This is Block 81's archive of past articles. Once in a while we may add more, but it's rare.
Block 81 is a design studio producing beautifully crafted websites and brands for independent businesses and startups.
January 15, 2015
Back in November of 2013 we made the conscious decision to stop offering on-going SEO services. It wasn't a super easy decision to make because despite the challenges, it was very rewarding.
We had good success with the SEO we provided for clients. Most of the sites we regularly worked on reached top 10, top 5, and even number one on Google for their respective keywords. It was a pretty good batting average but when we looked at the bigger picture and site trajectory, it wasn't good enough by our already high standards. We've always believed that we need to be great at the services we provide for clients, otherwise we're just doing them – and ourselves – a disservice.
...it all boiled down to not being satisfied with “good enough”. It’s not what we do here and it’s not what we are known for.
No, the issue for us wasn't truly about results. It was a matter of resources and truly believing in what we were selling.
You see, doing SEO is hard. Like, really hard. It's not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, but it is time intensive. Not only does it require looking at rankings and reports on those rankings, it also requires digging into those reports to find the hidden gems that will help push a site to rank well consistently. Combine that with the ever-constant changing SEO landscape ( Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Hummingbird – it's a circus out there!) and real need for what seemed like weekly research and education and it gets incredibly taxing and overwhelming.
To be clear, I certainly put in the hours. I learned what I could in the limited spare time I had. I read dozens of articles, researched various topics and sub-topics, took online courses, joined SEO communities, whatever I could reasonably get my hands on. You name it, I probably did it or was aware of it. But it always felt that we were coming up short. As mentioned previously, that was a disservice to our clients at the time, as well as to any clients we were attempting to sell SEO to.
That brings us to believing in what we were selling. Or not believing, as it were. The truth is, we lost belief in what we could provide.
We had our highs and lows but over time the lowers got lower and the highs became rare. We started to feel like the scummy SEOs most web designers like to talk about – the snake oil salesmen. It's not that we were selling bogus work, we just started to lose confidence and a true belief in the results.
At the risk of sounding contradictory, we do believe that SEO works – we've seen it work to improve a client's bottom line. But because we no longer felt like we were delivering top-notch results, we had a really hard time selling it.
In retrospect we now know that it was because the SEO landscape was starting to change drastically. We probably could've weathered it if we were a bigger team or made some drastic changes and investments, but seeing how SEO wasn't our main source of revenue, we just couldn't justify it.
So it all boiled down to not being satisfied with "good enough". It's not what we do here and it's not what we are known for. Every good team needs to play to their strengths; on-going SEO isn't one for us. And frankly, it's not something we unequivocally loved doing despite the nice rewards. Life is too short to do something you don't love on such a regular basis.
Does all of this mean that we just don't ever "do" SEO? Nope, not at all. We are still pretty damn good at on-page optimization – the code and content tweaks and best practices that help a site get indexed and ranked. We include that with every site we build. We've seen what good on-page optimization can do for a site – it's too critical to ditch altogether.
No, it's the post-launch, on-going piece of SEO that we've ditched and instead have a preferred company that specializes in SEO that we send clients to.
As for us, we're just continuing to do the work we love.