Our role as SEO consultants is to partner with organizations and to create value through search marketing. However, creating value can be a challenge for many reasons. Goals may not have been clearly defined, the execution of strategies may not be not be possible, or access to analytics data may be lacking or corrupted. Despite all of this, it is our responsibility as SEO consultants to create value for our clients. The true challenge is to figure out what that value looks like.
At Parallel Path, we have a client that has had significant barriers which have prevented us from employing the traditional SEO strategies to create traffic and conversions. What follows is a brief case study of how we have worked to create value for this client and to convert them into a long-term partner.
The client in question is an international Fortune Global 500 client that provides enterprise level telecommunications and IT solutions. They have a massive marketing budget, a complex website with regional versions, and a desire to further leverage the digital marketing space.
Initially, there were several factors that prevented us from employing traditional SEO practices that would lead to organic traffic and conversions.
A Complex Website – The website for the client is both large and very complex, with various international versions. The architecture has been added upon numerous times and no longer follows a clean URL structure or taxonomy. Many of the core product offerings lack content and do not adequately describe the product/offering or its value.
Language Barrier – Communicating with those that speak your native language can be tricky enough, but communicating with someone that speaks a completely different language creates an entirely new dynamic. Regular communication through email and conference calls created an obvious challenge, but communicating SEO jargon, technical requirements, and analyzing data in another language is, well, tricky to say the least.
Technology Barriers – The client utilizes a custom CMS that was developed and is still managed by a vendor in yet another country. So when we made on-page optimization recommendations, they rebutted saying that the cost was more than $100,000 just to change basic on-page elements! Not to mention the layers upon layers of governance required for editing content.<li>
Lack of Data Visibility – As previously mentioned, the data is in another language and we are unable to include analytics tracking code (such as Google Analytics), to the site due to internal policy. Even if we were able to perfectly optimize the site and create a flawless site architecture, we would still be unable see the outcome of our efforts.
Instead of throwing our hands up and walking away, we decided to lean into the challenge, invest in our client, and to look beyond page titles to discover new ways to provide value. Below are some of the solutions that we employed and the resulting value that they created.
Solid Communication – We realized that some of our challenges were the result of being “lost in translation”. In working to ensure that the requirements on both ends were understood, we were able to figure out what the issues were and then corrected them. We even made a trip to visit them in person to ensure that we were all on the same page. Communication can cure many ills.
Providing Consultation, Not Templated Tactics – We have found that SEO is most effective as a partnership. Working up a 100-page strategy document may provide value now, but what about in 3 months when Google changes their algorithm and two-thirds of that strategy are rendered useless? We came alongside our client and worked to implement as many of the recommendations as possible and set them up for success in the future. As an example of this consultation, we are currently in the process of working with them to re-develop their CMS. In this way we can optimize the site as it is redeveloped, as well as ensure that it has the flexibility for future enhancements.
Sharing SEO Best Practices – Despite our inability to optimize a majority of the site, we still provided best practices to our client. The result was that it increased our thought leadership and allowed them to trust us. As they have engaged in other SEO related projects, such as the CMS re-development, they have looked to us for guidance.
So what does it mean to create value for a client? It really is in the eyes of the beholder, isn’t it? If they deem value as being an increase in organic conversions on their website, then that’s value. If they decide that they want a constant stream of ideas and best practices, then that’s also value. Whatever that value is determined to be, it’s our role as SEO consultants to overcome whatever obstacles are put in our way and to provide that value. After all, SEO is really about relationships. Getting to know our clients, their business, what they have to offer, and then employing our knowledge base to ensure that the right people find them at the right time.