NOTE: A big thank you to Jep Castelein of LeadSloth on Demand Generation for his contributions to this post.
Say you are a CEO paying for search engine marketing services — also known as SEO services or SEM services. What result are you seeking?
Qualified leads, of course.
Today’s article is about the cheapest, most direct route to that result.
In particular, do you really need SEO consulting from people like me, if you can get SEO software for less?
Some savvy business people seem to think ”no.”
For example, a few weeks ago I read Shar VanBoskirk’s post, “Search Marketing Automation Will Compete With Agencies.” In it she describes up and coming Altruik as “SEO automation vendor”.
(She says later that they’re making “technology-enabled” search marketing possible. Which seems a world apart to me. But more on that below.)
SEO consultants wrote in with strong objections. More notably, even Altruik’s CEO, Tom Kwon, distanced himself from the idea that software can automate SEO!
“…I don’t think there will ever be a white hat SEO solution that guarantees rankings….
“Everyone asks me about ranking, ‘how do I improve the ranking of my website?’, I usually respond as follows: Good organic rankings are the result of a comprehensive program that encompasses both on-page and off-page SEO strategies. Successful SEO strategies combine the two to gain and maintain rank power….
“Our goal is to empower all the highly skilled SEOs and SEMs with our platform to make visibility and on-page SEO easier. We will always need these skilled individuals and their services to ensure a well-rounded SEO program overall.”
Your take-away: Makers of SEO software urge you to use of skilled individuals. And it’s not just because SEO services providers are a big channel for them.
Being found versus being successful
The reason SEO must involve people is that being found is a long way from being successful. And to you — the person paying for SEO services — ’success’ doesn’t = getting found in search engine results!
Success means getting found and getting qualified leads. The latter is an order of magnitude harder than the former.
People optimize content
There are two essential tests to run on search-optimized content:
- Test #1 – Does this content help our prospects?
- Test #2 – Does this content help search engines?
A well rounded SEO pro will help its client consistently pass both tests.
Wanted: SEO copywriting skills
I’m hearing Tom Kwon saying in his comment that Altruik is designed to help you pass test #2.
To pass test #1 you need to be a strategic marketer armed with sound competitive analysis and monster business writing skills adapted to following complex online content and conversion optimization rules. (More on this in our recent e-book.)
If software can help us pass test #1, we should call him “Hal” (after the artificial intelligence that takes over in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey).
Technology-enabled SEO, yes
To be fair, Shar also said that SEO is more and more technology-enabled. That is right. But I’m not sure it’s news.
Back in the day, we used WebPosition software to keep track of clients’ rankings and check on-page optimization.
Today one of our tools is Hubspot Marketer, software as a service which has a good UI and is backed by an energetic support team. Among other things, we use it to see rank changes relative to competitors, do keyword research, create landing pages, track what’s helping our lead funnel vs what’s a waste of time, and other modules.
No tool named “Hal”
Even Hubspot is no “Hal” — and it’s not trying to be, either.
Hubspot provides site owners with lots of best practices and ideas to make best use of the system and create high-quality content. If site owners don’t have the time to educate themselves on inbound marketing, Hubspot recommends they get help from qualified agencies.
Because in the real world, you need to impress both human prospects and search engines. That’s how you take your website’s rank to the bank.