obirsen January 24th, 2008
Aligning Responsibilities and Expectations in An Increasingly Competitive SEO World
By Onur Birsen, CPA, MBA
When is the search engine optimizer responsible for failure and when is it the client’s fault? Can clear lines be drawn between the borders of responsibility and when is the equation right for success? In this article, I attempt to provide some insight into these critical questions by making an analogy to a simple expression commonly used in basketball called a ”triple double”. A triple-double is defined as an individual performance in a game in which a player accumulates double-digit totals (i.e., 10 or more) in any three of these categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots.
All professional search engine optimizers agree that it’s their job to educate clients as much as possible so that they have realistic expectations about results. However, in some cases, even if the search engine optimizer does just that, clients can have difficulties coming to terms with certain basic facts about SEO. Of course, SEO is very technical and can be difficult to understand. Also adding to the stress, it’s their money on the line. They want to get a quick ROI like in any other business, but in today’s SEO world, “quick” is just NOT feasible unless some very important and specific set of requirements are met on three levels. These requirements (two pre-requisites, two client responsibilities, two search engine optimizer responsibilities) form the basis of my concept for achieving a “triple double” in SEO:
The Double Pre-Requisites for Quick SEO Success
- The domain name to be used for the optimized website needs to been registered and live for at least two to three years without ever being banned, blacklisted or penalized by internet authorities.
- The website using the aforementioned domain name must have a healthy number of quality incoming links. Although figures can vary greatly from one sector to the other, as a rule of thumb 100 or more unique incoming links can be considered healthy for a rural LASIK market, and 1000 or more unique incoming links can be considered healthy for a competitive LASIK market. (For help with determining the number of incoming links to your website please contact us)
It should be noted that the word “quick” is a relative term, and in the world of SEO, quick usually means approximately three months.
My experience with SEO in the last 8 years has shown me that a large portion of clients who want SEO services have domain names and websites that do not satisfy the pre-requisites above. As a result, it is an unfortunate fact that for the most part, expectations by clients and actual early SEO results by search engine optimizers often don’t align.
Clients, generally speaking:
- Want guarantees about performance before putting down significant sums of money and expect to see results in a short period of time.
- Want to see “top rankings” for a small number of specific keywords they feel are very important.
On the other hand, SEO providers:
- Reject guarantees and can only provide rough estimates for the time frames for “success”.
- Believe SEO is much more than achieving top rankings for a few “priority” keywords.
The magic element for success is an honest reconciliation between the two parties involved. In order to achieve this, both sides need to clearly understand their responsibilities. These two sets of responsibilities for each side complete the “triple double” in SEO.
The Double Responsibilities of the SEO Client:
Be patient and prepare for the process. Assuming the domain name is not brand new, the typical SEO campaign starts delivering results within three months. For new domain names and websites, this can take up to one to two years. Clients may want to call each week asking where the results are. Rather, they should communicate with their SEO company about how to get involved and speed up the process. They should also be prepared for additional recommendations and requests from the search engine optimizer that fall outside the original contract and related budget. During implementation, optimizers frequently uncover new issues and challenges which were not possible to determine at the beginning of the project. Don’t downplay these strategies in order to save money because they may be what are needed to get you to the top.
Contribute, since search engine optimizers cannot be expected to learn everything about your business. While they are implementing the SEO strategy, clients will have to contribute by approving keywords and content, pursuing links and write articles. Genuine content can not be made up by non-experts. If you make your SEO write your content it may discredit you in the long run. Provide all of the content, and then let the search engine optimizers work their magic on the words and sentences to make the content more SEO friendly.
The Double Responsibilities of the SEO:
Explain to clients what their expected involvement during any portion of the campaign will be. Most clients don’t mind getting involved, but nobody likes getting tasks assigned to them when they thought someone else would be taking care of them. If more programming and development may be involved and extra funds are likely to be required due to a competitive marketplace, let clients know of these possibilities before they sign on the dotted line.
Treat each campaign individually. Certain strategies that work for one project may not work well for another. The resources where you go to find links, the keyword density in the content, the types of keywords used and the structure of the website pages will have vary from one clients website to another. The search engine optimizer must take these details into consideration and formulate plans which are specific to the challenge.
Achieving a triple double in a search engine optimization campaign comes as a result of the understanding and fulfilling of responsibilities by both the search engine optimizer and the client. Assuming this is accomplished, the speed at which the “SEO triple double” will come depends on whether or not the double pre-requisites mentioned at the beginning of this article are met. Three to 6 months is a fair time-frame to accomplish a “triple double” if the pre-requisites are met. Otherwise, when starting out with a new domain name and no incoming links, clients should be ready to wait one to two years before seeing any significant results.
Most importantly, it should never be overlooked that the success of a business itself lies solely with the owner of that business. Therefore, clients must be sure that their businesses can succeed with or without a triple double in SEO. Just like a basketball team needs to play as a team, and win a game regardless of a single player racking up a triple double, a company needs to be able to succeed without SEO in the first place.SEO should be like the butter on top of the bread. Any business solely depending on a SEO for success will probably fail anyway, regardless of the SEOs success or failure.
About the author of this article:
Onur Birsen, M.B.A, C.P.A. is currently a partner and the Chief Technical Officer of Glacial Multimedia, Inc. He has been lecturing for over 6 years within the medical community on the topic of search engine optimization, and holds a degree on e-commerce from Harvard University.bdb