In the past decade or so, SEO companies have seen unprecedented growth due to their ability to offer high search rankings and driving organic traffic for client businesses. However, with time, businesses have considered SEO work as a magic tool that can drive organic traffic and improving their website ranking for any given competitive keyword in few days, which in reality is impossible to achieve for anyone. Even an SEO expert with tons of experience can’t do it because of ever-changing Google magic algorithm and lack of standardization in the SEO industry and SEO expectations.
You as a client or SEO expert must understand that SEO is not magic, nor it as an exact science where doing a particular action (i.e. SEO related activity) will have a specific, predictable reaction. Search engines like Google don’t even publish one/tenth of guidelines that are required for good SEO work. However, this doesn’t mean that SEO has lost its place when it comes to improving website rankings, it’s just that it takes a considerable amount of time, money, and whole-hearted efforts from the SEO team.
With this view mind, this blog post is going to give you an exact idea about the SEO expectations Vs SEO Reality for clients, the myths related to SEO, and the exact reality of it through some well-researched case studies and examples. This, in turn, will help you understand ‘what it takes’ to build a good SEO strategy and how to keep aside unrealistic SEO expectations.
Let’s get a brief look at some unrealistic client expectations when it comes to SEO related work.
Being there in the SEO industry for years, I have heard some common SEO-related requests many a time from the clients, which are either impossible to achieve in a short period or are unrealistic. I agree that it’s not always clients, who are on the wrong side, sometimes new SEO companies or inexperienced guys misled clients to hide their inexperience and earn more profit.
As an SEO expert, you must understand that SEO is one of the most profitable marketing channels businesses can invest in to reap rapid growth, but they are afraid as SEO industry is getting untrustworthy, and this is just because of few people who either lack experience or expertise in SEO.
Here are the top five Unrealistic client expectations related to SEO:
Almost 50% of the clients want to achieve a page 1 ranking on Google for most competitive keywords for their website
You must have heard this phrase often from clients:
“Please, can you put my website in top search result page for this competitive keyword.”
Being an SEO expert, you must learn to walk away from the table in such projects which have unqualified clients. Although, the best that you can do is advise them to look out for ‘high traffic low competition’ keywords that are again based on their website content. Also, encourage them to set realistic short-term and long-term goals and align them with their overall SEO campaign.
Let me explain this to you with the help of an example:
Maldive Traveller is a tourism company, which has struggled to generate online leads due to their poor digital marketing strategy. After struggling so much, the company hired a third-party SEO agency.
After months of extensive keywords research, the SEO agency has improved its website content, which was necessary for effective SEO. They added relevant keywords on the different web pages along with unique and high-quality content. After employing such strategies over the course of six months, Maldive Travellers website organic traffic increased, which was actually due to strategically chosen keywords by the SEO team.
Due to lack of SEO knowledge, close to 30% of clients believe that paid search increases their budget and it can be easily avoided by using SEO friendly keywords.
I have heard some of my clients saying “Can you replace our paid search ads with SEO so that we can save cost.”
Well, such prospects once motivated me to keep my SEO going. But, with time, you learn that SEO cannot be a full proof replacement for paid search, SEO and paid search must work together for great results.
Yeah, some experts will now argue that it’s not necessary every time, but I am talking about general cases, not specific ones. As an SEO client also one must understand that SEO replaces a part of your paid search budget, put keywords as well as fill content gaps in your website that align with your prospects and improve usability and conversion rate for your website.
SEO industry studies have revealed that 90% of the times SEO experts/companies have to give extra hours of time just to explain the basic ‘how to’ of SEO to technology-avert clients, to make sure they don’t take any silly marketing decisions that hamper their search rankings.
In many cases, I have seen businesses who have poor technology knowledge partnering with paddlers of SEO, while saying:
‘We have delivered the work to SEO experts who will get it done for us as we are paying a high fee to them.’
As an SEO client, you must understand that handling SEO related work to some popular SEO agency cannot produce good results every time. It is better to layout a good SEO strategy with some critical KPIs that will help you track the performance of your SEO campaign, whether things are going according to plan or not.
