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SEO Experiment – Update

ZACB recently asked us for an update to our SEO Experiment, and as we have some interesting news with regards to how it is going, we thought that it was time for an update.

Site 1 – “The $50 warrior forum contractor”

Well, before everyone says “I told you so”, we should mention that this contractor had been successful for us in the past, but due to Google’s massive updates over the last 12 months, we were concerned about continuing to use them, despite their claims that they had changed their methods. Suffice to say, the site that we gave them (and some other sites that they had been working on) has been penalised. They claim that this is not the case, but we started another site in the same niche, and are already ranking in the top 50 for all of the primary keywords using our own method, while the site they are “working” on is not in the top 600 results for any keyword at all.

FAIL

Site 2 – “The $250 Pay For Performance Elance Contractor”

This contractor has been quite good so far. We haven’t paid them a cent yet, but they have consistently provided excellent weekly reports with all of the links they’ve generated for the site, which is really important, as this means we can get them removed in future should we be penalised for any of them. More importantly though, the site is ranking in the top 50 for its primary keyword, and is one page 3 for three other secondary keywords. This contractor is on a pay for performance basis, so they won’t get their $250 until the site reaches page one for its primary keyword. So far we’re very happy with this contractor.

Success – so far…

Site 3 – “The $100 per month Odesk Contractor”

After two months of getting some pretty average reports and no movement from the site, we have ended this contract. We’re not a big fan of pay-by-the-month SEO, where the contractor benefits from taking longer to rank the site, and we really couldn’t recommend this method.

FAIL

Site 4 – “The $400 Pay For Performance Elance Contractor”

These guys have been doing okay as well. They managed to get the site to the top 50 for its primary keyword, but it has since slipped back to around the position 60-70 mark. The jury is still out on these guys, but they still hold some promise.

Moderate Success – so far…

Conclusion So Far

Clearly the pay for performance model seems to be the way to go for outsourcing SEO, but it’s pretty difficult to find a contractor who will do it. We personally have been taking back control of our link building lately, and have so far been getting better results than any of the above contractors, but it’s still early days yet.

Given the low competition nature of the niches that the contractors were given, we find the results to be a little lacklustre in terms of how long it’s taking them to rank the sites, but we definitely prefer contractors who take their time over those who rush the link building process, as to do so would be inviting Google’s wrath.

So what can you take from this?

  • Outsourcing SEO can be done on the cheap
  • Outsourcing your SEO is risky
  • Pay for performance, not by the month
  • Negotiate your terms
  • Don’t rush your link building plan

In full:

Firstly, outsourcing your SEO fairly cheaply is still very possible, but it is a minefield. Watching a site get penalised is no fun, although you can still re-enter that niche successfully so long as no additional competition has entered the market.

Secondly, if an SEO contractor isn’t willing to work on a pay for performance model, don’t bother with them, as there are still those out there who will, and can do a good job. Make sure you “tighten the reins” though, as even our Site 4 contractor wanted payment for getting the site to the top 100, even though this is pretty easy and pretty useless. We negotiated them down to a small initial payment upon reaching the top 50, but clearly the Site 2 contractor’s terms were the best.

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