10 Things You Must Do To Prepare Your Business For SEO

10 Things You Must Do To Prepare Your Business For SEO

We work with a lot of different clients here at SEO.com. Some are more prepared to engage in an SEO campaign while some are not prepared at all. It is definitely night and day when you compare the two clients side by side in terms of readiness and results at the end of a campaign. Because of this, I wanted to put together a guide to help businesses of any size begin to prepare themselves to get started with SEO.

1. Be Ready Accept Your Agency As Part of Your Marketing Department

If you are going to hire an agency to do your SEO, then you need to be ready to accept them as part of your marketing department. Be ready to share with them insight into your other marketing initiatives so that your agency can help integrate themselves into your team and be working toward fulfilling your department initiatives. When this happens, you will be able to create synergies and accomplish much more as a whole than if you leave your SEO team to fend for themselves.

2. Be Ready To Establish / Work Towards Real Online Marketing Goals

It’s 2012… almost 2013. If you still think that ranking #1 for a trophy keyword is an online marketing goal, then you probably aren’t ready to engage in SEO. Yes, rankings can be a leading indicator of good things to come, but at the end of the day, if you aren’t growing your business from that number one position, then you probably spent a lot of money and really didn’t get anywhere.

Real online marketing goals should be established before your your hire an in-house SEO or SEO agency. In most cases, I believe that real online marketing goals should be revenue driven. For example, I need to increase online leads by 15%. If I can do that, it will be worth $100,000 in new revenue for me this year. Okay, now we are talking.

3. Be Ready To Give Up Full Analytics Access

Once your have some real goals established, you need to be ready to give up full analytics access. I don’t really care what analytics package you are using (Google, Adobe, Webtrends, Etc), your SEO needs daily insight into what’s happening on your website in order to set a proper SEO strategy and be able to make tweaks throughout the campaign.

If you aren’t willing to give up full access to your analytics data, there is no way your SEO can help you accomplish your goals. At the end of the day, your SEO can take your money and perform work for you, but you aren’t going to get anything out of it… so don’t even bother.

4. Be Ready To Share Sales Data

Sharing sales data pretty much goes hand in hand with the point above about giving up full analytics access. Some businesses are really nervous about sharing sales data. I’ve even had clients tell me, “I’m not going to tell you that, I don’t want you to know how much money I’m making from your efforts.” Really? When all is said and done, I don’t care how much money you make as a company or even from my efforts. All I care about is that your SEO efforts are growing your revenue and that you are seeing an ROI… PERIOD!

You don’t have to share your yearly revenue data, but be ready to share how much your products/services cost, what your margins are, and so forth, so that your SEO can put a dollar amount to sales from their efforts.

Your SEO just needs to establish a baseline of where they started and start tracking that each month. So please freely give them the information they need to help you grow your business.

5. Be Ready To Put Your Ego Aside

I, along with probably every SEO out there, have worked with a number of clients who are either miseducated about SEO or aren’t up-to-date when it comes to SEO best practices. Nothing can kill an SEO campaign faster than when the client takes everything they’ve read about SEO (even material published five+ years ago) as gospel truth and won’t let their agency apply current best practices because they have a big ego and they “know how to do it.”

To prepare yourself to engage in SEO, you will oftentimes have to check your ego at the door and understand that your agency lives and breathes this stuff all day, every day. They stay current with best practices and will build you a campaign based on your needs.

6. Be Ready To Change Your Website

This point probably ties into the point above about putting your ego aside. When you prepare your business for SEO, you need to be ready to change your website. Your SEO will perform multiple audits including a site optimization audit in which they will provide you a list of improvements that need to be made to your website. Please make these changes and be happy about it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, you can’t change our website, it’s perfect the way it is.”  Um, ego check… I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed a site optimization recommendations document over to a client and have them not implement it. There’s only so much an SEO can do through off-page efforts. Those efforts have to be married with on-page efforts, so be ready to make those changes!

7. Be Ready To Prioritize I.T.

This point goes along with being ready to change your website. There are a lot of complicated CMS platforms out there that many clients use to run their businesses on. There are also a lot of clients who will only let their I.T. department touch their website code. So when engaging with SEO, you need to be ready to prioritize your I.T. initiatives and be ready to place site structure changes high on the list.

8. Be Ready To Blog Your Heart Out

As the search engines continue to put emphasis on fresh, quality, relevant content and the sharing of that content socially, it is more important now than ever before to be ready to blog regularly as an organization. This doesn’t mean just you as the business owner or the marketing manager, this means everyone! Plan on producing at least one piece of content per day that can be published to a blog on your site. Your SEO can help produce some of the content, but should be spending most of their time helping you build a content strategy and editorial calendar instead of doing the actual blogging on your site.

9. Be Ready To Give Up An Email Address

This is a sticking point with a lot of businesses. In most cases, they feel as though they cannot trust their SEO with a company issued email address. This goes all the way back to being part of your marketing department. If you want to be uber successful, you will need to integrate your SEO into your team, that includes giving them an email address.

