When Money Is No Object. Online Reputation Management On Steroids!
When having conversations with clients, I explain what we do and how we do it. Eventually the conversation turns to cost. Everyone at some point wants to know what it costs. That doesn’t mean they are trying to get me to commit to a specific price point, it means they want to know what it will cost me to do what I just explained.
In the last couple of years a big focus for me has been premium content. I define premium content by giving examples. Huffington Post, Inc., Entrepreneur and high quality industry specific sites are the best examples. These can be guest posts, bylines or just a syndicated article, but they need to rank well and rank naturally.
“The total fee is going to be…”
A current client came to me with a couple negatives at first glance it looked like a smear campaign. The language of the three negatives all had similar phrasing and was posted on similar sites. While on the phone I analyzed the search results and noticed a few sites that I expected to be on the first page were not. Twitter was on page two, she didn’t have a LinkedIn account and Facebook was on page 3 showing someone with the same last name but a different first name.
I explained that we should be able to push Twitter onto the first page and create LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for her. Then she said, “What else?”
When someone is looking for a deeper understanding of what we will do, they’ve usually hired and fired someone to work on their reputation and that was the case here. The previous company over promised and under delivered on the results. I could see some web 2.0’s and social media accounts, but it looked like she had spent a couple hundred dollars and outsourced the work.
I began explaining how we have been focusing on premium content including the sites I mentioned. These premium sites are great because they rank naturally and can rank within hours in the Google News block and then within a week or two on page one or page two.
I said, “These sites are premium not just because of how great they are, but they carry a higher price tag for you and for me.” At that point she said, “I don’t care what it costs, I just want it done.”
I’ve seen a lack of concern over cost before, but when you mention a number, all the sudden people care about cost again! When I began giving her prices, she remained silent and at the end said, “How do I start?” Those happen to be my favorite 4 words in the English language!
Where do I start?
Getting started with premium content is very tricky. You have to decide which approach you want to take.
First, you can go directly to the source. This involves emailing, Tweeting, PPC ads and even a phone call sometimes. You need to get the attention of the writer and then convince them that your client would be a great match for them and they should take their time to write about your client just based on your word alone. As you can imagine, your failure rate is going to be very high and you’ll spend days working through this process. If you can find a willing writer, almost always you’ll need to pay them for the service.
The second option is to go through a broker, someone who knows someone, who has a brother, who once worked for a guy, who was related to…you get the idea. Someone might be able to broker this process for you, but they’re getting paid out of your pocket and that drives up your cost. On top of the increase in cost, you have a decrease in control.
Right now I’m in the midst of publishing an article on the Huffington Post with a guy I’ve never worked with. My team wrote the article, the client approved it and I sent it off. A week later he sent me a live link to the article and it looked great, with one problem. I Googled the title as I always do just to make sure I could see it indexed, nothing. I Googled the client name to see if it was there, nothing. I checked the News tab, nothing.
I did find something in the source code:
<meta content=”noindex, nofollow” name=”robots”>
The Huffington Post editors put a noindex and nofollow attribute onto the article! Needless to say this wasn’t part of the deal and my client would not be happy to have spent money and essentially received nothing. This is part of the problem with going through a broker. The last 3 articles this writer had published were all noindex/nofollow. I would have known that if I were going direct. I would have been able to see his profile, see the recent posts and check before we published.
Where can I find a broker?
I can’t be much help here. I’ve been doing SEO and ORM for many years and have a couple people per week send me lists of sites where they can get posts. Many of these are extremely low quality, but every once in a while you find something worthwhile. If I were just starting out, I would check a few reputable forums. (Note from Tommy – We off them here on SerpLogic 😉 )
What does Premium Content Cost?
Prices can range for premium content and they also vary depend on market factors. When there are not many authors (such as with Entrepreneur right now) the prices increase. Huffington Post has so many authors it’s easier to find content and that drives the prices down. Over the last few years I have paid as little as $350 for Huffington Post and as much as $1800 (my actual costs).
Entrepreneur, Inc., and other premium sites are usually a little more than that. The most I’ve paid for a premium article was about 2 years ago and I paid $2800 for a specific writer that my client was targeting.
When it comes to premium content, I can easily spend $5000 per month (every month) in costs. There is a great availability for high ranking content if you know where to look.
Other Types of Premium Content
Google has an amazing ability to categorize people, businesses and search terms. I’ve found that certain people and businesses, when categorized are more likely to have certain sites show up for them in the search results. As you can imagine, these are industry specific sites.
For example, I had a client who founded a volunteer organization in Guatemala. For his search results we found that specific sites ranked better than expected. Sites that were specific to volunteer opportunities and volunteering in general ranked well for him and his business name. Google knew who he was and categorized him as such. As a result, the sites that were also categorized similarly ranked better.
With that in mind, we always look for industry sites that we’ll be able to place content on. I have a client in the medical research industry who does a lot of writing. We were able to secure a guest post for her on a medical research website and we also have been able to get her a regular column on a different medical research site that she will publish on a monthly basis!
Post Publication Work
After publication of premium content I usually like to wait about two weeks and see where the article lands naturally. If it’s not where I want it to be we’ll start with a couple rounds of social media promotion as well as link building. We reference the article in contextually relevant blog posts, Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest Pins and other things to make it look like it’s naturally ebbing and flowing in interest.
When considering where a client budget should go I always like to consider the short term and the long term. Low quality links aren’t likely to be around in 6 months therefore if you’re going to buy them, you should have a plan for the duration of a campaign and the life of a client. Premium content can be expected to live almost indefinitely!