It’s probably going to come as no great surprise to you that sometimes people just don’t get SEO. It’s this lack of understanding that leads people label us as spammers, evildoers and opportunists (sound familiar, Mr. Powazek?). I’m not interested in what certain angry bloggers have to say though – I’m interested in the misconceptions my clients have. And before I tackle them, I need to identify them.
Myth: Meta Keywords are the Holy Grail.
I can see your responses now, even before you click that comments box. “1995 called – they want their search algorithms back.” The sad fact of the matter is that some clients have still told us that their last SEO company just filled their meta tags full of spam and pocketed the fee. And this at a time when Google and Yahoo are denying all use of meta keywords. The more people that understand the much-maligned meta keywords tag, the less opportunity there’ll be for unscrupulous and uninformed types to take them for a ride.
Reality: Your meta keywords tag really isn’t important. It doesn’t matter that the “SEO” section of your off-the-shelf CMS says it is, so don’t lose any sleep over it.
Myth: SEO companies have access to a Search Engine Hotline.
“Can’t you just call Google and get them to index my site today?” – If I had a penny for every time I’d heard that, I’d have about enough for a half of mild at a nearby pub. As ludicrous as this question seems, it actually makes some sense. Do any other complimentary industries have the same lack of direct communication that Search Engines and SEOs have? Explaining that we can’t call Yahoo head office is an important part of managing client expectations.
Reality: The search engines aren’t your ISP. They don’t have huge call centres, and they won’t offer you a deal if you complain.
Myth: Results are instant.
We’ve optimised the content, sourced some quality links and made sure the site’s as accessible as possible. Now begins the waiting for the inevitable “so why haven’t my listings changed? It’s been a week” call. In a world of instant communication, instant gratification and instant coffee, it’s hard to explain to a client that the Search Engines can work on near-geological timescales.
Reality: SEO is a long-term plan. If you want something right now, then you should probably be investing in AdWords.
Myth: Being a market leader automatically entitles you to the top spot.
“I’m a 5* hotel, they’re a pokey b&b – so why are they top and I’m on page three?” Explaining that your word of mouth reputation isn’t automatically linked to your online reputation is crucial to helping clients understand how the search engines work. By showing them that time and effort can get the underdog to top spot, you’re showing them the power of SEO and re-enforcing the whole patience thing we looked at above.
Reality: Wikipedia are top of Google for “cola”, and they don’t even have a bottling plant.
Myth: There’s a magic “Top of the SERPs” code.
The number of people that think they can hit the top of the SERPs without making changes to their website is staggering This could be a throwback to the days of spammy framesets, but it could equally just be wishful thinking. It’s enticing to believe that there’s some magic button that can be pushed so they can reap rewards with minimal effort, but it’s important to let them know that there’s no cheat code. Even though it is tempting to tell them that if they put <meta name=”godmode” content=”iddqd”/> into the code, their competition will be Doomed.
Reality: Seriously. IDDQD solves all your problems. Without it, you’re up against Hell on Earth.
As SEO professionals, it’s our job to educate and inform our clients about how what we do works. Once we’ve done that, we can turn our attentions to the evildoers and opportunists looking to get some traffic by disparaging our hard work.
This weekend, Andrew’s heading to Leeds United’s away game vs. Millwall. He could really do with some sort of invincibility code for that.