This email address will mostly be used for link development and content placement outreach. Your SEO can only be somewhat successful using an email address like [email protected] vs [email protected] Imagine if you were a blogger and received an email from [email protected] The blogger is much more likely to engage with the SEO than getting an email from a Gmail address from someone claiming to represent that brand.

10. Be Ready To Leverage Business Development / Partner Relationships

Outside of attracting natural backlinks to your amazing content, it is pretty difficult to go out and secure GREAT links for clients. One of the ways to do this is by leveraging current business development efforts and tapping partnership relationships to acquire links. This is something that your SEO cannot do alone.

It requires ample effort between your SEO and your biz dev guy, and possibly, the leader of your sales team. Your SEO will have to get with them to identify opportunity and then work with the individual to do outreach to these contacts. Once acquired, these are the types of links that are very difficult to replicate and also the types of links that drive results FAST!

In closing, in order to prepare your business for SEO, it will require a lot of team work between the client and the SEO. This isn’t a “pass the baton” effort when you can hire an SEO or agency and say, “here you go… good luck!”  If you want to grow your business through online efforts, then you’ve got some work to do as well.

If I have left anything out, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Learn Exactly What SEO can do for your business - SEO.com

14 Comments

  1. Chad says

    Great stuff again, Greg. I relate highly to number 5. I am an aspiring web developer and looking highly into adding organic SEO into my portfolio. Can you give me any recommendations into not being an ego maniac with the SEO company that my boss has currently employed? I try to work with them 100% of the time, though there are certainly times where I feel I know just as much as they do. Thanks for any feedback and keep up the excellent work!

    • Greg Shuey says

      Chad,

      Thanks for the comment. It’s hard… especially when you are working with a VP of Marketing who has been “writing checks to the Philippines” for the last ten years and “knows how to value a link” and knows “how to do on page optimization”. These guys are very difficult to work with and often times, their campaigns fall way short of their goals.

      It gets pretty sticky too when working with web developers. I would say the most important thing for you to do is try to gain clarity as to why they are recommending certain things and on the flip side, I would try to provide as much clarity as to where you are coming from and why. Never say “this is the way it is… sorry”. You will kill the relationship and the campaign.

  2. Peter Attia says

    Chad,

    I think you were dead on with this. A lot of businesses don’t realize that hiring an agency requires commitment from there end as well. You can’t do SEO without working directly with your clients. They some how get the perception that you can make magic happen without touching their website.

    -Peter

  3. says

    Greg. You hit the nail on the head with these 10 pointers. I thought it was just me or the agency I worked with encountered some of the problems working with businesses/clients.

    I think next time I’ll point them to this post to echo that the views expressed are the same across the board from SEO professionals.

    Your point “It gets pretty sticky too when working with web developers.” Tell me about it…It can be a nightmare!

    On one occasion, regarding Point #6 above, I’ve had to liaise with an Independent expert person to prove my point on website issues.

    Anyway -Great post.

    -Devereaux (Cyphas)

  4. says

    For point 5 Be Ready To Put Your Ego Aside. In Malaysia, SEO consultants have to listen to customers rather than customers listen to SEO consultants. As you said, customers get a lot of wrong information and they think they know everything about SEO.

    A great example is they want to optimize broad keyword e.g “Jewelry” rather than narrow keywords “jewelry store malaysia”.

  5. Spencer Campbell says

    *1. Be Ready to?* Greg, fantastic post. How do you prepare them for this relationship? Does this happen in the consultation stage, after the sale, before the sale, during the entire process. We work with small businesses that don’t seem to understand the give and take. Like Chad said, this isn’t magic.

    • Greg Shuey says

      That is a really good question. I think it’s probably easier on the enterprise side, but when you are working with small and medium businesses, it gets far more difficult.

      We work to set this expectation when first speaking with potential clients, but it’s definitely something that is addressed time and time again.

  6. Danny Crouch says

    Business development is becoming more and more of SEO now building relationships with other organisations. Point 10 is the future in my opinion.

  7. Andrew Johnson says

    #8 (Blogging) is a key point in today’s “inbound” world. Blogging brings in natural backlinks, long-tail search traffic, helps brand your business and creates relationships with potential customers. Maintaining a blog also helps “humanize” the organization, and allows for a discussion on topics relevant to the industry.

    It requires a bit of work, but the benefits far outweigh the time commitment.

  8. Rob says

    Be willing to change and be willing to show me exactly what’s going on! Excellent article – so many times people want you to work miracles but don’t even want to show you what is happening with the basics!

  9. Jenelle says

    I completely agree with point #6. I didn’t realize when I first started doing seo that I would be required to completely revamp my website. I had just spent all that time designing it! Oh well, that’s what happens along the learning pathway. Much better to be in the know and better myself along the way.

Leave a Reply