The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

Summary: If you are the CEO or higher-up of a company that has decided to implement SEO, you *need* to read this to save yourself and your SEO agency/guru an unneeded headache.

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Throughout my experience with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the one frustration I have encountered the most is the lack of desire many CEOs and higher-ups have to understand that ranking high is *not* the end goal they should care about. It should be leads and conversions. Ranking highly for a keyword is only as good as its performance for you while it sits in a coveted top position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Likewise, many CEOs and higher-ups get hung up on the idea of ranking for a particular keyword (or list of keywords) that actually holds no value for them to rank for in the first place! Now, while generating leads and conversions isn't necessarily the responsibility of your SEO agency/guru, there are many SEO agencies who feel they should be (and I agree). Let's take the following conversation into consideration:

SEO Agency: "Hey, Client! We've completed our keyword research! Here is a spreadsheet of the top-10 keywords we will begin focusing on getting you to rank for. We've determined these on many matrices; including relevance, traffic, competition, and more."

Client: "That's great, but per our last phone discussion, I said I wanted to rank for *this* keyword in particular. Why didn't you include it on the list? You're our SEO person and I'm telling you that we really need to rank for that one."

SEO Agency: "Oh, yes. My apologies for not explaining that. During our keyword research, we've found that there's basically no ROI for you where ranking for that keyword is concerned. While it's relevant to your industry, it spills too far over into another industry where it's actually much more relevant. Lastly, it doesn't have a significant amount of traffic -- and the traffic that it *does* have is still much more likely to garner business for that other industry instead of yours, even if you rank at the top for it."

Client: "What? That's impossible! It's the most relevant term for our industry (you just said yourself that it's relevant)! There HAS to not only be a ROI, but a significant one at that! I don't care what it takes; I want to rank for *this* keyword, carnsarn it!"

SEO Agency: "Okay, okay. We'll make sure and add this to our list of priorities as well and get you ranking for it." *sigh...*

At this point, the SEO agency now has to contend with their client potentially thinking they're incompetent because they didn't include that one magical keyword, when really, their SEO agency just tried to do them a huge favor. From here, said SEO agency will probably put in a minimal amount of effort to get that one keyword to rank simply because it will make their client happy. Hopefully, the increase in rankings, traffic, and conversions happening due to the true priority keywords will be enough to satisfy the client. Unfortunately, there are those who will always attribute total SEO success to the ranking of a keyword that they've grown personally attached to.

If all you care about is hiring an SEO agency to rank for a bunch of keywords you think you should rank for, then there are *PLENTY* out there who will happily take your money, get you ranking for them, and leave the rest up to you. That's not how your approach to SEO should be, though. If you have a bunch of keywords that someone gets you ranked for but they do nothing to help you, you're going to think SEO just didn't work. The truth, though, is that you just approached it the wrong way (which isn't necessarily your fault and part of my mission with this blog is to help clarify things for you) and you're undoubtedly missing the boat on the *real* "money keywords," so to speak. I believe this misunderstanding of how SEO "should" work for you is another factor that plays into the theory that SEO doesn't work. If you truly want to benefit from SEO, then you absolutely must do your due diligence to seek out a reputable agency (or build a well-qualified in-house SEO team), ditch your preconceived notions of SEO, and just trust in the people you have hired to do the job. You can check statistics along the way to see how they're doing, but ask around for references initially. Find out who your colleagues have used for their interactive marketing endeavors. I'm currently working on an article that will help you flesh out qualified candidates, so stay tuned for that.

So, if you're a CEO or a higher-up, you should only care about rankings to the extent that they generate leads and conversions. If your SEO agency/guru doesn't offer keyword research as a part of the plan (even if you give them a whole bunch of keywords you think you should rank for), then you're most likely going to waste your money -- even if they get you ranking. If that one keyword you've always thought wanted to rank turns out to be a dud, just accept it and move on! I'm telling you now to *let go* of the keywords you personally *think* you should be ranking for if your qualified SEO agency/guru tells you that there's absolutely no worth in it (which should be a lot less difficult for you to do if you put in the due diligence to seek out the right candidate to fulfill your SEO needs).

