Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term that is often difficult to define even though it’s been in many marketers’ vocabularies for well over a decade. SEO is a practice. SEO is a strategy. SEO is a discipline. But what does SEO mean for the client and why after all of this time does SEO still fall on deafened ears when marketers pitch it? What are the client’s expectations when they do decide to purchase an SEO plan? What is involved with its cost? It is my hope in this article, to convey the basic principles of what SEO means to the client as well as to the agency selling the plans to the client.
SEO is a strategy that has teeth. With the declines of placing print, yellowbook pages, and network advertising, especially in the past 3 years, marketers have turned to search and structured content. Placing a client’s identity online is an ever-changing practice and involves methods that almost change on a quarterly basis. Conveying this concept of ongoing maintenance and process is always a challenge as the client typically wants a detailed plan mapping out “this and that” to be scrutinized over like a fine tooth comb, but that is never the case. The best laid out plans will always bomb if Google or another device changes its course or algorithm to shake up the tree a bit. Clients more often than not, do not get this abstract concept and it takes trust over time and results moving upward to really let the concept sink in.
Almost all SEO companies and strategists will lose ground in the world of SEO if they become complacent in their strategy and their thinking. Google updates its algorithm frequently. In fact, according to MOZ.com, an SEO-strategist tool and resource, in 2013 – to present (July 2013), Google released 7 updates to the algorithm. How can a client justify paying a monthly expense? From our experience, it’s best to describe this experience cost as the cost of exposure. Much like the traditional national print, radio or television campaigns, SEO and targeting structured content involves many of the principal concepts that radio, print and television have used for decades. The more one spends, the more exposure one has on the internet when properly executed. This takes analysis, planning, execution, maintenance and reporting results; in other words – a consistent and definable labor cost.
Another prime concept that must be conveyed to the client is the importance of maintaining their SEO and placement. Due to the constant evolving nature of the internet and competition (often mimicking the behaviors of natural selection), change always happens. Without maintenance and flexibility, plans often will fail unless changes are allowed to happen.