SEO is not an exact science. This might be challenging for all those who provide SEO services, but even more for those who are not fully engaged in SEO practice. There are many things that Google insists on, as well as those that we, the providers of SEO services know can help to increase organic visits. Yet again, SEO is wrapped in a veil of secrets, mysteries, and myths.
There are many reasons why this is so. One of the reasons is the fact that here and there some black hat techniques could bring results very quickly (but also in the short term). Sometimes reasons why one site ranks well and the other does not are difficult to explain. Also, the SEO service providers themselves often want the SEO to look more complicated and demanding than it actually is, so they intentionally avoid transparency and fear that if they pass the knowledge on, they will create competition. And last, people with not so good intentions present themselves as the exclusive holders of some elusive secrets of Google algorithm that other people could never know…
All this has led to a lack of confidence in the SEO industry, but also great difficulties in communication and agreement between clients and SEO specialists.
This article is intended to draw the attention of anyone who wants to hire an SEO agency (or specialist) and explain clearly what they can expect from SEO. Understanding SEO is the only way to make a good decision when choosing an agency or specialist, but also to be satisfied in the end. This article is also a kind of resume for SEO service providers – it comes very handy to have all the essential things their clients should know before hiring them in one place.
SEO is not just Google
When we talk about Search Engine Optimization, somehow by default, we all start talking about Google. However, there are other search engines. There’s also Bing, DuckDuckGo, which has been growing lately, Local search engines like Yandex or Baidoo, but also niche-specific search engines like Amazon, Etsy, Youtube and the like. Someone who is an SEO specialist for Google is not necessarily a specialist for any other search engine. This also says that Google is not the only chance to bring a visit to your site and grow your business. Make the effort and try to generate more visits from other sources as well.
There is no single reason for the lack of transparency
From the very first negotiation with a potential client, there is really no excuse for the agency to avoid transparency, and be dishonest with you. What are the chances for the return on investment, how much time it takes, how much additional resources, how you plan to achieve it, prices, time spent, and so on. All this can be a trade secret, it can be signed by the NDA and thus prevent the outflow of this information, but it must be discussed openly and transparently between the agency and the client.
SEO is not the finite game
There are two types of games in game theory, finite and infinite. From this perspective, SEO is a finite (endless) game. SEO is not something that is done; like you have achieved a good ranking of your page and you think there is nothing more to take care of. SEO is done continuously. True, some services may be short-lived, e.g. it is possible to do technical SEO and thus create a good foundation for further development, but this is only part of the SEO service. Even then, technical SEO must be at some stage of maintaining and monitoring the situation.
You do not hire SEO to tell him what to do
You do not pay for SEO services to tell your SEO manager/expert/specialist what to do or what keywords you should rank for. You are here to explain to him your business model and to help him in his business, and he is here to help you evaluate and strategically evaluate/decide the direction of the SEO campaign and make it happen in an achievable way.
Most SEO agencies do not offer a full set of SEO services at all
You have hired an agency and you think they will fully cover all your SEO needs. The truth is a little different though. Most agencies have no staff at all to cover all the necessary services. It is often the case that an agency that does well in link building does not have the staff to do technical SEO, or vice versa, the agency does technical SEO and on-page optimization, but does not even mention link building even though your site has no authority at all. And what SEO has to cover, you will read in the following paragraphs.
Misunderstanding what SEO is all about
Through talking to many web developers, I realized that many of them think that SEO is just Technical SEO. What they didn’t realize was the importance of the content, the importance of UI / UX, the authority of the site and other factors. On the other hand, some people thought that SEO was just link building or just creating quality content. SEO encompasses all of this, and with that, we come to the following item:
SEO is not done by just one person (at least not high-quality SEO)
To have high-quality SEO, you need clean (readable) website code (tech SEO specialist), good UI (UI / UX designer), quality content (copywriter, content manager), someone who will work on link building and someone who will design the campaign, do a keyword research, optimize the content and everything else (SEO manager/strategist/specialist call it whatever you want). Let’s not forget that you often need a designer or photographer and sometimes a developer to program the necessary tools on the site (This is all in case you inherited the site. In case you don’t need a web developer). Some of these roles can be performed by the same person, but if you run into someone presenting him/herself as a quality SEO manager, copywriter, link builder, UI designer, and tech SEO expert, it’s simply not possible – this kind of amateurs are to be avoided at all costs.
I believe that you can now understand why SEO specialists go crazy when they see job ads that, in addition to all SEO tasks, include social media tasks and other activities.
SEO requires additional investment
So if you decide to hire one or a few people (even an agency sometimes) to work on your campaign, you will also have some additional costs, perhaps for buying pictures, for the necessary tools, for hiring a professional writer and for a bunch of other unplanned expenses.
SEO also requires engaging your business
If you hire an agency, the “just do it” principle is not something that will produce results. SEO requires changes to the site, editing and publishing new content (your approval of the same), understanding of your products and services, as well as the industry, maybe your partners, and often your expert opinion in content creation. If you are not ready for that, then at least get ready for the failure of your SEO campaign.
SEO takes longer than you think to get results
Everyone would like results immediately. Of course, the struggle for the market is tough and a few months can mean the survival or demise of a particular company. Few are willing to go into something that will pay off in a year or two (let alone more), especially startups.
Even SEO service providers often give some unrealistic deadlines to sell their services as easily as possible. However, clients who have “patience” appear and expect an investment return within 3 months. The truth is, however, that (according to Ahrefs research), it takes around 1 to 3+ years for websites in competitive industries to rank for important keywords.
SEO is not cheap
One of the most inaccurate and hurtful voices following the SEO industry is that it is a cheap marketing channel. The truth is that certain businesses spend on PPC for, say, far more than SEO. It is also true that TV commercials are quite expensive. Billboards are also not cheap. It is even true that for your business you can do SEO by yourself and achieve certain results only by spending your time.
No wonder we see ads like this because of this false reputation:
So how come SEO is not cheap. Simply, those are not the times when a bunch of forum links could help you rank well anymore. I have already listed to you how many different profiles you need for quality SEO, and some of these positions are very expensive. SEO specialists’ hours are quite expensive, and the competition is overwhelming in most industries.
When the extra costs and time required for the return on investment are added to this, we come up with a large sum of money that is necessary for SEO. However, if the desired results are obtained, the benefit is very high.
SEO is not worth it for everyone
Simply, to get an organic visit, you have to rank among the first results for certain phrases that people are looking for. If you are ranking for something that no one is looking for, you are wasting resources. And popular phrases are competitive. What you want is what your competition wants as well. They are also investing in SEO and eventually, someone will stay without his piece of cake. We live in an instant world, where people are used to getting everything instantly. Nobody has time to search through a bunch of results. The first page of Google shows 10 results, and you usually have many more competitors in general. Indeed, you are not all competing for one keyword and this is your chance, but the chances of someone getting without the return on their investment are still very high, especially for players in the global market.
Maybe reading this article gave you the impression that SEO is a bit expensive, that it takes too long to achieve the results, that campaigning is complicated, and that SEO is not worth it to everyone? Awesome. Welcome to the world of SEO. Now that all this is clear to you, you are ready to approach the campaign in the right way and truly achieve results. Those who have succeeded in doing so have paid off a truly huge return on investment. So go ahead!