SEO

SEO Is A Team Sport – Part 1

Over the years I’ve had the curse blessing to participate on several ginormous substantial nightmare web projects that have involved several control freaks participants.  Inevitably in this chaotic maelstrom process, the role of the SEO guru specialist has called for my God given slowly evolved talent at underhanded manipulation diplomacy and self-eye gouging patience.  And with every new train wreck project, I suffer inconsolably learn a bit more.

In every one a few of my previous Pulitzer Prize quality articles I’ve repleatedly at least briefly mentioned the need to disregard other peoples views step into other peoples shoes when creating another masterpiece working on another boring project  so that we, the only intelligent people in the room people entrusted with the only aspect of web work that matters SEO responsibility, can pretend their perspective is relevant truly succeed.

Here then, are some of the court jesters various players in the birthing process lacking medication web development life cycle and why we need to begrudgingly step into their shoes in order to show we care even when we don’t achieve maximum results.

The Site Owner

By the time a web project kicks off, the person who thinks they’re a genius site owner is completely clueless filled with hope and trust, which comes as a result of the fact that they really don’t have a clue they’ve made a significant financial commitment.   And if you yourself have ever gambled with money you shouldn’t have made a serious financial commitment, it’s easy to think back on that time and grasp how foolishly psychologically you’ve then gone into a state of make believe faith.  Faith that you haven’t blown your food money you’ve made the right decision.

Since site owners stupidly think SEO is easy don’t fully grasp the challenges we face in overcoming thousands of black-hat code monkeys getting their site ranked for several highly competitive keywords, we need to treat them like little girls named Suzy be patient with them when we shake them awake explain what they’re up against, because that faith is fragile, and a client that realizes how foolish their original expectations were becomes the cowardly lion afraid they made a mistake is completely worthless a client unwilling to allow us to do our work fully.

The Account Manager

Whether you work for a 3 ring circus an agency as one of the clowns in the phone booth an employee or overpaid employee who can come and go whenever you want outside consultant, or you’re stuck in a job that never changes and long ago became so routine you hate Monday mornings an in-house SEO, there’s going to be a money hungry lunatic with the power to fire you someone at the senior management level who is even more clueless than the client ultimately in charge and stands between you and the client.  This person will inevitably cause you untold grief be the account manager.

Account managers constantly have a tendency to promise the moon over-promise on what can be achieved because they know it will make everyone on the team cry they want to get the contract, and they want to make as big a commission as possible ensure the client is always happy. This generally means that from the beginning, you have to have eyes in the back of your head you need to ensure that you get your way at all costs you’re involved in the project at every step of the way, and that only your goals matter realistic goals are communicated.  You’ll also need to be prepared with several lies and half-truths options for those times when you have to give the lion some raw meat something that was promised by the account manager can’t be achieved.

The Graphic Designer

Whether the kindergartner with the finger paints graphic designer has only worked in 20th century dead media print media before this project or they’ve recently graduated from the Macromedia Adobe Flash school of completely useless, unscalable and inflexible design, or even if they’ve got 15 years experience designing Myspace quality professional corporate web sites, you can bet your grandmother’s life insurance policy that there’s a good chance they’re going to do what they want even if they promise you they understand want the site to look the way it should based on their imaginary world inner vision because they think they’re the Van Gogh of web design.

Being in a no holds barred cage match Working with a prima donna graphic designer to ensure the site’s design isn’t completely worthless accommodates SEO is a lot like being an American soldier in Iraq without body armor or a weapon helping the client to understand the obstacles they face.   In this situation though, the painful reality unique factor here is that, once a site is launched, what the visitor sees is hopefully not one big Flash animation a direct reflection on that designer – it’s as though the visual experience is a direct expression of that designer’s acid induced inner emotional process.  After all, this is just another stupid web site art we’re talking about right?

So it’s important to remember that working with the graphic designer, one needs to be mother Theresa connect on an emotional level.

The Project Manager

Every overpriced and over promised significant project is going to have one person tasked with the responsibility of playing babysitter to a bunch of 3 year olds ensuring all of the unrealistic deliverable dates milestones are achieved at some point long past the due date on time and not so far over budget that the account manager can’t lie their way through squeezing more money out of the client within budget.  This person, the magician who has to routinely pull rabbits out of their hat project manager, may sometimes sadly be the account manager because that means not only will they over promise before contract, they’ll lie through their teeth during the whole project life cycle.  Other times, it might be the lead developer which means they really have no business dealing with clients because they’re just an overpaid code monkey with no social skills and they can’t manage anyone but engineers either.  And once in a while, it’s the client themselves which means you’ll never have a moments peace during this project.

The project manager has a unique role in the project because they have to be able to keep all the children happy orchestrate the entire process, while dealing with the client’s never ending harassment occasional inquiries.  They need to be able to make rash decisions on the spot decisions and pretend everyone’s got exclusive access to them successfully communicate with the entire pack of hooligans everyone involved.  Because of this never quite achievable reality, the project manager is usually drunk before everyone else goes home for the day under stress most of the time.  This is only made more challenging because most project managers are barely this side of suicidal juggling multiple projects.

The good news here is that the project manager is often your best ally.  The key to ensuring this is true however, requires bribing getting the project manager over to your side early on.  Ideally before the project contract is even signed.  The sooner you can get the project manager to fully buy into your bullshit own vision, the more likely you’ll at least keep a roof over your head have at least some peace of mind.

