “MILLIONS”

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I don’t know why, but I seem to like posting the crazy email demands I get.  For instance, this one lady wants a book written based on her true story, and asks “Dear David, I was wondering, do I have to come up with the cash up front? Or will the writer take a commission?”, followed by a long explanation of her story.

When I explain that “We typically ask for the payment to be broken into thirds, but we can break it down into smaller increments.  The only thing we are not flexible on is that any work the writer does has been paid for.” …she comes back with:“All I know is my story is going to make MILLIONS and IM wikking yo dhare it all, just to get my story out! Got it?”

Ready for my response? 

“With all respect, it sounds like you are more interested in hiring a gambler than a writer.  Best of luck.”


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