When Ruud first approached me to become a writer for SearchEnginePeople.com I was flattered. I get the pleasure of being amidst some of the most brilliant minds in Internet consulting, content development, inbound marketing, and more. How can I really follow suite and bring something of real value? I wanted to get right into talking shop but, let's face it: there's tons of technical information out there. So let's switch things up a little bit...
Today, I want to share a message that applies to SEO professionals and their clients alike. On a greater scale, I'd like to speak to some uncomfortable truths in the B2B service industry as a whole.
I want to call some of you out because you are breaking hearts. Your scorned lovers are resentful to anything or anyone that reminds them of you, because you did them wrong. Shame on you!
A B2B relationship that lacks mutual benefit, honest interaction, and open communication can feel like a broken marriage. It's something you want to address swiftly.
Let's tackle some of the issues here so you can have a happier B2B experience in SEO and anything else. Let's save your SEO marriage or explore some alternatives. Stick with me - this is not yet another silly metaphor, I assure you!
What's this about saving my marriage? I thought this was an Internet Marketing blog...
Well, as the image I provided below would indicate, I want to speak about the frustrations in our industries, with particular attention to Search Engine Optimization. SEO is one of those things people either love or completely dismiss. Ever wondered why?
You're An Internet Guy? Sorry, We Can't See Each Other Any More...
The disdain for Inbound Marketers and Social Media "Experts", with particular attention to SEOs, tends to stem from many things but mostly just misrepresentation, arrogance, and smarmy methodology. In short, we Internet consultant types are seen as purveyors of douchbaggery or douchebagism (you may have heard this before). SEOs just get it worse because most think we're the IT guys of the marketing world and figure,
Hey, your job ain't that hard. I can do that NO PROBLEM!
If you want a good laugh, check the video.
As silly and exaggerated as that video may be, it shows what happens when we do not conduct ourselves in a professional manner (which, mind you, does not mind you need to be a stick in the mud, either). Fixing this image and communicating the value in SEO starts with admitting that we do not know it all. Each and every proper SEO project has a learning curve and tons of research that takes place before you can really see sustainable, actionable, and significant results.
CALL TO ACTION: Stop selling magic pills. Undersell and overdeliver still very much applies today. Desperate selling tactics undervalues what you offer.
Are You Single, In A Relationship, or Not Looking?
We've got plenty to discuss so let's get you to the area that really applies to where you are in your business life. Are you?...
- Single (DIY SEO)
- Dating (on the fence about SEO)
- Married (you have an SEO person/firm)
- Not Looking (you think SEO is bullshit)?
The Single SEO Life
I'd say around 80-90% of the online world is enjoying the single life when it comes to hooking up with the right SEO person or firm. If you're one of these people, you're likely a frugal spender, DIYer, or just don't care. I won't try to convince you that you need to work with a good SEO professional but I'd like you to ask yourself if you are staying single for the right reason. Maybe...
- You are scared to commit to the wrong person and get burned.
- You are too cheap or broke to invest into anything else.
- You hate working with people.
We can't do much for you on the latter items, but for the foremost item, I would say the rest of this article may help you out!
Finding Your Inbound Marketing Soul Mate
If you're one of the lucky people that sees the value in having more exposure, growing your audience/following organically, and having people find you naturally, then let's discuss what you want to look for and why. SEO marketing is part of a greater suite of services. We'll call it Inbound Marketing but others will tell you it is attraction marketing, pull marketing, and other synonymous or silly terms.
You may very well be a completely omnipotent and omniscient being (probably not) but the simple truth here is that there is only so much time in our daily lives:
Wouldn't you want more free time to focus on your core competencies and the focus of your business?
Juggling multiple projects and tasks means something is bound to fall through the cracks. This is why finding your SEO soul mate should make sense to anyone that.. Well, anyone. Period.
Here's what you should look for in the right SEO person or group (if you swing that way):
- Understanding. If they don't understand your industry or business, they'll do some research, ask you about your aspirations, and try to align with your vision and strategies.
- Intimacy. They'll take the knowledge of what you do and get into the deeper details, the things that make you special.. You know, the things that make them think about you when you're not around.
