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Do You Want to be Just an Average SEO?

As a marketer, I'm fascinated by television commercials. One commercial I saw recently talked about how no one grows up wanting to be "average." That really shoved the right side of my brain into overdrive.

No one wants to be an average Webmaster, graphics artist, CEO, educator, programmer, or SEO. We all want to excel at what we do . . . or do we?

Would any of us hire an average SEO? Would an average programmer be in high demand? Is the CEO of General Electric just average? In my opinion, the answer to those questions is a resounding "no."

Let's Take a Look at the Average SEO

What kind of results would we expect to get from the average SEO?

Would we expect the average SEO to keep up with the current happenings in the SEO industry?

How would the average SEO expect to compete with the above- average SEO, or the top-notch SEO?

Would the average SEO result to using spam strategies in order to compete? Maybe, or maybe not.

How would the average SEO differentiate himself from other SEOs in the industry? What would make him different? In other words, what would be his USP, or Unique Selling Proposition? Chances are, he wouldn't have one. Being "average" is certainly not a USP!

How would the average SEO learn SEM strategies in the first place? From an outdated book? From someone online who may or may not know what she's talking about? Your knowledge is only as good as whomever you've learned it from.

Who does the average SEO associate with? Chances are good that he associates with other average SEOs, as opposed to top-notch SEOs who share their strategies with other exceptional SEOs or conduct research on their own.

Average SEOs may not be paid as well as exceptional SEOs who really know what they're doing and who have a portfolio of success stories to prove it. Therefore, they may not put the time and effort into forming relationships with their clients. Clients come and go, and they may leave quite dissatisfied.

To be honest, there are thousands of "average" SEOs, but who strives to be average and mundane? It's something to think about, isn't it?

Your Goal: Become an Exceptional SEO

If you're an exceptional SEO, you won't be able to get rid of your clients, even if you wanted to, and they'll refer additional clients to you and so forth.

So, how does this work?

1. Obviously, you need to know search engine marketing from the ground up, or surround yourself with the best in the business to where your firm can specialize in each area.

2. You have to keep up with what's happening in the search engine industry. Pick and choose who you listen to, and read those newsletters, blogs, or forums carefully. Make sure that you're listening to the right voices - those with experience who don't spout off based on hearsay. You want the facts based on research and trial and error.

3. You need to know when to say "no" to a potential client and not take her on when you feel for whatever reason, you may not be able to provide the help she needs. Exceptional SEOs actually walk away from clients rather than take on any client that comes their way. A client who has had every domain she touches banned, or who sells items that you personally don't want to work with, would be clients that you might turn away.

4. When you take on a client, keep a virtual paper trail of every piece of e-mail written back and forth between you and the client. Save screenshots of the client's entire Web site. Run ranking and log reports before you ever begin work.

5. Treat your client's Web site as your own. If you see any problems, notify the client immediately. Phone calls are fine, but follow up with an e-mail so that everything is in writing.

6. Remember that if you employ any spam strategies, it will come back to haunt you. Any red flags that are sent up to the search engines are red flags for every single client you have. Don't go that route.

If you're truly an exceptional SEM company, you'll play it straight for your clients' sake and for your own reputation. If your reputation becomes tainted, it's extremely difficult to overcome.

Remember: word gets around very fast in this industry that's full of blogs, forums, and newsgroups.

7. Build your portfolio with success stories: long-lasting success stories where those rankings are there to stay.

This is where your Unique Selling Proposition comes in: what makes you unique from your competitors. Why should a company choose you as their SEM company versus one of your competitors? There needs to be a well-thought-out reason - usually more than one.

8. Exceptional SEOs can charge big bucks for their services, because you're worth every dollar. You know how to optimize for competitive keyword phrases while staying within the guidelines of the search engines. You understand that it may take time, but you know how to talk to your clients and explain how the art and science of SEM works. Every piece of SEM works together, which is the beauty and intrigue of the industry.

9. When search engine optimization and technology have taken you as far as they can, the exceptional SEO understands how to bring in the missing element of search engine marketing: creativity, so that no brick walls are ever erected for your clients.

10. Report back to your client often through reports, phone calls, and e-mail. Let your client know you're working hard on his or her behalf. If your client doesn't hear from you, this is where communication problems can occur. This is particularly true if you're a techie, because non-techies usually expect a lot more in the way of communication than most techies are willing to give. :)

No One Wants to Hire an Average SEO

No one wants to hire an average SEO for their Web site. They want exceptional work for their online business. Therefore, your goal should be to work hard to build a solid reputation for taking care of your clients, following the search engine guidelines, and treating your clients' sites as if they're your own.

Client support is crucial. If they don't understand, take the time to explain. Believe it or not, your client with the pet store doesn't understand what "keywords" are. It's up to you to introduce him to the "technical jargon" of the SEO industry. You just need to explain to him that this particular page needs to be focused on the word "dog baskets," and he'll understand.

Your "job" as an exceptional SEO goes much further than the optimization and technical aspects of a site. You'll also be an instructor, a hand holder, a cheerleader, and your client's best friend. After all, who else but you will understand what it means to achieve a #1 ranking in Google? You'll be there on the side lines celebrating with your client . . . if you're an exceptional SEO. This enthusiasm is so important to your relationship with your client.

In Conclusion

Don't settle for being average. You have so much more potential than that. Aim for "exceptional." The sky is just at the top of the stairs!

Robin Nobles conducts live SEO workshops (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com) in locations across North America. She also teaches online SEO training (http://www.onlinewebtraining.com). Sign up for SEO tips of the day at mailto:seo-tip@aweber.com.

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