Featured Internet Marketing

I Am Not A Carpetbagger


I had a brief Tweeted conversation with Lisa Barone this morning about the state of the SEO industry.

If you’re in marketing and aren’t following her, you need to.

Lisa feels a lot of folks get ripped off by carpetbagger-like ‘professionals’ who offer Top Rankings In Days For Just $99.95.

I agree. I’m on your side in this, all you clients out there. Nuthin’ but love.

And now, I’m going to get in your face. All ranty-like.

I am sick – sick I tell you – of smart business people coming to me and saying their site is an SEO nightmare because “they trusted the last guy”. I am sick of hearing that they won’t hire another practitioner without 25 references and a complete SEO training course.

I’m sick of it all because these smart people have no excuse. The carpetbaggers of old went into battle against an unarmed opponent: Half-starved, semi-literate people whose homes had been devastated by the US Civil War.

Everyone else: You are not unarmed. You are smart. You are sharp cookies. I’ve seen it myself. You’ve built businesses, negotiated contracts, refined your pitch and generally kicked ass.

If you hired an attorney and they promised you they could win a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a major corporation in just weeks, you’d be suspicious. But you didn’t go to law school. Somehow, you just know.

So don’t come to me now, shaking your head sadly. Own up. You got pwned. It happens to the best of us. Buy me a beer and ask about crappy accountants I hired in the 90s. That doesn’t mean you’re dumb, or a bad business person. It. Just. Happens. Sometimes.

But own up! SEO is now a priority. Internet marketing is now a functioning part of your business strategy. So apply some of that brain power. Assign some mental resources. Start being a more intelligent consumer of all forms of internet marketing. Think, Man/Woman!:

  1. If something seems too good to be true – do you really think someone can get you a top ranking on Google for a real, traffic-generating phrase for $200? In 2 weeks? – then it is.
  2. If your gut tells you someone’s a huckster, leave. Don’t worry about the truth of it. In the end, you’d be uncomfortable working with them anyway. Just move on.
  3. If someone seems really smart, trustworthy and capable, check their references.
  4. Don’t trust references as an indication of business success. Trust them as evidence of someone’s character. If the references make you squirm, what does that say about the referencee?

We’ll all be the better for it.

We now return you to scheduled programming…

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. I had the same response from someone this morning, all was going well until she spoke to her brother in law who said not to trust us “SEO’s”.
    Only advice I gave her was look at my portfolio and contact 8 clients of mine for references.
    I said I work on trust – both ways, if she felt she could not trust me then I couldn’t work with her (she replied she could but I would have to reduce my prices, yeeeeeesssss, right….)

  2. Your four points are outstanding. They apply to hiring anyone to do any Web-related work. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with that came to us after paying another vendor a lot of money to do something (Web site development, SEO, etc.) and ended up not getting much in return. It all comes down to the client understanding what they are paying for.
    Keep up the good work!

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