The horizon of SEO operations was static for many years till 2010 with no reasons for widening it. The focus of SEO agencies at that time revolved around earning better rankings in search results. It used to be achieved by the power of link building of SEO agencies. Improving performance of SEO agencies would mean improving the ability to build authority links that could give better results in SEO performance. The aim was to use the power of link building to influence search results and improve search rankings. But interestingly, it was a job done by the agencies all on their own without any interaction or support from clients engaging the agencies. Strategies based on optimisation of their own strength were the drivers of SEO agencies to achieve improved SEO performance. There was hardly any functional relationship between the agencies and clients.
Emphasising relationship with clients
Since 2011 the scenario started changing. Even though link building remained as important as before to enhance SEO performance it was not the sole factor any more. New aspects emerged on the scene that assumed immense importance alongside link building capabilities for betterment of SEO performance. The relationship between clients and SEO agencies became an important determinant about how well SEO campaigns would perform. This happened due to the popularity of content marketing that necessitated close interaction between SEO agencies and clients in order to make high-quality content available for SEO use. It was time for SEO agencies to align their strategies with content marketing that influenced their performance. It was also time to focus on the relationship that the agencies maintained with their clients and enhance SEO performance was not the sole factor any more. New aspects emerged on the scene that assumed immense importance alongside link building capabilities for betterment of SEO performance. The relationship between clients and SEO agencies became an important determinant about how well SEO campaigns would perform. This happened due to the popularity of content marketing that necessitated close interaction between SEO agencies and clients in order to make high quality content available for SEO use. It was time for SEO agencies to align their strategies with content marketing that influenced their performance. It was also time to focus on the relationship that the agencies maintained with their clients.
Changes that happened in the working ways of SEO agencies
Since then the relationship between SEO agency and client acquired a lot of importance and it triggered a shift in strategy that was based on adapting new ways of working.
- Developing wider communication strategies – SEO agencies had always provided content but it was not aligned to brands. The bigger perspective of engaging viewers to achieve other communication goals was missing. The content was too much campaign focused and highly tactical. The emphasis on content marketing made it imperative that SEO agencies got the content approved by clients to ensure its brand affinity and address the issues of viewer engagement.
- Maintaining strong relationship – As content approval became the prerogative of clients, SEO agencies were compelled to educate clients and build and maintain strong relationship with them to ease the process of approval. They had to adapt the skills of managing the stakeholders involved in the approval process.
- Building business cases – For uploading content and making it go live required resources from different areas besides marketing. It necessitated presenting business cases to garner support from all quarters so that the project is duly prioritised.
- Working together with PR functionaries – Once the content goes live SEO agencies are supposed to start the important work of link building. But since content emanates from brands and stay close to it, in order to ensure that the content is seen well, SEO agencies had to network well with the PR and social functions of brands. This is something that they never had to do before.
The shift to content marketing is a major milestone in the SEO industry and the better the above changes were adapted the better was the performance of the agencies.
Time to change again
As search engines keep tightening the belt, SEO agencies have to shape up to survive and excel in their field. The areas of improvement are getting widened every day and it is a challenge for SEO companies to reposition their strategies to suit the strict performance parameters set by search engines. Once again the SEO industry is at an important turning point. The importance of on-site experience is likely to go up as a result of applying the results of machine learning that provides valuable indicators for performance enhancement. In pursuit of better evaluation of user experience search engines like Google are focusing much more on user signals like search sequence. This is a clear indication that SEO agencies will now have to emphasise on user experience, an aspect that had never been on their agenda. SEO agencies will have to initiate conversations that revolve around UX or user experience and multivariate testing to stay tuned with time.
Focus on user experience – the new challenge
This time the task of changing the approach could be somewhat easier for SEO agencies. The reason is that the challenge is almost similar to what had been faced earlier with content marketing.
- Prioritisation and Budget provision – Determining user needs is only possible by assimilating and analysing data related to user behaviour. This requires some tests to be conducted for which money is needed. By using the lessons learnt from the earlier experience of business cases and managing stakeholders by utilising the powers of relationship, it should not be much difficult to get the budget allocated for testing.
- Liaison with developers and testers – The possible tension arising from the conflict of interests between developers and third party testers have to be resolved craftily by SEO agencies through collaboration and co-operation between all parties. Once again, the art of maintaining strong relationship between the teams can pay dividends.
- Making the changes – SEO agencies have to work closely with those conducting tests so that they can monitor the processes and development closely and make technical changes while pushing the content live.
The road ahead
Once again it is time for SEO agencies to cross another important milestone in its journey of widening the horizon. Responding to the call for change based on application of machine learning, SEOs agencies can be in better control of improving their performance. They have the advantage of previous learning that happened during content marketing. It is now easier for them to replicate that experience and gain considerable mileage in enhancing performance.
It is now or never for SEO agencies, who have to play by the rules of the game farmed by the search engines.