What do the words "Gluten Free" "Infrared" "Literally" "The Cloud" "Inconceivable" have in common with "S.E.O."?

Why choose ACE: Reason 1

Top 5 every time

We Get Results in English and Japanese.

Since 2002, we have never failed to rank in the top 5 organic search results for keywords which we optimized for. This goes for all our SEO clients, both in the US and Japan, and for our internal properties. We know how much time, work, and money it takes to optimize for keywords, so when we tell you we can do something, we back that up. Having said that, good SEO is about return on investment. It’s not necessarily about being #1 on any given keyword. We invest in the right keywords to drive your business.

Why choose ACE: Reason 2

We've increased sales $2 million in one year.

Case study: 1 Client, $2 million increase in sales based on our SEO work alone

SEO is often the single biggest change a website can make to drive traffic and sales profitably. We know how to maximize ROI through search engine optimization. PPC, Social Media Marketing, and superficial site development need a solid SEO base to be worth the investment. Through our SEO methods we increased revenue for a client by $2MM in one year, changing nothing in their advertising and marketing except their SEO strategy and execution. This increase came when their market as a whole had declined. We not only know the value of SEO-we know how to extract that value and turn it into revenue for you.

Read more Artisan Crew S.E.O. case studies here

Our websites are our best, and only, salespeople.

Artisan Crew

Why choose ACE: Reason 3 & 3.5

You found us

We talk the talk, and walk the walk.

You found us. For a company selling their SEO services, this should be the most important test. Our job as an SEO company is to bring people interested in a specific service, product or piece of information to websites. If a company can't do that for themselves, for example, if they're cold-called you, emailed you, or came to you rather than you going to them, run away in the opposite direction, and hide your checkbook.

We’ve been in business since 2001, and in that time we have never had a sales staff. Think about what this means just a little. All our business we get through some kind of online marketing, the service for which you're hiring a pro to guide you. We do not believe that we should find you. In our business, you should find us. Our website is our best and only sales force, and should speak for us so YOU can choose.

Competing with the big dogs

When we first took over our first online shop in 2007, we maintained search engine rankings for keywords against national and multinational companies. With an extremely limited full-time shop staff and our inhouse SEO chops, we did millions in revenue based mainly on the strength of our SEO efforts. Yes, we were up against Brookstone and Sharper Image, and we beat them at their game on a shop run with only 2 full-time dedicated staff.

Since we run online shops ourselves, we know the importance of SEO and how it fits into an overall marketing plan. The success of our shops is based on a 1-2 punch of SEO & SEM, and we strongly believe that online success is results from using both methods.

We have built and run successful shops based on our strong combination of SEM skills with SEO being a huge part of revenues. We are one of the few marketing agencies which runs online shops itself, so we are more in touch with what it takes to be successful online than an agency who only makes revenues selling a service. For us this is a life-and-death issue, not a value-added service we keep a few coders around for.

We all know it's a thing, but what is it actually?

That's all well and good, but what is S.E.O. actually?

S.E.O. is a race to be in the top 5 of Google's search results.

(And Bing and Yahoo's because all conversions count, but really mostly Google because that's the majority of searches)

Your analogy today is: Sports. SEO is a marathon. Your company needs to run in it and we’re here to coach you to victory. A user searches for something, and you and figuratively and or literally every other site online race to be at the top of the search results. But it’s no accident who ranks at the top. They’re the ones who trained the hardest, who’ve kept up with all the changes to the rules of the race, and who are never caught off-guard by what a user searches for. So how do you win the SEO-marathon?

How do you enter (prepare your website) for this marathon?

First you train. How long and hard you train depends on the race, your competition, and how strong you are. For SEO, training is the keyword research, market research, cost analysis, site planning, development, contents structure, size, age, scope, popularity and freshness to name a few criteria.

How do you know what race should you should enter?

