Confessions of an SEO Specialist: Part II

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”

As we continue to address client misconceptions and common objections thrown at search engine optimizers, we arrive at a topic of discussion in which difficulty arises not from the explanation of SEO tactics, but how, when and why those tactics are implemented, or in some cases avoided, based on any given client’s industry, market, situation and goals.

Search Ranking Factors

As we very well know there are numerous factors that are taken into account when it comes to acquiring search engine rankings. These factors, Numbering around 200, are evaluated by means of a search algorithm, the exact equation of which is unknown. Though theoretical, SEO has taught us many things about what pleases and displeases this search engine algorithm, including some common SEO success factors.

Though quality guidelines and best practices define most white-hat SEO campaigns, and as cliche as it is, there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy when it comes to optimizing an online presence. This is especially true for local SEO, and all too often I acquire new clients who are under the impression that organic SEO is some sort of magic bullet that will drive their website straight to the top of page 1 in a matter of days and double their business. Unfortunately this just isn’t the case and I find myself constantly struggling to align client expectations with SEO reality.

It’s important that we properly educate our clients right off the bat about the most important search ranking factors, as well as address any red flags or issues that could be a cause for concern. Anything from the client having a brand new website to their previous SEO tactics. For example:

Domain authority is clearly one of the most important ranking factors, so if I get a client with a brand new domain my primary objective will be to develop that authority by building a high quality online presence. At this point I have to convince the search engines that a business is legit and offers a high quality service/product to consumers. It’s a trust building phase, and what clients often don’t understand is that this is a difficult hurdle and can often take several months in itself.

On the other hand, say I acquire a new client who has operated a local business for years and even has a website with a domain that’s 15 years old. But whoever built the website did so when keyword stuffing and link farming were in style, so the content and meta data are spammy as shit. Domain authority carries little weight when a website’s content doesn’t follow quality guidelines, so in this case I need to immediately address the content and bring it up to snuff.

If there is a multitude of low-quality links associated with the site, steps need to be taken to address how to rectify any damage that’s been done. Again, these are situations that could require several months of on-site SEO before the client can expect to see any ranking progress.

These are just a couple of examples where an SEO strategy involves more than just immediate optimization of page titles, meta descriptions, headlines etc.

Domain ranking factors must not be ignored so in order to set proper expectations, we as SEO Specialists should educate our clients and address any red flags that may hinder immediate ranking progress.

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