ORGANIC SEARCH (SEO) / Oct 21, 2013

Does your SEO strategy consist of a directories and random keywords? Do your clients believe SEO is a 'secret key' to 'unlock' #1 rankings?

While rankings are important, this narrow minded approach is severly outdated - Search engines are no longer manipulatable as in the past, and agencies stuck in this mentality will soon find their clients flaking off from lack of results.

In order to be effective in today's SEO landscape, agencies need to focus on the big picture. SEO agencies need to customise their strategies depending on the client, not apply the same cookie-cutter template that would work in the past.

If these signs hit a little too close to home, it may be time to reconsider your strategy.

The Link Building is Submission Based

If you frequently hear or use the terms 'articles', 'directories', 'press releases', watch out. While a steady, natural growth of links to a website is still a great asset, revolving an SEO campaign around the 'number' of links built is becoming not only increasingly useless, but runs the risk of algorythmic [Penguin] penalties or even the dreaded [manual penalty].

  • Submission Based:
    Includes high volume of low quality directories, social bookmarking, press releases, infographic directories. Ask yourself - How easily could my competitor get this link? Anyone can spend 2 minutes submitting a name, URL and description.
  • Content Marketing:
    Developing and marketing content that builds links while developing your brand is the holy grail of inbound marketing. However, content marketing is often easier said than done due to the [roadblocks SEO agencies face with content marketing for their clients].
  • High Trust and Authority Opportunities:
    There is still a 'manual' facet to contemporary link building for SEO agencies - It's simply evolved from submission based directories and articles to webmaster outreach, such as non-hyperlinked brand mentions, resource pages and even broken links.

The Reports Focus on Keyword Rankings

This was a typical conversation between our client and their former agency:

Client: 'How's the SEO going? We need to sell more apple juice!'
Agency: 'It's been great. You're now ranking first for the terms 'apple juice manufacturer wholesale' and 'what vitamins does apple juice contain'!

It's easy for an agency to hide behind carefully selected #1 keyword rankings to give the illusion of progress. However,there's no hiding if you're not delivering results when you're showing leads acquired only from organic non-branded search traffic,

  • Pages of Random Keywords:
    Pages and pages of random keywords your website is ranking for with no general indication of improved or declined results.
  • No Clear Separation of Traffic:
    Analytics isn't perfect. One drawback is by default, brand terms searched into Google are recorded as organic when in reality they are direct. A business will rank for their own name regardless of SEO, so to take credit for that and no segment your reports into non-brand and brand traffic is misleading and manipulative.
  • No ROI:
    While SEO often gives long-term and branding benefits not directly measurable with immediate ROI, it offers a strong, accurate figure of progress regardless. Vague agencies tend to give no indiciation of results in terms of SEO investment vs leads/sales and work achieved.
  • Active Traffic Keywords:
    Feature keywords your client are actively ranking and receiving traffic for with relative improvement or decline to a previous period.
  • Conversion + Non-Branded Focus:
    Track and present goal conversions, conversion rates and ROI of non-branded organic traffic - These are the raw figures of SEO success.
  • Social Media Tracking:
    Everyone appreciates the importance and strength of a social media campaign. But what exactly is it returning you? Modern tracking can link social media referral traffic directly to sales/lead conversions.

They Spin SEO as a 'Mysterious' Formula

SEO often sells because clients know that it works, but don't understand how exactly it works. Some believe that SEO is some sort of magical key that can make their website rank #1 with no regard to how competitive their industry is or the shortcomings of their own website. Some consequences of keeping clients in the dark include:

  • Unreasonable Expectation of Results:
    When pitching to a client, it's easy and convenient to throw in a 'Guarantee of #1 rankings' to close the deal. However, this can turn out for the worse as client satisfaction drops and retention rates plummet.
  • Lack of Mutual Business Understanding:
    If your client doesn't know exactly what you're doing for them (other than vague promises of rankings and traffic) , then they do not truly understand what they're paying for. While years ago this could work due to manipulative link and anchor text optimisation, today as an external agency your potential for success is severly limited without a mutual understanding and involvement in each others business.
  • Think Outside the Box of 'Links and Traffic':
    Your client should understand that you're more than a on-page robot and directory expert - You're an online marketing jack-of-all-trades, someone who understands all key facets of online marketing and social media and how they tie together to not only drive traffic, but develop your brand and online presence for the long term.
  • Get your Clients Involved:
    Getting your clients involved in your SEO campaign can significantly increase the liklihood of positive action for link and press opportunities, as opposed to approaching as an external agency where people are unfamiliar and scepticle of marketing agencies.

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