I speak with many business owners regarding their web sites, business objectives and challenges and routinely provide them solutions along the line of what an agency can do for them (or even what they can do for themselves).  These discussions are well received and provide a road map for work to be done.  A common theme I hear is that business owners know what needs to be done and have been told some of the strategies before but the drop off then happens after the consult.  So, is it a consultants responsibility to provide insights that both can and cannot be implemented?

Have a question for one of our consultants?

shutterstock_110934875More often than not SEO’s can be consumed with consultant remorse.  Holding back on suggestions because they know the client (or the agency) can’t implement.  Cost may be the issue or technologies and resources.  I find myself bullet pointing many of this resource intense work and labeling it as such and explaining to the the client these are some additional thoughts that would provide value but come with much more detail and work to uncover.

But what about the SEO consultant that throws everything out at the client?

I’ve seen great consulting documents and presentations that have done just this.  This certainly gets a client amped about the opportunity.  Then the fall out of a consultant no longer being involved or the additional time/resources to do the work that wasn’t relayed up front.  I think it’s an injustice as SEO’s to flex our brains too much without understanding the scale and scope of the project prior to engagement.

Ideas without execution are hallucinations – Thomas Edison

This year we are guaranteed to see many SEO best of 2012′s and forecasts of 2013 for SEO and Internet marketing strategies posted on sites within the industry.  I too have posted along the same lines in recent years and it comes as no shock that those of us who follow the blogs and news sites are pretty dead on when we post what we can expect.

You see, SEO isn’t that much of a mystery.  It’s knowledge and hard work coming together.  There are so many smart thought leaders in Internet marketing that are paving our way toward identifying the on-going best practices for success.  The best questions I hear from prospective clients when choosing WebiMax as their consultant agency are formed around the fact that they want to see tangible suggestions.  Ideas that can be worked on.  No fluff.

Less is More

Less can always be more in a consultant engagement.  Five pages of real strategies that can be worked on successfully vs. 50 pages of grandiose ideas and intangibles will be far more valuable in the long run.

So, this year I am going to steer clear of the authorship, brand & trust rank as well as the decrease in technical on-site priorities.  It’s clear that PR and Social media have had the greatest effect in 2012 on Internet marketing and, not withholding any major modifications or penalizations in how we use PR distribution services, this should drive us through the upcoming year.

I think the best things we can do as consultants is not to just speak, but to be actionable.  It should not be common place for as an SEO consultant to provide (or recite) current SEO strategies and trends without properly evaluating each client as a unique challenge.

Lastly, always make yourself available for your clients post-engagement.  If you are going to recommend it as a consultant than you should be in tune with the strategy as it is being deployed and running.  What are some of the ways you have engaged with consultants in the past?  Have you had similar situations?

I found myself traveling this week.  Wanting to maintain appearances for my dear mother, I strolled into a local, haircut chain establishment.  Coincidentally, my “stylist” was the owner, a man who bought into the franchise.  As one must divulge personal matters to hair stylists, I mentioned my interest in all things online marketing and inquired about his stores’ efforts.  By the end of the ordeal, I was looking fresh and ready for a “Yelping in my Beemer” video as well as filled with a few thoughts regarding online marketing and tailored, consulting services.  As many marketers but few clients understand, online, one size does not fit all.

I Want That! Wait. Do I Want That?

The evolution of the Web has granted us with a multitude of ways to market online: search engine optimization, social media optimization, reputation management, public relations, and then some.  What stops or starts a small business owner from desiring a championed service?  An experienced consultant helps.  The business owner confessed being in a state of confusion, expressing the difficulty of understanding options at hand and making distinctions between them to make the best choices for his business.

I empathize with online marketing novices; information can seem conflicting.  Let’s use social media participation as an example.  A short while ago, marketing information regarding where consumers get local business information, was released to the public, reflecting poor social media leverage.  I blogged about it, urging small businesses not get discouraged by the numbers.  This week, other data was released regarding how consumers interact with brands on social sites.  This set of data would certainly inspire my interest in social media as a small business owner.  If you’re an owner, how do you interpret the somewhat conflicting sentiments of data to make decisions for your brand?  An experienced consultant helps.

