Business owners and enterprise executives can become successful through demonstrated expertise with their product and services. Some also grow because they begin to fully understand their customers’ likes and dislikes, and cater to them.
For many, it is difficult to use the Internet to truly explain the value of why someone should become clients. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a more common marketing strategy in the 2010s, and many business owners have been convinced to pursue SEO through professionally managed campaigns.
These entrepreneurs (and also CMOs or marketing VPs within larger companies that may have oversight over SEO performance) are nearly always dependent on the outsourced consultant or agency to provide the current best practices and strategies to guide improved search engine visibility. They do not likely understand the many moving parts of SEO, nor should they need to become fully-versed.
But Who Checks The Experts?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who guards the guardians?)
This Latin phrase more specifically refers to infidelity/mischievous behavior and government, but can be applied to vendor-dependent relationships across marketing and even other core business areas such as finance and accounting.
For some, it is impossible to afford the cost of a professional audit on top of what they may be paying for ongoing SEO. A trusted “double-check” is hard to come by with a discount.
If you can relate to the scenario above, could you afford 30 minutes twice a month to see how things are doing? That is, if you were given some easy tools and methods to check high-level SEO diagnostics? On March 24, I will present a webinar that covers the use of search engines, free tools, and SEMrush to identify performance and help to lead conversations with your vendor.
*Before I go further, I want to be clear that I respect that SEO vendors mostly know what they are doing and have their clients’ best interests in mind. I welcome audits of strategies I have personally implemented, because they can often find additional areas of opportunity. This is not a witch hunt, but rather a recommendation to arm oneself with knowledge. Increased knowledge on both the client and vendor side means improved expectations, understanding, and implementation levels for SEO.
This can sometime cause problems with SEO relationships, based on past experience. From the consultant/agency perspective, the more you know the more likely that you will have more questions as well as potential “other ideas.”
This then sometimes becomes an issue for the SEO because he or she has to dedicate a larger portion of time to you, on the phone, to explain things. In my opinion, this will happen in either case, and, personally, I prefer to have more direct conversation than monthly meetings simply reading a report and describing the next month’s activities.
Using The Search Engines “Against” Themselves
Google and Bing offer tremendous opportunity within their own search bars and search engine results pages (SERPs). Understanding special commands known as Google operators (without some of the more “granular” ones described in this resource) can help you get a better feeling for how your business is doing in the search engines.
One of my favorites is the “Site:” command, which is a litmus test for many SEOs to help determine the order of importance of the pages on your domain. Even this simple command can be used multiple ways to ensure you know about your domain as a whole.
SERPs provide a lot of useful information in order to drive a better user experience for search engine users. For example, understanding the results that fall under “Related” or “Also Searched For…” for your brand and keywords can help you to better estimate if your SEO is working to properly classify your business and likely feed results to the right searchers, which represent qualified traffic for your site.
Using Third Party Tools to Empower SEO Insight
Tools including SEMrush provide keyword and competitive intelligence in real-time, which empowers business owners to better understand current performance as well as the competitor landscape. Of course, tools like this can actually become an obsession for the “wrong” people that will end up wasting time that they gained back by outsourcing a marketing function. However, assuming you can control your intake, these tools and their reports will help you better understand the three main areas of SEO, and ask the right types of questions to yourself, as well as your vendor(s) or internal teams.
- Technical SEO – Are the right pages of your site indexed? Do you have “extra pages” or “ugly listings” in the SERPs?
- Content Marketing and Optimization – What kind of content drives search engine exposure to your site and your competitors’? Your industry? Your specific target client segment(s)?
- Inbound Links and Social Signals – Does anyone who matters care about your content?
I look forward to covering these topics on March 24 for the SEMrush webinar (follow the link to register), and welcome questions specific to your circumstances through the webinar chat as well as in the comments to this post.