Boy leaning on the board

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you’ve got more than a passing interest in search engine optimisation and what it can do for your business. And if that’s the case, then there’s also a pretty good chance you’ve outsourced it to an SEO agency or five in the past and it’s not worked out.

Well, not to worry. The good news is that you’re not alone and that (a) there are agencies out there who will be a good fit for you and (b) there’s a lot to be learnt from past mistakes. 

Of course, sometimes it just comes down to personalities (we can’t all get on with each other after all), but more often than not, the reason outsourcing SEO fails comes down to just one of three things. 

I’m gonna break them down for you.

You’re buying SEO not outcomes

Ask yourself this question: are you being sold SEO when approaching an agency, or are you being advised on what’s possible for your business, using SEO?

The problem in our industry is that there’s a tendency for a lot of SEO providers and the small businesses they target to focus on deliverables and outputs and not on outcomes and results. 

How many blog articles and backlinks are getting created per month is irrelevant; it’s how fast and to what extent this activity will move the needle for you. And when I say move the needle, I’m not just talking about rankings, I’m talking increased sales and enquiries.

Your focus should be 100% on outcomes and how those are tracked and delivered. Any decent agency will prioritise proper communication, regular meetings and calls, transparent reporting, extensive campaign management and adjustment, as well as opportunity development. Whilst content and links are all grist to the mill, it’s these things that represent the real value you’ll get from an SEO agency, as they are focused on getting results and maintaining them.

Falling into the cheap SEO trap

Piggy bank inside a trap

For most businesses, SEO is a long burn and to think otherwise is to fall into the biggest trap laid by the multitudes of cheap ‘experts’ and agencies out there. Search marketing is an unregulated industry, so churn-and-burn business models that thrive on the (highly unrealistic) desire to pay little and get results fast, are unfortunately commonplace. 

It’s something that particularly irks me, as it breeds an inherent mistrust of SEOs and sells the lot of us down the river. 

Of course, distinguishing between the cowboys and the genuine digital agencies isn’t just about price point, but it’s still a bloody good indicator whether someone’s trying to sell you a shoddy service, and hope you don’t notice they’re not delivering any notable results for long enough to make their money.

The thing about spending very little on SEO is that it breeds a ‘set-and-forget’ mindset. We don’t scrutinise our mobile phone or broadband providers because their bills are relatively cheap. The same goes for agencies charging very little for SEO. Their business models are based on the fact that they are scrutinised less. 

It’s easier for an agency to justify why you’re not getting results ‘yet’ when you’re paying £300 a month, as opposed to £3000 per month. The latter will tend to focus minds higher up the food chain in your business to scrutinise results, have regular meetings and hold the agency to account.

It’s almost becoming a cliche but I’ll say it again: cheap SEO is expensive in the end.

Poor expectation management

A man loaded with paper in his cabin

This one goes both ways. Whilst it’s important for any agency to be transparent and honest about what they can achieve for you and how long it will take, it’s also important they’re totally upfront about what’s expected from you and your team. Strategy is nothing without delivery.

In some cases, campaigns can come to a grinding halt because your web developer (who just happens to be a friend of a friend of the owner) isn’t particularly responsive to emails (i.e totally ghosting everyone) and isn’t implementing any of the agency’s recommended changes (or doesn’t know how). With a frank and honest discussion on resources from day one, this shouldn’t happen as the agency will spot the weak link in the chain and either offer to do the work in-house or outsource it to a recommended developer.

It’s vital to set expectations from the outset and a good agency will take their time explaining what is expected from you and your team in terms of delivering on the strategy. This includes getting a thorough understanding of your in-house resources and meeting everyone responsible for delivery. 

As SEO campaigns progress and begin to deliver results, so too will your relationship evolve. As enquiries and sales grow, you and your team will inevitably become busier and distracted by other things. This is often where mature SEO campaigns can fall down, as meetings are pushed, then cancelled, reports go unread and undissected, implementation slows and drift and apathy begin to set in (we’re back to that set-and-forget mindset again).

This is a relationship at the end of the day and making any relationship work takes constant effort from both parties. 

Why we’re different

Blue butterfly standing out among yellow butterflies

This stuff is so important to us, at Superb, that our company tagline is ‘your trusted digital partner’. We want our prospective clients to see us as a partner from day one because it frames the relationship in the right way and sets us apart from a service provider.

We make it a priority to be clear about all that’s going wrong, as well as right with your campaign, and that includes any resource issues or weak spots on your side. Good SEO isn’t about blogs and backlinks, it’s about relationships and delivering outcomes that put pounds in pockets.

Give us a call today and we can get to know a bit more about your business and put together a plan of attack. We think you’ll find us a refreshing change.