How to: Write a decent SEO recommendation
Ian Lurie Jul 21 2011
The best way to drive a client crazy? Talk a lot, but tell them nothing.
The SEO industry has a lot of people who are really, really good at that. I’ve seen some true artists: Men and women who can speak or write thousands of words without uttering a single useful thought. Stuff like this:
“Your goal is to rank well for your target phrases. Your site isn’t ranking well for those phrases, though. That’s because you don’t have a high enough keyword density in important parts of your pages. For example, you need to use your key phrases more often in your title tags and in on-page content.”
Someone paid an SEO ‘expert’ for that. It’s like voting for Abraham Lincoln and getting Richard Nixon.
Here’s how a client feels when they read something like that:
That’s how we end up with lots of clients who think the entire SEO industry showed up in the same car.
Writing a decent recommendation
A good SEO recommendation will have:
- Atomicity. It should stand on its own.
- Clarity. It should make sense to a non-SEO.
- Actionable advice. The reader should know what to do next. Exactly.
My formula is usually something like this:
[Provide a specific example]. [Explain why it’s a problem]. [Explain how to fix it]. [Provide a specific example]. [Sell the payoff].
Here’s an example:
“The title tags on your product pages don’t include the key phrases folks use to find those products. For example, the ‘Time Pedals’ page on your site has the title tag ‘Part number 123456’. But consumers search for ‘Time Pedals’. Since the title tag is the strongest on-page ranking factor, you have no chance of appearing in the top 10 for that phrase. Even if you do, the title tag, which appears at the top of the search snippet, will confuse readers, so they won’t click through to your site. To fix this, use the product name, instead of the part number, in your title tags. You can use this template: [Product name] – [Category]. I’ve attached a code snippet that will work in most PHP-based store systems. For example, on the ‘Time Pedals’ page, the title tag would be ‘Time Pedals – Clipless road pedals’.”
Not perfect, but you get the idea.
Write clear, actionable recommendations. You’ll keep more clients.
Actually, write more muddled, difficult-to-understand stuff. Then I get to keep more clients.
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Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More