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Changing the Image of Search Engine Optimization

by Harold Compton

 There are any number of articles on the Internet blogs about “SEO is Dead” or how social media is the new SEO and the old methods of our business are no longer valid.  I would strongly object with this idea however, there is a way that we can do a much better job.  We need the to change the image that customers have about our industry.  A study conducted by Walaroo Media in October 2013 indicated that of 100 respondents to a survey on SEO, 34% said that they considered SEO companies “effective at boosting a company’s online presence” however, when asked “What do SEO Companies Do?” a full 69% responded that they didn’t know!

How Did Search Engine Optimization Get This Way?

There are a number of reasons things got this way.   First and foremost, we do not educate our clients on what we do and how we go about doing it.  It is not magic and should not be viewed as some dark art.  It is extensive research and hard work to do it correctly and we should not be afraid of letting our clients know that.

Making our jobs more difficult are the numerous companies advertising that they can create a website, optimize it for search engines and customers will be beating down your door; all at some ridiculously low prices.  Many that lay claim to being able to do this are more interested in getting quick results and follow the path to the dark side.  Stuff keywords, buy a bunch of links, spun blog articles all over the Web and rankings shoot up.  It all works for a while and those that adhere to Google Guidelines are outraged.  Working hard to provide quality content and letting backlinks grow naturally all seems to get them nowhere.

Search engine algorithms have improved and black hat practitioners are paying the penalty for their methods. Many are simply jumping onto the social media bandwagon.

There are some who preach that all you need do is get tons of likes and followers and all will be fine.  They give the industry a bad name not only because of their tactics, but more importantly by their lack of understanding of what SEO really entails and their unwillingness to engage in it.

SEO is work!  It is hard work that takes a commitment to doing it right, without taking shortcuts.

The tactics of black hat SEOs were not something they wanted to tell their clients about.  They didn’t want to admit buying tons of links or putting out spun blog articles and commenting everywhere that would accept comments.  They therefore simply kept the client in the dark and only provided reports with spreadsheets full of data which meant little or nothing to the client.  If the client was getting more customers and closing deals that was all that mattered.   Responsibility for the state of affairs rests not only with the SEOs using these tactics but with clients that were happy with instant results.

Where We are Trying to Go with Search Engine Optimization Today

 Most reputable SEOs recognize that we are partly responsible for the view many people have of our industry.  That said, these reputable SEOs are taking steps to overcome the negative perception of our industry.

The most apparent aspect of this change is the way we approach new clients today.  It is important for an SEO to be up front with the client in setting objectives and goals.  Guarantees and fixed rate package deals are becoming a thing of the past and most SEOs don’t approach what they do as some sort of magic.  They tell their clients honestly why their website is ranked poorly in search engine results and what it will take to turn things around.

Facing problems such as backlink penalties openly and honestly telling your client what is required to overcome them helps the client develop confidence in the SEO, and helps the client understand what you are doing and why.

There is nothing wrong with telling the client just how much work is involved and charging a price commensurate with that work adds credibility to our work.  Reporting to clients has moved from spreadsheets of numbers to more narrative reporting of the work done and how that work has impacted their website search engine ranking.  Keeping reporting free of SEO jargon helps clients to better understand and helps remove the feeling that they have no idea what is actually being done.

Finally, we need to make our clients realize that what we do isn’t magical or so difficult they could never understand it.  We only need to make them understand that it is a lot of hard work and if done correctly will provide positive results.  Take the time to educate your clients.  Remember that you are hoping to establish long term relationships with them.  Be honest, open and talk to them in a language they understand and your relationship can last for years.