Recommended Vendors Inclusion Guidelines

As my current “Recommended SEO Vendors” list grows, more people either ask if I can include them, or how they can get on that list.

Humble Yet Helpful

It’s not a big, high visible list – we don’t actively promote it throughout the year.  Yet we do refer business owners to it from time to time, either because they’re in need of work we don’t provide, or because we’re too busy to take on that project, or because our rates may be higher than a business can afford.

And too, every now and again, we learn after the fact, that someone found that page and ended up hiring one of the vendors listed.

Logical, Responsible Process – not Fairy Dust Magic

Because of these reasons, and due to the fact that some people think they can just ask to be included, and like magic, we’ll include them, we felt it time to communicate exactly what it takes to actually get on the list.

(Thanks to the Moz team and their TAGFEE philosophy over the years for helping motivate us to want to be transparent where it makes sense for us!)

So – what does it take to get on the list?

Let’s start with how NOT to get on the list.  We need to get that out of the way first.

  1. You can’t just ask and expect to be included for no reason other than “because”.
  2. You absolutely can’t just expect we’re going to include you because you’re a big name in the industry or in your own mind.
  3. You can’t get on the list if we’ve heard bad things about your company from too many people we trust.
  4. You absolutely can’t get on the list if we’ve done an audit on a site where the site owner/manager came to us to fix a train wreck that was obviously not due to that owner/manager ignoring your recommendations.
  5. You can’t buy your way onto the list.  We never give or receive any financial compensation for work we refer out or that is referred to us, so we’re surely not going to allow a bribe for inclusion.
  6. No, you can’t round-about bribe us like, through an EpicDinner donation or something similar.
  7. You can’t shame us into giving you a place on the list (please don’t try to – you may regret it).

For now, that’s enough of the NOT stuff. If we find there’s a need to add more, we will.

What DOES it take to become one of our preferred SEO vendors?

There is no single path, no one formula.  It’s more organic a process (ugh, yeah, don’t you hate that, when you just want to get on the list?).

It does usually start with establishing a connection with Alan. He’s the only one in our little company who can authorize a change to the list.

Note that says “a change to the list”? Yes, he HAS removed companies and individuals from time to time because they ended up failing to meet his standards.

So connect with Alan. Reach out to him. Introduce yourself.  Not your company. Do NOT start out with “I’d like to introduce you to my company, and tell you why we are so great!”.  That’s not how this works. Alan gets a FLOOD of emails with that pitch, and a FLOOD of fake LinkedIn Connection requests and Facebook friend connect requests that inevitably turn out to ONLY be for that reason.

And he vomits a little each time.

Don’t do something to cause Alan to vomit. Please.

Do be human – make it a human process.

Instead, just start a connection like two human beings would do so, meeting each other for the first time where “the sale” isn’t a goal.  Oh hey, what a concept!

Find ways to be helpful, informative, engaging, entertaining, interesting when you interact with Alan.  Not all at once (OMG please not all at once).  Over time.  No, there’s no set time. It just is what it is.

Rocket Science For High School Students

Then, as that unfolds, you’ve already taken a major step. Because now, you’ll be on his radar. And when someone gets on Alan’s radar, he’ll be more likely to pay attention the next time you post a link to something you or your company has written.  Whether it’s an educational piece, or a “here’s how we helped X client” piece, or “here’s our view on this topic”.

Any and all of those are vital to helping Alan begin to get a sense for your or your company’s skill, experience, knowledge and capacity to actually be of value to site owners and managers.

See how that can be invaluable?

The QUART Test

If you already know us, or Alan, you already know in all likelihood, about Alan’s “5 Super Signals of SEO” model.  That all things SEO need to pass the QUART test.

  • Quality
  • Uniqueness
  • Authority
  • Relevance
  • Trust

Well hello rocket science!  That same concept works with getting Alan to a point of being willing to put you or your company on the vendor list!

And just like the SEO QUART test, the preferred vendor QUART test is one where you don’t need to score a home run on all five signals. Yet where you DO need to do well on at least three of them.  And if you do well enough on any three, the other two will ultimately gain in strength automatically. Its a natural!

How Long is a Sun Beam?
So how long does all of THAT need to go on for? You’re sittin there, starving for new business, hungry to help a new client. And having to wait around for Buzz LightYear to show up just isn’t going to work!

Relax Moon Unit!  How long it takes is “however long it takes, plus however long after that Alan eventually remembers to actually update the list”.

Some vendors have waited a year or more. Others have gotten on the list only a couple months after hitting the QUART formula out of the astronomical ball park.

That’s just how it goes.

Guidelines Guidelines Guidelines

So you get on the list. Your work is done.


At all.

It’s only begun.

Because Alan has “Vendor Referral Guidelines“. He doesn’t require you to sign them, or guarantee to adhere to them. You don’t even need to know they exist (except now you do!).  Instead, Alan gives them to his clients and prospective clients who are considering hiring someone from the list. And encourages THEM to require YOU to include those guidelines within that list, and any ADDITIONAL guidelines that fit, into whatever contract you foist on that company.

It’s an added way to help reduce the risk that something might fall through the cracks. Or to prevent the oddball possibility that you or one of your managers without you knowing about it, tries to foist on the client as a service you KNOW Alan would vomit over.

And we all know about causing Alan to vomit already don’t we? Good.

Because in THIS case, if Alan vomits, he’s going to do so all over social media. It’s just his unique way of dealing with things that trigger the SEO rant bear.  😉

Forever isn’t Forever

On a final note, though we already briefly touched on this – Alan DOES remove people and agencies from the list from time to time.  If someone who got onto the list ends up failing the QUART test at some point, that’s going to be the outcome. Natural huh? Yeah. It is.

So there you have it!

Next Steps

Ha! if you think, at this point, there IS a next step, and where that involves contacting us or Alan right away, to begin the process?  BOOM! You need to go back to the top and re-read this page.