You shouldn't enter the Boston Marathon if the only exercise you get is driving to the donut shop. Knowing what the most searched for phrases are, and how often the highly relevant searches are done is important, but knowing whether you can train to win that race is crucial. We can coach you to win any race, but how long it will take and how much money you'll need to invest depends on the race. If you want or need to rank highly for highly searched, highly competitive keywords you need to be prepared to pay for the training that will help you win it because your competitors are competing at that level already.

Then you enter the race.

Sometimes you’ll be ahead, sometimes behind, but the races worth winning aren’t easy. The same is true for S.E.O. Each time a user enters a search term, the search engine calculates where pages rank by putting pages through their search algorithm. For some keywords it will be easier to rank highly (for example, your company name, unless your company name is broad, like Acme). For other keywords you’ll be ranked lower and out of sight of the general users. And if you don't have a properly developed site and marketing plan, you'll not show up for any terms at all. What’s important is improving your rankings on as many highly searched keyword phrases as possible at the budget you can afford to spend, to not cheat at the race and get disqualified (Beware of shady "coaches"... Bad SEO companies can destroy your site), and to keep up with all the new training methods out there.

So you placed in the top 5 in your local 5k! Good for you! Now what?

Depending on the race, you probably need to run again. Even if you just run the same race again next year, there are a whole slew of young and powerful sites coming to take your title away. So you keep training to make sure they don't beat you solidly next time. OR, you want to enter bigger races. More clout, bigger prizes. You’re not content with being the champion of the Springfield-Super-Laid-Back-Half-Marathon, are you? No! You want to win the next, bigger race. So you train again. Competition for this one is a little harder, so you train harder, longer, and prepare better.

And when you win again, you repeat.

Why you need S.E.O.

You wouldn't build a store in an unpopulated area, so don't do it online.

S.E.O. is one of the two most effective and cost efficient methods of search engine marketing. It provides a steady stream of traffic to your site that's not charged by click. (Unlike P.P.C., which you probably also need, but is not this page's topic). It brings in exactly who you want: people interested in exactly what you’re selling, explaining, or whatevering.

Being optimized for SEO brings continuous organic (read: free) traffic to your site. A steady stream of exactly the type of people you want on your site: people interested in the specific subject, service, or products you sell.

Building a website and not optimizing for SEO is a like opening your store or office or launching your brand in the desert. No matter how well you’ve designed the layout of the store and how clean the floors are, and no matter how well the playlist complements the feel of the store, if no one is coming in, you won't survive.

SEO Costs Depend on The Race You're Running

What SEO Costs

Slow and steady wins the race

.....(wait for it).....

That you entered in, and trained for.

Remember our metaphor, that SEO is a marathon? Well how much it costs to eventually win (oh, did we mention, SEO results can take months, if not longer at least to start being effective?) depends entirely on the race you want to compete in and who you need to go up against. There's no such thing as a fixed cost for SEO services, and if that's what someone's selling walk away slowly, then run. If you want to race for Olympic gold, you need a top-tier coach and will pay dearly for his time because the amount of effort that goes into winning a race that size is, well, Olympian...
If you’re trying to win the local charity 5k fun run, you will be more likely to place in the top after much less rigorous training. Once we analyze what race you need to enter and who your competition is, we can give you a training proposal. Quote, a service quote.

WHO you are competing against matters as much as WHAT you're competing for

To beat this dead horse just a bit more, who you’re competing against, what you’re competing for, and how well you want to finish determine the cost of SEO. If you’re competing against Pepsi and Coca Cola for the keyword “soda,” it’s going to be a lot harder and more expensive than competing against local beauty salons for the keyword phrase “Los Angeles eyebrow waxing salons”. But since Los Angeles is a huge market, and people here are all about beauty, even that's probably not a cake-walk.

Why having a non-dedicated person do your SEO in-house or using a $150/mo service won't cut it

SEO is more than meta tags and titles. Having an “SEO optimized” contents management system template is not enough.

