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A Guide to SEO Ettiquite and Professionalism

October 27th, 2009 | | Basic SEO Tips

I was meeting with a media company last Thursday for some traditional media possibilities (tv, radio, jingles … yes, jingles) and as I was telling him about the Internet presence of our companies, he stopped me.

“I saw that you were all over, how did you do that?”

I stared at him blankly because of what he meant by “all-over.” Even though he wanted business from me, he also could be a potential customer, so his perception of “all over” was important to me. Apparently, “all over” meant a prominent Google map listing and number 1 on a couple keywords. But I digress …

“Do you have any room on the side to do SEO for us?” I quickly counted up my workload and knew that one more project would get a glare from my wife and my dog. Before I answered he said “we have a guy, but …”

Aha. I knew what he was going to say. He had a guy doing SEO work, maybe placing PPC ads, but there was something missing. A lot missing actually. I said “tell me about your current guy, is he not generating results?”

Then the laundry list was unfolded to me:

1. “He just isn’t very professional” – This is the biggest one I’ve come across. Everything stems from this one. Professionalism. From the way you dress,

to the manor on which you address and speak to a potential client, contractor, employer is the difference between landing a second project and them saying “we’ll let you know.” The arrogance I’ve seen in some SEO people astounds me. It almost rivals IT Support (I kid my colleagues in IT, but most of you know what I mean.)
Having specific knowledge on a subject is not an opportunity to lord it over others, it’s an opportunity to serve others. No one likes the smug b*****d
who starts off demanding full access to a website.

2. “He doesn’t listen and just does his own thing with keywords” – Stemming from professionalism, we have customer relations. Our little friend here, decided to be a one man army and go forth in his SEO quest and yank some levers, see what happens and then wonder why his contract wasn’t renewed. There is nothing more irritating in relations with another human being than the person who doesn’t listen when someone is talking to them. Our boy genius probably disagreed with the marching orders of the ones who hired him. Ok, so what do you do?
You encourage them in their idea and propose some non-accusatory questions that get them to think about your idea. “What do think about being seen online with non-profit organization who support your values?” not “These steps of mine need to be done first before anything else.” If they don’t feel that your are listening to them, they won’t trust what you are telling them.

3. “He gets results – I guess” – Building Value. In my first office job way back in the day I had the following review told to me by my boss. “Sometimes I don’t know what it is you do around here.”
From that point on I made it a point to show value in what I was doing for those who hired me.   It should be the first thing they can say when someone mentions your name to them. Your work should be open to be measured and critiqued. Prove to them every day that they made a good choice in hiring you. Do you provide detailed reports? Do you offer suggestions based on available data? Are you making their job easier? If not, you may need to clean up your act before you clean out your work space. I do this by bringing more relevant things that interest people in a general way that they find helpful.

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  • tom peisker

    Speaking of unprofessionalism… I found your article very distasteful while offering little, and I mean very little, working use. Referring to a competitor of yours as “boy genious”, “our little friend” and “one man army” only shows that you are willing to make assumptions about someone you know very little about.

    I’ve liked other articles you have written in the past but this time you assumed too much about not only the guy who’s business you may have the opportunity to steal but also what readers could digest.

    Maybe I just feel like “a one man army” myself too often!

    • http://www.seoboy.com Eric


      I appreciate your response. I really do. I can tell that you are one who understands the importance of customer service and dealing professionally with clients. I wasn’t going after the one man army’s or independent SEO specialists in general. I am an independent and SEOBoy graciously puts up with my rants. :) But I should have been more clear on who I was targeting. My reaction was in defense of the SEO clients who have had poor customer service. Poor customer service, along with unclear value propositions, have given SEO a bad name over the years. In my local market, businesses (such as the one I was met with) feel as if they have no choice but to stay with an SEO specialist who shows little professionalism. It’s that behavior that breeds a distrust for the industry overall and makes it very difficult to allow trust for those who really care about a client’s success. My intent for the post was to be a primer on how to conduct oneself and keeping the “smug” down as more and more young adults between 18 and 25 enter into client representation and customer service at a level that business expect – or at least would appreciate. 1. The importance of clearly showing what you are doing and what will happen. 2. The importance of the client feeling that they are being heard and 3. Going above and beyond the client’s expectations to make them want to do more business in the future.
      I’m not perfect and when I hear about SEO specialists treating clients poorly, it really ruffles my feathers. Thanks for keeping me in check!

  • http://w3bz.com/ SEO Wanna Be

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