Whilst talking to a client recently I was corrected for suggesting that their website wasn't ranking within the top 30 on Google for a particular, high volume keyword. The client proceeded to tell me that they had searched for that keyword themselves and they came up on the first page. The next meeting I had a different client told me they didn't need SEO because when they searched for themselves they came up first.
These two scenarios highlight just how confused most people are about SEO and how it works. In most cases, the client is aware of how under-informed they are and it's not a problem. But in some cases the D.I.Y client, as I like to call them, has done their own 'research' and feel that they understand the lay of the land.
Let me just say that SEO is the most complicated and mind-boggling thing we do at Kingfisher, and it's getting more difficult every day (as Google keeps moving the goalposts). Let me tell you why these two clients were way off base with their estimations, and why it makes them vulnerable.
The first client found that they ranked well, but this was because they were searching from their computer at their place of business. Google identifies where they're searching from by identifying their IP address, and as such skews the results. Google wants you to get the best, most relevant result possible, so if you're standing outside a Pizza Hut and search for pizza, Pizza Hut is going to come up #1. But if I'm at home 5klms away and do a search, the results will be very different. As such this client thought they understood what their prospects were seeing, but they were very, very wrong.
The second client failed to realise that the only people who search for you by name are customers who already know you, or (if you've been doing other advertising) prospects who have been told your name and are motivated to find you to claim a deal/access an offer etc. But for all intents and purposes this is useless in most cases as the biggest opportunity is reaching the people who have never heard of you, and this is what SEO is all about.
So as per the headline on this blog, a little knowledge is dangerous. If you were going to invest $50,000 in a car, or a holiday I would hope you'd do some research. So please, if you're considering SEO, do the same. Read articles on the web about SEO, talk to people you trust who know something about the subject, and don't choose a company who will quote you and take you on as a client without doing any research about your industry, competitors and the prospects you hope to reach.
They say a fool and their money are soon parted. This is very true in SEO. As much as onshore companies like Kingfisher work very hard to build practices and protocols that are robust and lead to worthwhile ROI, as well as provide clients with accurate and useful information that helps them make informed decisions, unfortunately there are companies out there that don't. So don't rely entirely on your SEO company or you're asking to get burnt. Do your research, ask relevant questions, and then hold the company accountable for the results they deliver. It's the only way it's ever worked, and it should definitely be the way it works today.