Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood areas of digital marketing, especially among small business owners. To be honest, that’s because it’s also one of the most misrepresented.
Is SEO complex? It can be.
Are there different strategies and approaches? Of course.
Is there a “secret sauce” for being successful? Absolutely not.
While many digital marketing agencies and SEO consultants will tout their tactics to be mind-blowingly intricate and Earth-changingly brilliant, the truth is that SEO is a relatively black-and-white service – or should be, at least. If someone is selling you an SEO campaign that feels mysterious or indeterminate, you’re likely going to be disappointed by the results (or lack of). Let us clear the fog and shine a flashlight through the SEO tunnel for you.
SEO is Like Baking
Cooking and baking are not the same. Cooking allows for spontaneity and creativity – a dash of this, turn the burner up a little on that. Baking, on the other hand, is more of a long haul, stick-to-the-recipe endeavor. You know exactly what you’re doing from the start, and you don’t really deviate from the plan.
With this comparison in mind, we liken SEO more to baking than cooking. Not to undermine our own expertise, but foundational SEO is not a game of innovation. It’s more a matter of developing your recipe, and then following the steps to achieve your desired results.
It’s Not Millennial Magic
Since millennials are the first generation to have grown up in the digital age, many have found their niche in digital marketing and SEO. Digital marketing is one of the most in-demand skillsets heading into 2018, enabling those with knowledge and experience in this arena to go out on their own and essentially talk their way to contracts. In turn, clients get oversold (and some downright duped) into high-cost, long-term “packages” that don’t deliver meaningful leads.
One of the easiest ways to get hired as an SEO or digital marketing agency in San Diego is to make SEO sound so immensely complicated that the prospect becomes overwhelmed at the mere idea of trying to figure it out themselves. That’s simply not the way we pitch here at Kameleon. We don’t bill our SEO success as magic, because it’s not. It’s a combination of strategy, implementation and close monitoring. The next time an “SEO guy” spins your head in circles talking about the minutia of the trade, ask them to walk you through a case study instead.
No One Can Guarantee First Page Results
One of the biggest, brightest red flags from an SEO company is a guarantee to get you on the first page of Google. Search engine optimization is a relatively level playing field. We’re all studying the same algorithms and vying for attention from the same Google “robots” that crawl websites to determine which ones will rank where. No one knows any secrets.
There is nothing wrong with aiming for the top spot, especially if you’re willing to be patient and find value in keywords and phrases with lower competition. But, understand that the only thing an SEO company can truly guarantee is improvement – and yes, we can indeed guarantee improvement when we are able to set and stick to a white hat strategy from the ground up.
There’s Backlinking, and Spam Linking
Speaking of “white hat,” that means fair-and-square. The types of SEO companies that promise first page results are usually the same ones who resort to “spam linking,” which is the evil spawn of a legitimate and important tactic called backlinking.
True to its name, a backlink is when another website links back to yours. Backlinks help your SEO because they tell Google that other people have found your content to be relevant and useful. Backlinking is similar to public relations in that it requires us to build relationships. We’re contacting bloggers, publications and thought leaders in your realm of business, and encouraging them to check out your website. The nudge and hope is for them to see value in your content and link to it within theirs.
Because backlinking is tedious and time-consuming, some SEOs resort to spam-blasting every forum, message board and comment box they can find. They plop in your link and that’s it. “Gray hat,” they might call it, implying that it’s not wrong but not necessarily right. Regardless, not only does it not work, it reflects poorly on your brand. Avoid spam linking at all costs.
A Monthly Report is a Must
When you have an SEO campaign in place, it’s important to receive and review an analytics report monthly. Remember when we said SEO was like baking? The monthly report is like opening the oven every hour or two to see how things are coming along. You’re probably not going to make any drastic changes, but you do want to be able to adjust your strategy if needed.
SEO takes time to show results – and we say that’s a good thing, because it allows us to measure and refine incrementally. Our monthly reports are just as much for our sake as that of our clients. They help us see where we were, where we are, and where we’re going. They also keep us consistently active and engaged so we can continue to deliver a great client experience.
How Long Should SEO Take to Show Results?
Search engine optimization is not a light switch; you don’t just flip from off to on. That said, you should expect to start seeing results within a reasonable time frame. The sweet spot for gaining momentum with an SEO campaign is 6-12 months. Don’t sign a contract for longer, and don’t yank the plug sooner. If you stop before the 6-month mark, you’re not giving your investment a chance to mature and grow.
Curtains Open: How SEO Should Be
Letting clients see our strategic process has been one of the best decisions we’ve made for our San Diego digital marketing agency. We believe hiring an SEO provider should be transparent, collaborative and scalable. So, here’s how we work in a nutshell:
Phase 1: Pre-Production
First, we consult with you to understand your industry, company and objectives for your digital marketing. Our takeaways enable us to perform competitive research and a complete website optimization audit. We also develop what we call a “keyword matrix,” which is like a blueprint of which keywords your business should target in its website copy, blog content and online advertising.
Phase 2: Production
Next, we walk you through everything we have compiled to ensure our strategy aligns with your goals. Our recommendations are objective and always subject to your input. SEO should be synchronized with your brand identity and image, which is why we bring our clients into our strategic planning from the start.
Phase 3: Post-Production
Once everything is approved, we work with you to implement the strategy efficiently and cost-effectively. From there, the name of the game is analytics. We talked about the importance of monthly reporting; you can expect us to deliver those reports proactively, with the right combination of deep data and key takeaways. Our reports are digestible, actionable and insightful.