Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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5 Things I Wish All Clients Knew About SEO

vendingI’ve had the benefit of working with all types of clients from mom & pop shops to international franchises. Throughout that time I’ve run into many misconceptions and confusions when it comes to SEO. While nobody’s asking you to be an expert (that’s my job!), here’s the top 5 things I wish all my clients understood about search engine optimization:

1. SEO Isn’t A Vending Machine

Many seem to believe that getting a top 10 ranking is a simple, transactional process: You pay me, I pay Google (or do some sort of tech magic) and boom – you get a top 10 ranking. But that’s not how it works.

Good SEO requires a high-level strategy just like any other business initiative.There are over 200 different factors that go into Google’s algorithm. My job is to dig into your data, dissect it and turn it into actionable information and better rankings. I’m responsible for understanding not only your site, but those of your competition; what makes them rank and how you can do better than them. What I’m not responsible for? Plunking your quarters into the Google vending machine.

2. SEO Takes Time (Really!)

I know it sounds like we’re stalling when we tell you that obtaining that top 10 ranking will take 6 months to a year. I understand your concern: you’re used to quick results and rigid deadlines.

But here’s the thing: if you’re just getting on board now, chances are your competition has been working at obtaining those same top 10 rankings for longer than you have. Do a quick Google search for the keyword your interested in. Take note of the small footnote below the search bar that reads: “About X results”. That’s the number of sites you’re competing against for that coveted top 10 real estate.

It also takes time for search engines to discover the links we’re building and the content we’re tweaking. Google’s algorithms are complex, crunching enormous amounts of data every day. The result is that even good SEO can take time to show itself.

3. I Can’t Do This Without You!

No, those aren’t love song lyrics. If you don’t implement recommendations, reply to e-mails or involve me in your business then I’m going to be very limited in the results I can return. I’m not asking you to know the technical stuff and I’m definitely not asking you to do the grunt work. I’m also not suggesting that you handhold those doing your SEO. Micromanaging is counterproductive.

But as a client, you’ve got certain powers I don’t. I might have the knowledge but you have the power of approval. Only you know your networks; I can tell you how to leverage them online. You know what interests your target audience; I can turn that into link building opportunities. You know what your business is doing offline; I can turn that into great online campaigns and links. A smart optimizer does everything they can to learn about your business, but we often need your cooperation before we can really leverage that knowledge into results.

4. When Your Site Changes, So Do Your Results

I know this sounds obvious, but the implications are massive.

First of all, understand that your site probably has to change. I know you might be really attached to that flash navigation, title tag or piece of content – but sometimes change is good. Search engine optimization is the process of changing your website so that it not only engages your customers (make no mistake, that’s really important!) but also lets search engines know that your site is relevant. A mechanic can’t fix your car without getting under the hood; I can’t improve your rankings without making some changes.

Secondly, understand that any time you redesign your website your rankings are going to be impacted. Whether you’re switching your CMS, changing your navigation, adding/removing pages or just playing around with the content: all these actions can have immediate and drastic SEO implications. Keep me in the loop when considering changes – I can advise you as to how your changes will impact your rankings and traffic. That way, we’ll both avoid unwanted surprises.

5. Bad Advice and Snake-Oil Salesmen Are Everywhere

I’m sometimes approached by clients who forward me an unsolicited e-mail from a “SEO Specialist” claiming they can guarantee rankings or offering services like “1,000 Quality Articles Spun For You!”.

Part of the problem with the field of SEO is that there’s no formal gauge of competence other than past work. Anyone can claim to be a search engine specialist, romance your ears with nice sounding promises, dazzle you with technical jargon and then waltz off with your money.These types of people give the industry a bad name.

Another problem is that there’s no regulatory body on best practices in SEO. Many people try to learn SEO on their own, reading articles, forums and other resources online. Don’t get me wrong – getting informed is good! The more we’re on the same page the better.

But at the same time, know that articles are outdated, quacks are everywhere and some advice is just plain bad. Let me be your soundboard: you hired me for my expertise, so make use of it! Ask questions and be involved. Know that I spend hours staying current for just this reason; to help you avoid bad practices and shady offers.