Observation #1: Everyone is looking for organic search engine rankings. Is it the down economy? Is it the hype created by SEO firms? Is it the odd marketing report with an ambiguous "organic" lead source category and outrageous conversion rates? Probably all these things. Maybe other things. Regardless, at the start of the day, everyone is asking "How can I get my website to #1 in Google?"
Observation #2: Everyone says they understand the importance of written content. "Content is King!" is plastered into reports and presentations. Businesses are blogging and posting newsletters on Facebook and tweeting updates. Everyone is turning to their copywriters and asking for more.
Observation #3: It is common knowledge that search engines use keywords to categorize and rank their content. Everyone knows it. Everyone agrees with it. Very few businesses understand it. So they hire SEO firms to come in, recommend keywords, tell them what edits to make, and they get billed over and over again for something they don't understand and don't know how to measure.
The truth is, more and more I am finding a fundamental lack of strategic thinking which is being perpetuated by SEO firms which keep their clients in the dark about how to develop content in a search friendly way that is designed to meet business critical needs. This perpetuates a broken system designed to create dependence on SEO firms.
So many times I sit down with a company because they want to rank well in Google organic listings, and they think there is some black box of secret knowledge around keywords and how to use them. Why? Because that's what the last guy who was collecting a monthly paycheck from them led them to believe. The client has no idea where the keywords came from or why they were recommended. It's all just "SEO", and they are not the experts. So they pay out lots of money every month to someone to tell them what to do for reasons that are never well explained and results that are usually poorly measured.
It's time to break the cycle.
SEO firms have to start educating their clients on how to strategically develop content that is designed to rank well in search engines. It is not hard to do. It is not secret knowledge. It is something any company can manage. They just need a little education. They just need to shift their thinking small amounts. They just need a slightly different way of seeing. Any SEO firm out there knows what this looks like. But so few SEO clients do.
Every company with a website should have a strategic content development plan that includes keyword relevance. I starts with this:
- What does your company do?
- What do you want to be known as an authority on?
- How do your customers talk about (and search) for your products?
- How does your voice in the market place relate to the above three questions?
SEO firms should stop charging their clients for monthly keyword updates and help them get a solid content creation workflow in place. This is the difference between being a keyword vendor and a strategic partner. It makes good sense for the business and it makes good sense for the SEO firm.
SEO firms, it is far better to be a valued partner who is an important contributor to helping businesses grow rather than simply being a human keyword look up tool.
Businesses, you will be much better served by having a content plan that is rooted in your strengths and cognizant of your audience's voice rather than sprinkling some keywords here and there because your SEO firm told you to.