Approx 34% of businesses believe that high website traffic means more sales, so they need to increase the same.
All my years in the SEO industry, I have heard clients preaching about web traffic, as they say:
‘We believe more traffic can work wonders for us in terms of boosting sales, so increase traffic on our website.’
You as an SEO expert/company must also check the content and technical aspects of clients website in order to boost the traffic. Go through client website so that you can figure out remedies. Look at some aspects like backlinks, page optimization, redirecting & site speed, and other technical obstacles to boost traffic on client website.
Poor SEO knowledge and experience leads to more than 40% of clients giving ‘less than required time’ to SEO companies for achieving top search rankings for desired keywords.
You must have frequently seen clients saying:
‘I think two months would be enough to rank my site in the top three search results for the given keywords, isn’t it.’
Many novice clients did not understand that SEO is a time-consuming task and requires long-term commitment to achieve the desired results. Sites that have technical and content issues can take months to clean up and rank in top search results.
Here is a prominent example of the same.
Complete Plumber Source is an e-commerce company who has struggled in the past to generate high sales in their offline business, so they decided to move their business online by developing an e-commerce site. For the development of their site, they hired an SEO agency named X. The SEI team after months of extensive research has developed a user-friendly website with proper SEO work like link building, high-quality content, brand promotion, etc.
However, the important thing to note is that Complete Plumber Source has given two years of time to the SEO company for their website development and SEO work leading to 2000% sales growth. Surprising isn’t it?
Key Challenges Faced by the SEO Industry
Managing unrealistic client SEO expectations is one of the most important challenges in the SEO industry. Although, on a broader level, there are some other issues as well that are hampering the growth of our SEO industry.
Here are some of the challenges that the SEO industry is facing these days:
- Correcting the outdated SEO tactics: It consumes a lot of time and effort of SEO experts/companies to correct/modify/enhance the outdated tactics that were used by previous SEO agencies for a particular client project.
- Dealing with fake SEO companies as they misguide businesses with wrong information related to SEO and how it works.
- Poor budget allocation by businesses for their website maintenance under an ongoing SEO project.
- Unavailability of resources: SEO agencies/businesses often lack a dedicated web development team, content team, lead gen team, and social media marketing team that is important for a full-proof SEO campaign.
- Unexpected changes: SEO clients often take unforeseen changes at last moment, e.g. budget cut-off, marketing changes, etc. that hampers the effectiveness of an ongoing SEO campaign. Sometimes, employees who have been sharing details or communicating with SEO team leave or resign from a company, which again makes things difficult.
Myths Related to SEO
You must have heard the ‘Personalization affects the page rankings for different users’
Well, yes, Google does produce personalized results to users based on their search history. But, the differences between personalized and non-personalized results are very minor. Here are some results; approx 90% of the times the results are unaffected due to personalization.
Reciprocal links are of dubious value, caught easily by search engines; hence lowers the site value.
One must understand that unnatural ‘reciprocal link behavior’ is easy to catch. You must avoid this, but then again you should look at the other schemes or directories, which uses different logic to earn their own links and promise value to your site in return. The use of ‘three-way’ or ‘four-way’ reciprocal directories is also considered as a type of attempted manipulation, but it is still there and can be done by you too.
You must monitor the keyword density for a page and keep it minimal to achieve higher rankings.
Being professionals SEO, one must not engage in such poor arguments as the keyword density logic that we generally use is not accurate every time neither search engines consider that metric.
Hyphens in Domain names are best for SEO and higher rankings
Simply this is a wrong argument. You must know Google spam filter early warning system does look out at hyphens and co-relate with poor branding value.
Linking to other “high Domain Authority” or “high PageRank” site helps a page perform better
Linking to the other website which high domain authority can help you rank quickly and easily. but you must also check the spam along with the domain authority.
What are some of the realistic SEO expectations of clients that can be achieved?
Till now, we have discussed the unrealistic client expectations, myth, and challenges related to SEO. Now, let’s get an idea about some realistic SEO expectations of clients, which can be easily met by SEO experts:
- Create relevant, informative and engaging content for promotion.
