SEO as Customer Service: Or Why Marketing’s Most ‘Shameful’ Secret Should Come Out of the Closet
To many people’s minds, search engine optimization is on par with direct mail, telemarketing, and Katherine Heigl. (Well, maybe not Heigl-bad…)
As Brand Manager of Portent, one of my ongoing directives is to gather case studies of our good work. But unlike conventional agencies who regularly tout their big marketing wins, I often have a difficult time pushing case studies through the client approval process. Why?
Because SEO is in the closet.
No one likes to admit they need it and no one likes to admit they pay people (us) to do it. There is a colossal misconception that if you optimize, you haven’t ‘earned’ your ranking. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Site optimization is merely customer service at the FRONT end; the true benefactor of good SEO is not the client, but the consumer.
And companies who are good at it – or pay an agency like Portent to BE good at it – should brag, not brush their SEO prowess under the rug.
First, full disclosure: I’m not much of an SEO fanboy (or girl as the case is). I don’t go to SMXs or MOZs or search-anythings. I work at an Internet marketing agency and recognize the value of optimization, but my passions lie in content and strategy.
However the longer I’ve worked at Portent, the more I’ve noticed that search strategists often get painted with “snake oil”… and like that one time (at band camp) I choked a bully for my little brother, I am compelled to stand up for my title-tag, alt-text, H1-loving comrades.
Cross my heart and kiss my elbow, they’re not tricking anyone or ‘gaming’ anything.
They’re connecting a product or service to the person who is already searching for said product or service. Good optimization values a potential consumer’s time, saving them from slogging through pages of irrelevant and inferior listings.
Once the visitor is onsite, good SEO guarantees the best possible user experience with efficient navigation, appropriately described offerings, and clear calls to action.
Again, good optimization is just plain old customer service (minus the 12 minute hold time).
Of course, optimization is not altruistic. We serve specific clients. (And guess what! They pay us!) But commerce and value are not mutually exclusive.
Even if you have the best widget on the planet, it only sells if people know about it – think tree falling in the forest and all that jazz.
Luckily, our clients ARE good at what they do. They deserve good rankings. And it’s our mandate to blast their messages efficiently into the universe so that everyone knows it.