Discover the TWO Things You Need For a Successful SEO Campaign
One of the reasons I find SEO such a fascinating industry to work in, is because it is forever changing and full of paradoxes; and one of the reasons I find working in SEO so frustrating… is… because it is full of paradoxes!
Understanding SEO can be surprisingly simple and yet at the same time it can also be incredibly complex. Similarly, planning or executing an SEO strategy to drive results can be both incredibly easy and frustratingly hard.
So taking the above into account, it’s no surprise that within the global SEO community there’s an almost comedic answer to any SEO-related question which my peers will know all too well …. “It depends”. That’s because there are so many factors which need to be considered that the correct answer for one client may be totally different to another client.
However, the good news is that over the years I’ve also observed that successful SEO campaigns ultimately require just two very simple things…. knowledge and action.
In this article, I’m going to show how truly understanding these two fundamental elements can really have a big impact on improving your SEO campaigns, and why they could be the reason behind an SEO campaign failing.
Element 1: Knowledge
For SEO to work, you need two aspects of knowledge:
- SEO knowledge, and
- Knowledge of the client’s industry
As SEO experts, we have plenty of knowledge of SEO. However, all of our clients are unique and we have clients ranging from polythene packaging suppliers to paddleboarding schools, to data protection experts to international welfare charities.
When we’re creating content or content briefs for our clients, we use a range of tools and techniques to learn about:
- What topics people are actively searching for
- What different search terms they’re using to reach a given destination (subtle differences could mean a different target page is required)
- What content the existing top ranking pages have which adds value to users
- What content may be missing from those pages, eg. where can we add more value to users than existing pages. What extra insights can we add?
- What words and industry terminology do the top ranking articles use (Search Engines use something called TF-IDF - Term Frequency, Inverse Document Frequency to calculate this.)
However, search engines have evolved so much that they’re now able to tell if a piece of content was written by an expert in the field or not. As a result, for an SEO campaign to be successful, it’s vitally important that we’re able to work closely with our clients to help communicate their expertise on a given topic.
That’s actually one of the reasons why Google recently changed its E.A.T (Expertise. Authority. Trustworthiness) aspect of its raters guidelines to E.E.A.T (Experience, Expertise. Authority. Trustworthiness) - see page 26. The new guidelines now include “Experience” as Google wants high quality and insightful content, written by people with first hand personal experience of the topic.
The interdependence between SEO and industry knowledge runs the other way too…
Many site owners may not have the budget to outsource their SEO so they optimise their own sites. They could be amazing experts in their field, but if they’re lacking in SEO knowledge they face the opposite challenge; how to maximise SEO benefits from the knowledge they have about their industry to ensure they rank for related searches for that subject matter.
Element 2: Action
Our biggest challenge as a digital agency (and this is a common problem for digital agencies around the globe), is ensuring we have buy-in from all of our clients. It’s ironic really as clients pay digital agencies to help them secure more business and yet when something needs action, they can often become the blocker to achieving the results they wanted in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s totally understandable. Business owners have lots of plates to spin, each needing an amount of their time and focus. However, the reality is, without action from the client when it’s needed, it can either slow down the delivery of results, or weaken the effectiveness of any gains.
One of the ways to help eliminate this problem is to understand what causes the lack of action in the first place. From my experience, the biggest causes ultimately boil down to:
- Lack of time on the client’s part
- Lack of understanding or interest in SEO, or feeling intimidated by SEO
Each of these can be improved in most cases by finding a solution which works best for the client. For example, if they’re really busy, some clients prefer updates/queries in bite-sized, “little and often” emails. Others prefer you to provide them everything in one email which they can work through almost as a checklist.
Similarly, the lack of interest often comes from feeling intimidated. Therefore, it’s good to identify if your client actually wants to know what work you’re doing and why. If not, you can reduce their stress by simply telling them what you need from them in as simple a way as possible (almost step-by-step if needs be) so it requires minimal effort on their part.
The flip side of the coin is lack of SEO action.
Now, that’s not really a problem for us as it’s what we do. However, going back to thinking about the business owner who has to do all of their own SEO, it’s not uncommon for us to chat with business owners who have amazing knowledge of their industry but simply don’t have the time or confidence to be able to put that knowledge into action. As a result, they do nothing.
That’s why at Beyond Your Brand we offer a range of different services which allow our clients to be as hands-on, or as hands-off as they like or as their budget allows.
For example, our Local SEO and Foundation SEO packages are our cheaper packages. For both of these, we create fully researched content briefs for clients, but they then write the content. This is really good for clients who love the creative process of writing or who are passionate about sharing their industry knowledge and expertise, and who have time to put aside to creating one to two pieces of content each month.
