Everyone is always trying to steal my business.
I know that my clients are constantly bombarded with messages from other “SEO practitioners” who are disparaging our work.
The proliferation of cheap (or free) simplistic tools that provide surface-level “analysis” of on-page SEO factors has empowered any would-be SEO practitioner to approach any and every website on the Internet with an urgent message:
Your SEO sucks and I can fix it.
The pitch is simple.
Run a quick report on a site and send the report to the site owner with a note – your SEO is not working.
You need to do more.
I can help.
Of course, this is nothing new.
I don’t know of an SEO professional who has been in the business for more than a minute and hasn’t run some version of this pitch.
I have said on multiple occasions – I don’t care how good your SEO is, I can find something wrong with it.
SEO is not an exact science – and there are hundreds of mitigating factors that go into a campaign.
Many times, one person will do something different than another – and both SEO tactics will work
Other times, site limitations will prevent implementation of a known SEO best practice.
And sometimes SEO items are prioritized based on the number of resources available to get things done. Budgets are real.
The topic of skittish clients and bosses wasting our time substantiating these pseudo-analyses came up at Pubcon Florida a couple of weeks ago.
Many in the room were begging people to stop sending these types of analyses to potential clients.
Unfortunately, the people in the room weren’t the ones who use this tactic.
The problem is real – both for agencies and in-house folks.
- Someone in charge receives one of these spam emails.
- The report looks legit and seeds doubt in the mind of the decision-maker.
- The decision-maker forwards the pseudo-analysis to the SEO person, asking why the site’s search engine strategy is sub-par.
- That person must stop working on SEO to debunk the pseudo-analysis.
This takes hours away from the real work of SEO and provides zero value to anyone.
A Plea to Those in Charge
If you employ an in-house SEO or agency, I have a fervent request.
Trust your vendor, or fire them.
If you don’t trust your SEO provider, then they aren’t the right fit for you.
If you are constantly sending your SEO the latest “trick” from your buddy, you are causing a problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I love clients that can help.
I always say there are three types of clients, and two of them are good.
The best clients are those that understand what we do and support our efforts. In these engagements, the client resources and our resources meld effortlessly, and we get more done collectively than we would individually.
Other clients are those that don’t understand what we do and know they don’t understand it. They let us do our job. These clients are great to work with and see great success.
Clients that don’t succeed typically think they understand what we do, but in reality, they don’t.
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These clients are the ones that will question every move you make. They will require hours of explanations around the simplest “why”. They get in the way of their own progress.
These are the clients that are most likely to fall victim to a random email telling them their SEO isn’t up to snuff.
If you are one of these clients, I want you to either trust your SEO provider or fire them.
Measuring SEO Success
If you measure SEO success by the progress on a to-do list, you are doing it wrong.
At the end of the day, we want to be judged by one thing – the results we provide.
It helps if everyone agrees on what success looks like in the beginning.
There are no guarantees in SEO, but everyone can agree to goals.
As long as those goals are achieved using Google’s guidance on good techniques, clients and bosses need to give the SEO provider enough rope to either climb to new heights or hang themselves.
I tell every prospect, if we can’t show you at least a 3x return on your SEO investment in 6 months, you should fire us.
The goal may be 3x return – or it may be a percentage increase in email subscriptions. The bottom line is the bottom line.
You need to know what success looks like. Then either help your SEO person/team, if you are able, or get out of the way.
Sure, it’s fine to send an article over asking what your SEO manager thinks if you are curious.
I don’t know an SEO professional worth their salt who doesn’t love to talk about the latest and greatest developments in the algorithm.
But if you are constantly questioning whether your SEO is doing a good enough job, you either need to re-evaluate your goals or fire the SEO.
In the end, you’ll both be happier.
To Those Who Be Spammin’
If you are one of those folks who’s sending out pseudo-analysis to site owners, preying on fears about the adequacy, I have no illusions that this column will get you to stop.
But I’m going to tell you, the clients that you get from this technique are probably going to jump ship as soon as the next guy sends them an analysis on how your SEO is lacking.
And let’s face it, we can all find some sort of fault in any SEO program.
It’s not hard to nitpick and confuse the uneducated SEO consumer.
I urge you to take another tactic.
Work to differentiate yourself through thought leadership, adding value to the community and doing great work.
Sending misleading reports designed to strike fear in the hearts of site owners is a bad marketing technique.
I wish that it would stop.
I know that it won’t.
But hopefully, if we can educate site owners and set goals and expectations properly, this crappy marketing technique will eventually become obsolete.