You don’t have to spend too much time in the SEO world to know that there’s a heck of a lot of contradictory information about there. As an SEO consultant, what is common knowledge to you reads like black magic rocket science to someone else. And sometimes that can be OK, it’s job security.
But when it’s not OK is when the person infected with bad SEO information-itis is your boss. Or a client. Or that designer you’ve been assigned to work with. Or anyone else you need to have a basic understanding of SEO so that you can do your job without their meddling more effectively.
What do you wish your boss/client/person in the next department knew about SEO? If you could drill one thing into their brain to help their SEO education and make your life easier, would what it be?
Below are 10 things about SEO I wish everyone knew.
1. SEO comes now, not later.
If you come to Outspoken Media freshly after a redesign and ask us to fix your designer’s errors, we may just charge you more than we would if you had come to us first. Why? Well, as punishment for making everyone’s life more difficult.
The time to think about and plan for SEO is before you’ve launched or redesigned your website. It’s before all those content pages were purchases and before you’ve done much of anything. SEO comes now, it doesn’t come later. On Twitter, Ryan Jones commented that he wanted businesses owners to stop thinking of SEO as a condiment they could throw on at the end. I agree 100 percent. The sooner you bring SEO into the conversation, the better off you’ll be. Otherwise, you waste a lot of time cleaning up mistakes.
2. SEO is an investment in your site’s long-term health.
There are quite a few marketing tactics that you can employ today and see results as early as tomorrow. For the most part, though, search engine optimization is not one of them. SEO is an investment in the health of your site that will get stronger with time; it’s not an overnight solution.
That’s why working with reputable and trustworthy SEO vendors is so helpful—because you need them to help you set realistic expectations and to instill the faith that you will see results once the engines catch up to what you’ve got going on.
A good SEO will be able to deliver on what they’ve promised you, but their job is made harder when they’re splitting their time between doing the work and having mini-therapy sessions in the CEO’s office.
3. SEO does not equal shiny meta tags.
Though some really enjoy whispering myths that all SEOs do is rework meta tags and explain the concepts of linking, it really is just a tad more complicated and involved than that.
When we take on an SEO project, we have a long list of areas that we’re looking at when we complete that initial SEO site audit. Sort of like how a brain surgeon doesn’t just grab a scalpel and go to town on your inner lobes. There’s a science involved, a process. There are a lot of working parts that must be balanced to get the desired outcome. Otherwise, the person dies.
In SEO, it’s your site that dies—and, by association, your business.
SEO may not be as complicated as digging into someone’s brain, but if you don’t know the inner workings and what’s involved, it may as well be.
4. Just because you read it on a blog or in a forum doesn’t make it true.
Read. Verify. Test.
You should never believe anything you read on the Internet unless you are able to do these things. Yes, even if you read it on your most favorite, trusted blog, or Web forum. Everyone has off days. Others are just bored or looking for page views.
5. SEO is not your IT department.
Being serious about search engine optimization means making it part of your entire business process. That conversation may start with your IT department and your developers, but it has to progress beyond that in order to be successful.
SEO isn’t just the concern of your IT department, but that of your content department, marketing division, link builders, public relations people, sales team, etc. Instead of locking SEO up in your IT room and creating an unhealthy battle among SEO experts, developers, and those that have to deal with both, let’s break down the wall and do this together.
SEO isn’t anyone’s job, it’s everyone’s job and it needs to be treated that way inside your organization.
6. Your keywords actually matter.
You can’t pick keywords out of the air and decide that those are the ones you’d like to rank for. Because as @Netmeg mentioned on Twitter, some keywords aren’t worth going after. Either because you don’t have the resources to go after them or because they’re not the keywords that are going to convert for you and deliver ROI.
As an SEO client, you don’t need to know the total ins and outs of keyword research, that’s why you’ve hired an SEO consulting firm, but do know the basics. You should understand that, as Casey Yandle so eloquently noted on Twitter, rankings mean nothing unless they convert. Anything else is a vapid distraction you can’t afford.
7. [Click Here] is never suitable anchor text.
Speaking of keywords!
You’ve identified them, yes? Someone on your team spent time doing research, running numbers, and pinpointed which terms will best convert for you? Awesome. So now use them. Adele Kirwer believes that [click here] is never suitable anchor text, for anything ever, and I agree with her. Don’t make your SEO kick you.
8. Your rankings don’t tell the whole story.
Where you fall in the eyes of the search engines is obviously important. In many scenarios, it’s what you’re paying your SEO services provider for. However, do be aware that there are many other metrics you’ll want to look at.
- Increased conversions
- Time on site
- Better visibility
- Brand sentiment and authority
- Share of voice
With everyone getting personalized results, there’s a lot more to think about when it comes to SEO, and there’s a lot more to watch. Your SEO vendor should be able to present your data to you in a way that helps you see the full view, not just the trail you took to get there.
9. It’s not all about you.
Enhancing the SEO on your website means making it easier for your audience members to complete their objective and to meet their goal. It’s about giving them something to connect with and maybe even inspire them. It’s not about you. None of this is about you.
10. It’s not whether you’ll invest in SEO, but how.
If you have a website that is responsible for driving leads and converting users, then SEO is something your business must invest in. So you can stop having that pointless mind battle with yourself and use that energy to decide how you will integrate SEO into the core of your business.
- How can you better marry SEO into your sales process?
- How can it be used to improve the content you’re putting out for users?
- What does your SEO activities mean for customer service?
It’s the tiny things that lead to big results. When you’re worried about how SEO will fit into your organization, start small. Then build out.
Those are 10 things I wish everyone could learn about SEO. They’re not even hard things; they’re basic things that would help move this conversation forward. What one thing do you wish you could hammer into your boss or your client’s mind? Or maybe what do you wish you knew sooner?
Lisa Barone is the chief branding officer of Outspoken Media, where a version of this article ran. She’s also very active on Twitter, much to the dismay of the rest of the world. Connect with Lisa on Google+ and Facebook.