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An SEO Strategy With a Bite

When it’s time to make hard decisions, I sometimes have to put on my hardhat, and waddle through the strategies and campaigns pitched online. It’s not just US-based, either – it seems following the uninformed masses is the safest strategy available.

I see this in every aspect of our international SEO consultation. I have the opportunity to see and hear some pretty outrageous statements and requests. Sure, you could chalk it up to “most people don’t live online like you do”. Or maybe the technology and evolution thereof has created a secular outlook on what SEO and social media are and how they can work together. Please note the operative word “can”.

Get out and Meet People

I use old business development strategies (face to face) by going to meet-ups in order to connect the dots.  Yet, when I mention SEO, or social networks, the first thing that most people mention is Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn but when discussing SEO it’s about black hat, or as some like to think of SEO as the black abyss. The look is either one of total confusion, or one of complete boredom.

Sometimes Social Media isn’t Right

Yeah, you heard right – sometimes a company does NOT need to use social media to reach their market. That’s when today’s traditional marketing 101 is still a viable solution to your marketing needs.  Whether I’m working on a project with a client that’s international or local, misinformation is all around us. I can’t tell you how many times the guys over at the Dojo exchange nightmare stories of SEO and Social faux pas from relatively well known brands.

It’s not exclusive to the web either, happens every time I meet people face to face. You can say I’m old school, but when I use an application or join an organization I like to see what’s under the hood, what it can produce and what’s out there. I use the application or network to its full potential. Maybe that’s why I don’t dive into too many groups or go to more than three conferences a year.

Let me share a few hours of my day…this is based on true-life instances (but the parties have been kept anonymous for their safety & ours) that occur on a weekly basis.

What SEO is NOT…

Let me begin by sharing some of the misconceptions about SEO. It does not come in a package of gold, bronze or platinum. No matter how much I would love to come up with those denominations, I have yet to see any single package that has worked for two different clients. Period. We’ve worked within Real Estate, Technology, Software, Fashion and Medical, just to name a few verticals, and I can assure you that a one-size-fits-all SEO package simply doesn’t exist, when it comes to a healthy and productive SEO campaign.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me share an email we recently received asking us to blindly bid on an SEO campaign consisting of the following, which they had already been quoted:

  • 100 directory submissions each month
  • 50 Social bookmarks each month
  • 2 articles per month
  • 1 hyperlink press release each month
  • Each press release will be submitted to an additional 25 PR distribution websites.

At first, I considered tossing it as a spammy or phishing email query. Look, I’m sure every business gets those emails. It’s simply time for company xyz to update their marketing and SEO efforts, so they send out several emails in order to get new bids. I get it, it’s part of doing business. But when you’ve been doing this for as long as we have, you start to notice a trend. One that allows you to gauge how much time you should spend on your business development efforts. It was only after discussing it with Doc, from Top Shelf Copy, that I decided it was worth responding to, even if only to get more information on how they came up with this specific “formula”.

Needless to say, we weren’t surprised when we found out. We responded kindly and told them this formula would be toxic to their business, nor would it make sense, given that their target market wasn’t on social. After some further digging we understood the company has not seen results using the particular combo platter cited above, but that’s all upper management was willing to spend on their marketing efforts.

Can I say “You’re Fired” to that upper management? I wish, but that’s where Level343’s branding effort has to come in. We will educate and use our professional approach by being honest, ethical and willing to let the client make an informed decision based on correct information. And yes, by writing a post about it, in hopes that some of you out there can start preaching the gospel.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Please keep in mind, the above sample is only one of 50+ SEO/Social packages out there, I’m sure. So, please don’t ever accept a package deal for your business. If the SEO Company doesn’t take the time to look at your site, ask pertinent questions that relate to your business or listen to your goals, then why should you waste your time and money? I know it’s a competitive world out there, and I’m willing to bet most companies looking for SEO help don’t bother understanding how their business is enhanced when using SEO or Social.

Don’t get me started on advertising agencies that want to include digital marketing to their a la carte menus. Sure it makes sense, especially now that companies understand how SEO and social can work hand in hand. But they’re still looking at the old school mindset. The formula of quantity rather than quality is no longer viable. Sure, those things may have worked, back in the day… if only for a brief time.

