There is a dirty secret in the SEO industry. Unbeknownst to many companies, the SEO marketing company they have hired is stealing from them. It’s a tragic yet common occurrence in the Online Marketing world. The fact is that most companies that provide these services don’t understand one crucial thing about SEO which we’ll talk about in this post. We’ll also go over how to spot if your SEO service is stealing from you.
A Quick Refresher
In our previous post on Search Engine Optimization, we talked about what it actually is. If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, go read that post and then come back here. But as a quick refresher, SEO is Search Engine Optimization and is the art of placing content higher up in a search engine’s results.
A Great Divide
The reason most SEO companies are stealing from their customers stems from a common division of content and marketing inside marketing teams. The content team is often seen as a machine that cranks out words while the marketing team are experts in topical areas such as inbound acquisition, paid media, or any other marketing function. They are seen as separate teams. This is unfortunate, because this division of responsibilities has created a great divide in the marketer’s head that content is an after thought behind their craft.
Content Is King
Good marketing companies see content as king because they understand that everything in online marketing and advertising flows from content. If your content is not right, all the a/b testing and analytics in the world won’t help you. This is even more true for SEO because, by nature of the beast, Search Engines want to give their customers the best results possible.
The absolute first step to any good marketing plan is to develop content that is consumable to prospects. If a prospect is Dorothy and them becoming a customer would be Oz then content is the Yellow Brick Road. Whether it’s a blog post, an editorial, landing page, video, podcast, ebook, or even the spoken word… it’s all content.
Focusing Too Much On Marketing
What most SEO companies focus on are the marketing related/quantifiable items such as backlinks, keywords, keyword density. While these are important they do not focus on the quality of the content. Instead they try to augment the content to get the most out of it. And this may work for companies that have a great content strategy, however the vast majority of companies do not.
In marketing, every dollar you spend should have a tangible return. If it doesn’t then it’s a waste. When a SEO company focuses on the marketing of bad content it is only waste because people will not consume bad content. So all the backlink and keyword optimization in the world cannot save it.
How To Tell If Your SEO Company Is Good Or Bad
This is actually pretty simple. If your SEO team doesn’t work directly with the content creation team then it is a bad company. If you don’t have content, but have a SEO team on retainer or on staff then there is literally no point to them being there. That is a bad company.
This often happens with local Mom and Pop companies or non-techy startups. A company will approach them and say they can “get you to the top of Google” and then charge hundreds or thousands a month with no results. And if they have results without content then they are likely using Blackhat SEO which could negatively affect their client.
Developing A Good SEO Strategy
While this topic could take up an entire book, we’ll briefly outline how to create a SEO strategy that will work and pay dividends.
1 – Start With A Good Content Strategy
(If you already have a good content strategy skip to step 2.)
Find out where your customers are and what they like. For instance, if I want to target 20 – 25 year old men, then Reddit would be where I’d start. For 20 – 25 year old women I’d go to Pinterest or Instagram. For 35 – 65 year old women I’d go to Facebook.
As you go, integrate keywords and other SEO strategies into your content. Make sure the content is sharable, linkable, and is user friendly. If you need some ideas check out the book Content Inc.
2 – Focus On Metrics
After you have created targeted, high quality content, make sure you cover your bases with backlinks, meta tags, titles, and all the metrics most SEO companies love. If you need more details check out Moz’s free academy.
3 – Evaluate And Iterate
Like all marketing functions you want to rinse and repeat. If a piece of content failed, figure out why and don’t do that again. If it took off, do it again, and try to do it better.
This process allows the SEO to become part of the content and get better as time goes on. If you treat SEO and Content as different things there will never be opportunity for growth or optimization.
What If I Don’t Want To Create Content? Can I Still Use SEO?
The short answer is yes. If you don’t want to create content you can still use SEO to boost rankings for what you do have. So if you have a store, you can focus on boosting the products within the store. Or maybe the home page of your site. But results will be very limited.
If you do not want to create content, we encourage you to audit your existing site to make sure it meets on page SEO best practices (which we will go over in our next Search Engine Optimization post and link to here) and then stop with whatever SEO service you have. Save that money and invest it elsewhere. Maybe you can fire them and hire someone to produce a small amount of content that you can try to grow over time.
Without good content, there is no point in wasting money on Search Engine Optimization. Unless you have such amazing products that other people link to them like they do with Amazon then you need to generate good content first and focus on SEO second.