- Humility. They're not going to sell your stories about how they turned junk content into one of the best web sites EVER! They may tell you that your content does need some tweaking, though.
- Attentive. Rather than slapping you with cold, boring reports, they'll sit down when you need more elaboration, want to bounce ideas around, or just share a Häaggen-Dazs.
- Honest. They'll tell you if you're doing great or sucking while working with you to continue to improve your overall Internet Marketing efforts.
- Proactive. Previous conversations give them new ideas for marketing campaigns and they adapt their SEO efforts accordingly, to meet your stated and implied goals while forecasting a bit here and there.
- Nerdy. Any SEO you work with should get really excited about analytics, market research, and user feedback. It should elicit nerdgasms.. Okay, maybe not.. Don't judge me.
In a few words, they'll get excited about what you're trying to accomplish and custom-tailor their efforts to match your needs. It's important to note that SEO should be an ongoing effort and represents a full suite of services that overlap with what you may already be doing soooo...
When you are just getting to go know each other, set proper expectations and boundaries so no one gets hurt. I recommend dating for at least three months before committing long-term.
Saving Your SEO Marriage
So you're already in an SEO relationship. If it's really serious, these tips will help you sustain the relationship long-term. If it's not, then skip to the next section.
Chances are that you went for the first "SEO guy" you met. You may not be happy and now you're starting to curse that ugly three-letter acronym and wishing it was a four-letter word instead. We understand.
There may still be hope for your SEO marriage!
I believe in open communication so this is where you sit down and air things out. Explain why you are not satisfied with the results or do not see the value in the work. It may be that proper expectations were not set or maybe your expectations were unrealistic for other reasons. It could also be that you did not set up those elusive S.M.A.R.T. goals, too!
Here's the thing, though: every SEO I've ever met does something a little different and drives results.. So you really have to pick someone whose style suits your needs. If not, why waste each other's time? Just see other people and avoid awkward moments.
The Top 5 SEO Reality Checks That Break Up Marriages
Before we part ways, I'd like to share what I feel causes the most heartbreak, angst, and breaking of things in the SEO client-provider relationship:
- You drive tons more traffic to your site but wonder why your phone isn't ringing off the hook. Unless you are involving your SEO with content development and web design, chances are someone else dropped the ball. SEO is not a fix-all, cure-all solution, though some of our fellows sell it that way.
- Your friend found a FREE eBook that teaches you all the tricks of SEO. Wait, is this the same friend who fixes his own cars and constantly has them breaking down on the road? Always check your source. Many of those free resources out there have hidden agendas, though there may be some useful stuff sprinkled in to help validate it, of course.
- You are ranking high on Google so now the work is done. Not quite. If you want to keep that position while also improving your content to retain your new visitors, you'll have to keep building upon that momentum. SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it deal, especially not now. At the very least, you want to do multiple campaigns throughout the year to stay aggressive with your competitive efforts.
- You heard that SEM has a better "ROI". This one could very well be further up the list because it aligns with the aspects of DIY, paranoia, and frugal spending. Paid advertising is hit-or-miss depending on your industry or niche. The reality is that SEO helps you get better insight than your typical SEM campaign would. You get to learn your competition better and build greater long-term value and strategy. Thus, SEM is good for the initial bump in traffic but it is best alongside SEO efforts. I also have found that customers don't always trust sponsored results, nor do they find them relevant at times.
- Your competitors are stealing your content. When this happens, the SEO folks sometimes get blamed but this is really a twisted sort of flattery: it means your top content draws massive traffic and others want some of the action. If you work with your SEO on this, they'll help you take proper steps to prevent and fix such issues as much as possible.
This list represents my own personal experiences as well as those of other SEOs I work closely with for major projects and referral business. I'd say these are the biggest items causing pushback during SEO discussions.
If All Else Fails...
If none of this helps or applies to you, I do have one more piece of advice. Invest in a Nerf bat. They're rather handy and also under-valued.
You may also enjoy a similar SEO article I wrote over at Unbounce. There, I delve more into the technical aspects of SEO, without sounding like the dude from the SEO Rockstar video.
Thank you and good night.