Ever since I starting working at Fannit, Seattle Web Designer, I’ve struggled with answering one inevitable question. The conversation goes something like this: “I heard you got a new job! That’s great, so what is an seo? What do you do?”
What do I do?
The dilemma here is that it’s difficult to give your relatives or close friends a thorough job description when it comes to SEO. You’ll often lose them right about the time you say “keywords” or “back-links.”
SEO work is technical, so it can’t be explained quickly, thoroughly, and understandably, right? I don’t believe so. After many weeks of contemplation and prayer, this is what I tell people now when they ask me what I do: I make websites better.
If you’re an SEO – search engine optimizer – (or if you are considering moving into the field), I believe this is your basic job description (Let me explain what I mean).
Yes, this might sound a little arrogant at first. Don’t the designers make the sites good enough? In many ways, yes, but let’s think about the specific things SEO’s do:
Setup clients’ blogs, social profiles, etc.
Evaluate and debug websites
Optimize websites for search engine visibility
Evaluate and optimize conversion points
Build local listings
Write and market content
Build a social media presence
Build backlinks through a variety of means
I do some of these tasks on a daily basis – like social promotion. Other tasks are one time procedures, like client setup. These main tasks include a lot of in between steps, but everything I do brings me back to one ultimate goal: making my client’s website better – or more valuable. For me, that’s not just the name of the game. It is the whole point of the game.
So if I were building a job description, I would write this:
“Your only job is to make your client’s site the best. Do whatever it takes.”
This isn’t meant to be vague. In fact, I don’t believe it’s vague at all! It is merely all encompassing – it’s the big picture, a goal every inbound marketing agency should strive for. This is my strong conviction. If you’re not convinced, read on.
Thinking Outside The Box
Here’s my rationale: Google tries to rank websites based on their value, so the only way SEO experts should try and rank sites is by making them more valuable; by making them better. That’s the problem with SEO’s just doing typical SEO work. You can produce a great piece of content. You can have a great social media campaign, but in the end if you aren’t holistically optimizing, promoting, and making the entire user experience better, you aren’t adding the long term value that’s needed to the website. You need to be able to think outside the box and step outside the traditional checklists to do whatever it takes to boost your client’s business.
Another problem with living by checklists is that no manager can ever make a list broad enough or tailored perfectly to a client. Flexibility is one of the most important parts of a campaign. If an account manager has a checklist mentality, important case by case factors can be overlooked and neglected.
“SEO’s are, in essence, investors.”
Don’t get me wrong, checklists are great, and I use them every day. But for a long time, my job was just a checklist. I was doing exactly what I was being told to do, and I was doing a good job at it (if my bosses say otherwise in the comments, please ignore them!). That’s not how things should be, though, even if that system seems to be delivering results. An SEO’s mentality should be one of a manager, one that compels them to do whatever it takes to make their client successful. SEO’s are, in essence, investors. Their success isn’t determined by the number of boxes they have checked off. Their success is determined by their client’s bottom line.
The Importance of Teamwork
I have often heard of people who were asked if they have played on a sports team in job interviews. This certainly makes sense: everyone likes a team player in the office. It’s important that SEO’s do not view their jobs as independent or unrelated from the work of a designer or PPC marketer. The only way you can truly make your client’s site the best it can be is by utilizing everyone’s talents and ideas.
In our office, we seek to promote a strategic team atmosphere through weekly strategy sessions where everyone presents their ideas and new things they have learned. After I finish this post, I will be giving a presentation on improving your efficiency in the workplace. We also promote a team spirit through company lunches, events, a unique work environment, and competition. All of these are important factors in creating a copacetic (I just had to use this word) work environment.
That’s my life in SEO, working on sites all day to make them better. What about you? If you are an SEO, what’s your work life like? If you are a client of an SEO company, what is your perception of their work?