Monday, August 17, 2009

SEO and Disillusionment: Dealing With The Downside Of The Industry

If you ask an SEO professional if passion is necessary to succeed in the industry, they will likely tell you ‘yes’. Without that passion, the job becomes monotonous and the desire to learn new things begins to die. You become unhappy with your work and the quality suffers.

Unfortunately, the SEO industry seems to be a victim of its own demise. It has grown at such a speed that those outside of it often miss the point and have a very poor understanding of what it entails. Solo professionals deal with clients who want impossible guarantees and results. On top of that, they still need to worry making a living and maintaining a solid reputation.

The mass amounts of bad information, the arrival of social media into the mainstream, and the lack of clear lines have created dissension and mistrust within the industry as well as with paying clients.

You would think that in-house SEO’s would have it made since they just take the orders and run with it.

Well, I’m afraid this only complicates matters. Some companies offering a mix of services understand that SEO is a vital component, but they fail to understand the limitations and rules of the game. They make promises that are impossible to keep and the professional is stuck working with a client who refuses to look at their situation any differently.

Then, there is a sharp end to the learning. It seems like once you reach a certain point, the facts suddenly disappear and opinions take over. Disagreements begin and confusion ensues.

These are just a few of the problems facing the industry, which cause a number of professionals lose interest in the field and quit outright. We need a number of solutions, and we need them fast.

With the high saturation of professionals in the industry (and I use this term loosely), you need to set yourself apart from the crowd. Focusing on a particular niche is only one way to go about it. Consider adding additional services such as viral linking opportunities, submission to niche social media sites (Tip’d for financial sites), and social media optimization. Find out what your clients have to look for before and after they hire you and either supply it, or make it easier for them.

Don’t be afraid to qualify your clients. It can be hard, but turning away a client who will be difficult to deal with is your better option. Otherwise, you torture yourself, the other person, and end up with a bad outcome that could likely cost you your career. Companies with in house SEOs should follow the same practices.

Other SEO professionals are not your enemy; join forces instead of drawing swords. It doesn’t matter how much we like or dislike it, search engines, IR experts, social media people, marketing, business, and other professionals all have something to offer. By working together, you will learn things you might not learn otherwise, open the door to new opportunities, find friends to vent to that you didn’t know you had, and maybe even collaborate to create something new and in demand.

Stop preaching to the choir and focus your marketing. If you maintain a blog to increase your ratings and situate yourself as an industry leader, don’t focus on advanced techniques and industry news. You will attract lots of attention from other SEOs in your industry, but chances are high that your target clients aren’t going to understand or be interested in this type of information.

On your blog, focus on how clients can enhance their online business and the results you provide for them. (Focus on problem solving and benefitting the client.) This improves their experience with your company and increases the chance that they will return. Situate yourself as an industry leader and improve your blog further by using your in-depth SEO posts for guest posts on great sites.

One of the biggest problems seems to be educating the client or the company you are working for. You should still try, but don’t expect it to make a significant difference. Clients often don’t care and aren’t interested in how things work; they only know they need money (traffic) and don’t care what it takes to get there. This is where qualifying your clients come in.

Mix up your work. Just because your main focus is on SEO for dentists for example, doesn’t mean you are limited to that. Take time to sign up and volunteer for beta testing important new tools and markets on the web. Currently, I write, work in social media, and am involved in beta testing a new Twitter tool for measuring the success of a campaign that is unlike any of the others currently market. This is perfect for me; I love Twitter, like trying out the new tools coming out, I get in on some of the best tools and concepts on the web, and the developer gets the information needed for a quality product.

Perhaps the most important thing is to understand your limitations and learn not to take everything to heart. With the economy in the toilet, everyone is grasping at whatever straws they think might help to ease the pains. For the days when it seems like all of the crazies have found their way out of the virtual forest, find a safe place to complain and take your mind off things.

Have you noticed the economy and frustration taking their toll on the industry? How do you combat these things?

via : seoscoop Share/Bookmark

SEO Strategy: Bigger and Better Goals

SEO is not one-size-fits-all.

Although at Fuel Interactive for SEO, we have

•A standard SEO process
•A prioritized checklist of best practices
•Several simultaneous optimization paths…

…we don’t treat every client the same.

We start by looking strategically at rankings, traffic, pagerank, inbound links, and best practice optimizations:

•How is the client doing now?
•What are their competitors doing better?
•What competitive advantages might the client better leverage?
When we’ve met a client’s initial goals, we need to raise the bar. We look for results that are meaningful to the client. Then we say, “Ok, what’s next?” We push for the next strategy to get more results.

Targeting Keywords According to Difficulty

There’s no more obvious place for goal retargeting in SEO than keywords. Every SEO knows that some keywords are more competitive than others.

1.Brand Name Keywords: If you have a client that’s not ranking for their brand name, you have a serious problem or a serious lack of SEO, and that comes first. Sometimes we get a completely non-optimized client: almost zero inbound links, same title tag for every page- those optimizations come first. It’s also possible in some industries, like tourism, national sites also sell the local brand- if the local brand’s SEO is horrible, they might not crack the first page for their brand name.
2.General Keywords: Then you can move to more general keywords- categories, geolocations, etc. These will be more competitive, so you’ll have to make the site more competitive. And there will be levels of difficulty within the general keyword group- some are more competitive than others.
Targeting Keywords According to Results

Another way to look at keywords is according to rankings, traffic, conversions, and conversion rate. Here’s how our keyword evaluation process goes over time:

1.Launch keywords: Initial keyword list based on site, offerings, brand names, category, etc. These come from research tools. At worst, you have no other clients in that vertical and start from scratch. At best, industry experience has already taught you something about the best keywords.
2.Revised keyword list: Reprioritized and expanded keyword list based on analytics, rankings, traffic. Analytics exposes keywords you couldn’t find in step one.
3.Conversion keywords: Reprioritized keyword list based on conversion data. A keyword might get a lot of traffic, but if its conversion rate is significantly low, keywords with medium amounts of traffic that convert well might be better targets.

Revising Keyword Goals After Implementing Basic Best Practices

One of our clients ranked about #5 for their brand names, and nowhere in the top 50 for more general keywords. Not surprisingly, they required significant best practice optimizations including:

•301 redirects from an older domain name
•Clean-up and 301 redirecting of older missing pages
•Keyword optimized, page-specific TITLE tags
Keyword optimized, page-specific Meta descriptions
We did all of the above with sensible category-specific and geolocation-specific keywords. The result, after several months, was that the brand name keywords all rank #1, and the site began to rank between pages two and four for more competitive general keywords. We have now switched our strategy to target 5-10 of these more competitive keywords and are building content and finding links to achieve higher rankings for them.

Expanding Focus to Mid-Tail Good-Converting Keywords

Another client was very focused on ranking higher for a very competitive keyword. We had suggested a more broad focus that would start with long and middle tail keywords and work up to the major keyword, but the client insisted. Over several months, we were able to move them from #4 to #2 for that keyword. But we continued to present the data to them, which showed the following:

There’s really no disputing the value of their number one keyword, but the next five biggest converting keywords receive more conversions than the main one does. As you go further into the mid and long-tail, conversion rates go up, and ranking difficulty goes down. It makes sense to go after all of these, too one degree or another.

via: seo scoop Share/Bookmark