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The True Face of SEO

  |  February 22, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Do SEO specialists need to change their business practise?

"What is SEO?" This is a century-old topic and it has been discussed and rediscussed over thousands or millions of times on different marketing articles. Why? It is because the answer has yet to arrive and the fate of SEO has never stopped changing over time. I'm inspired by the recent Google-Bing dispute on the SERP's result that keeps me thinking of another issue. The business practise that most of the SEOs provide to clients nowadays has been somewhat outdated.

If you are in the SEO market for long enough, you will see the emphasis has changed a lot, now moving towards the educational focused on the Web-built best practice. However, clients' expectations from a SEO service, after paying an average $25,000 to 50,000 per project, is different in China. In my experience, the expectation from SEO service of many MNCs is plain and simple: top ranking. And the visibility? Nevermind. Clients just want their website to be listed on the no. 1 position of the SERP.

You wonder what this has to do with the Google-Bing dispute over the search result. Bing's defense is that search engines are now processing over 1,000 or even more ranking signals to determine the site rank. Both Bing and Google have made known to the public that users' click-stream data is now being included in the machine algorithmic computation. Although we don't know how much the weight of the click stream is and whether or not it is more important than the links and tags, I am convinced that the old school SEO approach needs to have a fundamental change because we know search engines are referencing the natural user behaviours for their computation.

So, if your client asks you how a SEO KPI should be made, would you still give them a vague answer like "If this can be done then that could be achieved"? But sad truth be told, at the end of the conversation, you find you still cannot promise a result, which in the client's term - "No.1 in the search engine result page". This is the moment when a relationship breaks down between an SEO and an client.

Are you tired of promising a top rank position? Are you sick with diagnosing low keyword engagement caused by the poor content and the client's unwillingness to compose relevant material? Not to mention the impatience issue when the site has not been given a good (proper) rank. The solution to all these is not whether you have a great SEO tool or a good plan to improve back links. It is your communication with the client— stop glorifying the power of SEO and start managing the client expectation in the first place.

As an SEO, you know it when the client's site has no chance to be ranked, or, let's put it this way, start adding your honesty and the consideration of the non-algorithmic computation into your SEO methodology when you need to provide a SEO KPI for your client. This will lead you to a good SEO project.

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Eddie Choi

Eddie is the founding partner of Frontiers Digital and the Executive Director of Milton Exhibits Group. Although Eddie studied classical theory of sociology in college and has a MBA, technology always has been a passion with him. He believes that a combination of technology and communication is what the modern marketing is heading towards in the future. Eddie is a member of Search Engine Strategies Global Advisory Board.

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