14 Feb 2006

SEO ranking estimates and timeframes – common questions, uncommon answers.

Just copying a lead (edited) here for your viewing. Nothing too special, just how I sometimes respond. Sometime I respond "very professional", and sometime I’m more slack depending on my mood.  I was also suprised that he asked all his questions without divulging his URL. I think it might be one of those Magic SEO Bullet people…maybe.

Hi Jim,
I contacted XXX XXX regarding his SEO services and he referred me to you.
My web site is in the business of allowing people to create xxx xxxx, xxxxx,xxxxx, etc. online.  It is similar in concept to xxxxx.com…
The goal is to get on page 1 of search results with those guys for ‘xxxx xxxx’, ‘create xxxx xxxx…’ etc., and as far up the page as possible.
While I understand that there are no guarantees, what type of results do you estimate you could achieve and at roughly what price?
Would you be able to do the entire thing without resorting to ‘black hat’ techniques so that my business would not be involved in anything offensive to Google or other search engines that could put the site in jeopardy?
How long do you estimate such a campaign would take to achieve results?
Thanks much and I look forward to hearing from you,

My Response:

FYI, you’re questions are great, but know that I’d never be able to answer them with any certainty.
I need to start by looking at your site (how old is it, how many links do you have currently linking to your site, what link neighborhood is your site located in, how linkable is your content (is it a resource), what your competitors have in comparison). Then I’d be guessing at timeframe to get you from where you’re currently at to where the top people for some phrases are currently at.

Are you looking long term? I hope so. Rankings is something you work towards, and keep striving a perfecting and working on (esp in getting backlinks).
Start by giving my your url.
If you want to see the first thing I’m going to look at, use this tool:
compare results….do you think you have a shot? If so, contact me back.
I’m Feeling Lucky,
Jim Boykin
CEO, We Build Pages


  1. Christoph the Marketingfan February 14, 2006 at 6:52 PM

    I like that reply… pretty straightforward without getting to technical… let me know how it continued…

  2. Chris Boggs February 15, 2006 at 11:26 AM

    Hey Jim nice post. (what ever happened to the VP cat post anyway?:p)

    I like your response. As Christoph says above, very clear and not too muddled. I liked the way that you get them to run the site through your comparison tool and decide if they think they can do it. This is very smart in two ways: if they think they can easily get the rankings you may be able to describe why that isn’t the case; and if they think it will be too hard, then you may be able to convince them it can be done with the right budget. Either way it is more likely to get a further response, if they take the time to go through the test.

    When I do a reply, I often use a simple formula of three things I touch on, taking just a few minutes, but offering them an idea of where their site stands in terms of 1.Content, 2. Linking, and 3. an Alexa snapshot of traffic. If it does seem like a more “desirable lead,” I may offer comparisons with the current top site for a particular term at Google, as you suggest.

    The goal with these responses is to begin to establish the trust of the prospect, and lying or making exagerated statements about SEO in general or the specific industry they are in will just lead to disappointment and resentment down the road. Once again, good post!


  3. randfish February 15, 2006 at 1:12 PM

    I’m totally gonna steal this idea for a post – hope you don’t mind! 😀

  4. IrishWonder February 16, 2006 at 1:52 PM

    Great post Jim, and I loved the idea about telling them to use the tool. I guess it’s a must now for every self respecting SEO to have a tool or two like that on their site.

    Rand – so steal it already or I will steal it first! 😉

  5. Radovan Dzurcanin February 17, 2006 at 10:10 PM

    Great response… I am not seo professional but as far as I know many people are asking for guarantees… SEO company that gives any guarantees is fake…

  6. u8v8 February 25, 2006 at 11:47 PM

    Great post, I loved the idea, I will tell my friend come here to reading your great blog

Comments closed

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.