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SEO Is Bound to Fail If...

September 8, 2010

SEO Is Bound to Fail If...

...If you don't keep your SEO abreast of website changes.

The Client Perspective:
"There are lots of changes needed on our website for branding, marketing or technical reasons. We don't want to run each and every one of them past our SEO consultant because they shouldn't concern him or her."Photo Credit Rick (Spine)

The SEO Perspective:
Imagine this...You're doing your daily/weekly/monthly review of Google Analytics for the client and notice a substantial drop in visitors for some specific keyword phrases. So you spot-check some Google searches, but that reveals no sign of their website in the search results. You pore through the website and find that the pages that used to bring in tons of targeted Google traffic are now missing altogether, combined with other pages, or buried so deeply in the website's architecture that the search engines no longer find them important. SEO Fail.

How to prevent this SEO failure: Include your SEO consultant on any discussions about changing *anything* on the website, no matter how trivial you think it might be. While the changes may be necessary for corporate reasons that are out of anyone's control, at least give your SEO consultant a heads-up and the chance to present an alternative that won't kill your targeted search engine traffic overnight. Don't worry about bothering them with something you think is no big deal – if that's all it is, that's fine, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

...If you think your SEO can work independently and not need (a lot of) your help.

The Client Perspective: "I'm extremely busy running my business/department and don't have time for SEO, which is why I decided to outsource it to an SEO consultant."

The SEO Perspective: While we'd love to be able to create an SEO strategy, research and choose keywords, make website architecture changes, write brand-new sales copy, come up with and write blog posts that showcase your expertise, open a Twitter account on your behalf and gain thousands of followers overnight – it doesn't work that way. If you're too busy to help – your SEO will undoubtedly fail.

How to prevent this SEO failure: Expect to spend a minimum of a few hours a week working with your SEO consultant on various tasks, be it reviewing their work, educating them on what you do, writing expert blog post drafts, or socially networking online with others in your industry. You have to be involved. If you don't have the time or can't make the time, then don't bother to hire an SEO because you'll be tying their hands and not seeing the results you hoped for.

...If you know enough SEO to be dangerous.

The Client Perspective:
"I know SEO, I've done SEO in a previous job and I read all the SEO blogs. I just need some help with implementation."

The SEO Perspective: We love educated clients – really, we do. They are more apt to understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. But you may not know as much SEO as you think. If you had a website in the 1990s and used some SEO software to create doorway pages to just the right keyword density – I'm sorry, but you don't know SEO! We don't want to hear how you read a blog post that said commas in the Meta keyword tag are the latest and greatest of SEO techniques and that "Inktomi" uses them so they must be important. This type of SEO "advice" is a sure trip to SEO Fail Land.

How to prevent this SEO failure: Old SEO advice, and just plain bad SEO advice, is pervasive in our industry. Once you hire an SEO consultant, trust them to be up on current SEO techniques. It's fine to ask their opinion on specific articles you may have read, but please respect their opinion on them and don't go messing up their work based on what you *think* SEO is all about. Do keep reading and learning, and even attend a conference or two. But discuss what you've learned with your SEO to understand how it may (or may not) apply to your particular website and situation.

There are plenty of other scenarios that can cause SEO failure, which I may write about in future articles. For now, here are two more prescriptions for SEO failure that I've previously written about:
It's clear that all of the above reasons for SEO failure are predicated on a lack of communication between the client and the SEO consultant. I hope that shedding some light on this will prevent future SEO failures. Both clients and consultants have a vested interest in the SEO success of your website and your business, and want to avoid SEO failure at all costs!

Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings and an SEO Consultant in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalenJill Whalen

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Post Comment

 Paul Sherland said:

An excellent article -- thanks for posting this. However, I was wondering if your advice might differ a bit for local SEO.

It certainly depends on the market, but for search placement in many small and mid-sized communities, some relatively minor on-page changes can make a huge difference in results. So the SEO in those circumstances might have more flexibility to let the client make changes to the website without fearing a drop in search engine rankings.

I also view local business listings as complementing website rankings, so if clients leave the management of their local listings in my hands, I can often provide them with a presence high on page one of the SERPs, even if the website slips in the rankings for a short time.

Most of my clients are local businesses and I work with the owners or managers of those companies. Most do not have a couple of hours a week to work with me, but we're able to do pretty well in local results anyway.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on working in the local business SEO environment.

Thanks again Jill!
 Jill Whalen said:
Hi Paul,

Very good points!

But what if your local clients suddenly did a redesign and for whatever reason completely took their address off their website?!

That's the kinda stuff I'm talkin' about! Crazy I know. But it happens all the time.
 Igor Mateski said:
I like the point that sometimes people know just about enough to be dangerous for their site(s). I had such conversations with a few enthusiasts that talked about the keyword Meta, just the exact count of letters in description, just the right keyword density, just the right site to purchase linking packs from... enough knowledge to get sandbox-ed.
Search engines are always user-centered, and all these algorithm updates are ways to perfect the results so real people will get real value. For the past 15 months I've used by blog as a guinneapig to test content development, and from what I see on Google Analytics reports, the best visited version was the one written for the end user, without too much tweaks and workarounds, just plain old high quality unique content.
Unlike Paul, I mostly work on e-commerce sites and sometimes I wish I could have the luxury to just do my work without the good-intentioned structural edits of website owners.
So my question is, How do you approach these eager owners and tell them that SEO (although "unregulated yet") is still a profession and for large sites it's better to leave it to the pros? I mean, it's totally fine to educate them here and there, but where do you draw the line between doing SEO and offering face-to-face SEO training?
 gabs said:
yep... I've seen massive drop in traffic.. .

I sort of hate going on holiday... Once I week for a 2 week hol and came back to -80% in traffic...

I say to all clients all the time pass on site mod past me first... Simple as that..
 George Bounacos said:
Yeah, local is a bear too because so many folks were DIY and realized they just couldn't keep up with their business and their online marketing so hired us. The issues hits a peak when clients go in and "rework" your title tag or your usability or whatever and you learn about it in a report when something isn't tracking.

There's a fine line between "it's your site" and "really, not all SEO advice is written for your site..." I sometimes have conversations like this:

You have 7 pages and 2 landing pages on the side. You don't need to weight the pages in a sitemap. Here let me be heretical. You really don't need a sitemap...