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What is the hardest part of SEO? Dealing with people.

The really hard part about search engine optimization isn’t the SEO itself but dealing with people within your organization who have (or should have) an impact on SEO. Optimizing H1s is easy. Dealing with people is hard. Really hard.

What follows are a series of the most important lessons I’ve (maybe) learned while dealing with MBAs, devs, product managers, designers and my own ego.

Don’t Think Everything Through

We’ve been trained through years of education, higher education (and for some of people,  worse – consulting gigs) to deliver beautifully polished, thoroughly thought-through project plans. We wrap these plans in detailed reports and colored coded timelines and then present them to key stakeholders. Nothing could be less effective.

These reports are inevitably met with questions you haven’t thoroughly thought through (or even considered), staffing limitations, technical impossibilities, competing priorities and political agendas. Avoid this by involving stakeholders as early as possible and having hard, messy conversations early in the process instead of at the end.

Don’t Design Anything

It’s very easy to have opinions on design. Remember what they say about opinions and leave your designers alone to be the professionals that they are.

Don’t Trust Salespeople Who Describe Easy Implementation

I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I’ve never seen an easy, seamless implementation. Get your technical people talking to their technical people before you sign the contract. Good salespeople will push this for you. Bad salespeople will send you a contract first.

Don’t Assume Noobs Understand Anything

I once watched a new hire struggle for weeks until we had a coffee conversation about search and it became clear he didn’t know the difference between a title tag and an H1 and thought a sitemap was something optometrists used.

Bad hiring process for sure – but you can minimize this problem by pushing new hires through a search orientation, in which you lay out search fundamentals as well as your company’s overall search philosophy.

Don’t Think About Traffic

Ahhh the monthly UU count – that standardized pissing contest yardstick by which all sites are compared. The UU count is a hold over of the ad supported model. It (frequently) means nothing to your company’s business health.

Unless you are pushing Sealy Posturepedic display campaigns or have no ethical qualms in targeting poor college students with Chase Bank credit card ads,  UU’s are probably not the right yardstick for your business.

A retailer, for example should much rather increase converting traffic by 10% than doubling non-converting traffic. This has huge implications for your search strategy.

Don’t Hire People With A Blackhat Background

This is an unfair, broad-brush-stroke generalization, but people who have worked in a “we’re smarter than those massively capitalized search engines” mode have trouble leaving this perspective behind. This is true for both in-house and, even worse, consultant SEOs.

Yes, there are some (in fact many) of the search celebrities who once made tons of money pushing Viagra from Canada who have now been reborn as virginal white hats, but I fear an arrogance that just can’t be left behind.

Don’t Let People Who Did A Project Evaluate It

We have access to more data than we know what to do with. This means that with some good data mining, it’s rare that you can’t shape an analysis in whatever light you want to in order to impress your genius upon a boss.

Avoid this problem by clearly calling out success metrics, various data sources, and the evaluation time period at the onset of the project. Better yet, have all analysis performed by a dedicated, disinterested number cruncher. Speaking of which . . .

Don’t Hire Optimistic Analysts

Optimists make good cheerleaders and visionary CEOs – they make really poor analysts and financial prognosticators. We recently hired a full time analyst who is downright cranky – suspicious of all assumptions, critical of growth multiples, and highly skeptical of any hockey-stick graph that would put a smile on a VC’s face. Best hire ever!

Don’t Follow Ranking Reports

I’m still seeing business leaders obsess over ranking reports and search “tools” that sate the desire to compare rankings for specific terms despite personalization, social, constant changing SERP pages and the fact that this term-based focus can lead you down a very dangerous path.

To know more about contacting an SEO company in Singapore, call 6362 0123 to look for iClick Media. They’re 1 of the few companies in Singapore that really deliver the goods when it matters.