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SEO Outsourcing to India September 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : SEO , trackback

SEO Outsourcing to India – Challenges

Writing on any one of the three subject words would be a big challenge - SEO, Outsourcing, India,  so would it be to write on a combination of any two of these three words. I’ve been living all the three topics for several years, I decided to take up this challenge head-on and added “Challenges and Myths” as the qualifier and boundary definer for this post.

The inspiration for writing this post came from my participation in several conferences, trade shows and expos on the subject of SEO. Spending quality and quantity time in attending and networking at these events exposed me to the title of this post “SEO Outsourcing to India – Challenges and Myths”. Quite a few speakers referred to “SEO outsourcing” as akin  to “outsourcing your sales strategy”  and quite a few attendees made side comments on horrifying experiences of outsourcing SEO work to India.

 Challenges of Outsourcing SEO of your website to India:

  1. Context: Does the company and it’s employees understand your business climate, business conditions, business challenges and business realities. This interesting observation came up when over one of the “Meet and Greet” sessions one gentleman from a reputed Car Rental Company narrated his story of outsourcing SEO work to a company in Mumbai, India. He said, that he had to spend more time in explaining the SEO team and the “so called project manager” how the car rental business works in the US then they had asked for (in number of hours) to the do the SEO work for him. As his company,  like many of the other leading car hire companies, own multiple brands, he was shocked to receive a proposal from the same company to one of his other brands with all training converted promptly to business knowledge (violating the founder of the SEO company’s signed NDA). No wonder he sacked that company and saved his job and as per his own admission he bad mouths SEO outsourcing to India as much as he can and wherever he can. It goes without saying, that I enjoyed his story and made absolutely no effort to challenge him or stand for this SEO company or SEO outsourcing. Here are some of the views which I shared with him, without offending him, I tried to convey to him that maybe these steps could have saved him the bother: A. Weigh total costs vis-a-vis direct costs while doing the outsourcing of SEO work. Unlike call center and BPO tasks SEO tasks may not be of the scale to be outsourced. B. Createan elaborate RFQ document, and go beyond technical analysis of the SEOcompanies capabilities. Challenge them to demonstrate their understanding of your business and on user expectations. Challenge them to explain their specialization and business streams. C. Ask for complete templates, style-sheets, and all documents which would be used on your behalf. Take time and approve each one of them individually.
  2. Training & Changing Algorithms: Who knows the job: the salesman, the founder, the project manager, the project leader or the team members. If everyone in the SEO company knows their job, check if they are organically coming on search terms or they have bought adwords to work for them. Knowing the job and down the line training is a key challenge in any SEO outsourcing company.  One of the keynote speakers made an observation: She asked the audience to check on their “Version of SEO”, she said, she strives to keep hers the same as Google’s last version. She said most of the SEO farms find it very difficult to keep pace with the changing algorithms and the shifting sands. My two cents on this challenge: A. Check what you need, an SEO Farm, a Link Kingdom or a good individual SEO.  B. Ask for video conferencing with actual doers and make sure once approved they work only on your project.  Schedule weekly review meetings at transactional level to ensure you are not being shortchanged, and also explore another project if they have more competent team members (they can schedule video conferencing with). C. Volunteer to attend an internal training session, tell them to put it on WebEx, or some such real time conferencing software.
  3. Measuring the Success: How do you go about measuring what is happening due to the SEO outsourcing companies actions and what is organically happening to your website anyway. Over, yet another lunch an SEO Expert who represented an SEO company based in India narrated this story: An office furniture company had outsourced this contract to a Pune based SEO firm, this firm promised them Moon and delivered it in the first month, yes the first month. The sites Page Rank went up from 4 to 5 and the traffic to the website increased by 30%, but the conversions didn’t move úp at-all, the site improved its Alexa rank and all but it is the business which this company wanted. Presumably what happened was that this SEO company had over hundred websites which they were using for one of their new clients competitors (they had just lost that account). These hundred sites had some traffic and traction in the markets where this furniture company or the previous one had no business. So the page rank went up, the traffic went up but the business didn’t. After three months they realized that they had paid sizable amount, which even directly didn’t get covered by the increase in the business. They had to take a tough call as they knew that the link farm links would go away, maybe page rank would again be impacted, traffic would fall and so would Alexa ranking. They decided to let the contract go and save the money over the “not so tangibles” they were getting. Measurement holds the key, if only the contract would have built in various measurement criteria of SEO performance this loss of money wouldn’t have happened. Some of the tangibles which can be demanded: A. Country/ State/ DMA based traffic growth. B. Define your competitors, and ask for a competitive growth commitment. How would you make me better than my competitor? – I am here, I want to go here approach.  C. Define your key phrases and link it to the organic traffic percentage of your website. For instance this office furniture company could have defined that their 4% traffic comes from the phrase “Office Chairs”, they would like this percentage to go up with increasing traffic to 5% over three months. So when traffic grows in your choice of DMA, in this case, New York, Chicago, San Francisco + Oakland + San Jose etc plus you move up on your competitors matrix and you get more leads for “Office Chairs” you are set. No matter. So measure what you want against what you give.

You may share your challenges and put up a set of questions. I would reply back.

I would also add more challenges to this write-up.

Comments»

1. Naveen Kapur - October 25, 2008

Hi,

Very well said. I agree. So the point remains, do people in these so called SEO companies know ANALYTICS. Not just looking at graphs, but actually focusing on the the hidden variables.

Since understanding a online business is more of a analytical job than just rushing to get the job done, before one picks any project.

What the right way can be is to give a clear picture to the client about the current scenario of his website and discuss the goals achievable and results more focused.

There is plenty to SEO, no one is an expert. But a analytical approach is the only way to score.

Regards

2. simarprit - January 19, 2009

I am sure we are going to see SEO Challenges increase manyfold with Google’s very different approach to search and with Live giving exciting results and capturing market share.