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May 29, 2008

Be Part of the Search Engine Optimization Process

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Jessica Bowman had a fantastic article over at Search Engine Land this morning entitled Why You Need to Know SEO Basics, Even If You Outsource. If you don’t agree that it’s important for your in-house SEO person to take the time to learn the fundamentals of search engine optimization, then you really must read that article. Actually, maybe read it twice. And then snuggle with it later.

Even if you outsource your search engine optimization campaigns to someone else, you’re still responsible for knowing the basics. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for the success of your site. Just because you’re not doing the work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of what’s going on, even if it’s solely for your own protection.

There are quite a few reasons why it’s important to be an educated SEO client. Here are the ones that instantly spring to mind:

  • You learn what’s right for YOUR site: As Jessica notes in her article, every site is different. A tactic that may be a good idea for one site may not work on another. As recent events have showed, if you’re running a respected news site, than maybe creating outlandish link bait isn’t such a good idea. However, it may be a totally viable and effective tactic for a different environment. By educating yourself about what search engine optimization is, what the engines reward, and how sites are ranked, it allows you to make yourself part of the process so that you can make more informed decisions about what SEO paths your site will take.
  • Protect yourself from bad SEOs: As we’re all too often reminded, there are enough unscrupulous and misinformed SEOs out there that not knowing your stuff can be dangerous. You need to educate yourself so that you’re able to smell out when someone isn’t being honest with you or if you’re being sold something that could potentially harm your site. If people don’t want to accept standards for search engine optimization, that’s fine, but you still don’t want to go into the process blind.
  • Changing Vendors: You may be in the honeymoon phase with your optimization vendor right now, but there may come a time when you’ll need to switch. Maybe client/vendor satisfaction will drop, you’ll need something they don’t offer, or it’s just time to move on. Either way, the more you know about what’s happening in your campaign, the faster you can get your new vendor up to speed and start seeing real improvements. You’ll also want to know what your old SEO did so that you can compare it to the new vendor to make sure everyone has similar methodologies, beliefs and colored hats. ;)
  • Increase Your Company’s Vocabulary: The more SEO knowledge you have, the more knowledge you’ll be able to share in-house. I can’t stress how important it is to spread knowledge transfer as a way of getting everyone on the same team. A Vice President who doesn’t know what search engine optimization is won’t put room in the budget for it. The IT person who’s not on your side isn’t going to allow you to make the necessary tweaks that you need. Your marketing team isn’t going to run efficiently, your content writers won’t write with the users and search engines in mind. Having an educated staff and getting everyone speaking the same language is critical to your site’s success.
  • Save You Money: Chances are, you have a certain number of consulting hours allotted in your contract. Those hours are precious and you want to save them for the hard stuff. Don’t waste them on fundamental SEO tactics. Hold on to them for when you really need them.

An educated client is better client. In her post, Jessica outlines a number of ways that site owners can educate themselves on search engine optimization. I’d recommend you take a look.

At Bruce Clay, we’re big supporters of knowledge transfer. It’s the only way to get the whole team involved and invested in a project. We require our clients to attend our SEO training program in order to get them involved from the very beginning. You want to work the same way with your SEO vendor, whoever they may be.

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3 responses to “Be Part of the Search Engine Optimization Process”

  1. Asia writes:

    Great advice, I try to keep my clients as up to date as possible, it’s funny however, when you hear them mash up your words to another person.

    I lost a client about 3 years ago, to another SEO company, it wasn’t a large client, and didn’t affect me much. In 6 months the client returned, rankings dropped by 3 – 10 points on each of the highest viable keyword and the most competitive as well. I wasn’t surprised – I was ignored when I explained the issues that will and had come up with the switch.

    The client lost privileges however, and I charged more for my services on the return – which I felt was valid. In the end, whether or not you give them enough information – or think you have, they will make the decision to move on their own.

    Incidentally, it’s a requirement that all my clients are RSS Subscribers to Search Engine Land, Bruce Clay and Search Engine Watch – this way, they are very aware of everything going on in the industry.

  2. Scott Salwolke writes:

    Greaat post. I try to not only keep clients up to date on what I’m doing, but why so they’ll understand the process. I signed with a client this week to work on their organic rankings. In researching their site they provided me with the keywords they bid on. They provide an online course in a specific community. Yet, they bid on the keywords for this nationally. I explained to them that despite all the clicks, nearly all were of no use as they weren’t in the right market. They’ve been losing money for a year simply because they didn’t understand the process.

  3. Ammon Johns writes:

    Great post, Lisa.

    You’re right that learning some SEO, just as Jessica Bowman also stated, is an essential step to getting the most out of your SEM campaign.

    Search marketing is getting continually more complex and complicated, yet simultaneously often more subtle and smooth too. Its all part of the maturing process. Brute-force and clumsy SEM just doesn’t usually get anywhere good these days.

    I recently highlighted the idea that its the same thing as the Long Tail – the process of going deeper, smarter, and broader. The idea that lots of smaller things add up to a greater whole than a couple of huge ones.

    Training is thus the flip-side of the Long Tail. The step needed to apply lots more peoples smaller efforts to the overall campaigns. Getting away from the blunt generics and one-size-fits-all-(badly) SEM of the early days. Getting into the niche, tailored, specific state of modern SEM.

    http://sphinn.com/story/49727



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