Talking People Out of SEO #6: Paperwork Is Actually For Winners


Unscrupulous SEO agencies, let me count thy ways…

  • Thou shalt tout SEO as the be-all and end-all of online marketing which generates masses of free traffic to those with the wisdom to hire thy agency to do it
  • Thou shalt pretend complete ignorance of the term ROI
  • Thou shalt make enormous promises of boosting Google rank and getting websites to the first page without making reference to personalised search
  • Thou shalt guarantee top spot for overly specific long tail keywords which are not necessarily relevant to thy client’s business needs
  • Thou shalt measure results purely on the basis of rankings or page traffic rather than meaningful business metrics
  • Thou shalt not provide any useful reports or insights on work carried out each month except thy invoices to thy client
  • Thou shalt content spam, link spam, article spin and generally use incredibly black hat SEO tactics, in thy mercy…

SEO ServicesIn the first part of this series of seven articles examining reasons not to do dedicated search engine optimisation work on a website, we looked into the reasons why SEO might not be the be all and end all of online marketing in your business sector. In the second we discussed how the use of SEO and other online marketing activities should be governed by projected return on investment for each activity. In the third we looked at one of the most common promises made by dodgy SEO firms and why modern search engine algorithms make aiming for the top spot a completely redundant aim for today’s marketers. The fourth discussed another cardinal sin committed regularly by dodgy SEO marketers, namely guaranteed top spots for given keywords. The fifth looked at how you should measure the success (or lack thereof) of your search marketing work – and, more importantly, how you shouldn’t. Now we’re going to look at the advantages of keeping track of your external SEO provider and making sure you’re getting value for money.

One of the most common complaints we hear from new clients is how their last agency gave them no indication of what was going on or what they were actually paying for. An increasing number of agencies eschew paper or PDF reports in favour of marketing dashboards or similarly flashy sorts of gadgets that show lots of graphs or big numbers with lots of coloured arrows. The signature sin of these types of displays is that they show things without context, or with silly context – like a month on month comparison showing a big boost in revenue for an online gift shop from November to December, or a comparison of visits that doesn’t take any account of other minor things like school holidays, significant retail events or any other external factors.

That said, there can be such a thing as too much reporting. A painstaking analysis of every last detail in analytics on any given month is unlikely to be read by most people, let alone understood, and more importantly takes up a lot of time which could be spent doing something more beneficial. Most SEO agencies will count any reporting in as part of the ongoing cost you pay which means that if you want big, detailed reports you’ll get less actual marketing work done for the same payment.

It is important to get some sort of visibility on your SEO though, even if it is being handled in-house. Full written reports are probably only necessary quarterly for most budgets, but a regular update of some work done, figures with some context – here’s the increase in this keyword because of this work done and that external effect – is an absolute must. If the only time you hear from your agency is the monthly invoice it is probably time to worry, and a reputable SEO will provide regular updates with a certain amount of consultancy to help you understand things like which keywords were worked on, why certain actions were taken and which external influences have affected traffic.

A holistic SEO approach can and should even provide help on improving the conversion rate of your website so as to improve the general performance of the marketing for your business – you should avoid any SEO that sees themselves purely as a link builder or article writer as this suggests that things are being done in isolation rather than as part of a sensible and integrated marketing strategy. Remember marketing is the means to a business end, not something to be done just for its own sake (even if you do like seeing your name in lights).

If you’re baffled by blogs and lost in links, pick up the phone and call 0330 555 4680 today to find out how Cornish WebServices can help you build a sensible and sustainable set of online marketing to include SEO, PPC, social media and more.

PS we build beautiful websites too!

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