Sometimes it seems like we, in the SEO industry, are constantly defending our legitimacy and reputation to the outside world. I received a phone call just a few months ago from someone who, in one breath, told me they needed SEO help and in the next, was talking about what a brunch of crooks “those SEO guys” were. Every industry is bound to have its fair share of bad apples, but those fly-by-night and SEO con-men make it that much harder for the rest of us to earn the trust and respect of our clients that we deserve. Once bit, twice shy, right?
I feel like many SEO professionals would agree with me that the best way to combat this negative reputation is with education. Here’s what Elisabeth Osmeloski of Search Engine Land had to say about it;
I think the SEO industry as a whole still has a long way to go as far as combating low-level tactics and misinformation that exists out there. Collectively, I believe the industry has to work harder to rise above the distrust created by bad SEO – I wish I had an easy solution to that, but I don’t beyond distributing trustworthy information about sustainable SEO practices. Education for all levels – small business owners to the C-level executive is top priority for us at Search Engine Land, Marketing Land & SMX.
Here are 3 reasons why I feel SEO education matters:
1. Educated site owners are less likely to get ripped off.
My least favorite phone call is when I hear from a site owner that got ripped off by a black hat SEO firm and is now left with a penalty and pieces of a shattered online brand. It’s heart-wrenching to hear from a site owner that put their trust in a supposed “expert” and is now paying for it (in addition to whatever price they paid for those services at the beginning). While I don’t expect my clients to be experts in SEO, I feel that more knowledgeable site owners would be able to recognize the red flags in an SEO conman and wouldn’t get played like a fool. Google de-indexed blog networks in the past. If you knew that and you hear your SEO provider talk about their proprietary blog network linking system, then you’ll know that maybe they aren’t really the SEO firm for you.
Obviously learning the nitty-gritty details of SEO can take a lifetime, but when site owners have a better understanding of the big picture (aside from get more links), I feel like they are less likely to get ripped off by smooth talking SEO con-men.
2. Educated site owners have more realistic expectations about their SEO campaigns.
An uneducated site owner might not realize the sheer amount of effort and time that goes into creating and executing a successful SEO campaign. SEO is not just a matter of making some tweaks to your site, building a few links, and calling it a day. Depending on how old your website is, what kind of competition you are facing, and what kind of SEO work you’ve done in the past, it could be several months before you see the real fruits of your SEO labors. If you aren’t aware of that time frame, then waiting for results can get very frustrating!
I still field a lot of calls from site owners that expect instant and overnight success when it comes to their SEO and content marketing campaigns. The simple truth is that a lot of what influences your long-term (and it is long-term!) success is out of our hands. For instance, a few months ago we did a full onsite optimization for a new client’s site, but it wasn’t until about 3 weeks ago that Google re-crawled their site and actually recognized any of our changes. Even though we had made some significant changes (including rewriting content and adding several new pages) those efforts weren’t really “counted” in their favor for several weeks.
The more you understand about how SEO and the search engines work, the more realistic your expectations will be because you aren’t expecting your SEO provider to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
3. The more they understand about what goes into an SEO campaign the more respect clients will have for their SEO partners.
More than once I’ve been asked “so what do you really do?” both by prospective clients and intrigued parties. I try to answer as succinctly as possible because most people don’t have the time (or patience) to listen to the long-form answer. I’ve found that uneducated site owners don’t always appreciate just how much time and effort goes into their SEO campaign. We can’t conjure quality links out of thin air; it takes manual research and clever thinking. We aren’t just targeting keywords at random; we’re using real data to make real decisions. Writing a 1000 word blog post that actually says something and captures the attention of your audience AND is link-worthy, isn’t exactly a walk in the park either! The more site owners know about SEO and all the components that go into it, the more they can appreciate the work that we as SEO professionals do. They might just realize that if you pay $49.95 a month for SEO, that you’re not going to be getting very much…
As Elisabeth said, we as SEO providers and professionals have to work together to raise the level of awareness and SEO education for our clients across all levels of business. In my opinion, more educated clients doesn’t equal less work, it means better relationships with our clients!
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