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  1. #1
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Definition for "SEO" (you vs. your customer)

    I see so many posts about SEO. I suppose that is good since this is the SEO forum!

    BUT...
    I feel that often people have all different ideas about what SEO means to them. These ideas might include:
    1. Getting more traffic to your site from search engines
    2. Optimizing your pages (titles, text, internal links, etc.)
    3. Getting more links to your site
    4. Installing software that is "seo friendly"
    5. Marketing your site

    AND MORE...
    As webmasters, many of our customers define SEO (in their own minds) as something that magically increases sales

    So I want to know first how you define SEO, and secondly what you believe your customers feel is considered to be SEO. Is there a disconnect? What are you doing to fix it?

    Thanks,
    David

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    For me SEO means optimizing the site for search engines.

    As for my clients, most have a pretty good idea of what it is. However, the less-internet savvy ones think of SEO as getting visitors to the site in general. The statement "I need SEO for my site" in most cases mean that they want to promote/market the site.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
    Singapore Web Designer

  3. #3
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    You asked for it...

    SEO = BS

    Plain and simple. Why? Because a lot of what people consider to be SEO is really just a combination of best practices taken (some might even say stolen) from accessibility, information architecture, marketing, promotion, semantic Web development (including separation of structure, appearance and behaivor from each other), usability and Web copywriting, but delivered and implemented in such a manner that the search engines will be able to easily recognize and understand what the Web page is about.

    The problem though, is that many people who claim to know SEO either make stuff up to make themselves look more knowledgable about the subject than they really are, or know the basics of the topics I mentioned earlier, but don't understand WHY they are used or HOW to use them properly - in other words, they stuff everything into a blender and puree it for five minutes, then try to make sense of it all.

    Now as for me? I just tell my clients that I make accessible, easy to use Web sites that don't suck. Naturally, they ask me about the accessibility quesiton, and I tell them that I make sure that people and search engines can view and use everything on the site without any difficulty. Oh, and that it often costs less for me to do it than for some con artist or fraud that doesn't know his CSS from his SEO.

    That's the on-site part anyway. The rest is just pure marketing and promotion as far as I'm concerned, which is not my job.

  4. #4
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Playing customer here Dan... my next question would be...
    When will I start seeing orders coming in?
    Should I hire an SEO firm, or are you going to handle that?

    (this is exactly what I deal with all the time, and I very much take a similar track to you)

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy DaveWoods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    Playing customer here Dan... my next question would be...
    When will I start seeing orders coming in?
    Should I hire an SEO firm, or are you going to handle that?

    (this is exactly what I deal with all the time, and I very much take a similar track to you)
    I'll usually explain to a customer from day one the basics of how search engines work. Nothing in depth but a simple explanation of how the search engines read the content on the page and use that content for the search results.

    If they're in a particular line of business and certain key words/phrases are relevant to them then it's important that from day one they understand that the content they provide and information architecture of the site will directly influence the results in the search engines.

    If from day one they understand that the sections, content, anchor text, headings etc will have a direct influence on their search engine efforts then it makes the whole process easier and actually gives the client part of the responsibility to ensure that the content they're providing best promotes their company and focuses them on those areas of their business.

  6. #6
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Actually before I'd do that Dave, I'd ask them how well they're already marketing and promoting their site off-line. I know, it sounds crazy, but I actually like to know how well a site is being marketed off-line - in other words, how much exposure in "the real world" it's getting, then tell the client that the more people that talk about the site, the better chances of getting more backlinks (especially if the people doing the talking are bloggers or site owners - or work for the media) coming into the site, which can help improve the site's overall position in the search engines (though I doubt it helps as much as some people think).

    I'd also want to know who the company is targeting off-line with its marketing and promotion efforts as well, and try to incorporate the off-line target market with the online equivilent. Once I know more about that, then I can tell them where to go and who to target with their Web copy (optimized for both the people the copy will be selling the company for as well as the search engines) to generate the increased online sales they want.

    But as you all know, I'm a bit of a maverick, if not outright nosy.

    Oh, and any errors or mistakes in this post I hereby blame on the crater in my mouth where one of my teeth used to be. It's past 3am here, I haven't taken my medication, and I'm in pain. Deal.

  7. #7
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    I explain SEO to prospects as such.

    "There are two types of SEO (Search Engine Optimization): on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

    On-page optimization is writing your content in a way that helps your target market find out that you have what they want when they do a search within a search engine. It's making sure that your copy uses some of the same words and phrases they will put into a search query.

    Off-page is getting other sites, which are similar to your market niche, to link to your site. Although you can request links and even buy links, the best way to get those links is to make sure that your content is useful to the other site's visitors.

    So, IMO, on-page and off-page optimization always comes back to good content for your website."
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  8. #8
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Yes, I take a similar approach, Dan. I believe the best strategy for site promotion/seo is one that incorporates a combination of online and offline exposure. In addition, if there is an existing customer base, that makes things a whole lot easier.

    Starting from "square one" with a new website and no offline strategy or customer base is a very difficult situation, and I try to work with the customers to develop a more robust plan when see such a plan.

    I will go so far as to say some people almost have a barrier in their minds against offline advertising, especially the type the "live online". It may seem weird at first, but doing things like car magnets, flyers, calling fiends, making t-shirts, etc. can bring traffic (and links too), even to a pretty bad site.

  9. #9
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    I will go so far as to say some people almost have a barrier in their minds against offline advertising, especially the type the "live online". It may seem weird at first, but doing things like car magnets, flyers, calling fiends, making t-shirts, etc. can bring traffic (and links too), even to a pretty bad site. (emphasis mine)
    Fiends? Don't you mean friends? (Yes, I know, it's a typo.)

  10. #10
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Fiends? Don't you mean friends? (Yes, I know, it's a typo.)
    That's funny. Maybe you'd like to hang out sometime and I will introduce you to some people.


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