- Drive organic traffic for the website.
- Increase brand awareness among the customers.
- Assisting in Lead generation/conversions.
- Monitor performance on their websites over time.
- Assist in high ROI generation through white-hat SEO practices.
There are multiple factors, which affect SEO results such as fierce competition, ever-changing Google’s magic algorithm, 200+ ranking factors, etc. As per the SEO industry data, close to 20 % start-ups fail in their very first year to achieve significant business growth as they have a poor inbound sales strategy.
You must know that SEO is a critical part of a firm’s inbound strategy, but to reap high ROI from SEO, you must remember these three gold tricks
- Focus on long-term results.
- Do proper budget allocation for SEO work.
- Trust experienced SEO practitioners rather than newbies.
In reality, the SEO is not a magic that will boost your website rankings in a few days time as very little happens in the world of SEO overnight. To set realistic expectations, you must go through the basic concepts of SEO, which are easily available on the internet. If you or your business wants to do the SEO work itself, then you need to devote a substantial amount of time, energy and resources for the same to improve your website rankings.
SEO is also a labor-intensive task and requires a long-term commitment, so you can also consider the option of availing third-party SEO services.
Here is an example, Belden Brick Company, located in Canton, Ohio had a wide range of manufacturing products and sold them offline mainly through distributors. Due to a larger product catalog, the company website had multiple pages way back in 2012, which were not at all optimized for search engines. The company was losing business online mainly.
As the company lacked significant expertise and manpower for the SEO work; hence they took the smart decision and hired a professional and skilled third party SEO agency for the same. The SEO company, later, had improved the search engine friendliness of the BBC website resulting in an increased number of monthly visitors on their website in less than one year.
Before hiring SEO services, you must know some SEO Realities like:
- As per the SEOmoz data, an SEO software company takes an average of 20 to 40 days time period before Google adds a brand new website to their search results.
- Before starting an SEO campaign, the businesses must identify the most relevant keywords for which they want to boost their page rankings. Also, the short-term and long-term business goals along with the key KPIs must be set before the SEO campaign.
- Allocate a substantial amount of budget for SEO work from your overall digital marketing campaign.
- Website owners should also focus on tracking the organic search traffic on their website during the SEO campaign for a significant time period at least six months time.
- The SEO clients must also track the success of their SEO campaign by tracking the steady increase in daily visitors as well as conversions on their website.
What results can be achieved through SEO?
|Things Possible through SEO||Things that cannot be achieved through SEO|
|Search engine friendliness can be improved for the given website.||Very difficult to rank a website in top search results for any given/the desired keyword.|
|Improvement in website ranking through a well-developed SEO campaign.||Improve website rank within a few days or weeks for any given keyword.|
|Develop a successful link building campaign using well-written and researched articles.||Use of low-quality content to improve website ranking.|
|Improve website internal link structure.||Use secret keyword density for website content improvement.|
|Eliminate other relevant issues that arise during website upgrade, maintenance.||No changes in website ranking despite modifications in website structure, content, etc.|
Magic of Google Algorithm
You as an SEO expert or client must understand that the SEO show business is largely driven by the ‘magical search algorithm’ of Google who handles the responsibility to delivering most accurate results whenever any particular user looks out for something on Google using specific keywords. However, in recent times, many people have attained success in confusing Google’s search algorithm to rank their websites higher using false SEO practices like ‘black hat SEO.’
Therefore, it is also vital for SEO experts to learn and understand the search engine guidelines properly to avoid violation of search engines terms and services. It also helps them to stay updated with the changing SEO trends and adjust their approach to match up with the new algorithm updates.
So, to sum up, I would say that as a business/SEO client, you should always try to set realistic expectations when it comes to SEO. To achieve this, you must understand the basics and ‘how to’ of the SEO industry. You must acknowledge that competition is high, set important KPIs, determine short-term and long-term goals for your SEO campaign and most importantly acknowledge the fact that bringing more web traffic just doesn’t mean higher search rankings. On the other hand, as an SEO experts/company, one must be able to figure out the difference between the client’s realistic and unrealistic SEO expectations.