The Secret to SEO No One Talks About

ferocious-dog-with-boneIf you were to hazard a guess as to what one of the most important aspects of my job is as an SEO Consultant, would you say:

  • Keeping up with SEO trends
  • Understanding business common sense and general marketing fundamentals
  • Navigating internal client politics
  • Having a network of trusted colleagues to outsource execution to
  • Knowing how to explain SEO concepts to clients and achieve buy-in for the plan

Well, yes, all of that is important. But the one task that I underestimated when I began consulting? Maintaining momentum.

Half of my job, after putting together the SEO plan, is to maintain momentum. Like a dog with a bone.

Let me explain.

When clients hire me, they’re generally fed up with a lack of SEO results. Or they’re unhappy their competitors are consistently ahead of them and they finally want to do something about it. They swear to me that SEO is the most important initiative on their plate right now and they are going to focus on SEO exclusively the next few months.

Welllllll, while they have the best of intentions, business – and life – gets in the way. They get sick. They have a big tradeshow coming up. A coworker just left and more work piles on them. They take an impromptu vacation.

Unexpected, and unwelcome, distractions are the norm rather than the exception these days, do you agree?

SEO loves momentum. It thrives on it. Without it you’re never going to be pleased with results. Stop-and-go SEO efforts are fine, but if you truly want results you’re going to have to execute a solid strategy consistently.

As standard protocol with the SEO kick-off meeting, I ask clients what is going on in their world right now. Are they busy? Do they have a big event coming up? Are they taking vacation any time soon? I need to know what to expect. Do they already have a super full plate that I’ll be adding on to?

I have many clients, who swear up and down, that this 4-month SEO program is the priority and they will hammer out 10 optimized pages in one week. And that is truly their intention. But unfortunately, even the best laid plans get sidelined. Things come up.

So even if we’re moving more like the tortoise than the hare, even if we’re moving slow as molasses, even if we’re snails in the rat race, my job is to know what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, in what order, and for what reason.

If you suspect part of your challenges with SEO is a lack of momentum, here are my 5 tips for you:

  1. SEO-Driven Editorial Calendar: If you’re blogging, plot in – right now – a minimum of 2 keyword-driven blog posts a month. That way, if at the end of the day all you can stay on top of are your regular blog posts and all of your other best-laid marketing initiatives go by the wayside, then you know you’re getting in ongoing, optimized content. And you can always outsource SEO blogging if need be.
  2. Stop Following Shiny Objects: Part of succeeding in SEO is understanding the priority order; really putting in place your solid foundational SEO pieces, and then turning attention to Phase 2 tasks. If you keep putting off foundational SEO for shiny objects (structured markup, changing keywords repeatedly on your core pages, exclusive focus to linkbuilding), then you’re doing it backwards. You need to stay uber-focused on your foundational plan.
  3. Less is More: When I start working with a client, we do not “optimize the whole website.” We start in priority order with batches of 5-10 pages at a time. Starting with small doses, in chunks, gives way much more quickly to momentum, and therefore results, than it does starting big.
  4. Stick to the Plan: I recently told a client (who is just starting their busy season) that I’m completely fine if we’re moving more like the tortoise than the hare, but we have to keep moving. I have to know we’re slowly but surely ticking things off the carefully laid to-do list, and especially that we’re not deviating from it. I generally spend a month doing all types of SEO audits that culminates in the creation of “the plan,” and it’s a waste of time and budget to do anything except what is laid out.
  5. Communication is Essential: As a consultant I ask very nosy questions. What’s going on in your business? What are you working on right now? What’s coming up? Are you taking a vacation? How busy are you? When are you going to complete this task? It’s essential I know exactly what’s going on in the business so I know the likelihood of resetting the plan and keeping the client on course.
  6. Bonus tip! – Stay Organized: I’m in my project management tool very frequently throughout the week. I use Asana, and I have my SEO process carefully laid out in steps. Every week I’m evaluating where we are, what deliverables are due, what the next step is, and how to keep the client focused, invested, and educated about the “why” of what we’re doing to keep us all moving along.

That’s it! More and more I’m convinced that half of SEO success is in the mindset. I’d love to hear from you – what is the one tip you use to maintain SEO momentum?

Photo Credit: Hound Dogs Rule

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Jenny Munn

Jenny Munn is an SEO Strategist who helps organizations get more leads from their website and integrate SEO into their marketing mix. She consults with in-house marketing managers, agencies, and small businesses. Jenny has taught SEO at WordCamp Atlanta, Digital Atlanta, Solo PR Summit, Business Marketing Association, Atlanta Tech Village, and various content marketing and social media organizations.

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