Organic search is a black box to many marketers and developers. As a result, there’s a lot of education that occurs at the beginning of a search engine optimization (SEO) engagement to help people adjust to the oddities of SEO and overcome some of the preconceived notions they may have.
These 10 SEO tips will kick start things and help you adjust to the difference in mindset that SEO requires.
1. SEO Is not Free
It’s true that you don’t have to pay advertising fees for organic search performance… but that doesn’t mean that search engine optimization is free. Whether you have someone to do SEO in-house or you work with an SEO consultant, the man-hours involved come at a cost. Your SEO program will involve content creation, technical optimization, and link acquisition, all of which require specific skill sets that need to be outsourced if you don’t have them in-house. Your SEO consultant can help with all of these things.
2. SEO Is Slower to Grow, but Goes and Goes
Unlike paid search, which starts to perform instantly when it goes live, organic search usually takes some time before you see the fruits of your labors. The amount of time varies based on the state of the site’s organic search performance before optimization. However, once the SEO program hits its stride, that increased performance should continue until the site changes or competitors up their games.
3. Performance Doesn’t Improve until You Change Your Site
Neither thinking about SEO nor planning for SEO improves your organic search performance. When the first optimization goes live, that’s when you can start looking for a change in performance for the specific pages optimized. As more and more individual pages, templates, and sections of the site are updated, organic search performance improvement increases.
4. Search Engines “See” Your Site Differently
Your website is built for the visitors already on your site. It’s designed to deliver a positive customer experience. It probably uses fancy plugins and whizzy animations meant to engage visitors’ attention. Search engines are a different sort of visitor. Their presence on your site doesn’t benefit you because they’re not buying your product or services. But they’re vital because they can deliver more human visitors to your site that you can influence to buy more of your products and services.
Search engine crawlers are less perceptive than regular visitors because humans can perceive more nuance from visuals like images and video. Humans are more able to understand how to navigate a website, making decisions that crawlers cannot (yet).
5. You’ll Need to Optimize Your Site
SEO is about optimizing your site, as opposed to optimizing ads on an ad platform. The same site that your visitors use will need to be modified to also convey relevance to search engines. Some of the wording and coding that you’ve worked hard to hone may need to change. The degree to which you agree to those changes will impact the degree to which your organic search performance will improve.
6. Optimizing for SEO Is not Speaking to Robots
Crawlers are part of the organic search process that ends with new customers landing on your site, but your site first and foremost needs to cater to those customers, not bots. Any SEO consultant who tells you differently has not had enough experience in the broader world of digital marketing.
In reality, SEO improves the connection between the marketing language on a website and the real-world language that customers use. That improves relevance for search engines, but it also helps visitors recognize themselves in the language on your site, helping them to feel like your product or service really is for them.
7. We’ll Need to Work with Your Developer
I’ve never met a business website that didn’t need some form of technical SEO work. Your SEO consultant will not be able to make those changes — your developer will need to. You can, however, expect your SEO consultant to write the requirements to give to the developer so that the completed work matches the SEO need.
8. SEO Copy Stinks
You’ve read SEO copy — it usually involves formulaic language, awkwardly placed keywords, and lists of related things that are also keywords. It doesn’t add any value to the visitor and is typically relegated to the very bottom of the page. This type of SEO copy has no value to customers; it shouldn’t be on your site.
Marketing copy can absolutely be both valuable to visitors and optimal for organic search. Your SEO consultant needs to also have skills as a creative business writer in the event that your team doesn’t have easy access to in-house copywriters.
9. Customer Experience Matters
SEO always involves a compromise with user experience. Together the two disciples negotiate between two requirements: What needs to be done to drive visitors to the site and what needs to be done to convert visitors into customers.
10. Stop Obsessing about Rankings
Rankings do not equate to performance. The keywords you want to rank for may not even be frequently searched for or “mean” the same thing to search engines that they mean to you. If your current SEO agency speaks to you in terms of changes in ranking performance, they’re missing the mark. Your true focus needs to be on what pays the bills — leads and revenue. Rankings are good diagnostic metrics, but look to your Google Analytics for your key performance indicators.
Understanding these 10 things before you begin working with an SEO consultant will help things move along more quickly as you work with your SEO consultant. If you’re uncomfortable with any of them, talk to your consultant about it to come to an agreement on how you’ll work together best.