I’m not an SEO myself, but having been brought up around them the past few years, I can certainly understand their pain. Sometimes it’s hard to filter out the clients who are really serious about SEO and improving their Web site from the well-intentioned folks who just think SEO sounds good on paper. And if you are a prospective client, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly you’re ready to bring someone on to help you with your site, especially if your SEO hasn’t done a very good job of setting client expectations. And then things can just get messy. And bitter.
Let’s prevent it from hitting that stage, shall we? If you’re a business thinking it may be time to get some professional SEO help, here are nine signs that you’re ready to get involved with the process. I’m sure my SEO friends will help add on in the comments. [Constructive venting feels good. Constructive.]
You know shortcuts don’t work: You know that SEO is a long-term investment and you’re ready to put in the work. You don’t expect your three-page Web site to be able to rank competitively overnight and you’re willing to spend the time and dedicate the resources to improving it. You’ve also been around the block long enough to know that carbon-copy paid links, reporting competitors and fibbing to search engineers at conferences are NOT the way to a lasting Internet marketing campaign. Shortcuts and black magic are so five years ago. You don’t want to talk about that stuff and you know to run from vendors that do.
You want to be involved in the process: Businesses who are ready to work with a professional SEO aren’t content to just sit on the sidelines and let someone else do all the work. They want to get their hands dirty. As that fertility commercial says, once you’re ready, nine months is long enough to wait to have a baby. The same goes for SEO! Once you’ve finally committed to it, you want it all and you want to be part of it. You’re ready to get in on the meetings, you answer phone calls, you get your SEO the proper deliverables, and you’re willing to do anything you can to help you and your SEO give birth to the greatest site on the Internet!
You start educating yourself: You may have hired someone to take care of your SEO needs, but you still want to know what’s going on. You believe that being educated makes you a better client and, in turn, helps your Web site. To learn about SEO and help yourself start making education decision, you start reading trusted blogs (your SEO can probably help you ID some of these), you attend search events or conferences in your area, and you’re taking SEO training courses to get your mind up to speed. The more knowledge you can soak up to make yourself a valuable part of your SEO team, the better.
You question your SEO without second guessing: You’re actively involved in your SEO campaign. That means there will be times when you’ll wonder why your SEO is doing X instead of Y and what this Z thing is all about. Because you’re an educated client, you know enough not to simply follow someone blindly off a cliff. However, you also trust your hiring decision. You didn’t pick your SEO company randomly, instead, you did your homework and found the company that was the BEST fit for you. That means that even though you’ll sometimes need assurance, you feel comfortable trusting their expertise and don’t have to question them at every turn. As long as your vendor can clearly explain their motives, you feel safe in their arms.
You obsess over results, not rankings: You know that rankings and traffic is not the holy grail you’re looking for. With personalized search and new social factors being thrown into the mix, you’re more focused on real conversions and attracting targeted visitors than ever before. You don’t freak out when your rankings dip because as long as conversions keep increasing you know you’re moving in the right direction. You understand that while rankings can be a good benchmark, they don’t tell the whole story or dictate a successful SEO campaign. You’re interested in growing your business, not your position for vanity terms that bring absolutely no traffic. You laugh at your competitors who are.
You’re comfortable sharing: You understand that not only does SEO take teamwork but that you and your SEO are actually on the same team. To do your part and help the effort, you’re ready to give your SEO access to any and all data and information that they may need to learn more about how your site works and what is or is not helping attract visitors. If they ask you for something and you don’t have it, you’re willing to generate the information and get it to them as quickly as you can or just let them generate it themselves. Because you did your research when you hired your SEO, you feel a lot more comfortable trusting them and giving them the tools they need to do their job well. You understand that while you hold all the power in how effective your SEO campaign is, we’re kind of like your coach. The more you give us, the more we can do for you.
You take our recommendations…and implement them: You know that while we can make all the recommendations we’d like, it’s up to you to implement them. And the quicker you do so, the quicker we’re able to move forward and keep building you a great Web site (and earning you money). We all understand that some things will take longer to implement and that new team members may have to be hired or resources moved around, but you move where you can, as quickly as you can. You trust there’s a method for our madness and that we’re not just crazy. Okay, well…not totally crazy.
You’re not against writing content: You like get your hands dirty. You get that you’re more of an expert on your industry better than we ever could and you provide us with content when we ask. Sure, sometimes we’re able to tackle this for you and take it entirely off your plate, but sometimes what you do is SO specialized and SO targeted that we think it’d really be better coming from you, even if we’re going to fix it up later. You’ve been around the block a few times to know that much of your SEO efforts rely on your content so that we can use it to attract visitors, to build links, promote you, and to make your site worthy of achieving the goals we’ve set together.
You stick to the plan: You’re not one of those disappearing clients with Shiny Object Syndrome. You worked with us to put together the site’s SEO plan and you’re sticking to it. Just because you just read about a new technique on an SEO blog or someone at Google coughed conspicuously during the latest PubCon, doesn’t mean you’re running to change everything on a whim. We trust each other and we’re in it together.
The above items are things that we always try and sniff out during our initial chats with a prospective client. It helps us reduce future road blocks, but, as a business owner, it also gives you an idea of what you’re in for when you agree to a full SEO campaign. We’re here to make your site grow up to be the best site it can be…but we still need you to help nurture it. As we’ve said before, YOU are the most important part of your SEO campaign.
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.