From the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

SEO Me the Money

Your article in the August 2004 issue entitled "In the Click" had some great information for business owners about search engine marketing. It has long been accepted that generating leads over the Web via search engine optimization (SEO) can be significantly less expensive than direct mail, ads in the Yellow Pages and e-mail advertising.

One point that your article didn't stress enough is something small-business owners need to look for when they decide to outsource an SEO campaign. Most companies providing SEO services charge a flat rate to get started, then a monthly maintenance fee. Typically, clients are told they can expect great results, but rarely are guarantees made.

This is logical, because search engines are dynamic. You can't be sure about pushing a site to No. 1, or even to the top 10, for that matter. Think about it: Just as you are trying to get your widget site to No. 1, there may be 5,000 other widget sites competing for that spot (many of whom are also using an SEO company, and some of whom may be using the same company you're using). There is only room for one site to be No. 1, and there will just as certainly be somebody at No. 5,000.

What this does, unfortunately, is put your money at risk. Every business owner who's done any advertising has probably bought an ad or two that was a total bust. That's what you're exposing yourself to if you pay fees to your SEO company.

With the technology available today, it doesn't have to be that way. You don't need to be exposed to potential losses.

Over the past few years, several SEO companies have moved to a model that allows them to be paid based directly on results (either by positions achieved, leads or sales generated, or whatever criteria you agree on).

I strongly advise any small-business owner considering search engine marketing to seek out one of these companies. It will help ensure that your SEO expenses are in line with your results. Over the years, too many business owners have spent tens of thousands of dollars on SEO services and had nothing to show for it.

Great job otherwise!
Sean Folkson
President
AffiliatePros.com
New York City

Tell It Like It Is

A few months ago, someone called me with a lot of questions. At first, I thought one of the elected officials or regulatory agencies I had written letters to was following up. No such luck. It was, however, someone interested in my story: your reporter.

Later, when someone told me the story would be in the July issue ("Down and Out"), I thought "I hope it captures what has happened to me: the financial rape at the caprice of one of the nation's largest banks, for cash and stockholder value." This letter is simply my hat nodding to the author. Kudos. Good job, and good writing.

Gary Ozenne Owner
Residential Fire Sprinklers
Hemet, California

Music to Our Ears

I'm a subscriber to Entrepreneur magazine and the owner of a music-booking business named Prince/SF Productions. We're a three-person company that has been breaking even and surviving since 1977. After reading the June issue of your magazine, I was inspired to completely change how music booking is approached.

On July 1, I launched www.inhousebooking.com, a company that charges performing artists on a per-call basis and guarantees focused and honest representation for the thousands of performers who are unable to secure a booking agent on their own. I partnered with a number of online resources to spread the word [www.sonicbids.com, www.craigslist.com, etc.], and the response has been overwhelming.

In three weeks, I've secured 36 clients, and I'm expecting the project to generate $200,000 in its first year. I have to hire help immediately. The company is really taking off and setting a new standard for the music-booking industry.

Just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration!

Bud Anderson
Owner
InHouseBooking.com
PrinceSF.com
San Carlos, California

Learning New Tricks

I've been in business for more than 30 years. I'm starting a second business that will bolster my first business and others, and work strictly off of networking contacts. So I read Romanus Wolter's February "Success Coach," which [I found on AOL], and I was very impressed with the points and hints you presented. As an old dog, I thank you for the suggestions.

Len McGarvey
Owner/General Manager
Yellow Duck Park
Canfield, Ohio


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