At the opposite end of the scale we have our Advanced SEO and Professional SEO packages which include up to four pieces of content fully researched and written for the client. This is best suited for clients who are either extremely time poor, or who don’t enjoy copywriting.
It’s important to note that even on the Advanced and Professional packages, we do work hard to secure input from our clients in the way of personal expertise as there are certain nuggets of information which can be invaluable in separating a piece of good content from an exceptional one in the eyes of search engines.
Problem 1: Knowledge without action
As touched on above, for an SEO campaign to be successful, you need both client and agency to be working together to combine their knowledge, and that then needs to be implemented.
Where we find a problem, more often than not it’s due to lack of action from the client’s side, and the causes for this are not always easy to resolve.
To give an example of this, we currently have an amazing client who, for reasons outside their control, are unable to implement many of the SEO recommendations we’ve made. That’s because they’re a global organisation, and whilst the UK team are fully onboard with the recommendations, they’re unable to secure the necessary development time from the global head office. Their hands are somewhat tied.
That causes a blocker for the “Action” part of the equation which sadly reduces the impact on what they could have achieved over the same period compared to if the development team were fully onboard.
As a result, to ensure we can combine both knowledge and action elements, we work closely with them each month to identify what can be worked on within the scope of what they have access to without need for involvement from their development team.
Problem 2: Action without knowledge
The flip side of the coin is very common and I would even suggest the majority of low ranking pages in search engines probably fall into this category due to one reason or another. It’s also often defined as a “scattergun” approach to SEO - trying as many things as you can to see what works.
To be effective in SEO, you need to know what is going to deliver the best results for what you’re trying to achieve, whether that be to increase rankings, traffic share, click-through-rates or conversions. Without that knowledge, you could spend all of your time working really hard implementing countless changes but without seeing much ROI for your hard work.
Some examples might include:
- Creating content for topics which have negligible volumes (although there are cases where this can pay off…. see - “It depends!”)
- Creating content where you can’t clearly demonstrate E.E.A.T
- A common one of old, but one which we still see small business owners doing - buying links, or equally, disavowing low quality links
- Spamming your Google Business Profile
I love it when a plan comes together
So, as you can hopefully see by now, the best SEO results come together when you combine:
- SEO knowledge
- Client industry knowledge
- SEO action
- Client action
Take away any one of those elements and it will instantly weaken what you’re trying to achieve, which is why it’s so vitally important that both client and agency work together as a team to achieve the best results.
Bonus Points: Sprinkle in a third element
Actually, before we wrap up there is probably one other element it would be remiss of me not to include…. and that is luck.
As SEO professionals we would all love to take the credit for increases in rankings and traffic, but the truth is, sometimes luck also comes into play. We’ve all heard of videos which have gone viral overnight. Whilst sometimes this is as a result of clever marketing, in many cases it’s more a case of being at the right place at the right time.
We see this within SEO too. Some examples include:
- Luck with algorithm updates working in your favour (See below)
- Luck with acquiring high profile links without you having secured them via manual outreach.
- Luck with regards to competitors not working aggressively to complete within your target sphere for a given keyword, etc.
- Timing - getting high quality content ranking first making it harder for others to knock you off the top spot
Now some would say this isn’t luck, but a result of knowing what you’re doing. However, there are causes where I feel it’s fair to say that both are true. Here’s a quick example to wrap up with:
Google makes thousands of changes to its algorithms each year. Whilst all good SEO’s stay up to date with the latest changes, Google doesn’t always publicly disclose what’s been (or is about to be) changed. As a result, we constantly have to make educated decisions as to what search engines may view as a favourable improvement, and sometimes it’s possible that luck also comes into play.
In 2022, Google trialled its “helpful content” update which, in simple terms, penalised sites that used AI (Artificial Intelligence) software to generate poor quality content. This ties in with E.E.A.T as we’ve discussed above as the goal was to route out content created by entities which had no actual experience of the subject matter.
As soon as this algorithm update was turned on, we saw a significant increase in rankings and subsequent clicks for almost all of our clients. That’s due the fact we had been doing SEO correctly by creating high quality content which adds value to users, and so this latest algorithm update worked strongly in our favour.
Interestingly, from chatting with our peers, we know that many in the SEO community actually reported seeing an almost directly inverse copy of the above with a drop in their clients traffic. That’s because many SEO’s were using AI to create content, and the content generally got hit by the update.
Now; it’s not luck that we had been doing things the right way, but is it luck that the algorithm update finally worked in our favour for that element specifically.
Ready to combine knowledge with action?
To increase your knowledge about how our range of SEO services could help you grow your business, give us a call on 01993 835432 or