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Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked with a “busy worker” – the kind of person who flutters around the office grasping a stack of important-looking papers or who constantly complains about how busy he is, even though there isn’t much actual work getting done.
In general, busy workers are those who do as little work as possible, while constantly bragging to others about how busy or important they are. It’s an unfortunately common problem in most professional settings – and it’s one that’s certainly found its way over to the field of SEO.
Both busy SEOs and effective SEOs abound in today’s online marketing world. To determine which one you are – or to figure out whether you’ve hired an SEO “Goofus or Gallant” – take a look at the following distinguishing criteria of busy SEOs:
Busy SEOs waste time on vanity metrics
One of the first clues that tells you you’re working with a busy SEO is his over-reliance on vanity metrics. This SEO can’t wait to tell you about how many page views his sites receive, how many views his Youtube channel has attracted and how many subscribers have enrolled in his email lists.
The problem – of course – is that this same SEO can’t tell you how many of these viewers or subscribers have turned into actual customers!
Things like page views or channel subscriptions are “vanity metrics,” because while it’s nice to see these numbers go up as the result of your website promotion efforts, they don’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things. Really, would you rather receive 100 page view each day with a 10% conversion rate or 10,000 page views a day at a 0.01% conversion rate?
Effective SEOs keep an eye on these vanity metrics, but only occasionally and only to determine whether or not their promotional campaigns are having the desired effect. Instead, they prefer to spend more of their time focusing on metrics like conversion rate and opt-in rate that actual make a measurable difference in a website’s bottom line.
Busy SEOs solicit links from unqualified sources
Busy SEOs know that the number of backlinks pointing at their websites plays an important role in their overall success. However, they also know that the process of attracting quality links can be difficult and time-consuming – which is why they prefer to take shortcuts and accrue “easy” links, instead of “good” links.
As such, busy SEOs may fall victim to paid backlink schemes or programs that promise thousands of links for a few dollars. They may not even take the time to determine where these links are coming from or whether they’re actually created – instead, they’re content to pay their money and click “backlink building” off their “to do” lists.
Effective SEOs, on the other hand, realize that engaging in these types of link building activities is likely to result in a temporary benefit at best – and an eventual penalty at worst. So instead, they take the time to seek out qualified link sources and build relationships with the owners of the websites whose links will best serve the effective SEOs’ needs. The effective SEO knows that even if he only creates 10 backlinks to the busy SEOs’ 10,000, he’ll ultimately come out ahead in the natural search results.
Busy SEOs fail to measure campaign ROI
The busy SEO engages in things like content marketing or social media marketing because industry experts have told him that that’s what he must do to succeed online. He doesn’t take on either of these practices in order to provide value to his readers. He treats every online interaction as a potential backlink or potential sale, which makes his selfish intent painfully obvious to those who come across his campaign materials.
Because the busy SEO doesn’t take a closer look at why he’s engaging in these activities, he’s likely unable to determine whether or not his efforts have any measurable impact on his website’s success!
Conversely, the effective SEO approaches these and other techniques with a mind for ROI. This isn’t his only intention, and he doesn’t allow his desire to profit from his promotional activities to affect the quality of the content he puts out. However, he does recognize that not all marketing strategies are right for all businesses, so he takes the time to measure whether or not his promotional actions are providing legitimate value to his bottom line.
Busy SEOs don’t split test
Busy SEOs hate to put more effort into a task than the bare minimum, so they rarely take the time to go beyond a cursory approval of their websites’ designs. Do the pages look good? If so, the busy SEO assumes that they’re done, finished and as effective as they’ll ever be.
Of course, anybody who’s worked in web marketing for any length of time knows that a “pretty” website isn’t always an “effective” page. In fact, it’s very possible that elements of your site’s design are interfering with your visitors’ ability to find the crucial pieces of information needed to convert them into customers.
For this reason, the effective SEO takes the time to plan out and launch a split testing strategy. He knows that it will take time to analyze and test all the different elements of his site – but he also recognizes how important this measurable data will be to his eventual success.
Busy SEOs use excess jargon when talking about their work
One final way to detect a busy SEO is to listen closely to the language he uses. If you hear somebody saying something to the effect of, “Yeah, I’m going to SEO the site to boost opt-ins, CTR, CRO and social equity,” there’s a good chance you’re talking to a busy SEO!
Busy SEOs typically know that they’re doing the minimum possible amount of work to keep their jobs or contracts. And since they don’t have much actual information to back up their progress reports, they use confusing phrases to make what they have achieved sound more difficult than it truly is. While an effective SEO would see right through this charade, a boss or client without sufficient technical expertise might be swayed into thinking that the busy SEO has done more work than he truly has.
Effective SEOs recognize that they operate in a technical field, but they also know how to clearly communicate their objectives and priorities to others who aren’t as well versed in digital marketing terminology. They don’t need to rely on jargon terms or fancy abbreviations in order to impress their audiences – instead, they’re able to adjust their language to suit different audiences without ever talking down to non-technical workers.
Of course, encountering an SEO using technical terminology doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily working with a busy SEO – just as any of the criteria listed above could represent a few bad habits of truly effective SEOs when taken individually.
However, if you see several of these different distinguishing features manifesting themselves in either your work or the work of the SEO you’ve hired, it’s possible that your website isn’t receiving all the love and attention it deserves. Eliminating busy SEO tendencies from both your own work and the work of any consultants you hire is one of the most important things you can do for your website’s success.
Obviously, these are just a few examples of how busy SEOs and effective SEOs differ. If you’ve got your own examples in mind, share them in the comment section below!