On a recent trip to my local auto mechanic, I started thinking about how SEM professionals are similar to auto mechanics in the ways they are viewed by customers. Some of those views are good, some are bad. Here are 5 connections that I made between SEM professionals and auto mechanics:
- 1. People need expertise in these areas because they can’t do it themselves. I don’t know the first thing about cars. That is why I take my car to be examined and worked on by a professional, rather than risk doing things myself and ruining my vehicle. Marketing a website should be viewed the same way. Can you adjust title tags, create optimized content, build backlinks, explore paid search, and social media options all on your own? Sure, but unless you are an experienced professional, you are not likely to get the kind of results you are looking for—and you may even end up hurting your website or search engine rankings in the process.
- 2. There is often a negative opinion due to poor past experiences. I’m sure just about everyone has been overcharged for a tune-up, or told they needed an expensive part for their vehicle when they really didn’t. Unscrupulous auto mechanics prey on people like me, who have no real car knowledge, and overcharge for routine services and try to sell things we don’t even need. Unfortunately, the world of search engine marketing is filled with bad apples as well. I have worked with numerous clients who have been burned by search marketing “experts” in the past—in some cases, multiple times. These are the clients I truly feel for because I know how it’s like to think that you are being taken for a ride by a vendor.
- 3. References are important. A lot of people I know found their mechanic through a family member, friend, co-worker, or other acquintance. When these personal referrals aren’t available, online review sites serve as the next best option for choosing where to take your car. Word of mouth also matters when it comes to selecting an SEO company. Reading testimonials and case studies, and even reaching out to current or past clients of a particular company to ask questions is something I always recommend. Know who you are working with before you work with them!
- 4. Cheapest isn’t always best. It’s the same old adage—“You get what you pay for.” When it comes to auto mechanics, skimping on the cost of parts of labor might save you a few bucks now—until your car breaks down again in two weeks because of shoddy work and cheap parts. In the industry of search engine marketing, the cost differences between companies can be vast. Rather than going with the cheapest option, shop around and find companies at a variety of price points—then call and ask them how they determine their pricing. There may be a good reason why a company is so cheap, or expensive.
- 5. Once you find a trustworthy partner, you are likely to stick around. For me, it was a great relief when I found an auto mechanic I could trust—not only to do good work, but also to not try and nickel and dime me because he knew more about cars than I did. Because of this, I will continue to take my car there for everything I need, whether it’s an oil change or a major repair. Good search engine marketing companies realize this, and will do all they can to deliver good results, but provide better service. If they recommend something that will cost you money, it should be because they truly feel it will help your overall web presence, sales, etc. Finding out a company’s client retention rate is a good way to know how they treat their clients.
For better or worse, I see many similarities in how auto mechanics and SEM professionals are viewed. For all of the SEM pros (and auto mechanics) reading this blog—treat your clients well, give them legitimate advice, and charge fair prices—the profession only stands to gain if more people out there trust us.