Why We Don't Do SEO For You

Image credit: Nautical on flickr

Not all the phone calls I get are as enjoyable as listening to new ideas. As you know, we get tons of calls from places like India to outsource of web development to them - we don't do it. But I also get a nice amount of calls from people looking for us to do SEO services for them.

The thing is, we really don't offer typical SEO services. If we build your site, from the ground up - we will make sure the site is incredibly search engine friendly. But we do not offer all the other SEO services, such as link building, those really important (being sarcastic) ranking reports, content development and so on. What we do is build out a very search engine friendly and custom CMS that grows with your business. But we will not write your content or get you those links that are so important in convincing Google (and those other search engines) that your site should rank number one for [enter keyword phrase here].

But I get a nice amount of calls about SEO services and I turn 99.999% of them away to SEO vendors I trust.

Why don't we offer SEO services? I have been asked this question time and time again. It is not like I don't know a thing or two about the topic. Hint: Read my bio. So why don't we offer typical SEO services? A few reasons...


  • Bias: I am fairly well-known in the SEO space for my writing on the topic. I do sometimes get information from search engines which can result in a conflict of interest between writing and performing SEO services. Not offering typical SEO services removes that bias and let's me have fun writing, without worrying about search engine representatives withholding information from me on that basis.
  • Messy: Fixing an old site to make it search engine friendly is just messy. It is kind of like finding out you have mold in your house and as you look into the issues, the issues becomes bigger and bigger and ends up costing you almost as much as building a new web site. Digging around in old code can get messy, fixing the code can be incredibly time consuming and then explaining all that to a customer can be even worse. We want no part of it. Either you bulldoze your house and let us start from scratch or you find someone willing to fix the mess.
  • Control: With programming, we can make almost anything happen. A client asks us to do something, we say sure. We get it done, show it to them, they pay us - we are all happy. With SEO, it is hard to charge someone when you do not control the exact outcome. Sure, I can try my best to get a number 2 ranking for a specific keyword, but who is to stop Google for changing something or a competitor doing something to hurt my success? I do not have full control and I have a hard time charging for something when I do not control the outcome. I am not saying it is unethical to charge for things like this, I just personally have a hard time doing so.


Those are just some of the reasons we do not offer standard SEO services. On occasion, I will consult and give advice at a really hefty hourly rate. If the client wants to implement that advice, that is up to them.

In summary, our sites are incredibly search engine friendly, using 'best practices' (yes, I said it) to build out the site's features. If you are not willing to start over, then we are not willing to clean up your mess. For other "SEO" services, such as link building and content development - we don't do that because of the potential bias.

Bookmark and Share    
blog comments powered by Disqus


posted by Scott Clark on: Oct 20, 2009 05:59pm

I hear where you're coming from. On the "can't control outcomes" - it's just important that one sets the metrics and expectations. I've learned this the hard way! I always start an engagement with an audit - a bit like a house inspection, and then, if all goes well a maximum 3 month SEM arrangement. After that we'll all know each other well enough to plan the future. At these two important stages, the client has the ability to move forward or not - knowing about the "mold." While a specific phrase may ebb and flow, the overall traffic to a site, the number of leads and engagement are definitely easy for me to charge for. Barry - you may not want to post a link.. don't feel pressured to, but I wrote a pretty long post about these issues earlier I'd like tho share .... http://www.buzzmaven.com/2009/05/sem-consultants-best-practices.html...

posted by Edward Jennings on: Jan 30, 2012 07:38am

I wanted to thanks for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it.I have you saved to check out new items you blog post.  

posted by Seo Optimization on: Dec 31, 2009 11:54am

an insightful article.... Thanks for the post.

posted by seo for website on: Mar 8, 2010 11:48am

I get a nice amount of calls about SEO services and I turn of them away to vendors I trust.

posted by home builders seo on: Mar 10, 2010 07:56am

Most of the internet marketing tools out there were created by SEOs because they had a need themselves. They made these tools public to generate a little...

posted by on: Mar 11, 2010 06:57am

Its mostly SEO focused, and i see the positive results of what we do on a daily basis. ... Sometimes happened that you don't have to do anything with SEO, ...

