Before I sign on the dotted line with any new search engine optimization client, I always make sure they understand that the visible text copy on their current Web site will *have to* change in order to achieve maximum success.
That's right, the visible text copy...the stuff that people see and read when they visit your site.
Can't You Just Change the Meta Tags?
"What?" they often ask incredulously. "Can't you just change the Meta tags?" "What if we make the new copy invisible?" "My nephew told me that there are ways to do all this in the background."
Isn't There Any Other Way?
Sure, there may be other ways, but like any successful professional, I use methods that have been proven to work for me: adding professionally written, keyword-rich marketing copy to the important pages of the site and optimizing them accordingly. This SEO method worked for me back in 1995, and it continues to work in 2002. Judging from the amount of email I receive from my long-time readers, it works for them also!
Why Do Search Engines Exist?
Think about it for a moment: search engines exist to guide people to pages that are relevant to their searches. What could be more relevant than a page that "discusses" the very keywords the person is looking for?
Once I explain it like that to potential clients, most will agree that perhaps their fancy Flash splash page should be moved off their front page. The bulk of them also agree that perhaps a rewrite of their copy with keyword phrases in mind is actually a good idea. And very often, once they see that the new keyword-rich copy not only helps them get high search engine rankings, but also enhances their visitors' experience, they are very happy campers.
There's One in Every Crowd
Unfortunately, every now and then I run across one of *those* clients. You know the type. They appear to "get it" and happily go along with all the necessary site changes. They participate in the copywriting, they make suggestions and edits and they even comment on how great their site is turning out. Everything is 100% perfect and you know that it's only a matter of time before the rankings will be pouring in.
A few weeks later, a look at the client's site shows that all of the new text you worked so hard to create is gone! All that remains of your carefully crafted optimization are the Title and Meta tags. Even Alt tags were not spared the delete key!
If you think this could never happen, think again! Unfortunately, this happens to SEO consultants all the time.
Brainwashed By Meta Tag Hype
I've never quite figured out why some clients ask for help and then don't follow through with it. One theory I have is that because so much is written about Meta tags and the like, there are still a lot of people who have been brainwashed into believing that Meta tags are the be-all, end-all to high rankings.
Perhaps these clients are simply looking for some professionally created Meta tags, and just go along with text changes to get what they want. If so, the joke's on them because they'll soon find out that their Meta tags were created for their site based solely upon the keyword-rich copy. The two must go hand in hand; without the matching copy, the tags will be useless. (Which is also why stealing a high-ranking page's Meta tags will rarely do any good.)
SEOs: Spell it Out in Your Contract
You can't stop rogue clients from changing their site against your best advice. However, you can protect yourself and your company by having a smart contract at the outset.
If you're an SEO doing work for clients' sites, be sure to clearly state the changes you will be making to their site in your contract, before any work has begun. If you don't have a contract, get one now! Specifically state that the client must not change or delete the new copy and HTML coding for at least three months. If they sign up for continued monitoring services, ask to review any copy or design changes to ensure that they won't affect the search engine rankings. If you really want to cover yourself, specifically state that you take no responsibility for the rankings if they change the pages without your knowledge and approval.
Clients: Trust Your SEO!
If you're going to hire an expert to do something for you, whether it
be search engine optimization or building a house, you've got to trust
them to do their job correctly. Professionals do not make specific
recommendations just for the heck of it. They have tried-and-true
methods that they know will work. If you hire someone who has a good
reputation and track record, then put your faith in him or her. If
you have any inkling that your SEO is not trustworthy, look for a new
SEO. Best results are always obtained when there is good
communication between all parties. Once you've found an expert you
can trust and are satisfied that their methods are in the best
interest of your site, then whatever you do, don't sabotage their best
efforts! Your SEO wants high rankings for your site as much as you
do. Give them enough latitude to obtain them for you!
May 23, 2002
CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.
High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.
Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.
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