What SEO is…

In order for an SEO campaign to work, the providers need to ask questions like

  • How can we help you?
    • The most important question in any business. This is where you the buyer can make sure the SEO provider is listening. How can they pretend to be able to help you achieve your goals if they don’t care what those goals are?
  • What does your traffic look like?
    • Some companies have no clue, even if they have access to their Google Analytics.
  • Are you using Google Analytics data to track or create new content?
    • It’s really important to look at your data, referrals, events set-up, funnels, etc., in order to create benchmarks and a plan for moving forward.
  • Do you have readers, subscribers? Where are they?
    • This will enlighten the SEO provider on whether email marketing can be a viable alternative.
  • Are you using Social Networks to drive new traffic to your website?
    • Super important, how else can you grow a community if one doesn’t exist? Therefore, if social is a goal, then a different approach may be needed.
  • Is your website connected to your blog? Do you even have a blog?
    • Not all businesses need a blog, some business may have a better return on their investment by using Pinterest, or building their community via videos. Keep in mind that building an outreach program has to start with people, warm bodies, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

I can go on and on with the questions, but it’s at this point that I know I’m rambling. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than trying to create an SEO campaign for a client when you’re going in blindly. If the client isn’t willing to really assess what he or she needs, then no SEO campaign or social media footprint they try to implement will work.

Therefore, when we come back with things like your traffic will increase if and only when we clean your 404’s, or when we change your content, or clean up your Meta tags, it’s not based on a cookie cutter strategy. It’s based on the questions asked initially and the issues we find on your site.

If you’re struggling to understand how to get an SEO campaign started, let us know in the comments below. We may pick your site and give you a free consultation audit on one of our Google + hangouts.

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22 Responses

  1. Hello there,

    What SEO is not :
    It does not come in a package of gold, bronze or platinum. No matter how much I would love to come up with those denominations, I have yet to see any single package that has worked for two different clients. Period. We’ve worked within Real Estate, Technology, Software, Fashion and Medical, just to name a few verticals, and I can assure you that a one-size-fits-all SEO package simply doesn’t exist, when it comes to a healthy and productive SEO campaign.

    thanks for this.

  2. Hi Gabriella !

    Liked the questions you included in the last section of the article. But do you really think spammy emails hold chances anymore? I mean, nowadays, everyone who uses internet and has some business online might understand the value of SEO. What is your take on it ?

    By the way, what is the ideal time you tell your clients for 1st page ranking? Especially when SEO is getting strict with every algo update !


    1. Hello Ayush…Not all opt-in email marketing is about spam. There are some great email campaigns that have done their job because we were targeting people that want to hear from the brand. Therefore if you have the community built into a nice email list then use it without abusing it. “what’s an ideal time” is a question we get a lot. You may not like the answer. It depends. 😉 You see unless I can see the shape (SEO health) of the site it’s hard to put a number. It would depend on how much work needs to be done in order to get it back on track, has it been penalized, are there technical issues, what does their link profile look like? etc. etc. so many variables I would be lying to you if I gave you a number. What I can give you is in my experience I’ve seen sites improve within as little as 3 months (new site) and as long as 8 months…Hope that helps.

  3. Spamming may work years ago, but now everybody need to take SEO seriously. Google has changed, so we marketers need to change as well. I love your point, btw.

  4. There is different competiotion in defferent areas/ If you have bussines that is one of a kind then it is one strategy, if there are many players in your market niche it is absolutely different aproach od SEO-job/

  5. Ok, to be honest, the most difficult thing I have ever come across is explaining what is SEO to the client. Client is a small / medium business holder most of the time. Him/her to under how the system works is quiet difficult. However mutual understanding and clarity is the best when doing such work.

  6. I loved this post, so much so in fact, I’d love to be considered for the free consultation. Whether DXB (we are in the middle of a complete rebrand) or — I took away so much from this post I’ve setup a couple different conversations because of it.

    Additionally, SEO services are something we (DXB) could always use a preferred vendor relationship and outside of doing additionally due diligence, you won me over with your synopsis in this post.

    Thanks Gabriella + level343 team.

      1. Thanks Gabriella! Is there any chance the hangout could be after we finish with the rebrand? We’re completely re-doing our website / name / messaging. If not, I completely understand.

        1. Hello Ryan, Doc and I and the rest of the crew (can be any one of our many friends in the SEO world) have our hangouts at least twice a month and we were actually going to invite you to join us… do you have an ETA for your new launch?

        2. Let us know when you expect that to be finished, Ryan, and we’ll work it into the schedule. We’ll have you on, and possibly another of our team, and give you some good takeaways.

  7. Hi Gabriella,

    You’re so true here, There are lot of so called SEO companies out there who are quite keen to sell their various packages without analyzing your website and your business requirements. This is really ridiculous to do SEO, unless you know the requirements how could you offer the solution.

    1. I agree, there are bunch of companies just trying to sell and make money…I completely agree that SEO doesn’t come in packages..

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