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."
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: