I have been both a client and a deliverer of traditional SEO packages. These packages were offered by companies pretty much promising first page results. An it worked, but then stopped worked, and it took long to work again. It was like a hangover that never ended, and the feeling of “I will not drink again” lasted until the SEO landscape changed and ‘alcohol’ was forbidden.
Now, to some extent one has lost pride in claiming to be a SEO. But has it really earned a bad name? and should we call it in a different way?
The secret behind the magic wand
At the point when I purchased SEO packages, I did not know much about SEO and thought that it was some sort of witchcraft that only a gifted few could do. Then I got the performance reports at the end of each month, showing dozens of weird articles being created in random pages with links to our site. I still did not understand the tactics while I did understand that having links pointing to your site was something good for SEO. The truth is that we had first page results for the keywords we targeted after a month or two.
So for a company this was easy to deliver, that is why so many wannabe entrepreneurs saw an opportunity in selling SEO services. And If even the spammiest of the practices did not ensure first results, the company could turn around and say the client that the project was too difficult.
But in general, it was actually realistic to get your client to the first page. And what did that involve? Keyword stuffing, submitting to spam directories, rubbish articles in random websites pointing to your website with exact match anchor text…etc. The fact is that it was cumbersome work and although you needed to be somewhat organised, you did not need to use your right-brain much, there was no need for strategy or long term perspective.
Something was wrong and in fact, pretty soon after that Google started turning the tables and punishing those convinced that they can get along thinking short term and trough quick-wins.
Bad habits die hard
But the buyer of SEO services grew up thinking that any SEO agency’s ultimate goal is to lift you up to first page results.
Yes, this is the ultimate goal, but the truth is that after 2012 this has become more difficult and it calls for a rethinking of SEO products and services. The internet nowadays is becoming more human and is no longer a place where you can make long term money using treacherous tactics such as black hat SEO. We need to get this AT ONCE. The internet is becoming an extension of the real world that you can access from your devices, which is anyway what the internet aimed to be in the first place.
The implications for digital businesses are that not only the way services are delivered must change, but also the way they are sold, and sales teams need to re-educate themselves and their clients to this goal.
The New Age
SEO is about making your site relevant to searches and add value to those potential searches. Now Google’s algorithm knows if your site is connected to good and relevant websites, if people are mentioning and acknowledging your brand in Social media, the quality and value of the information in your site, and also, what people mean when they search for particular keywords! Only when you think about this and change your website accordingly, then will the search engines give you credit.
Some companies have already delivered high quality services that do not promise first page results, but they do their best to comply with Google’s latest algorithm updates and the rules established by the main search engines, whose goal is to serve the most relevant and best results. So Google is just investing in their product, and so you should do if you want higher rankings!
Other companies on the other hand, fail to understand this, and they still believe that the updates are there just to scare and to stop people from continuing black hat techniques and shortcuts. This is foolish and reveals an utter lack of creativity and openness to change. It is a way of neglecting that there is a huge opportunity to do things the correct way and this will definitely maroon mediocre digital entrepreneurs and welcome excellent ones to the Ark Another way of looking at this is that these changes in search engines filter out entrepreneurs from pure opportunists.
Anybody could do SEO before 2012. Now not any more. Not only people working on SEO but also the organisations they belong to can face obstacles understanding what needs to be done. These obstacles can be built by the company vision, which means that in order to provide competitive and contemporary SEO products, many companies need to change not only their teams or their packages, but also their mentality, which lies at the very structure of a company culture.
And how do you sell this to a client?
Clients need to understand that SEO is still a very important part of website marketing. For instance On page SEO is still very important, as it helps improving your crawlability and including your keywords wherever possible. Also, the content that you create on page, the actions you take to improve user experience and the way you promote and amplify that content is too part of SEO.
So SEO is by no means dead. It just touches with other inbound marketing channels, specially Social Media, because you need to use social platforms to promote your website and connect with audiences.
The truth is that it is difficult to sell services that cannot guarantee direct, fast sales to small businesses which are focused on short term cash and fast sales. SEO must be now integrated in other traffic strategies, and SEO teams must work hand in hand with other teams such as PPC and Social media. The strategies should be integrated because some cannot exist without the others.
How seo services are sold before and after 2012
So get creative and open your eyes. Google is a tough teacher asking you to do better; be magnanimous and cooperate.
Next time you get news of another Algo updates, relax and get creative, find opportunities by using common sense and you will be safe.