SEO Mythology

After the great whiteboard Friday from Rand Fishkin that I posted in last week’s digest, it seems to have become a bit of a whinge-fest this week in the SEO industry, with quite a few articles detailing how SEO is maligned, misunderstood, undervalued and disrespected.

With this in mind, I enjoyed reading Lunametrics piece, debunking some resilient SEO myths (particular favourite: “Yeah I Did All of That SEO Once, I’m Done Now”) and also this SEJ article on misconceptions that CEOs have regarding our industry. They both revisited regular search marketing shibboleths – essentially, the eternal cry of “they just don’t understand us”.

And whilst I don’t think it’s useful (let alone healthy) to indulge in self-pity (not to mention that a snarky agency is not an appealing partner for potential clients!), it does prove illuminating to look at the resilience of some negative opinions relating to digital marketing agencies.

As much as anything else, it provides significant lessons on how to improve what we do and HOW WE COMMUNICATE ABOUT IT.  This is imperative not just for the success of our business but also for our industry as a whole – if our clients truly don’t understand us, what are we going to do to help them understand us better.

The reality is that organic search is still central to the success of an online business.  As such, optimising your site effectively to ensure good rankings is still incredibly important and, as Rand identified last week, the efforts required are complicated and becoming more so as the industry and the level of competition becomes more ever more sophisticated.

However, as Ian McKee says, SEO may not be easy to do but it is (relatively) easy to understand.  As such, with a decent level of communication between client and agency, the aims of a search marketing campaign should be articulated clearly, even if achieving those aims takes a lot of experience, understanding and skills.  After all, if a CEO wished to involve himself in the minutiae of search marketing (such as the evolving relativity in impact between on and off page content), he wouldn’t be paying an agency – you don’t buy a dog and bark yourself, as my grandfather would say!

Nevertheless, it’s imperative for modern digital marketing agencies that their activities are dovetailed with those of their clients – a target that can only be achieved through mutually agreed work and mutually agreed metrics to judge success (a topic that is dealt with well – with regards to content writing campaigns – in THIS weeks’ whiteboard Friday from Moz).

With a plan that is discussed and agreed at conceptual level, there is then (hopefully) enough understanding and trust to allow your digital agency to focus its efforts on getting the job done, safe in the knowledge that one can judge success effectively at appropriate staging posts in the campaign.

And then maybe we’ll stop seeing articles bemoaning the fact that “my clients don’t understand me” because we’ve started to explain things more clearly.