Despite Google’s turn away from a lot of inbound links as a determination of page ranking/relevance – the method still seems to work very well. These guys have done a great job of building inbound links and seem to be overtaking most people for the keyword of “MAS90”.
I’m not entirely sold on the value of single keywords. We get a fair amount of traffic from people searching for MAS90. Of that traffic a high percent converts to an inquiry. A very low percent converts to a paying engagement.
Web visitors asking for pricing information have been our most disloyal customers. If we lose a customer – more often than not it’s someone who found us via a generic web search.
Can you make money from these folks? Yes. Is it long term recurring revenue? In some cases it is but you sure have to “kiss a lot of toads” to find that diamond in the rough.
I’d guesstimate that to create one recurring revenue (meaning you’re paid an annual fee for support or other services for three years or more) that you have to talk with between 40 and 80 online inquiries.
And these initial discussions, based on my experiences, are usually more like hour long question and answer sessions. My guess is something like 90% of inquiries have no intention to pay anything for your help (you’ll recognize them because they’ll end the conversation with “I’ll get back to you after I check with my boss/mom/wife/grandma/wife/cfo/priest/accountant…”
My close rate on opportunities that I personally visit in my state or have been referred to is orders of magnitude higher than web leads (I bet we close 1 in 2 orphan visits) .
That’s not to say you can’t earn $50 to $100 here or there solving online problems – because you can. There’s also nothing wrong with pursuing these web leads as aggressively as you can.
It’s just that I’ve never found the $50 or $100 you collect is remotely close to covering your true value.
There’s always an initial contact, analysis, quote, etc. Then after you solve the problem it is not at all unusual for the customer to call back with a “quick question” which they expect to have answered for free.
In the end it’s all about where you want to devote your time. If you’re happy making a spare $50 to $100 from web visitors – or perhaps even the occasional discounted software sale – the web is fertile ground.
However in order to make stronger recurring revenues you’ll need to combine the web with other activities to build your reputation in the mind of those who visit your web site. Even then I’ve found you usually never have as strong a bond with your customer when they came to you via a web search/inquiry.