‘Education, education, education’

I received an interesting call this morning from a company looking for SEO consultancy. It was a pretty typical story; the company in question had employed a search marketing agency around a year go, who, in the main appeared to know what they were doing but in reality had failed to deliver. Although I have taken a thousand calls along the same sort of lines, this story had a particular angle that got me thinking. As I do with any new lead, I asked a series of questions so as to gain a greater understanding of the company’s knowledge and understanding of basic SEO principles. I was alarmed to learn that although the company in question had been paying a pretty sizeable monthly fee to their existing search marketing agency, they knew absolutely nothing about online PR, social media or reputation management. In fact, they had not even heard of these disciplines in the context of SEO.

This amazed me. One of the main reasons why companies, especially smaller ones, outsource search marketing is because they do not have the time and resource in-house to manage the many different disciplines that fall under the guise of today’s search marketer, let alone also keep up to date with latest industry developments and trends.

In my view, if you have a paying client who relies on you for information on the latest trends, developments and disciplines and you are not providing this information through one means or another, then you are failing your clients. As a search marketing agency, you are the clients’ ears and eyes. If you are not keeping up to date, assessing, testing and then relaying information back to clients, then I fail to understand how you sleep at night; not only must you worry about the longevity of your business but quite simply you are not doing the job that you have been contracted to do.

By now, you are no doubt wondering what a young looking Tony Blair has to do with any of this. Well, 10 years ago, Tony Blair made his now infamous speech where he claimed Labour would put classrooms at the top of the political agenda. Whether Labour delivered on this promise is a debate for another time (and indeed another blog!), however, the memorable words ‘education, education, education’ can be applied in the context of the search marketing industry and in particular search marketing professionals who ‘look after’ clients and charge a monthly fee or retainer for doing so.

A key role for search marketing agencies is to continually educate (and re-educate) their clients on latest trends, developments and disciplines. This benefits the agency; keep clients informed and their campaigns current. Not only does this result in ongoing up-sell opportunities but if campaigns are well implemented, it will inevitably result in happy clients. Happy clients will shout your name from the rooftops if you deliver for them. Too many agencies are currently looking at short term gains instead of looking at the long term benefits of delivering good quality SEO solutions. Yes, it takes time and effort to keep up to date with the latest developments and to offer new services to clients, but this is a small price to pay to develop a successful business in the longer term.

On a macro level, a well educated market may help in eliminating those agencies and ‘consultants’ who knowingly deliver poor quality ‘solutions’. Currently these people are able to operate based on their ability to take advantage of a relatively young, uninformed and to a certain degree, naive market. A market which is well informed will not be so easily suckered by those seeking to pull the wool over the clients’ eyes.

There is already a band of excellent search marketing professionals at the top level who preach the very best in SEO. However, it is up to all of us with a genuine love for this industry to keep clients informed through ongoing education, education and more education. By doing so, those agencies who are failing their clients will fall by the wayside more quickly and there will be a greater degree of trust in an industry which suffers greatly from far too much misinformation.

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