Can you win an SEO race with an engaged competitor with non-specialized staff in-house? Probably not. Unless you have a full-time dedicated web and marketing department in-house that spends hours a day keeping up with changes and new algorithms, this race isn't a "train a little once and buy some new shoes and win forever" kind of deal.

Why pay when you get it for free?

It is true that SEO is open source and there are many cheap or free resources out there to get a basic knowledge of SEO.

For a small fee, there are any number of good sites that will give you access to advice and knowledge-bases. And on many sites you can read about how to train for a marathon as well. But you understand that's not enough. The truth is that you get what you pay for with advice which costs little to nothing. If the advice were worthwhile, why would they give it away? Free resources are a great way to get familiar with SEO (and running marathons) and understand what we do for you. Also, everybody else reads exactly the same books. They're the starting point, not the way you're going to win the race, and not the actual training part of the marathon.

Let's get a little tricky here for a moment. And it'll be just a moment because what we've written here might not be true anymore next week. And even if we don't refresh it here, rest easy knowing we are testing and trialing methods out on our internal sites to make sure we know what's going on so we can pass it on to you.

Below is a partial list of factors which may or may not affect your SEO ranking.

Do you know which ones are most important in what order, and how to actually implement them? Bonus: at least 1 of these factors are being phased out, have been devalued, or are absolute lies; something you'll find fairly often on sites "teaching" SEO, but until you've followed and tested the dubious advice, you won't know if what you're reading's actually valid, current, or useful. Do you know which? How does that change your optimization strategy? Do you have someone working full time keeping up with all the changes and implementing fixes, or are you doing it yourself? Does your in-house guy really have time for that? For the same reason Olympic athletes don’t go it alone, you need specialized and experienced help who can keep up with all the changes.


After reading that, are you ready to bet the top ranking site in your sector now? No. Do you believe people who tell you that you can lose 40lbs. sitting on the couch? No. Also "Of course not" because it’s too good to be true.

By the same token, if you believe someone who says you will make a $30,000 return on your $1500 website investment, which works out to be a 1900% Return On Investment, you're going to have a bad time.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

According to Nielsen, the average ROI for online advertising is 218%. Someone promising you a much higher return should be a red flag.
If you need to make 1.5 Million in sales annually and an agency is promising the SEO and web development they're charging $10000 for, without additional web marketing, is going to get you there, you're looking at an ROI of 14900%. If you're down with that, we have a rainbow pooting unicorn we'd like to sell you.

For those who've been promised SEO for $150/month:

The reality is that $75 to $150 a month gets you about 4 man hours of "SEO" work at the cheap SEO spam farms.

Ask yourself this; Can you win a marathon training 4 hours a month? From a guy who hires an outsource center overseas to read a manual and then provide a service?

If no one else enters, maybe. But you know what the answer is in a race worth winning: not likely.

With so much revenue to be made off search engine traffic, the reality is that this race is hard to win.
And guess what?
Your competition is already taking this race seriously.
Companies pay tens to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year to build and maintain and develop websites that rank highly for keywords that will bring them even more in search engine traffic revenues.
If they could do it for a $750 development fee and $50 a month to be in the number #1 spot, they would have.

Optimizing your site for specific keywords

Sure, we CAN optimize your page for any keyword.
It's possible. We've never NOT hit the top 5 results for a keyword phrase we promised a client.

And if you can pay for a TV spot during the Super Bowl, you can pay to optimize for the phrase "Website", and we'll get it done.

But if you can't yet afford to market for the same keyword that companies with millions of dollars in advertising budgets for their web properties are, there's still strategy. The tougher the competition, the more expensive the optimization. If you have a limited budget to start with, we'll help you optimize for less competitive, niche keywords that we help you find.

Instead of competing against a national brand head to head, you'll need an expert (Read: Artisan Crew) to help you come up with an online marketing plan that will leverage the selling points of your particular brand to get better quality traffic cheaper than going head-to-head keyword by keyword.