How Does it Fit?

Online marketing practitioners make suggestions and implementations for clients, yet the latter group is crucial in tailoring a campaign’s success.  While practitioners place focus on understanding the Web, marketing world, and associated tools and trends, clients are most insightful regarding idiosyncrasies aligned to respective industries; consultants can offer advice and suggestions, but clients can help matters by offering their own insight.

For instance, I suggested the hair chain owner use Twitter to spread exposure.  Since he was part of a chain, a brand-named account was out of the question, yet he mentioned his revenue’s high dependency on repeat customers.  Immediately, I asked if his individual stylists had social accounts.  He had no idea.  I suggested his stylists all get accounts and start engaging new and repeat customers on Twitter; since repeat business is so crucial, ensuring customers are viewed as individuals and receive customized treatment is essential.  He liked the idea and said he would make motions to put that into effect next week.  If he didn’t give me that crucial element of information about the importance of repeat customers, my ability to help him would have been limited.  Don’t forget to let your vendor know how your campaign fits and don’t be hesitant to make your own suggestions regarding a custom-fitted campaign.

A search engine optimization company representative will report Google does a good job playing both sides.  On one hand, search engines are for the public, providing a wealth of information.  Engines facilitate the sentiment by modifying algorithms (read about Panda updates) with an end goal of increasing user experience and convenience.  Google remains the preferred engine of most browsers.  On the other hand, Google knows businesses use the platform to generate revenue, hence paid advertising.  Google also does a sufficient job supplying tools to online businesses through Google Analytics.  Occasional updates make the Analytics tool even better.  However, a novice may not utilize the data to its fullest potential.  That’s where a search engine optimization company provides assistance.

Tracking user behavior is necessary, illuminating popular and flat pages, bounce rates, conversion rates, and so on.  A new version of Analytics is set for release, making it easier to tailor success.  However, as mentioned above, insights for success, written in a language you can’t understand, is not going to be hugely helpful.  A search engine optimization company offers experienced professionals who can utilize Analytics to its fullest potential.

What are some of the highlights of the upcoming modification?  Let’s take a look.

Real-Time Reporting

Would you like to know data reflecting user behavior…in real time?  Of course you would.  Each page view will be reported seconds after browser activity.  SEO experts can view how many visitors are on a site at any given time.  Additionally, they’ll be able to track the “variety” of customer.  Is it organic traffic?  A browser led from a landing page?  From a referral site?  All that information will be at hand.

Multi-Channel Funnels

What was the behavioral history of currently converted parties?  What does the landscape of the sales cycle look like from each converted party’s perspective?  This is fantastic data to know, greatly helping a search engine optimization company host your campaign.  Get information from the last 30 days!  Gain insight regarding previous interactions with paid listings, organic listings, affiliate sites, social networks, display ads, and more.

Mobile Data

Can you go through a day without seeing someone toying with their smart phone?  Neither can we.  What’s the scoop on mobile usage regarding site traffic?  Which devices are most used to view your site?  Are bounce rates higher for particular devices?  If so, you’ll have the insight, directing you to make modifications.  Once again, more information equals better online marketing, yet help realizing what to do with the information is integral!

Tracking Visitors

Wouldn’t you love to “follow” each visitor, realizing what pages were visited and how long the browser spent on each page?  A new “flow visualization” tool helps you and your chosen SEO company follow the electronic “footsteps” of visitors.

Conclusion

Online marketing is an exciting, highly competitive field.  Online businesses benefit from more intelligence.  The new Google Analytics modifications are going to help your business make huge strides in its chosen vertical.  However, a tool is only as useful as those wielding it.  Savvy, experienced, and passionate professionals await the opportunity to leverage the new Google Analytics platform for you!