We’ve all said it. I’m not aiming to denigrate it. But here’s the thing: we can do better than merely chiming in with ‘from an SEO perspective…’ Sure, as the SEO expert with a seat at the marketing table, it’s our job to be the SEO voice of reason, piping up when somebody proposes implementing a significant SEO roadblock, e.g., “from an SEO perspective, folks, adding a robots noindex tag across all of our product pages is no bueno”.
Where that phrasing and its implications falter, however, is when it silos SEO best practices as all that an SEO partner feels like they can contribute, essentially placing blinders to the other countless factors that marketing teams are sorting through to make decisions, and significantly hindering the real value that could be provided. When it comes down to it, best practices are not always wholly relevant in the business world, and that’s okay. That’s what keeps things interesting for us in digital marketing: all of our websites are not mere best practices templates and duplicates of one another. Yawn.
From Best Practices to Best Value
A significant place where this factors into the lifecycle of an SEO engagement is during the SEO audit phase. SEO audits, done right, can be truly invaluable to an organization’s organic search efforts, laying the groundwork for a digital property that is crawlable, indexable, and so on.
But when it comes down to it, action items from an SEO audit can linger in a dev team’s queue as a formidable laundry list that they’ll get to at some point. The true value in being an SEO partner lies in both the prioritization attributed to each task and in working with your partner to decide what initiatives actually make the most sense to implement. Outside of merely being considered a ‘best practice,’ what will the true value be for the organization, and will it be worth the time/money/effort spent?
How can this be accomplished? How can we become so ingrained in both the digital marketing world and the inner workings of our client’s organization that we can provide this kind of value? I think it really boils down to taking the time, doing the work, and studying up.
- Don’t just leave your understanding at the knowledge that you gained during a kickoff call you had 4 months ago, or from what a client’s website states.
- Odds are the brief overview of a client’s needs that you’re able to garner from a one-hour call or from perusing their website is, first of all, only half the story and, second of all, something that changes on a near-daily basis.
- This goes for both large and small organizations. While large organizations might have a whole slew of initiatives influx that would necessarily change your digital marketing focus, a small organization is likely more agile and therefore able to change direction at the drop of a hat, also something you’ll need to be consistently apprised of.
- Stay abreast of all industry trends and news. I’m not talking about SEO or even marketing trends, but rather your client’s industry.
- Subscribe to newsletters, check out webinars, demo or purchase the actual product, etc.
- Speak directly to the sales team and the customer service team.
- When it comes to getting a better understanding of truly valuable target audiences, the folks on the front lines of those lead forms, purchase orders, or customer service phone lines are a wealth of information.
- As UpBuild’s Client Discovery Manager, I have gained so much additional perspective that I can contribute and add to our current site redesign and the SEO strategies that we are creating for UpBuild. But that ‘insider information’ to inform those strategies can really only be gained if the folks working on the redesign talk directly to me or the other members of the Client Discovery Team.
- Expand your digital marketing knowledge outside of SEO.
- Getting a better understanding of all of the elements that make up the digital marketing ecosystem, and particularly how they all coexist, can really only serve you and the value that you provide to your clients.
- For example, user experience plays an essential role in redesigning a website. If you only bring the ‘SEO perspective’ to the table, it can be extremely difficult to reach a reasonable consensus with the design team that will serve both users and search engines at a truly optimized level.
- Gain an understanding of the kind of development work and time that SEO best practices take. It’s easy to recommend that organizations implement things, but it’s hard to know whether or not those actions will truly be valuable until you understand the time/money cost to implement.
When it comes to the value an SEO partner provides, the true question is how can we be an advocate for our stakeholders and provide the perspective that is not only SEO in its vision but rather progresses the organization’s whole digital property forward? A true partner brings in multiple perspectives, weighs them, and proceeds with the best course of action for the organization as a whole. It’s up to us to help our stakeholders make critical decisions and solve problems that look at the whole picture by having a comprehensive understanding of the organization. But that’s just one perspective.