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June 1, 2010

Thinking Outside the Bot

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This is a submission to the Small Biz Discovery Contest and part of our commitment to serve the small business community with quality Internet marketing resources. This article answers the question “What one recommendation would you give to small business owners to improve their online presence?” focusing specifically on SEO. It is part of a group of contest submissions sharing Internet marketing recommendations for small businesses. Public voting for the contest is now closed. Winners will be announced July 2, 2010.

Author: Dvir Weininger
Category: SEO

Sometimes, attempting to explain the concept of SEO to the small business owner can be an exercise in futility. The SEO professional must realize the small business owner might not understand technical jargon, or “geek speak” well enough to not be a bit apprehensive about the concept of SEO; that’s why “thinking outside the bot” is so important.

SEO professionals know how important the search engine robots are to our work. We know that our keywords have to be utilized in such a way in order to please the bots, but at the same time, our efforts have to be pleasing to humans as well. It’s a very tenuous balancing act, but if done well, the accomplishments are obvious.

The web sites we design, the coding we devise, and the copy we write must all co-exist harmoniously for the benefit of our clients. These are the elements that need to be emphasised to our prospective small business clients. They’re already convinced that a web presence is a given, but an optimized web presence is what will increase their bottom lines. It is our job as credible SEO providers to explain this to our clients, so they don’t run screaming in terror from us. We owe it to them to speak in plain language to assure them that what we do is legitimate, and will show them positive results.

The biggest mistake an SEO professional can make is to mislead a client by telling them that SEO will have instantaneous results. In today’s culture of instant gratification, the one thing that needs to be absolutely clear is that SEO will not yield instant results. It is an ongoing process that needs constant attention in order to see improvement. It’s like planting a garden; you sow your seeds, water them, nurture them, and eventually, all your hard work and dedication is rewarded with gorgeous flowers and lush greenery. It takes some time and patience, and maybe a setback or two along the way, but eventually, well-done SEO rewards small business with the fruits of your labour. They get more traffic and make more money, and the SEO professionals are their heroes.

The best thing a small business owner can do is become educated in what SEO can do for them. They need to do the research before they hire an SEO professional, and avoid the pitfalls of potentially hiring one that will likely turn out to be a quick-fix spam artist. We must learn to speak clearly and plainly to our prospective clients, explaining the process of SEO in a way that everyone can understand. We need to make ourselves more available to our small business clients and make sure they understand the job we do, and the many steps it takes to accomplish it.

Nothing in life is free; a small business owner should know that, but sometimes they might need reminding. Clear, precise communication, along with an explanation of each and every phase of the process will increase the comfort level of small business clients, and increase their willingness to make that paradigm shift, by embracing what SEO can do for them.

For our part, the SEO professional needs to further his or her education as well. We’re already up-to-date on the latest search engine statistics; we know how many characters our keyword, title and meta tags must contain, we’ve done our homework, researched our clients’ industries and are ready to put it all together. What we need to do is brush up on our people skills. Our most important goal, besides performing quality SEO, is to make sure our clients understand what we do, and get on board with the concepts. The best way to accomplish that task is to be up front, honest and communicative in ways our clients can easily understand. Some of us may struggle with that, but a little effort will pay off with more clients and increased word-of-mouth, when satisfied clients refer you to others in need of your services.

The concept of “thinking outside the bot” is one that will serve us well. The more comfortable we get interacting with our small business clients, the more comfortable we are with what we do. We need to break the “geek” mould and put ourselves out there for people to see who we are, and what it is we do. There are many concepts in existence that are difficult enough to decipher, but SEO doesn’t have to be one of them. Sure, we are clandestine when we research; immersed in the technical who, what, where and why, but that doesn’t mean we need to bring our clients into that world with us. Speak to them the way you would speak to someone who has absolutely no idea what you do. Have a cup of coffee, get to know them, and above all, let them know how what you do is crucially important to their success. SEO is the gateway to achieving success, no matter what industry they’re in. We can help them achieve their goals, without any intimidating jargon or rhetoric. Once they’re on board, the possibilities are endless.

Embrace change; Think outside the bot, and get your clients to think that way as well. Show them how SEO can change the way they do business, without scaring them away. You can do it!

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2 responses to “Thinking Outside the Bot”

  1. White Label SEO Reseller writes:

    SEO and Client Relationship must be transparent. All communications should be done in a coherent way for both parties. I like the term “thinking outside the bot.” It makes SEO sound more human, like the way it should be.

  2. Brent Rangen writes:

    On the flip side, someone looking to have SEO performed on their site often expect instant results. The more we can educate business owners what SEO is all about — the less time I will have to take explaining the process and it’s always nice if they hear it from a reputable source rather than the person sending the invoices!

    You’re right though, there are many tools and resources available to us that will show ROI and traffic estimates. Even though there is less guesswork than it used to be, only when you put in the time and effort do you see the desired results. I always say, “Google does not guess. They have created a technology which is amazing with indexing, ranking, and retrieving data. We can benefit greatly from following everyone of their guidelines to make your site so that we know it is easy for Googlebot to index, good links that increase relevancy and link equity, and maintain a presence on social media sites for results in real time search”

    When you say: “Nothing in life is free; a small business owner should know that, but sometimes they might need reminding.”

    That’s the truth! Images, content, links, advertising, training, etc. can come as a shock to small business owners, but the results of buying the right things can be profound. For the sake of argument, there are small businesses in less competitive markets that can target organic rankings for very cheap. As far as their advertising budget.. the returns on high organic rankings can be huge and sometimes companies can find these opportunistic keywords and establish a high ranking there without much money.

    Nice read Dvir!



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