Monday, 28 November 2011

Putting SEO advice into context

I've been building websites since 1996, which is almost as long as is possible. I've seen the advent of modern-day SEO and witnessed it mature into a serious and valuable discipline in its own right.

SEO is a good thing. Get it right (SEO services Bristol) and it can reap rewards. Ignore it and you'll be throwing money down the drain on your new site.

I've been at the sharp end of several debates between technicians and SEOs adjudicated by account managers doing the best they can to do the best thing for their client. They often pan out like this:
  • SEO: I think we should be doing XYZ to this site because it will improve ranking
  • Tech: OK, cool, we've looked into it and it could take up to 2 days to implement
  • AM: Oh that's a bit expensive
  • Tech: Where did you learn about XYZ? Can we quantify for the client how much benefit this will have?
  • SEO: I read it on Apparently it's really important for the Google algorithm.
  • Tech & AM: How important?
  • SEO: Very
  • Tech & AM: Really?
  • SEO: Yes
And so AM and Tech are left with a 'demand' from SEO for which they (SEO, through no fault of their own) have found impossible to quantify the benefits. Nobody's arguing that there won't be any benefit, but nobody can say how much. The deciding factor always seems to be the threat that the client might have their site prodded and poked by other agencies or specifically SEO consultants who could highlight the lack of XYZ as evidence of ineptitude. In all of this to-ing and fro-ing, the client may not have been consulted.

Many blogs about SEO by SEOs are full of what seem like theories and speculation about the search engine algorithms, that appear to lack quantification or qualification. Evidence is often scant and anecdotal. I'm not saying SEOs should do their job differently - they can't, they're operating in a speculative, theoretical, anecdotal, iterative, experimental world as long as search engines keep their algorithm under wraps, which of course will be forever.

We should instead put SEO advice into context. We should be open with clients about the fast-moving world of SEO so that when new techniques arise we discuss with them the costs and speculate with them about the benefits. Make it the client's decision, and if they say 'no' we remember this. And when a few months down the line they call up and say that an independent SEO expert has spotted failings their site we remind them that they chose not to get their cheque book out.

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