A couple weeks ago I put an RFP out for a very specific set of SEO activities on one of bidding sites. This SEO project was for my darling app – WWHOW!. Since WWHOW! is based on user generated content it offers serious SEO challenges. Having spent a few months fighting those I knew fairly well what I was looking for and did not make a secret out of my expectations. To no surprise my straightforward SEO request generated a lot of responses primarily from India-based providers. I just finished going through all responses I received to date and it looks like I will have to go through bid-response process again, maybe I have to try a new bidding site, maybe change my request format, content, layout… Frankly, I doubt that changing much on my side will affect the dynamics of the campaign and quality of responses. I might need to change the target development community…
The fact that I received not a single proposal that I could remotely go with was quite irritating. One of the reasons I was annoyed by it is its effect on my “buyer’s reputation”. In some way majority of established bidding sites penalize buyers for not accepting proposals. Some of them will even cut buyers off if they do not meet some criteria, e.g. certain percentage of project acceptance. It appears that they will cut you off independently from the reasons you do not accept the proposals. It happened to me on www.eLance.com a little while ago and since despite multiple attempts I could not reach the customer service I ended up moving to another bidding site.
The main reason I decline majority of proposals is the fact that bidder did not take a minute to read my RFP and instead sent me a 3 page long generic response. That reminds me typical resumes you get from an Indian consultants who worked for a variety of outsourcing shops: 25 page long description of projects s/he worked on with no details/information that would be at all relevant to my interests.
As usual there were a number of proposals that were not even related to SEO; the bidders were advertising their call centers, web development skills, etc. Basically spam. There were a few “let’s just talk” responses what is just another way of offering sales in a bulk mail style.
A couple of proposals (still rejected) stood out from the crowd. I could see some effort, possibly significant behind the proposals. For example the bidders took the effort to look at my site and run basic SEO analysis on it. The proposals included a few reports and bunch of screen shots. And yet they screwed it up completely by showing zero understanding of my needs that were clearly documented in my RFP. Even “customized” to my needs they were still just more comprehensive templates filled out by someone with less understanding of SEO than mine.
One more thing worth mentioning – sales overload:
Nick, you will be excited to know that we have been chosen by a for their SEO work!… Yes, I almost peed in my pants when I read it.
Greeting respected Sir. We went through your RFP and were amazed with its depth and your degree of understanding SEO process… Oh, sure I am the smartest guy on Earth and that’s why I can not move wwhow’s PR beyond 1 after 3 months…
Dear Nick, we studied your request for proposal and see that the services we offer to thousands of our 100% satisfied customers will suite you very well… Sure you are one year old 5 man shop that kept 1000s of customers happy. Maybe by keeping them no longer than a few seconds?
Oh well, WWHOW! deserves some capable hands and full scale SEO TLC… I guess back to the bidding board!