Just like there are good and bad SEO firms, there are also good and bad SEO clients. When a prospective client comes running to us complaining about their current or former SEO firm, we always make sure to ask the right questions to determine whether it actually was the SEO firm’s fault that the SEO program wasn’t working or if it in fact might have been the client that was the culprit all along. The SEO client tends to think that they can never be the one to blame, since after all they are the ones that are paying for the service. However, there are many moving parts to an SEO campaign and if the SEO client doesn’t understand or isn’t involved as much as they should be, there’s a greater chance that they will claim that the SEO campaign isn’t working and that it’s time to jump ship.
If you want to be a good SEO client, you need to understand these 5 things:
SEO is an ongoing process. What frustrates SEO clients the most about SEO is that it is long term. Once you get started with an SEO campaign you might not see that much of an improvement in search position or website visitors for the first few months and some clients hate the thought of spending money on something that isn’t generating results. What needs to be understood about SEO is that the results will be there, but it’s just going to take some time. An important component of the search algorithm is how trusted a website is, and it takes time to establish your website and earn that trust.
Content is necessary. If you want to be successful with SEO today it’s about much more than optimizing existing site pages. The key to SEO is to create optimized content on an ongoing basis, specifically informational content that will help target audience members with their decision making. Each additional page of content in the form of a blog post, video, white paper, etc. is an additional page that can rank in the search engines for related keyword terms. Content is also what generates natural inbound links that point back to your site when the content gets shared and referenced.
Social media is necessary. Social media marketing shouldn’t be operated in a silo. Social media activity is tied to an SEO campaign because the search engines consider social signals as a part of the search algorithm. The majority of businesses still aren’t nearly as active in social media as they should be. The SEO clients that understand the importance of social media and spend time each day sharing content and interacting with target audience members will reap the benefits of doing so.
Quality is more important than quantity. The number of SEO clients that still ask questions like “How many links can you get me?” and “How many blog posts do I need to write to improve my ranking?” is shocking. SEO doesn’t work like that, at least it doesn’t anymore. Quality trumps quantity every time. 10 quality links built over a period of a few months is better than 500 links that have little value. In fact, there’s a good chance that those 500 links could come back to haunt you given the recent Penguin algorithm updates.
Target audience members are the top priority. Yes, SEO is all about the search engines. However, what the search engines want the most today is for website owners to provide their target audience members and website visitors with a good experience.
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As an SEO campaign moves along, it’s important to monitor the success of the campaign. It’s true that SEO is a long term strategy and that success won’t come over night, but as the campaign progresses you should be able to see small (but significant) gains along the way.
One item that should be monitored is the entrance keywords from organic search. This refers to the keyword that someone types in to a search engine, and then sees your page of content and clicks on it. An Analytics tool, like Google Analytics, allows you to pull this data for any time period that you choose.
There are essentially two types of entrance keywords. The first type of keyword is a “branded” keyword. This refers to a keyword that includes in some way or another the company name, such as “Company X”, “Company X services”, “Company X contact” and lots of other variations. A keyword could also be considered to be a branded keyword if it includes the name of anyone that works at the company or the brand name of the product that the company distributes. The second type of keyword is a “non branded” keyword. This type of keyword has no mention of the company name, product name, employee name, etc. It is simply a term that describes what the site has to offer. For example “running sneakers” is a non branded keyword since there is no company or brand affiliation.
The goal of an SEO campaign is to deliver traffic to a website from the search engines, and primarily from people that are searching using non branded keywords, people that have never heard of the company or product names before. If SEO primarily focuses on non branded keywords, what is an OK percentage of branded keywords?
There really isn’t a correct answer to this question, mostly because there is nothing wrong with branded keywords. This is something that clients often don’t quite understand. They see that a large percentage of their entrance keywords are branded and think that it means that the SEO campaign isn’t working. However, this type of comparison shouldn’t be used. A high percentage of branded entrance keywords doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t working. It means that all of your marketing efforts, both online and offline (and including SEO) ARE working. It means that you have a strong brand. People remember it and type it directly into the search box. If your site is well optimized and you have verified profiles on other sites, you will control the message that is seen.
Instead of comparing the percentage of branded keywords to the percentage of non branded keywords to determine the success of an SEO campaign, a better indicator of SEO success is to compare the number of non branded keywords to the number of non branded keywords before the campaign launched each month. Forget about percentages. Of course, the trend should move upwards but there may be occasional dips during some months, which is normal. The bottom line is that branded entrance keywords are never a bad thing. Having a lot of them just means that your brand is strong.