OK, so I kept my mouth shut. I went with the whole “professional thing” and now I feel I can’t watch another business get stung. SEO wannabes. It’s like the lamest status ever. If you’re going to aspire to something, at least make it “hip”. SEO is not an area where you can “fake it ’til you make it” – in fact, that’s just the kind of thing that ends in Google penalty sadness. Don’t fake it. If you can’t do it, don’t promise you can. Don’t assume after reading one ebook/SEO report/article that it’s something you can do. This week I was sent a “training guide” by a *cough* SEO. It was a big old map for “how to get a Google penalty 101″. She’s SELLING this course to small business owners and they’re DOING WHAT SHE SAYS. In six months this woman has re-created herself from a freelance admin, to a digital marketing VA, to an SEO expert. And people are falling for it. But she is not alone. There’s dozens of “SEO courses” and courses for bloggers/accountants/dentists/one legged skateboard riders that tell them how SEO is simple for their industry and just how to do it. And it’s wrong.
Are you actually doing SEO?
- Installing Yoast on WordPress websites
- Downloading lists of keywords from Keyword Planner
- Adding keywords to text until Yoast goes green
- Adding keywords to the meta description and title boxes
If you answered yes to all these, then NO, YOU ARE NOT DOING SEO.
Here is a list of what is involved in SEO training. Search for the word Yoast. Do you see it? Nope. Yoast is NOT SEO. It’s a nifty little afterthought that helps you organise the last step of SEO. It’s a tiny part of one tiny part. If Yoast is essentially your SEO Strategy, you are not, I repeat, not an SEO. Instead of saying to potential clients “I do SEO” here’s what you can say:
My Role: Content Optimisation
Content optimisation is where you make the content compliant with Google guidelines and easy for Google to understand. It’s using header tags and other basic stuff. Yoast is helpful with this. It’s also about readability, LSI keywording, multi-media optimisation and internal linking through sales funnels. Learn all of that and you can tell clients you do content optimisation.
My Role: On Page SEO
In addition to content optimisation, this is where you understand meta tags for SEO optimisation. These might be about social signals, canonical tags, followed v nofollowed, indexable v non indexable, redirects, tracking & conversion pixels, mark up snippets etc There are a ton of tags that can be used to pool SEO power and control how it is distributed. There is a lot to cover on tracking the success of the content. This isn’t just about adding a few tags either, this is about understanding the role of tags in an overarching SEO strategy. You can’t “fake it” by knowing how to add open graph. That’s not it. If you don’t do any of this yourself, you’ll need to engage someone who can do it for you before you can start claiming on page SEO as a skill. This increases your costs, and is why real SEOs charge more than $50 a page for content work. The costs aren’t arbitrary, you can’t just “pick a number that everyone else is charging and charge it” SEO costs are higher because there are more skills/skilled people involved. It takes time to do all the other stuff that you don’t do.
My Role: Technical SEO
If you’re using WordPress themes to build websites, you are NOT a technical SEO. Technical SEO is about complying with dozens of rules when building a clean, high functioning website. I personally, don’t do technical SEO. I can’t call myself an SEO tech. I instead use a specialist SEO developer to work with my clients on website builds where SEO is a priority. It’s not always a priority – some sites are there to grab people from social media, some are in noncompetitive niches so SEO isn’t a cut throat exercise. But when a site is competing for hard keywords, you can’t slap up a WordPress template and charge a fortune for it. That’s the kind of thing that gets you a reputation as a scammer.
My Role: SEO Diagnostics and Strategy
Do you know how to diagnose a traffic drop and put measures in place to correct it? Can you test keywords to understand where they should be positioned in a conversion funnel? Can you analyse a link profile and make the changes needed to be more competitive? Do you have a strategy in place for safe and powerful link building? Do you understand when to prioritise conversion over keyword ranking and how to get the delicate balance of both right? If the answer is no, you are NOT an SEO strategist. Do you know how to interpret analytical data into SEO tactics and put them in place? No? Downloading a list of keywords from Keyword Planner and them putting them into blogs – not an SEO strategy. It’s an ANTI-SEO strategy. Stop calling yourself and SEO strategist now. Seriously, just cut that shiz out you wannabe SEO hack!
SEO is not one job
Medicine. Not one job. Doctors, nurses, specialists, radiologists, lab techs, phlebotomist…. there’s a big old list of people who are in “medicine”. While SEO isn’t going to save or cost any lives, you are largely responsible for the health of a business online. SEO companies have a team of developers, strategists, outreach people, content creators, sales and marketing folk… they all work together to create a competitive SEO presence. You don’t NEED to do all the things to provide SEO services. You need to have a team of people who can… You sitting at home on your computer adding random, untested phrases to Yoast is not going to cut it. Stop being a wannabe SEO. You’ll need a team and when you have a team, you can’t charge a pittance or profit a fortune and remain competitive. When you’re tempted to say “I do SEO” – just don’t. Be specific. Make a realistic claim and deliver that to clients for a realistic price. Your reputation will improve. Your client’s expectations will be managed. Your responsibility will be limited to what you promise to deliver. Get to know that one job so well that you do it better than anyone else and then start learning how to grow your SEO skill base. Fake it ’til you make it does not apply here.
*EDIT* A SEO provider took this to heart and lost her rag at me because it’s a bit close to home… bahahahah. Anyway, a few words have been changed to give her a little bit of peace of mind that it’s not about her…