Every SEO specialist has had the same frustrating conversation about SEO. Most of us have had it more than once. SEO is difficult to pin down, which leads some people to quite rightly ask: what exactly do you do?
We hear this from potential clients all the time. They have a basic grasp of marketing but want to know the more precise inner workings of an SEO campaign. The way we see it, we’re an inbound marketing agency, but we specialise in SEO because we believe this is the marketing activity that offers the best value for money.
Broadly speaking, there are two sides to SEO. There’s the technical side, which seems easier for people to grasp, and then there’s the obscure side. This includes anything from link building to content creation. It’s obscure because there isn’t a beginner’s guide that can help you find your way. With the technical side, it’s easy for us to show you a checklist of things that need to be done. With the other side, it’s more creative and fluid.
Technical SEO is one part of the puzzle
There are plenty of things in life that deliver predictable outcomes. Put cake batter in the oven and you’ll end up with a cake. Exercise regularly and your heart health will improve. People assume that technical SEO works in the same way. Fix all of the problems with a page and it will magically rank. Unfortunately, it isn’t this simple.
This is like assuming that putting a batch of cake batter in the oven will mean you can win Great British Bake Off. Or that exercising regularly will make you an Olympic medal winner. There are additional steps that you need to take to win GBBO and to become an Olympic athlete. Not to mention, there’s a fair amount of luck involved. SEO is similar.
We would always recommend taking those first few steps to optimise your website, but this alone won’t be enough to secure high rankings. You can’t just fix the page speed and add in some H2 tags and see your website skyrocket to the top of Google.
So, what exactly do SEO companies do, then?
So far in this article, I’ve written more about what SEO companies don’t do. I can’t speak for all SEO companies out there, but I take quite a different approach to SEO campaigns. As an SEO specialist, I focus on the bigger picture. This means looking at the content and the technical stuff and deciding what would work best for each individual client.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for SEO. Rather than isolate the task of optimising a website for the search engines, I take it one step further. It starts with building a persona for each target customer and then figuring out the best way to reach them through search. Once the traffic is coming to the site, it’s about finding a way to engage them further. And finally, once the visitor has engaged with the content in some way, it’s about figuring out what they need to convert.
For this reason, it’s difficult to say with any certainty what an SEO agency does. The approach and strategy should vary depending on the client and industry. It’s common for people to want a quick and simple checklist approach, but SEO isn’t this simple.
Rankings or customers?
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you want rankings or customers? It’s not hard to get rankings for keywords that have low competition and low relevancy. If traffic is all you’re concerned with, then this method should work for you, even if it isn’t a sustainable one. If you want to generate leads, then the approach is going to be very different and can’t be easily put together in a handy checklist.
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Editorial Aide/Reporter at The CEOWORLD magazine. Nationally Syndicated Advice Columnist. Generally prefer dogs to humans. Loves dragons. New Yorker.