posted by home builders seo on: Mar 15, 2010 09:23am

Many people don't realize that they can do things like SEO themselves but, as you said, the basics of it aren't that hard at all. ok

posted by mold removal on: Mar 23, 2010 03:05am

If this happen then so much social networking site not build. Specially Twitter go to water. remember this

posted by Andrew Shotland on: Oct 20, 2009 06:22pm

Sounds like a good strategy Barry. Of course there are a lot of sites out there that need help that your model can't accommodate and that's where the rest of us schmoes come in. Curious how you reconcile the Bias thing with doing SEO for sites that you build and control? What's the difference between using your knowledge on your stuff v. a client-controlled site?

posted by Andrew Shotland on: Oct 21, 2009 05:18am

Totally Barry. I admire your ability to draw a line and not cross it.

posted by web hosting reviews on: Jul 23, 2010 02:31pm

i think it is good when you focus on web development only and turn away seo on other companies.

posted by Mold testing service on: Oct 27, 2010 07:19am

Wow! really wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

posted by SEO Wanna Be on: Nov 4, 2009 03:10am

Hi your post is amazing, It's incredible, I learned a lot about SEO and Man, this thing's getting better and better as I learn more about internet marketing. Also as part of my ongoing mission to find the absolute best tools to make money, this is without a doubt at the top of my list. Everything happened so fast!

posted by on: Oct 20, 2009 05:57pm

So who exactly do you recommend for link building help? We get offers for SEO service every day but haven't found a link building partner I can trust.

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Oct 20, 2009 05:59pm

That I won't say here. I am sorry. Feel free to email me.

posted by Trophico on: Oct 20, 2009 06:00pm

Now I understand how you can write insightful things about SEO, and why I sometime suffer from providing these services to clients...

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Oct 20, 2009 06:20pm

Right, but an audit only tells you what is at the surface, the core visible issues. Once you start the 'mold' removal, you don't know what else you will find.

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Oct 20, 2009 06:23pm

The main difference there is that we just build the core of the site. So we build the site architecture with search engines in mind. We do not go beyond that. So it is just best practices stuff, not ongoing link building, etc. Does that make sense?

posted by mj7 on: Oct 20, 2009 06:40pm

I've got to admit I know what you mean - I try to do very little SEO work and only for companies that I really feel I can make a difference (or want to). If I do take on any SEO work it is always the case that if the old has mold -then new we will do - no arguments. You make me feel a little less hypocritical discussing SEO tactics with my clients but often not actually offering the service myself.

posted by Alex Fierro on: Oct 20, 2009 06:41pm

I am currently working with an SEO company hired by the website client. Luckily, it's all pretty simple changes and the RustyBrick Backend Administrative Software cuts dev time by 90%... but it's still irritating because my knowledge on SEO tells me that the tiny little changes they're making me do won't have any real impact on SEO... ...and I can only imagine how much the client is paying for this SEO "service".

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Oct 20, 2009 09:25pm

Content is key, so there is value there.

posted by on: Oct 21, 2009 10:40am

Good article Barry, I have several clients that I wish went to a company like yours or to us. We have found that a lot of websites are built with no SEO and are not SEO friendly such as Flash. They may look impressive but get lost in cyber space so we basically start from scratch and this can turn off a new client. We work as a team with SEO being a major part of the website development and offer our SEO/SEM services after the website is complete. Though we can work anywhere in the world we prefer to keep our services local to the Orlando area and have a face to face contact. We feel that we become a part of their company and can offer a variety of SEM services at a fair price. There are several Webmasters in our area that work the same way you do because it can be a longer than expected journey getting a site to page 1, but we happen to enjoy the challenge. One problem we sometimes ignore our website

posted by Facebook App Developer on: Apr 6, 2012 12:06pm

It is very surprising that you refuse people that easily, generally people really work hard to get some clients lol

posted by seo marketing on: Apr 7, 2012 09:39am

Your writen tips are  amazing, It's incredible, I learned a lot about SEO. This thing's getting better and better as I learn more about internet marketing.

posted by Daniela - SEO Pagerank Checker on: Apr 19, 2012 10:08am

I have found an interesting tool to check PR, backlinks, etc. http://www.seorank.eu.com

posted by SEM on: Jun 19, 2012 02:46pm

SEO is very effective in promoting your products and website in the internet. Although people nowadays don't use SEO anymore but I always suggest that SEO is really effective and it helps many sites in providing good traffic in Google.

posted by Ritu Singh on: Sep 14, 2011 08:17am

To increase the your search engine visibility and keyword ranking SEO is the best technique.This technique is very helpful in the internet marketing and to promote the products.Well thanks for sharing such nice article with us.