Now, having said everything above, higher rankings do equate to higher traffic -- but higher traffic doesn't necessarily equate to a higher conversion rate. At the end of the day, your Web site is still the make-or-break factor. It needs to flow and be navigable in such a way that will be facile for prospective customers to make a purchase,fill out their information, or whatever your conversion goal(s) may be. Here again, a good SEO will help you figure out why you're not converting even if you start enjoying massive amounts of traffic! If nothing else, it is for this reason alone that SEO is a perpetual process and one that you should figure out a way to budget for, for a considerable span of time (6-months to a year, at least). Some people budget for SEO indefinitely because a really good SEO can make adjustments to keyword priorities, landing pages, content, et al to allow you to capitalize on as much of the traffic as possible.

To conclude, you need to seek out an SEO you can trust. What would it take for you to trust someone? Is it references? Is it through the opinion of others who you trust? Whatever it is, find an SEO you can trust, then ditch your preconceived notions of SEO (that is, if you really don't know what it's about beyond what you've read here-and-there on the Internet) and allow them the space to maximize your ROI! SEO is a very, very legitimate process that WORKS when done correctly, and allowing someone to do what they *know* is best for you based on extensive keyword research, competition analysis, on-site analysis, etc... well, let's just say that the gains have the potential to be astonishing.

Topic: Browser

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  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    Your SEO Agency fails on many things here.
    1) Customer requests a certain keyword he wants to
    have rank on. The the agency sends the list of ten
    keywords with no explanation why they did not include the CEO's keyword

    2) If the keyword is that relevant to the business then it should have been included. Both agreed it was relevant.

    3) SEO Agency should never tell a customer he is wrong.
    Just say we will add it to the list. Which it should have been done in the first place
    mrlinux
    • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

      @mrlinux Try this on for size:<br><br>1) Touche. For the sake of a hypothetical situation, let's just assume the keyword recommended by the client was done so as a generic mention. Agency checked into it, found it was relevant to some extent, but not valuable or worth focusing on and thus didn't include in the top-10 report. That's not to say it was not included much further down the full list of ~200 keywords the full sheet is comprised of, but perhaps I should specify that.<br><br>2) Not necessarily. Let's assume the keyword they want to rank for is "cards" because they sell a product called "proximity cards." Now, do you really think it's worth it to start off trying to rank them for "cards" when you have "baseball cards," "gift cards," "playing cards," and all sorts of other much-more popular terms for "cards" to contend with? Adequate keyword research would yield very quickly that there are MUCH better approaches to making SEO profitable for the client than trying to rank for "cards." Likewise, what's the likelihood that ranking number one for "cards" when you sell "proximity cards" will yield any significant ROI whatsoever? Maybe there's a high one, or maybe not. Point is, the latter is highly applicable and a possibility that needs to be taken into consideration and researched, either way.<br><br>3) Right. They should never tell them they're wrong, but they should also try to explain why their client may very well be throwing money at the wind if they want to rank for a specific keyword like "cards." Here again, this is all just a hypothetical situation and I felt it would be enough to have it implied that the client's keyword would not behoove them to rank for, but perhaps I should provide a specific example based on your critique of what I posted.<br><br>Personally, I feel it's a responsibility to engage the client and tell them why something is not in their best interests instead of just "going with the flow." In this particular case, clients get fixated on one keyword to the extent that they don't even care how the campaign is performing overall. They just want to see that they're ranking for THAT KEYWORD. If you want an SEO agency that will just say, "okay, we'll rank for whatever you want," then there are plenty of them out there willing to just "go with the flow," take your money and say, "here's what you wanted! All the best!" I mean, would you want to pay for something just to have someone tell you what you want to hear, just because you're the customer? Not me.<br><br>The term, "the customer is always right" quite simply doesn't apply across the board. Why? Because customers *aren't* always right. Sometimes, the more accurate term is, "the customer is paying me to perform for them based on my expertise in my field. As such, I may be privy to actions or situations that will go against what they *think* they know is best for them, but really isn't." From there, you don't tell them they're wrong. You educate them. Who's going to beat you up for trying to educate them and save/make them money? Again, not me.<br><br> -Stephen
      StephenChapman
  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    Can we have a list of SEO companies you recommend? The article is great, but it'd be even greater to know who you recommend.
    JMJMJMJM
    • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

      @JMJMJMJM Best in the business is www.thinkbigsites.com/spayne.html . Contact that site to learn why...well worth your time.
      payner44@...
      • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

        @payner44@... "Best in the business?" That just reeks of "spammy" -- even if you're not. lol. ;)
        StephenChapman
  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    A lot of SEO companies are in fact fraudsters.