We will always be honest with you as long as you are honest with yourself. It's not brave to go up against competition that you cannot beat; it's foolish. Enter the races you can win and build up to bigger ones. Someday you may compete in the Olympics, but not if you don’t cut your teeth in easier races. Unless, of course, you're an angel funded VC company with investor cash to burn in which case, COME TO MAMA / PAPA! LET'S GO FOR THE GOLD BABY.

As your site grows, gets linked to, adds pages, content and popularity it will become easier to compete for the more competitive keywords. But in most cases, you probably need to start by competing in local races before the BIG ONE.

SEO = Creativity + Knowledge + Skills + Strategy

by Artisan Crew

But SEO Doesn't work!

We’ve spent a bunch of money on SEO, but it's not working!

Let's troubleshoot your SEO problems. Do either of these sum it up?

1. We hired a pro but our site is still not ranking!

-What did your search engine optimizer promise you?
-Was the R.O.I. reasonable or too good to be true? (see here)
-How did you find them or *WARNING* did they find you??

Good SEO companies rank well in (you guessed it) SEO! If a company is calling you saying they can do SEO, something isn't right. If they can't win their own SEO race, how're they going to be able to help you win yours? FUN FACT: We have had companies who sell their SEO services contact us about optimizing their own INTERNET MARKETING site. That's like claiming to have a Michelin star chef, but ordering in from your competition and serving their food as your own.

2. Our ranking on the search engines isn’t bad, but we get no traffic.

-How often are those keywords searched for?
It should be obvious that ranking highly for high-traffic keywords is better than ranking highly for low-traffic keywords. Was this explained to you? Did you sit down and come up with the volume of traffic you'd need to make your baseline goals, and then go over which keywords would bring in that volume of traffice at moderate click-through rates? It's not magic, it's not witchcraft, it's math, volume and strategy.

-Where exactly do you rank?
Top 5 positions are above the fold on most monitors.
The first page gets 92% of organic clicks.
Every position you move up from 7 to 2 increases traffic 50%. Going from #2 to #1 doubles traffic. Rankings matter.

How do we keep our ranking?

SEO Maintenance, and why it's needed

The base work for good S.E.O. should all be done before a single page gets developed and then maintained. You shouldn't need to switch basic keywords, targeting or strategies. Having said that, maintenance takes several forms. The main maintenance we do is in response to search engine algorithm updates. We stay on top of the changes. To stay on top of the game when the game changes all the time, a company needs a dedicated staff who follows and tries to stay ahead of the curve. With minor updates happening monthly and big updates every 6 months (or so), Google is constantly updating its algorithm. What this means for you is that page factors play a bigger or smaller part in organic rankings, some factors are being penalized, and new factors now play a role for the first time. You pay us to make sure we're up to date on all that and looking out to protect the initial S.E.O. work we developed into your site.

SEO rankings also need to be monitored to make sure your hard-earned rankings aren’t slipping. With hundreds or thousands of companies out there doing exactly what you’re doing, you can’t optimize and then never look at your site again.

There will always be new companies competing with you for the first time, and there will be old competitors breathing new life into their site. The bottom line is that maintaining your SEO rankings will keep your site traffic healthy and avoid having to do a massive (and expensive) overhaul in the future.

Keyword ranking reports

We're often asked whether we provide keyword ranking reports. The short answer is: Not typically.

The long answer is Yes, if you want to pay us extra.
As we've mentioned before, we're a boutique firm. We don't have a bunch of unpaid interns or an aggressive sales staff with no technical chops waiting around to do paperwork as a "value add" but is mostly just a cost justification report.
You will have access to an analytics package which allows you to analyze your site’s progress if you like. We believe in focusing on what matters. In most cases, that is conversions and traffic. Individual keyword rankings can be misleading and often don’t tell the whole story. Your traffic and conversions are the metrics which will tell you if we’re doing our job. We focus on results, and our job isn’t done until we get them for you, so we know giving you a monthly report showing you how high you're ranking on keywords if they aren't actually making your firm more money isn't worth the pdf it's saved in.