When focusing on SEO strategies we often talk about the engines, algorithms, links, page-tweaks and whatnot. We focus on what we can do to improve website architecture, research keywords, or write better copy. All of these are important to successful search engine optimization, but what we often don't focus on is the internal issues.

Businesses don't succeed on the basis of a product alone. Those products have to be developed, marketed and sold using sound business principles. Similarly, SEO doesn't succeed solely by what you do on the technical front, but what you do internally to build a platform that will allow SEO success to happen.

Whether you're performing SEO for your own site, hiring a consultant or firm to provide SEO services for you, or you are the SEO provider serving various clients, there is the added dynamic of knowledge and communication that factors into building a successful optimization campaign.

Here are 10 questions that you need to ask to make the campaign successful:

Am I open to other people's thoughts and ideas

If there is one thing I've learned performing SEO over the last 10 years is that my solution isn't always the best solution. Nor is my solution always the most feasible. We often find ourselves making recommendations for changes then working with the development team to figure out how to best implement those recommendations. Sometimes we can get exactly what we want other times we have to figure out workable compromises, which often creates a far better solution for everyone.

On the client side, they too must be willing to compromise--that is if they want to perform well in the search results. Such compromises should not interfere with the integrity of the site or sales process, but will often need to be made to ensure site is properly optimized and search engine friendly.

Both sides must be willing to listen and understand what the goals are and work to find solutions that achieve those goals successfully.

Do I listen more than I talk?

Ok, obviously both the client and SEO cannot listen more than talk, but the point here is to be sure that you're listening. We often want so badly to get our point across that we fail to hear the points being made on the other side. While the SEO has knowledge of the optimization strategies that work, the client has product and industry knowledge that the SEO cannot come close to.

The only way to learn is to stop and listen. Put aside what you already know, listen to the knowledge presented by either the SEO or client, then integrate that new information into an even more successful campaign.

Am I willing to change my opinion based on new information.

In over 10 years optimizing websites there hasn't been a week or month that I didn't learn something new. SEO is a process. Algorithms change, keywords change, customers change, and strategies change. While many of the same principles that worked 10 years ago still work today, there is still a need to keep up with what's new.

And as that new information is gathered, opinions we had yesterday may need to give way to new opinions today. We often look back at things we've done and "update" it, either by making a change or implementing new ideas. This often causes concern from the clients as they think "why didn't you do this last month?"

The truth is, as new ideas are presented, new tools developed, and new discoveries made, those changes could not have been made last month. But that's the process of SEO, constant discovery and adapting your thoughts and opinions to build a better solution.

Do I readily admit when I am wrong?

This is hard for anyone, but is especially hard for the SEO who feels they have to justify the client's continued need for their services. But the truth is, we all make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are costly. Sometimes they cause usability problems, loss of conversions, or even a temporary rankings disaster. While the SEO tries to avert such things from happening, not all of them can be. As with anything, you have to admit your mistakes, learn from them, adjust course, fix what's broke, and move on.

The client also must recognize that failure to implement the recommendations of the SEO may also lead to failure. This is often a frustration we have in that the client wants to know why they may not be getting certain results and we continue to point to past recommendations that have never been implemented. The client must recognize that these recommendations are made based on what the SEO believes is necessary for success.

Do I think and observe before acting on a situation?

Both the client and the SEO have responsibility to consider all things carefully. The SEO must fully understand (as much as is possible) any given situation before making any recommendations. The client must then analyze the recommendations to ensure that it's implementation aligns with the goals of the site.

Every website is different and SEOs often see solutions as one-dimensional, not taking certain site nuances into consideration. Stock solutions must be changed, tweaked and adapted for each individual site. As both the client and the SEO discover any given problem, only through full observation by both parties can the best solution be decided upon. And while every solution may not work exactly as planned, the success rate is higher if the observing, thinking and planning comes before taking action.

In the next post we'll continue with the final five questions that must be asked to ensure SEO success.

November 18, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


More like 10 Questions that Guarantee Wedding Success, amirite?

You make very good points in this article. You're so right about listening to the client and being flexible with recommendations that work for the client (they're easier to get implemented too).

I'm looking forward to part 2 :)

@Perma - Obviously, these principles will apply to almost any area of life. Sometimes it's helpful for people to see how they work in their specific situations.

Thank you Stoney.
You mentioned very good points.
waiting for Part 2


Stoney i agree with you on this. Many times someone just come up with some idea or strategy which is better then mine. I guess most important thing in SEO is to keep open your eyes, ears and 6th sense :)

Your information is really very good. This information i was added in my blog. My blog is : http://seoblog.blogfreehere.com/

Pretty generic questions that would pertain to life in general.

@ Kevin - You're absolutely right. Sometimes it's helpful for people to see how generic life questions and philosophy work in their specific situations.

Good points Stoney!


sounds like a 12 step program for SEO

Making changes is a necessity that if you've been online for any length of time you've learn to live with as SEO is no different.

We've all seen the changes almost daily.

Look at how cell phones have morphed over the past 10 years. Remember brick phones anyone!

Now, we have new toys to play with such as the Flip camera, and Kodak's Zi8. Pretty cool.

I the name of the game today is USP and setting yourself apart from the other guy!

Great post. I'm following it up with more ideas at my website

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