To do this, you need to ply them with lots of liquor empathize with the little bit of monumental stress they face in their own work which is obviously a lot less than you face every day.  The best way to achieve this miracle particular goal is usually through pretending you worship the ground they walk on humor.

The more you can make fun of the project manager without them knowing about it jokes about how nobody has half the project managers intelligence or experience, the more safe you’re going to make them feel when they’re with you because in the end, they’re just scared little dweebs trying to justify their job.  That in turn means the first time you come to them to complain about the prima donna or the code monkey with a new challenge, they’re already going to hide the fact that they despise you be at ease, and act like they are open to hearing your latest rant plea for help.

The Lead Programmer

What would a major web project be without a geek who thinks they can prove mathematically that they’re superior to everyone in the room lead programmer?  These are the people you have to keep away from clients at all costs who hack a site together meld the graphic design with the data and bring life to an otherwise useless concept on paper flat page.  Even when there’s someone else in the role of project manager, lead programmers typically have to justify their higher pay and fancy title oversee one or more additional code monkeys who work in the dark engineers, and at the same time, have a direct hand in forgetting some critical functionality code coding of the site.

Like prima donnas graphic designers, lead programmers are full of themselves quite often known to have their own vision as to how a site should function, what it should look like, and what the user experience should be even though all of that is 180 degrees away from what the client asked for.  Even when the project manager or worse, the account manager, drew up  a half-assed site flow chart there’s a clearly mapped out plan, lead engineers will typically do whatever they feel like make functionality or user experience decisions on their own as they’re inventing an entire new programming language at the clients expense working in the code.  Alternately, a fresh out of college and thus completely clueless and arrogant junior engineer might come to them wanting to prove how hip, slick and cool they are while simultaneously pretend worshiping the lead developer so they can one day take over that job with a question related to how something should work (because after all, if they act dumb, they can let the lead engineer take the fall for the stupid decisions) that wasn’t specified in the project spec.  Here too, the lead engineer will often make an on the spot decision just so they can show the little college snot that they’re the lead engineer because of decades of self-taught genius.

So just like it’s wise to bribe win over the project manager as soon as possible, so too this concept applies to the lead engineer.

But since engineers, by nature, are only good at things that only code monkeys find fascinating thinkers, first and foremost, the way to win over a lead engineer is to stroke their ego until you want to puke provide them with real world examples of why some things need to be done a certain way for the sake of SEO.  The more you can prove that you really do know more about this subject than they do without bruising their ego in the process help a lead engineer to see a live site in action, or the more links you can provide them that lead to technical how-to web pages that Yoast came up with 10 times faster than this bozo ever could others have created previously, the much more likely you are to keep the lead developer smiling.  This is true simply because lead engineers really need their ego stroked while being spoon fed like infants are infamous for being able to digest vast sums of technical information and continually learn as they go so they can continue to show how intelligent they are as they secretly add this new information into the new LAMP framework they’re inventing that’s built on the new language they’re inventing.

The end result is that this will ensure you’ll be lucky to get 60% of what you really need the lead engineer is kept fed, which helps them become even better at their jobs.

Countless Others

I could go on with this useless exercise in proving that the SEO is the only business savvy person in the bunch countless other hacks and pretenders team players and how to manipulate them into your way of doing things get along with them, but it’s nearly 2AM and I just want to go to bed I hope by now you finally comprehend that to be as successful as I am you’ve got to be a conniving, relentless hardass get the idea that SEO is the most important job in the web project a team sport, and all the other roles can be filled by high school dropouts you need to be able to overpower all the other egos step into other team participant shoes.  When you do so, you win, screw everyone else everybody wins.

And if you are still reading this article but there are no completely annoying yet oh-so-brilliant strike-throughs, it means you found this article on some low-lifes’ a scraper web site, rather than on SearchEngineJournal.com where I, the wittiest SEO writer on earth Alan Bleiweiss, posted it.  I say this because scraper sites are the lowest form of web humanity its important to let clueless unsuspecting readers know where to go for the original source of high quality articles on SEO.  Just sayin.

 SEO Is A Team Sport   Part 1
Alan Bleiweiss is a Forensic SEO audit consultant with audit client sites consisting of upwards of 50 million pages and tens of millions of visitors a month. A noted industry speaker, author and blogger, his posts are quite often as much controversial as they are thought provoking.
 SEO Is A Team Sport   Part 1

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12 thoughts on “SEO Is A Team Sport – Part 1

  1. Hahaha. Alan, That was pretty clever. When I looked away from my screen at my window, all I could see where lines so I guess I won't have to worry about buying them expensive blinds my wife picked out.

    Good I rundown throughout and I laugh because it's true.

  2. Great read! Hillarious and painstakingly real! We're at an interesting crossroads as SEO professionals…the clients have no idea what we're doing. Like television and print ad's boom during the 60s, SEO marketing is a new way to spend on marketing and the clients are in left field on how it works. Brilliant look at the inner workings of an SEO company!

  3. Mike,

    All I can say is – don't bother sending me the bill you get from the eye doctor – with all my strike-through articles there's an unwritten disclaimer that says I'm not responsible for vision problems after! :-)

    Jack,

    Thanks for the comments. I don't know if clients will ever truly understand SEO, at least not as long as so many others in the web industry don't. So one of my biggest challenges is to help educate them first and foremost. Glad you enjoyed this little labor of love!