The SEO Confusion IllusionPosted by on June 22, 2007 at June 22, 2007 11:17 AM
By now most of us have heard the terms search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM) and may even understand them to a certain degree. But many still feel that SEO is something best left for their IT department, or maybe an outside firm specializing in this mystical business. Let your IT department off the hook, because other than possibly implementing coding changes, it’s a marketing job. However, if you’re looking to use an outside SEO firm, there are a few things to consider.
Technicalities vs. Common Sense – Some SEO firms turn the business of optimizing web pages into a scientific “confusion illusion.” But like all marketing, it’s really a combination of art and science. True, there are some technical elements involved that an SEO firm will know inside and out. But if you ask them how they develop keywords for their clients and their response involves phrases like, “proprietary methods, algorithms and extensive lingual research,” you may want to reconsider. Paid tools such as WordTracker and free options through Google and Yahoo! will allow you to perform “extensive lingual research” all by yourself, if you have the time…
Connect the Dots – Most of SEO and search marketing is not about technology and secret algorithms that trick the search engines. It’s about connecting the dots between your marketing and communications efforts. The problem is that PR people don’t always think about search engines and leverage their efforts to also influence search engine visibility. We’re often guilty of writing Web content or press releases that assume the reader already knows what you’re talking about so why use the keywords on every page or in subheads, etc. But what we’re great at is developing content & articles for niche opportunities (e.g., positioning an architecture firm as an expert in green buildings). That ability to generate highly targeted content needs to be synchronized with the search engine efforts.
Time – SEO takes time. It’s not a one-time function you simply set up and walk away from. As you’ve probably experienced, results from ad campaigns or the launching of a new product for example – don’t come overnight. They take time to build and to manage. SEO/SEM should be treated in the same respect.
See the Big Picture – Look at SEO as just another part of your overall marketing mix. It’s certainly one way to drive more traffic to your site, albeit an important one, but it’s not the only way. Web marketing tools such as a company blog, ongoing e-newsletter or social networking sites can be great things to add to your Web marketing strategy.
As with any vendor, find an SEO firm that really understands your business and watches out for your best interests. You’ll find your investment will be just that, and not a one time fee paid for a couple of keywords and fancy proposal intentionally littered with terms to make you feel interactively-challenged.
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Great post, Jason. You hit the nail on the head here. I particularly like your words of caution on hiring a firm who speaks in technicalities rather than common-sense aka the "confusion illusion".
I think this discipline can be very intimidating for many clients and I'm sure they appreciate SEO teams who can help them understand more about how it works and why it's an important part of their communications strategy.
Posted by: Melissa at June 27, 2007 9:45 AM
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