There are a number of things that have led me to this post. I first started thinking about it following Judith’s post on SEO Moonlighting, then I had an experience with my pilates instructor and her website, that has my blood boiling still a week later, and finally Judith turned the SEO accreditation strategy session into a blog post which cemented my ideas and suddenly this post came together. I had planned for this to be the third in the SEO chicks 101 series, but this had to be written (in the way that blog posts often do) so I’m afraid you will have to wait until Thursday if you want to learn more about Keyword strategies.
For now let me tell you about my pilates instructor.
For quite some time now I have been moonlighting. Interestingly when I first read Judith’s post on the subject I disagreed, on the basis that many of us have lives outside of SEO and that there are only a limited number of hours in the day. Then after a lot of thought I realised that I managed to combine my moonlighting with other interests by doing SEO for very small business, on a barter basis. In the last couple of years I have worked with Yarn vendors, rat hammock makers, my optician, and now, my pilates instructor. I get free or discounted products and services, they get very cheap, quality SEO. It’s a win win situation. Most of these people would never be able to afford a good SEO, but because I barter they spend £100-£200 and I get products worth £200-£300. Not only that but I get to work on sites where the owner never argues, or tells me that their branding team won’t let me do something essential.
So when Abbie told me that she was leaving the health centre that she had been doing classes at and branching out on her own, I let her know that if she wanted help marketing her site, to give me a call. I also gave her a few hints, like making sure that she was able to edit the site and that there was a CMS in place to let her make the changes she needed to.
Lo and behold last week she called to let me know her new pilates site was liv, I had a look and wrote out some recommendations for the site. We then arranged for me to go round to show her how she could implement them. This was when it all went horribly wrong. The list of things that her web developer had screwed her on was huge, but some of the biggies were;
- No CMS
- Site was built in ASPX (just to make it doubly difficult for a novice to edit)
- All images are in flash
- Email wasn’t working, and after 2 weeks no one had fixed it, or simply suggested they change the address on the site
- And the one that really takes the biscuit, he had registered all of the domains in his own name
Not to mention the sexual harassment from someone who just couldn’t accept that he wasn’t getting a date!
Now, in some ways these aren’t the worst things a developer can do, but for someone who has never worked on line before, they are deal breakers. Abbie had been planning to get business cards printed out the following day, and had she not spoken to me would have built her business around a brand she did not own.
I’m working with Abbie to resolve many of these issues, and look at what we can do with the site on an ongoing basis to help make it manageable for her. She doesn’t need monthly ongoing SEO, she needs educating on the little things that she can do to make her site visible, against relatively few competitors.
So what does this have to do with regulation? When Judith was first venting about this on twitter, I pointed out that it wasn’t the medium sized companies who should know better that I got pissed off about, it was the really small, one man bands, without the resources to find out this information. Abbie proved to be the perfect example of this. So I urge everyone, if in any area of your life outside of work, you deal with small businesses or niche vendors, go out of your way to spend an hour or two to educate them, barter for your time if you want, or jut do it for free. Work with your local small business groups to provide some training, even if they’re not your target businesses. Not because it will bring you business in the future (though it might) but because the only way to beat the charlatans in this industry is to educate the people who are most likely to fall victim to them.
P.S. I haven’t named the web developer in question in this post because that wasn’t the point of the post. Abbie and I are giving him time to correct some of his errors before we look at way to take further action.