I still talk to clients who want me to build them hundreds, if not thousands of links, and this comes back to a general misunderstanding about what search engine optimisation is in 2015. As a freelance seo consultant I often have to go through a phase of education, or perhaps re-education!
During this process I generally explain the history of search engine marketing and the ever changing role of the freelance seo consultant. I generally explain that I used to build links for people years ago however these were spammy and ended up with people getting penalities, I often knew this would happen and advised people that I didn’t think it was the best course of action however I built them because a quick win is what they wanted.
These days I am all about generating link by creating and promoting the right kind of content. The content I create is posted to the client’s website and then promoted in the proper places where real people will be looking for that kind of content. If those people decide to view the content fantastic, if they decided to link back to the content even better! But that’s got to be a secondary benefit – the primary benefit has to be informing and engaging the right audience. That’s marketing really!
I often get start-ups approaching me asking for me to build them some links and one of the first questions I ask is “What makes you different, what’s you’re USP?”. I often get funny responses when I ask this question because people don’t think about search engine optimisation as a marketing function, rather their perception is a freelance seo consultant will come along and magically move them up in the rankings. Of course as a freelance seo consultant my goal is to move businesses up in the rankings however there is nothing magical about it, rather it’s a process. One of the things that makes any marketing process easier is having a clear understanding of the company’s unique selling point. In fact I really hate the abbreviation USP and prefer to talk about differentiation – but that’s for another blog entirely!
It’s funny that when speaking to a digital marketing consultant (a freelance seo consultant is after all a type of digital marketing consultant), a business owner would become prickly when speaking about their USP, but often they do, because the marketing approach is often not what they’re looking for, they generally looking for a quick fix. Whilst there are many quick fixes to be had in the world of SEO for most organisations, SEO is a long term strategy these days that requires a large amount of time and resource to make work – it’s no longer the quick fix solution that it once was.
It also surprises me how often a business owner doesn’t know what their USP is, let alone how their USP interacts with the SEO of their website. In fact many people I speak to are speaking to me because they don’t believe there is a USP to their business and that’s why they want to build links and perform SEO on their website. I can understand why it can wind someone up when I start talking about trying to help them find their USP – but genuinely I don’t think I can carry out the work of a freelance seo consultant without understanding a business at the most basic level.
In addition to the business owner who doesn’t think a business’ USP should be relevant to SEO, or the business owner that doesn’t understand their USP so can’t apply it to SEO, I see another kind of business owner, the one who has developed a brand ethos that has nothing to do with the business.
A company’s culture is the core of a company’s brand however there are those business owners that kid themselves about the culture of their business and as the USP, brand and culture are all intrinsically linked these kind of business owners can easily find themselves going down a blind alley in terms of how they apply their USP when thinking about it from a digital marketing and seo perspective.
The thing to remember is there are hundreds if not thousands of websites out there trying to do you do. If you look at the services GrowTraffic offers you could say we should compete on terms such as SEO consultancy, or SEO consultant however having ranked for those terms in the past I know that people that are looking for a freelance seo consultant are much more likely to convert and be the type of customer I can deal with on a day to day basis – this is because I understand the way I work, my USP as a freelancer and the expectations of someone carrying out a search for seo consultant is different than the intent of someone carrying out a search for seo consultant.