Nearly everybody I know has seen the movie Office Space (and often multiple times). People of my generation especially resonate with it because it accurately portrays many common flaws of the larger firms we’ve had to turn to in order to garner a steady paycheck, affordable insurance, and the experience nearly every entry-level position seems to demand in this economy.
I graduated college into the worst recession of my lifetime, and had to struggle for months to get a position that underpaid to have me take calls on behalf of Medco. During my time with APAC, they were bought out by Chase, and a difficult, often heartbreaking, job became intolerable (there are only so many times you can deny someone insurance coverage for their medication before it gets to you). Recession or not, I had to find a new gig.
After that, I moved on to Yellowbook, which eventually became hibu. The names of the metrics and figures for daily targets had changed, but the same suffocating office politics, inane restrictions, and outright lack of accountability I had found in my first position persisted. After they laid off our whole writing and QA department to outsource to India, I found myself at GoDaddy.
GoDaddy started out as a breath of fresh air. Despite an extremely mediocre training program, I found myself in a position where I was able to make independent decisions and do everything in my power to help someone resolve an issue they were running into. There were definite hurdles and a steep learning curve for more advanced platforms but I like to learn, so I was in my element.
Then they started becoming publicly traded. And that’s when the hammer dropped.
Publicly traded companies tend to overvalue profit at the expense of all else.
Anytime banks become involved in your ownership, money ALWAYS becomes the primary focus. Not the customer, not ethics, and not you. Restrictions on what we could do for customers started trickling in, followed by stricter rules on how to efficiently handle calls and higher sales metrics (which we were told would NEVER decrease, even during slow months).
Changes that did not fall within these criteria moved at a glacial pace from then on, mirroring the last two environments I had worked in. By this point, I had the groundwork prepared for Midwest Websites, and set off on my own to offer people an option for the web design options and SEO service they deserved online. I was sick of serving the bottom line over helping customers.
I don’t regret any of the time I spent with any of these companies, as I learned quite a lot from each of them. I also found that most large companies run themselves the same way, despite it damaging their reputations and creating incredible inefficiencies and deficiencies in some areas of their production.
So what do all of these experiences and the visual representation Office Space brings to mind have to do with today’s article? Quite a bit, as you’re about to find out. Here are a few of the other lessons I picked up about trusting bigger companies’ SEO service, though these points can apply to nearly anything they offer.
Don’t take what you’re told at face value without a bit of research.
We’ve spoken about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at length to this point, including ways you can improve it through content and a few other fairly easy means. Painting in broad strokes, we’ve also defined some details in the grand scheme of black hat, white hat, and grey hat SEO, with particular focus on important black and white hat areas.
This landscape we’ve outlined has its background, layout, and a few happy little trees in place, but there are a lot of details for us to yet attend to. Today’s article is going to shine a light on a few of these, and we’re going to use a big name in the industry to do it – GoDaddy.
There was a period of overlap where I worked for them and was working on getting my new company off the ground. As such, I hold a strong understanding of their infrastructure (some of which I currently utilize), as well as that of their services. There was one notable blind spot to this, and this was their SEO service plans.
This SEO service platform is quite different from their Search Engine Visibility plans (either version) – this is actually a service where you have a dedicated team working to strengthen your SEO through methods on and off your website. I hired them for four months to see how they handled themselves, as I simply needed more time and hands to get my to-do list finished.
As it happens, I made an error in judgment hiring them. They spent four months doing basically nothing of benefit for me or my business.
The way their plans are explained to GoDaddy employees, they were equipped to:
• Optimize copy
• Optimize on-site elements like meta titles and alt tags
• Create & optimize off-site blog posts to build strong backlinks
Sure looks good on paper, doesn’t it?
You should always read between the lines – even with reputable big companies
After they told me they would need about 5 hours per page for my on-site work, I forbade them from touching it and turned them loose on off-site work. I’m a professional writer and web developer, and they charge $48/hr. Not really a difficult decision for me to make, and one that I’m doubly glad I took under my wing.
A contact page would take 5 hours? A 300 word introduction page? Adding 5 word tags to two photos? The math didn’t add up. This should have been a serious warning flag, but I ignored it.
I’m going to start you with this review of what they offer according to their website. While it is a little dated and I had a bit more to go on than what was here at the time, a number of the concerns outlined were either assuaged in my consultation or irrelevant for the tasks I wanted this team to complete. Or so I thought.
While there were some differences on the concerns about blog posts, where I instructed GoDaddy’s SEO service team to dedicate their effort, it turns out everything else is pretty much spot on.
Here is an example of one of the posts they set up for me.
Again, looks good on paper, if a bit short for my taste. It wasn’t until the fourth month where I had a chance to truly sit down and analyze what they were doing. This particular blog was created in 2015, yet I’ve written more in 3 months than they’ve managed in 3 years!
Big companies move slowly when it comes to process changes – especially SEO service
Other posts were handled in a similar vein and the other off-site services were basically worthless, dated marketing techniques. Directory links haven’t been effective marketing tools for years, spam comments with backlinks to my website were strewn across WordPress websites, and social bookmarks were haphazardly utilized with no real focus in mind. Not only did these techniques stop working over 6 years ago, but they can actually hurt a website now.
Unsurprisingly, my rankings hadn’t even budged a little, so I dropped them like a bad habit and didn’t look back.
While this story takes place about a year ago, little has changed in this process since then. When someone gets good at something, like providing online business solutions, a common side effect is to become complacent. This complacency led to GoDaddy’s plan of action for SEO service being completely inaccurate from the day they launched it.
The worst part is that almost none of their agents are in the loop about this. How can you fix something if you don’t understand that it is broken, let alone WHY it is broken?
They don’t know it’s broken, and so can’t fix it, but through sheer numbers have enough customers paying through the nose for these terrible services that they have no motivation to reform. As long as the payments keep coming in…
You always have a choice about how to handle a difficult situation
It would have been easy to give up on working with this website after wasting a lot of time and money with inferior service. It also would have been easy to continue allowing my employer to compromise my ethics and morals by continuing to sell that service. Many things that are easy aren’t worth doing, however, so I chose to forge ahead.
I continued trying to make a difference in an increasingly toxic climate. I continued building up Midwest Websites while managing the stress and workload of a full time job. And now I have a business that is able to provide exceptional websites and SEO service while treating clients as the people they are, not as numbers, metrics, or statistics.
You can do the same for your business in a situation like mine. Whether you elect to devote extra time to make up for lost funds or give a proper expert a chance to set things right (319-229-5225 for that route), a setback or defeat doesn’t need to be the end. Focus on winning the war when thinking of your business, not the loss of a battle.
Braden is one of the founders of Midwest Websites, and has been professionally writing and developing websites for over 7 years. His blog posts often take an experience from his life and showcase lessons from it to help you maximize online presence for your business.