I don’t know whether you ever get this thought when touring the web, but there are some sites that I think ‘I wish I could get my hands on it!’…where you can see that SEO hasn’t even been given a second thought, but where great gains could be made from a few simple improvements!
This would be the honeymoon period: simple changes and fast results.
Honeymoon: Fast Results
I know I have seen and worked on a number of sites where I can see that a couple of relatively straight-forward changes would make a huge difference…
Simple changes and fast results can be from things like:
- Title tag optimisation
- Semantically structuring the text on each page
- Dropping images for CSS and floating text
- Internal linking structures and anchor text optimisation
- Installing an analytics package (and analysing the results of course).
- Keyword research and analysis – site-wide and page-by-page
- Including a clear call-to-action
…the simplicity of implementing these examples naturally varies, and might quite obviously depend on the CMS’s versatility, for instance but these are examples of items to look out for.
Honeymoon: An Untapped Resource
So, OK, you take on a new project…what happens next? Some sites have a whole host of resources and a genuine USP that nobody knows about…whereby the owners have followed the principle ‘build-it and they will come’! Well, it’s not always as simple as that, so a little bit of promo and improved onsite management could go a long way. The results from this might be impressive but how are you going to sustain them and naturally manage this client relationship. The SEO honeymoon period could have a sting in the tail. So what can you do about it?
The honeymoon is over
You’ve made the site more accessible, you’ve tackled some duplicate content issues, the site is developing a clearer landing page strategy, the keyword research is paying off and the results have been tremendous in such little time…now the real work begins!
You now need to ensure that you can maintain a return on investment that warrants keeping you in a job.
Educate the client in the process
If you want to enjoy the SEO honeymoon period, ensure that you are placing resources into the longer-term results with these kind of sites. How are you going to take advantage of this increased visibility? How are you going to keep up the momentum and build this into the planning with the client? Here are a few ideas…
- How does SEO, social media, link-building, online PR etc work together for longevity of results? How will the results look in 6, 12, 24 months…can you even begin to lay down targets here?
- Expectations management –some quick wins but these should not be devalued just because they were quick. The long-term results will be where the real profits (for both parties) are made.
- What you are reporting on and how this can feed in to planning decisions.
Transparency in Result Aspirations: Good and Bad
Talk them through the initial quick-wins. Be honest. Maintaining credible and justified results through transparent planning is a great way to develop your client relationship.
An adverse example of this is taking on a client with an unhealthy amount of Text Link Ads in their link-profile, and gradually phasing them out at but at the expense of some short-term losses.
Following the honeymoon period, results may slow and as a result reducing CPA’s (cost per account / purchase / sign-up) may stall. It’s worth being mindful of this early-on because it will help work out where your budgets are best aligned to maintain some of this growth. Ploughing all your budgets in to front-end activity, without planning for when and where longer-term results will come from could be disastrous for longer-term CPA’s and end the honeymoon period with a thump, as you’re kicked out of bed. This naturally depends on a regular review of which account metrics are the short-term and long-term priority.
Importantly though, be proactive.
You can work to build more momentum with this growth and extend your honeymoon period. Just because you see some easy results coming your way, you can quite easily maintain this growth in results (if the niche has the volume), if you remember one thing…visibility breeds visibility.
So, ask yourself, how are you going to capitalise on this increased exposure?
An increase in the volumes and frequency of the people that see you in the SERPs means a greater brand awareness, the more people that talk about your brand, and the more people that cite your website. Easy. Both traditional and digital forms of marketing work on this cumulative, multiplier principle.
Oh, but in reality…
Even the fast results don’t come easily. Taking on a new client, involves a great deal of work for both a freelance SEO consultant and a team of SEO’s working on behalf of corporate clients. At the very least you need to put time into:
- Aligning, integrating and understanding each other’s data, management systems and analysis techniques.
- Agreeing on targets, strategy and tactics.
- And merging two (often) very different cultural worlds.
…so this whole SEO Honeymoon period is over-rated right? Well, no, not really…great results are of course very achievable quite quickly, but they’re even greater if you can put a plan in place to maintain their growth, that’s all.
Are you suffering from a honeymoon hangover? Put yourself down as an ‘Anon’ and share your thoughts below…
Ben McKay is a SEO Manager for Mediaedge:cia / WPP, and writes about managing SEO and social media projects over at his blog, Just Me and My. Say hello to Ben on Twitter.