Last week I read/watched a fascinating Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of Moz in which Rand talked about the changing expectations around SEO activity, and what exactly it is people should expect when they engage with an SEO. I would highly recommend taking 8 minutes out of your day to watch the video as it provides a great sound bite about the changing face of SEO:

What should you expect from your SEO?

If you look back over some of our recent blogs, it’s easy to see that there is a definite shift in the way that SEOs now carry out their work. Gone are the days where keyword research, a bit of on-page optimisation and some link building were enough to see companies climb up the rankings. SEO has become so much more than this and our posts on content marketing, putting the user first and personas begin to tell the tale of the work you should expect from your SEO agency.

Does this spell the end for keyword research?

All this talk about content marketing and user experience seems to be putting a dampener on the work that many SEOs still carry out doing keyword research so is this still relevant? You bet it is. Although keywords on their own are no longer as important as they once were, they still form the basis for a lot of the work you are going to have to carry out in order to deliver a successful SEO strategy. How people search is still really important but it is also crucial that we recognise that search engines have evolved and in turn we need to evolve how we carry out keyword research, looking beyond search volume and competition and focusing more on user intent and the concepts and related topics around those keywords (more of that in our next blog post!)

Where was I? Ah yes…expectations of your SEO…

How to deliver realistic expectations of SEO activity for your boss/client

So we have established that keyword research is still an important element of SEO work but what else should we be doing which we didn’t need to do 2-3 years ago. Well, let’s start with Rand’s list from his Whiteboard Friday:

  • Engage in an SEO contract (either with an agency or internally at your organisation)
  • Audit the entire online marketing strategy and tactics including:
  1. Content
  2. UX
  3. Branding
  4. PR
  5. Accessibility and speed
  6. Keyword targeting
  7. Competitor analysis
  8. Etc.
  • Determine which investments are possible/most likely to have ROI
  • Work across teams to get projects approved
  • Bolster a wide range of ‘off-site’ signals e.g. social media signals, PR, branding, voice, coverage etc
  • Have months of waiting with little ability to track visitor value directly

Well, that’s certainly going to keep us busy and it’s also not going to deliver immediate results. However what it is going to do is provide you with a rock solid foundation to build your future SEO activity.

For some companies (the lucky ones!) some of this work may have already been done. Those companies with a solid SEO/Digital strategy already in place have hopefully already conducted an audit and analysed their tactics. You may even have set out a plan as to which elements to tackle first and who is going to be responsible. For the majority however, this is going to be a whole new ball game and determining how long all this will take is never easy.

Creating an SEO timeline

As per Rand’s whiteboard, it make sense to set out a timeline which will help you to a) manage the process of implementing your SEO strategy and b) manage the expectations of those people who want to see results. By setting clear milestones for tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the end goal of improved SEO results, it helps you to feedback at regular meetings as to where things are up to, report on the success of those activities and ensure that you remain on track.

What must be made clear to your boss/client is the reason why you are carrying out the tasks along the timeline and the impact these are likely to have on your SEO results. For example if your timeline looks like this:

Complete Audit —-> Fixed on-site errors —> Content investments —> Social media/PR amplification —> Grow engagement —> SEO results

It is important to ensure people understand why you have decided to carry out on-site error fixes first and what the benefits are likely to be. What are the content investments and what impact are they likely to have? How will you grow your social media following and amplification? And ultimately, how will you grow engagement? Transparency is the key when delivering a successful SEO timeline/action plan – people must be aware of the impacts and also of the likely timescales to carry out these actions. Over time, you may find that each element along the timeline brings small SEO improvements (depending on the state of your SEO in the first place) or it may be that it takes a combination of all the proposed activity before you start to see any real results.

So what next?

Well, hopefully this has given you an appreciation of the changing nature of SEO and also helped if you need to set the expectations of your boss/client in terms of outcomes.

We would love to know what you think about this and whether you have experience anything like this so please drop us a comment below and we can engage in a conversation with you.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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