    There are really only a few techniques that actually work, most of which you can do simply by designing your site intelligently (I.E. think about how your users will want to go to particular sections of content, make most relevant content 1-2 links deep in the tree), using URLs formatted correctly (/products/product-name-keyword-part-number), appropriate meta description tags, and insuring that keywords are actually mentioned in context within the text of the page. And of course using something like GWT to generate a nice sitemap.

    Those are all really simple things that your development team can and should do for you, but that SEO companies will charge you out the ass to tell you or do for you. The keyword research itself isn't even all that hard either. The biggest mistake these CEOs make is paying an SEO company way too much money to do these things when all you need to get your developers a 50$ book and have some people from marketing brainstorm a list of keywords and do a little research with google trends.
    snoop0x7b
  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    As a marketing professional, this is my biggest peeve with the whole concept of SEO and how it is packaged and sold to business owners who should know better.

    If it is really about conversions and sales, then why don't SEO companies use THAT information to market themselves to prospective clients, instead of focusing solely on the keywords and how they rank? (Yes, I know, because it works, but that doesn't mean it's the only way to go.)

    How you report your results is the easiest way to separate the pretenders and wannabees from the real performers, and if I were looking for an SEO provider, that's all I would really care about.

    Part of the genius of a good SEO provider is their ability to analyze what will convert and boost sales, and then deliver it. As far as I am concerned, legitimate SEO providers can't start focusing on that as their work product fast enough.

    My other beef with SEO is that now that the practice is commonplace, it can be nearly impossible to get to reputable sites when you are researching a topic, because all of the SEO-optimized junk shows up on the early SERPs.

    As people wise up, and actually figure out that just because a page shows up in the search results doesn't mean it has anything other than someone optimizing it to do so, I think this problem will ultimately be the undoing of a lot of SEO efforts. It has certainly changed the way I search.
    tazshedevl
    • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

      @tazshedevl : Some really good points there. Many year ago if I searched for X, I got a bunch of hits on X and only a few on A B and C. Today if I do a search for X I have to create nearly a complete boolean list of nots and musts (X, notA, notB, must x, not y, etc etc etc.). I do it, but every time I do, I feel like I'm dog THEIR work for them! If I ask for a search for webelos, I shouldn't see wobbles hits! Whether t could be argued to be relevant in some contexts, it is NOT what I searched for! But all the SOs seem to do that very thing, the big G the worst of them all. I have actually, in a few cases, made up ficttious URLs and actually gotten excellent hits! t works because the site author has properly named his site.
      Yeah, there's a lot more to it I know, but ... search engines are donig a lousy job in general and expect us to do a lot of their work by providing xxx,xxx hits for bobbles!
      anonymous
  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    This is an interesting one... I have had similar conversations myself.

    I think as an SEO agency, the job of convincing a client about their keyword selection is made somewhat harder by the plethora of 'dodgy' SEO firms out there that try to pick mid-tail, low competition, crazily low search volume keyterms so that they can 'make good' on their (often dubious) top 10 ranking guarantees!!!

    Its a fine line that needs to be walked upon dealing when with clients and their 'ideas' of what keyterms they should go after - Although we do rely on facts and figures when presenting our ideas, (search volumes, competition levels etc), we also like to include some 'common sense' and good old industry research (yup, MANUAL research... shock horror!) to decide if the traffic a keyterm fetches will ultimately convert into sale/profit for the client.

    Although the conversations can get interesting, we usually get there in the end, once the client has been given all the facts. - And thus far, we have not had a client yet turn around and say we made a bad choice, or they are unhappy with the work ;-) (must be doing something right, or maybe its my lucky rabbits foot??? Stephen, you also have the lucky SEO rabbits foot that gives instant ROI and rankings, right? :-D )
    Mikekingpin
  • RE: The One Mistake Many CEOs Make About SEO

    Your article is really great and worth. It have some very good point which CEOs should keep in mind for SEOs
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    Kinny87