One of my biggest frustrations about SEO is having the responsibility for a client’s online success without having the control over everything that is required to make them successful.
Get a handful of SEO professionals and digital marketers in a room and you’ll likely hear this as their number one complaint. Clients expect their web marketers to drive new business and traffic, while at the same time they won’t do what’s necessary to achieve those results.
Now before I go any further, this isn’t going to be a scapegoat post. There are times when the lack of success falls squarely on the shoulders of the SEO. But I’ve been in this business long enough to know that SEO pros get blamed for things that they have no control over.
So before you fire your web marketing team, make sure you know, without a doubt, that the fault lies with them.
If you can make sure that none of the following items apply to you, then you’re free and clear to fire your SEO. If not, well, maybe you need to look internally before you stand firm in your certainty of where the blame lies.
7 Signs It’s You, Not Them
1. Your Campaign Is Too Narrow
Ten years ago, you could get away with having a digital marketing campaign that focused only on keyword optimization and link building. But those days are long gone.
Links continue to be an important part of a successful digital marketing campaign. Keyword optimization is still integral.
But those two things alone will rarely get you the success you need with today’s algorithms. Possible? Yes. But it’s less and less likely due to all of the algorithm changes that have happened over the past five years.
Today, you have to take a more holistic approach.
In fact, in the grand scheme of things, actual on-page keyword optimization is one of the smallest aspects of a successful SEO campaign.
Site architecture, usability, and social engagement play a very significant role, and if you’re not investing in those areas, you’re handicapping your SEO.
2. Your Campaign Is Too Broad
Now, this may seem like I’m trying to have it both ways, but hear me out. It’s important that you go with as broad of a campaign as possible.
- Social media marketing? Check.
- Content strategy? On it.
- Usability improvements? Got ’em covered.
- Targeted keyword optimization? Doing it.
- Link building? Dominating.
- Budget? Uh….
Everything that you cover in your digital marketing campaign requires time. And time means you have to have the budget to pay someone to invest that time.
Going broad is the way to go, but if the budget isn’t there to support it, going broad can actually be counterproductive.
Without the budget, instead of dominating in several key areas, you end up spreading yourself way too thin. That makes every area far less effective than it otherwise would be.
So by all means, if you have the budget, go broad. If not, it’s better to stay focused. Just be sure you have the expectations that go along with that.
3. The SEO Recommendations Are Not Being Implemented
Remember when I said earlier that having responsibility for success without the resources was digital marketing complaint number one? Well, that complaint almost always starts with this one item here.
And this is one thing that I never quite understood. If you are paying a marketer to help you grow your business, and they tell you that you need to do X, Y, and Z… Why aren’t you doing X, Y, and Z?
I hear all the excuses:
- We don’t have time.
- Our team is doing something more important.
- We’re not sure that will work.
- We just want you to focus on A, B, and C.
If any of this is true, you probably shouldn’t have hired a digital marketing company to begin with.
Any marketer that tells you that all you have to do is pay them, and they’ll take care of the rest is a big fat f***k*** liar. (Count the letters, I didn’t say what you think I said!)
We tell our clients that for every five hours we spend on their campaign there will be at least one hour of homework. And if you aren’t doing your homework, then there is no question that you’re going to fail.
4. Your Site Has Issues
This goes along with the last point – assuming that your digital marketer is making you aware of them. That is, after all, part of their job. But in almost 20 years of helping businesses grow, I have yet to see a site that has no issues or problems whatsoever.
Your website should always be going through some phase of improvement. Always.
You should never stop improving the customer experience.
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When you find a problem, fix it. If you see something wrong, make it right. If there is a better way, do it.
If you aren’t fixing your site’s issues, then who is? The site won’t fix itself, and if you don’t take the initiative to improve, it doesn’t matter how much you invest in other areas of marketing, your site will always under-perform.
5. You Haven’t Given Success a Chance
Results don’t happen overnight.
Whenever you make a change to your site, you not only have to wait for the search engines to come back and find them, you have to wait for those changes to be filtered into the results. And if the changes alone are not enough to garner improvement, you have to go about the long, arduous task of building up site authority.
And that’s really where the biggest delays are in online marketing. Assuming for a second that you can:
- Optimize every page on your site for relevant keywords.
- Build as many pages of content needed to cover every searcher intent.
- Fix every architectural and usability issue on your site.
All within a few short weeks; you still need the required authority for those changes to demonstrate any kind of measurable impact.
If your site already has authority, then you have an advantage. If not, you still have a long road ahead of you.
6. You Aren’t Focused on the Customer
When the web opened up as an opportunity for people to learn and shop, many people were able to start a business online that they were unable to do the old brick and mortar way. Yet, for whatever reason, many of these businesses tried to defy the old rules of having a successful business. Most found out soon enough that those old rules still apply online.
I still see it today.
Businesses are more focused on the product they sell than the customer they supposedly serve. Just like it doesn’t work with brick and mortar stores, it doesn’t work online. Especially with smaller businesses.
Remember, you aren’t selling the product or service, you’re selling the result that people want.
The customer will only buy from you if they feel like you care and can trust you enough to make the purchase.
Present your product from the perspective of the customer.
What do your customers want? What are their needs? How is what you offer the best solution for them?
7. You Aren’t Optimized for Conversions
To take the point above one step further, you have to think beyond what the customer knows they want and provide them all the things they need that they don’t even know about.
Most customers don’t know they need a call-to-action, but if you don’t have one, you’ll lose a lot of potential sales.
Most customers don’t know what they need in order to trust you, but if you don’t provide multiple trust elements on your site, they’ll leave without making a purchase.
If your content is weak or your site is even the slightest bit frustrating, you’ll turn visitors off and away.
Think through each page of your site. What’s its purpose? Make sure it provides every bit of information required to fulfill that purpose and then lead the visitor to the next step of the process.
In today’s digital marketing landscape there is almost no such thing as “organic only optimization.” So many other things factor into the success of your “organic” rankings.
If there is any area of your online or offline marketing efforts that are failing, then your SEO will likely fail too. So before you go blaming your SEO provider, make sure you have your house in order.
I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m just telling you that you should make sure you’re right before you fire the wrong person.