The SEO marketplace is without doubt an ‘interesting’ one where issues of huge competition and distrust combine with thoughts of ‘trickery, magic and lots of smoke and mirrors’.
This level of competition makes it difficult to be noticed. In particular, the traditional channels of email and telephone cold calling are saturated. Now add the fact that so many businesses have been ‘burnt’ by companies claiming they can deliver everything and then failing to deliver anything (or at least not that much). It’s easy to see why getting noticed, heard and – more importantly believed – is so difficult. These problems face any SEO business.
Looking at SEO from a different perspective
With this in mind I talked to two great business experts/coaches, Jason Squires and Phillip Nicholls. Their advice was interesting and led me to tackle getting noticed in a new way. What they said triggered thoughts of how different it is to look at the business world from an SEO professional’s perspective – especially compared to looking at the SEO world from outside. Suddenly, visions of Lewis Caroll’s Alice falling down the rabbit hole came to mind.
Looking out of the SEO rabbit hole
The view from the burrow is amazing: the scope and need for our services is huge and so many business websites are clearly crying out for attention. Warm and cosy within, and armed with a huge array of software and knowledge (not to mention all the other SEO rabbits we can chat to and get ideas from) we’re positive we can help.
However, we have doubts. We’re sure of our knowledge, but also aware that sometimes, no matter what we do, the great Google seems to take little or no notice. Sometimes, websites we work on fail to get the ranking and traffic they deserve. We’ve even seen others try and fail on the same sites; it seems that The Google has pulled invisible levers and pressed unseen buttons that we’re unaware of and unable to influence. Fortunately, we know these are few and far between, so we don’t worry too much.
What does worry us is that, no matter how many times we call out or put notices outside our warrens, people seem unaware of how much we can help them. Some seem to distrust us too and we worry about what other SEO practitioners have done to discredit us.
Some businesses think they don’t need help
We also become concerned that businesses think they don’t need help. And that, by simply creating a website, traffic and business will flow in. Another thing that nibbles away at us is that no one outside the rabbit hole understands just how difficult it can be to get websites noticed by Google. And how much work is needed to find the right words, place them suitably on the pages and make sure enough is said – in the right way, of course. What’s more, we know it can take Google time to notice a website, get enough ‘confidence’ to rank it, and deliver the traffic that starts the selling process.
Knowing we’ve ‘done our job’ and delivered a potential customer to the website means just the start of the process and gives us nightmares too. What if the website isn’t convincing enough? Or if the product or service is too expensive? These and other reasons can cause visitors to leave without buying and we worry that our work will be blamed.
In summary, life down the SEO rabbit hole can be difficult. At least, when things go right and people listen to us, extra carrots are sometimes dished out to all…
Looking into the SEO rabbit hole
But what do people looking in make of it all?
If you get the impression that looking out is scary, it’s nothing compared to looking in. After all, those looking in are the ones considering spending their hard earned cash. What’s more, they may have been down a burrow before and come out feeling unhappy.
Others have little knowledge of what goes on in the burrow. All they see is a hole to stuff their money into. They hear strange mutterings from the depths, using words and phrases they don’t understand. It’s almost gibberish to many. To others it even prompts fears of magic and trickery. Occasionally vast amounts of data are thrown from the hole for them to see. Most of it means nothing and sometimes it looks just like another sales pitch for their money.
The biggest worry?
And then there’s the biggest worry for some who’ve previously been involved with SEO. It’s the concern that the SEO rabbit seemed to do nothing but take money – and didn’t explain what they did to earn it. Sometimes meaningless reports are sent from the warren, but too often there’s little personal contact, which makes SEO users feel cheated.
The good news is that not all SEO rabbits are the same. In fact, if you go down their burrows like Alice in Wonderland, you’ll get a much better idea of what they do, why they do it, and how it helps you.
What to do if you’re thinking of entering a warren?
The very first thing to look for is whether the SEO rabbit offers you a light, or just asks you to plunge into the darkness ‘because it’s safe’. Good ones will do more than just give you a lamp to see into the nooks and crannies. They’ll also put all the lights on so you feel safe and secure. And there’ll be a nice comfy chair too. All in all the experience should be exciting and enlightening.
They’ll show you what they’ve done before and what all the programs and systems are for. They’ll also speak in plain English and explain what the jargon means without using gobbledygook to hide the truth. Good rabbits will never promise first page rankings because it’s impossible for anyone to guarantee this. That’s because so many factors come into play – not to mention all the other rabbits who are doing the same thing. And there are only 10 places on that coveted first page after all…
Good SEO practitioners won’t promise sales
Another thing that the SEO rabbit shouldn’t do is promise sales. Their job is to get people into your ‘showroom’ so you can demonstrate what you do and how you can help them. Sure, a good rabbit will point out issues that could stop visitors from converting. But in the end, it’s the strength of your product or service – as illustrated on your website’s pages – that will possibly get you a sale.
Two kinds of SEO rabbit
Generally, when it comes to how they can help you, you’ll find two kinds of rabbit. Neither is ‘bad’, but they’re very different.
Some, like Serendipity, will carry out a thorough audit on your site. By doing this, they can see what’s wrong and what needs fixing before telling you clearly what they’ve found. Occasionally, they even get taken advantage of…
Others will carry out the check, but then say, ‘well, we can see how we can help you, but you’ll need to start paying us before we’ll tell you’.
Which will you choose?
Neither is wrong. It’s up to you to choose which rabbit to listen to.
Something that any good SEO rabbit should explain is that the process is not a quick one-off event, but a planned long-term affair with set goals and milestones to check progress against. However, they shouldn’t lock you into a long term contract unless they’re doing a lot of work in the first few months and have agreed to spread the cost over time.
About the author
Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.