Confessions of an SEO Specialist: Part I

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Any SEO professional who is responsible for a client’s web presence is well aware of the endeavors that accompany acquiring rankings and search visibility for a business or organization; especially those of us handling multiple client SEO campaigns. These endeavors can be traced back to client expectations and a common misunderstanding of how search engine optimization actually works.

I have to admit that convincing some clients of the value of SEO is often more difficult than actually getting a website to rank page 1 in organic search. Not because I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but because I’m working for business savvy individuals who are either set in their traditional marketing ways, have been burned by an illegitimate SEO company in the past or are unconvinced that SEO is a worthwhile marketing expense.

I for one regularly find myself, back against the wall, re-aligning client expectations while constantly trying to persuade business owners of the necessity of SEO for their company. Whether it be explaining the indexing process, that there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy, stressing the importance of ongoing maintenance even after acquiring page 1 rankings, evaluating the ROI of SEO or examining the various ranking factors and how each applies to a particular SEO campaign.

Ask and I can explain the value of SEO any which way you choose- From a 60 second simple elevator pitch to a complex assessment full of technical jargon and personal algorithmic theories. Even my SEO track record shows a high percentage of successful campaigns. Why then, Mr. Einstein do I still experience difficulty when it comes to setting proper client expectations?

In an attempt to address this frustration felt among SEO specialists, I will examine a few of the most common client objections and misconceptions, the goal involving both personal enlightenment and more importantly, industry education.

Time Frame Expectations of SEO

Two of the most common client objections I run into involve the time frame of SEO.

  1. One of my favorite inquiries received from clients goes something like this: “I was just doing some searches and my website is nowhere to be found. What’s going on with my SEO?” Believe it or not this question is more often than not bitterly communicated by new clients who are less than two months into their campaign, and a logical explanation for their frustration would be that I neglected to set proper expectations; though I generally make a conscious effort to do so when taking on a new client. Whether I did or I didn’t, the fact remains that something was lost in translation and the client clearly does not understand the time frame involved with what they are paying me to do.Search engine optimization is a process not a product, and there is no magic switch that can be flipped to turn it on. Too many ranking factors need to be evaluated before one can accurately assess when a website will acquire page 1 rankings; or even top 50 rankings for that matter. The truth of the matter is, prospecting SEO success is rather difficult at the outset of a campaign, and one should never expect to be ranking page 1 for a handful of key terms before 3-6 months. By no means am I suggesting that it’s impossible to acquire page 1 rankings within a month or two, and we have all had our success stories; but as far as expectations are concerned it’s best to approach SEO as an investment in a long term marketing campaign. As SEO specialists it’s our duty to educate clients as to why.
  2. Another common misconception about the time frame of SEO is that once page 1 rankings are acquired there is no longer any reason to invest in search engine optimization. This couldn’t be further from the truth and there is nothing more important than maintaining search rankings and continuing to build your online presence and brand awareness.This idea is eloquently addressed in two of Trond Lyngbø’s 7 SEO Truths Every Business Leader Must Understand. The seasoned SEO Strategist reminds us that we don’t own our organic search rankings and that “placements can shift in an instant, without any warning,” so defense is a crucial part of the equation.Trond also insists that “SEO isn’t just a one-time implementation of website changes. It’s a strategic initiative with many moving parts.” Simply put, it “Isn’t An Act — It’s The Whole Play.”
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