If you watch any amount of television there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve seen the latest run of Geico commercials. One character discovers that you can actually save 15% on car insurance in 15 minutes. The opposing character simply states, “Uh huh, everybody knows that.”
Well, if you follow the world of SEO and digital marketing in any capacity, you know that Google recently pulled the plug on providing organic search keyword data in Google Analytics. A vast majority of SEOs threw their arms in the air wondering how their business could survive without Google spoon-feeding them.
The reaction here (and hopefully other ethical marketing agencies) was, “Hmm, that’s interesting. Oh well.” Keyword and ranking data has long be devalued in our reporting as we tend to focus on conversions and results that impact our client’s bottom line. The way we see it, our job is not to provide our clients with a monthly list of keywords and rankings. Our job is to provide our clients with value, and value runs so much deeper than keywords.
Google almost simultaneously also announced Hummingbird, which helps the search engine better understand searcher intent. (Check out Gianluca Fiorelli’s excellent write up about the overhaul because he does a fantastic job of explaining the update.) It’s obvious what Google is trying to accomplish with these two releases. I’ll paint a picture for you: Imagine Google as a scientist who just made an amazing discovery and says, “If we take away their keyword data and better understand what people are looking for, maybe webmasters will stop creating content for the sake of keywords and instead create content for the sake of sharing in-depth and valuable information. Yes!”
So, while many in the SEO industry are sulking over lost keyword data, it is still possible to provide value to your clients in a (not provided) world. Here are some thoughts on how.
1. View your work from your clients’ eyes. There’s a good chance that your clients do not follow Google’s algorithm changes as closely as we SEOs do. It’s our job to understand what’s happening in the industry and adapt. That’s what they pay us for. More than likely, your clients don’t care that you cannot see keyword data – they still expect you to move the needle for them. They expect you to find ways to rise above obstacles and produce results no matter the circumstance. That’s providing value.
2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Communication goes a long way. If your only communication with your clients involves emails saying, “Last month’s SEO/SEM report attached,” or worse yet “Invoice attached,” you are far from providing value. Keep your clients in the loop with their accounts. Touch base at least weekly. Let them know what you are working on, what you are seeing, or what you think would produce some wins for their business. Also ask them what they have going on. We’ve often reached out to a client only to find out that they have been participating in the community or have a big event coming up. Those are some great low hanging link opportunities right there.
3. Do what you’ve always done, create amazing linkable assets. Content Strategy is the new hip internet buzzword. But great SEO firms have been delivering content strategy for years. Cyrus Shepard wrote a great piece on Linkable Assets here. His point is that sketchy linkbait is crap, and today it’s less effective than ever. As the web grows up (Google turned 15 recently) it’s time to start thinking about content that adds real value for our client’s and their web visitors.
4. Think beyond SEO. As Brian mentioned in his article SEO Sea Change, the landscape of SEO has shifted. The concept of SEO as it once was is gone, and this is a good thing. SEO is now part of a holistic practice of inbound marketing that includes social, PR, PPC, UX, and advanced total funnel tracking. This is the future of our industry so knock down the silos and start thinking big picture.
Our industry is ever-changing, but that’s a great thing! Variety is the spice of life and in this profession, we are fortunate to have so much variety. As service providers it is our responsibility to evolve with the industry and constantly provide value to our clients. Embrace and Drive Change. It’s a core principle of our Culture Document and the only way to survive as an SEO.