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How to be a great SEO client

One of the major difficulties facing SEO consultants and SEO copywriters alike is a whole raft of myths and misunderstandings by potential clients about what search engine optimisation really is.

There, I’ve said it and no-one died.

All too often, we get embroiled in correcting fundamental myths and misconceptions, as well as fighting a burgeoning cowboy trade (usually conducted through the medium of unsolicited spam) of inflated promises, and too-good-to-be-true pricing. Unlike cowboy builders, clients may never actually know that they’ve been duped.

No wonder a business owner gets confused faced with such an alarming burden of choices and information. In as short a space as possible, I wanted to clear up some of these misconceptions and leave you with a better understanding (and a realistic idea) of what you’re undertaking and why it’s important to find someone that you can trust.

1. Where do you rank right now?

Ask your SEO company to find out where you rank right now. Not just for a few phrases, but for dozens, if not hundreds. What gets measured, gets done. Get your site benchmarked against the keywords that bring you traffic already and the keywords you want traffic for. If an SEO consultant isn’t prepared to conduct rank analysis for you as part of their SEO work – be wary.

We have now adopted a completely independent rank reporting system which means out clients get weekly reports about the rankings that really matter. 

2. What are your goals?

What do you want? People calling up? Products in basket? Leads from enquiry forms? Keeping your goal in mind you avoid the temptation of searching simply for traffic.

A golden rule is that all traffic is not the same. Keyword A may produce 10 times more traffic than keyword B but could convert 100 times less. Focus on the goal first – every other metric is simply a means to reach that goal. Measure sales not traffic!

Which leads us on to the next point.

3. Keep an open mind about keywords

It’s important not to get stuck on keywords you want to rank for. Why? It’s the job of your SEO consultant to analyse data from several sources, looking at various factors such as search volume and competition to determine the right keyword search phrases. By analysing the language, we find the keywords that best target the search intention of your customers. What you type into the search engine may not be how your customer searches for you. A good SEO service will uncover exactly how those customers are searching and help you optimise for exactly that.

4. Don’t expect to rank for broad keyword searches (unless you’re a market leader)

Don’t expect to rank for really broad keyword searches. Unless you’re the market leader already, chances are that you’ll be disappointed if you fix your sights on them. They’re the SEO equivalent of Everest. Given enough time and money, of course it’s possible to rank for these terms. Far better to work more modestly and aim at a range of smaller goals you’re more likely to hit. A good SEO copywriter will be able to tell you whether you’re being realistic in your expectations.

5. You have competition!

It’s not uncommon that without any changes whatsoever, your site will drop rankings. Why? It’s not so much that you got worse, but that someone else got better. With SEO you are working in a competitive environment where other people are also trying to get to  number 1 too! That’s why it’s important that search engine optimisation work is  a continuous process.

6. Search engine results are earned, not given

Search engine rankings are the result of work and knowledge. There is no knowledge that can get you rankings without work, and no work that can get you rankings without knowledge. Ultimately, when you employ us, you’re getting us to use both our knowledge and hard work to get you rankings. To get a place and keep it, you have to earn that place and you have to keep on earning that place continuously.

7. No-one can guarantee results

People who say they can guarantee results are usually those who are a) in a foreign country an unaccountably long way away from you or b) cowboys banking on your lack of knowledge and get you to pay for results on some ridiculously easy-to-rank search term. The litmus test for spammy unsolicited mail is this: does it sound too good to be true? If it does, it usually is too good to be true. I hope my SEO counterparts (even if you’re direct competition) will join me in discouraging unrealistic promises.

8. It takes time

If you want instant results, search engine optimisation will disappoint you. Whilst early results can appear within a matter of days, long term reputation and rank building is a significant piece of work underpinning your business. You should expect it to be a continuous process in securing and advancing the reputation and position of your company – it is not a mere trifle that can be completed in an afternoon.

9. There is no single answer

Over-reliance on any single ranking strategy is dangerous. Using a spread of search strategies will secure you against any sudden changes in the Google Search Algorithm. Again, it’s hard work and knowledge applied cumulatively over time which reaps results.

10. Find an SEO consultant you can trust

A good relationship with an SEO consultant relies on trust. First and foremost, it’s important you can find someone in whom you can place your trust. Find someone you’ll enjoy working with, and find someone who you think can really deliver the goods.

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