We get a lot of “salty” people that come to us mad at their previous SEO agency or person, jaded and skeptical about SEO. This morning, I got asked by a current client,
“Did my previous SEO person just suck that bad? How can you have spent a month with us and we are already seeing more results than a year with them?”
While I appreciate the flattery, search engine optimization requires more than putting keywords into content. A lot of folks claim to “do SEO” or be an “SEO guru/ninja/unicorn/[insert hipster phrase here]”. I don’t want to discourage those ninjas, I love educating and helping bring more creative folks into the industry, I’d just encourage them to be honest about their experience and success before taking on competitive websites. Every time an “SEO ninja” fails to deliver results, it gives the entire industry a bad name… and one that we’ve been struggling to recover from since the early days of what is now black-hat links.
So what makes an experienced SEO different?
- We know how to balance quick wins with long term goals: what I mean here is that I understand in order to pay the bills you need website traffic now, in SEO terms, that means finding less competitive (lower search volume) terms where we can rank on page one relatively quickly. Too often, I see websites targeting the highest searched terms and not getting any traffic at all when they’d be better off finding terms they can actually win.
- We don’t shy away from the tough conversations: I have a lot of tough conversations with clients, ones where I have to say, you can’t compete for that search term… today. I am ambitious, I am competitive to a fault, but if I can’t drive traffic and improvements every month eventually my clients will leave.
- We spend more time on technical items than Content Optimization: Content optimization is sexy (well, as sexy as SEO gets), everyone wants to insert keywords into your copy, optimize title tags and meta descriptions. I love content optimization too, actually the process of determining keywords is the most fun and what can make or break content optimizations. The reality of SEO is that often, technical, very un-sexy items are what holds sites back from organic search success. 404 errors, page load times, indexation issues, redirects… not sexy, but absolutely critical. I’ll even make sure my clients understand all of the technical items we work on and why. By the time I’ve worked with a client for a few months, they’ve basically gotten an undergrad degree in HTML and coding basics.
- Creativity: We understand the “SEO solution” may not be the best solution for the business, we are creative in solving SEO problems with non-traditional solutions. We’ve adapted, we’ve tackled very weird issues, we’ve even had beef jerky clients who can’t say “beef jerky” on their website because legally they can only be referred to as “meat sticks”… yeah, you don’t want to try to optimize for that term. We create some pretty amazing creative content strategies, PR campaigns, and even solutions to problems like “beef jerky” vs. “meat stick”.
So, no, your previous SEO probably didn’t suck that bad. My best guess is that what you needed from them was just beyond their capabilities at the time. Don’t fall for the beautiful SEO unicorn if you’re expecting big results in a competitive space.