The Salesman Meets His Match: The Geek

As both an in-house and contract web developer, I get to see aspects of the development community that many don’t. I work with an office full of non-techie type sales people who know nothing about web development; whereas one who works completely on a contract basis, or in a development firm would have no experience in such an environment. I also know what it’s like to be a solo act, dealing with clients. I also, very often work closely with a partner, and am involved in a community development setting. Today, my story is about wearing the in-house developer hat.

The other day, I was sitting at my desk in my office when my office line rang. Now, for me, having the office line ring is a rare occurrence. I don’t give that number out to anyone, and rarely use it myself. So almost surprised, I answered. I got the usual confirmation of my identity, and after the 5 question spread I found out that it was a sales representative for an SEO company. Ok… pause… this is the part in a movie when the frame stops and there is an internal monologue, what comes to mind for me is a personal favorite… Snatch. The dialogue of course is, that this guy on the phone thinks he’s cold calling a run of the mill – in house – webmaster / IT support / geek. What he doesn’t know, is that I too am a search marketing professional… Un-pause. He proceeds to ask me if I am familiar with the practice of SEO, yes. Do I know what terms I am currently ranking for, yes. What terms am I not ranking for that I would like to be, none. Ok, now can I ask you a few questions? Wait, I’ll need to be transferred to a ‘technical expert’. Ok, so I listen to some hold music, that is half pleasing but not enough so as to remember what the song was. Alright, now we’re back online. So he understands that I have some questions regarding this companies SEO practices. So I proceed to ask him how his said company approaches strategic link building. To which I am given an offensive reply, ‘well we do some research to see what is relevant to your site, and then get links that will help your rankings’. OH REALLY!?! I might as well just read wikipedia! So, in a calm manner, I press him to explain how. But I am diverted, and the questions come back my way. I am obliged to comply. Am I ranking for keywords that are relevant to my company, yes. (He is obviously on my site) Do I rank for the term ‘electric power equipment’, yes. So if one were to search in google for that term, I would be found on the first page, yes, in fact on the first page, above the fold. His reply was “hm”. Well how did I do that? I came back with, so you still haven’t answered any of the questions I asked you. Ok. What questions do I have? How do you and your company attack strategic link building? Well, they of course do some research to determine relevant keywo… I know, but how do you actually obtain links. Well it’s a long process involving a lot of research..blah blah.. Right, I know, I understand link building. In fact, I’ve done link building myself! But how do they do it? Do they have a huge list of link farms that they pay to get on? Oh no, I am assured, we do not do link farming. But we guarantee 40+ links a month.. 40+ links a month! I literally said: “No thanks” cause I’m afraid that if I let this guy touch my site, he will in fact harm me. Now, 40+ links a month is no big deal, if you invented the iPhone, but believe me, the electric power equipment business pales in comparison for excitement next to the iPhone. That is of course, we’re assuming that there is no link farming involved. So I again ask how they approach link building, when he finally tells me that they first search their database of over 500 clients. Interested, I asked him if he had 500 clients in the electric power equipment business. He disappointed me by replying with a no. So I ask him yet again, then how is it exactly that he does link building. He trys to give me the 500 client jargon again, when I call him out on it, cause if his clients are interior designers and auto mechanics, links aren’t going to help me very much, are they? Well, of course they have other methods as well.. Oh yeah? Like what! Please explain! Do you pay for links? Well, they might, they don’t say that it is common, but they might buy some links, they certainly won’t say that they don’t. Well great. Still not helping me ey? Starting to grow frustrated with this ‘technical expert’ I ask him to show me an example of a client that they have, where they successfully built links to increase search engine rankings. Well, don’tcha know, they have logos of companies on the front page of their website! Wow, that’s impressive, so all I’ve learned so far is that they know how to rip an image that is on the web, and repost it elsewhere. Which, in not so few words, I explained to him. And again pressed him to give me an example, and show me what was done. But, unfortunately he can’t divulge such information to me. The same way, you can’t actually drive a car until you have put down a down payment. Wait, that’s not right.. Ok, fine, you won’t give me an example of your work; then PLEASE explain to me, what it is that YOU think that you do. And this time, please spare me the ‘research’ talk. Ok, now I’m asked if it would be ok to be put on hold. Yes Please! I would love for you to go talk to someone who actually knows something! Now, he comes back on the line, and reaffirms that he won’t give me any examples of his work. But rather he begins to harp on google page rank.. And they simply get links from people with a higher page rank than me. Oh yeah? Who? Where? HOW? I am then given an explanation of what page rank is.. I didn’t think I sounded confused as to what pr was, I actually even told him what my current page rank is.. But that’s ok, I’m beginning to grow accustomed to this wiggle-out-of-questions response. After another 10 minutes of trying to tell me that its all about page rank (roll my eyes) I decide that I’m gonna just nail him down. Right now, cut the bs. I tell him, that if he didn’t already catch on, that I am an SEO myself. And I ask him if he can make me rank on the 1st page of Google for the term ‘SEO’. He replies: *drumroll* “Yes, it is only a matter of time” I then laughed out loud, on purpose, on the phone. Ok, so then, if it’s only a matter of time, then why doesn’t he rank for that term? Well, he tells me, he doesn’t WANT to rank for that term. He doesn’t want to have a lot of business. He continues to blurt out this 2 minute recital on why he doesn’t want a lot of business, cause then it’s not personal.. blah blah. BUT (there’s always a but), if I would just go to yahoo, and search for his obscure term, I will see that he is #1 for that. I then said, well, how about I search for it on google… I do… he’s not on the first three pages.. I ask him about that, and (get this) he tells me: “We don’t optimize for Google” HAHAHAHAHAHA, what!?! He trys to give me his 2 minute deal again, but I won’t have it. I tell him that he’s stupid to even say such a thing. Especially when he tried to preach page rank to me, and knows that I do SEO!

So, case closed. I ended up talking to this guy for about 45 minutes. I had quite an amusing time, and if you’re as much as a geek as I am, you probably have too just reading this. I ended up telling him that I had to get off the phone, and that he could email me some info if he had it. The stuff I got in his email was absolute crap, it didn’t even look pretty. He called the next morning for a follow up, I tried to give him a chance to answer any ONE of my questions.. But he seemed far too incompetent to do such a thing. Oh well, sometimes you meet people that end up being great contacts. But then again, sometimes you don’t! -kenny

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