It's Not You. It's Me. The Search Marketing Version

By Tad Miller | May 12, 2011
More Articles by Tad


Did you ever get dumped in a relationship with the excuse “It’s not you, your ‘Great’. It’s me I’m just not….”  You can fill in the blank with whatever excuse it was.  Usually in hindsight it was probably all for the best, but it sure didn’t feel that way at the time.  Admittedly, some of those excuses for it not working out were just lies designed to “let you down easy”, but in some cases it really was a problem with the other party that was keeping it all from working out.

I read a recent article on Search Engine Land that really got me thinking about the same “It’s not you, it’s me” break-up in the context of Search Engine Marketing.  “Why 50% of SEO/PPC Engagements Fail” gave four reasons for the client/agency break-up but the one that got me thinking was “The client/customer/receiver of the service was unprepared or unable to implement.

I personally have witnessed this go down, and we as an agency have heard this excuse and knew that it was really true.  It’s business – getting let down easy isn’t really necessary.  The reality is that we as a search agency found all the flaws with the clients websites and business logistics first and pointed all of those problems out to the client. The clients weren’t able to figure out how to fix them.

I’m really of the opinion that search behavior and web analytics can discover the problems of today’s business faster than any other medium.  The problems that we discover through analytics are the problems of the business and are things that they will have to overcome to move forward and succeed.  Some of them just aren’t capable of getting it together.

Popular “It’s not you. It’s us” problems we have seen include:

  • Nobody wants what we are offering anymore.  Tastes change and so does demand for products and services.  It’s the equivalent of getting your client a number one search ranking for “buggy whips”.  Getting top rankings for something that people don’t want anymore is really just making the sinking ship “ship-shape”.
  • We need to get our Brand right.  Total website traffic keeps declining every month and guess what the keywords leading the decline are?  The companies name.  The first place ranking for the companies name never dropped, but the external media or lack of external media pushing people to search for it are not doing their job.  We need to do something to get people to be interested in us again.
  • Our IT department just can’t get it done.  All of those A. PPC Landing Pages; B. SEO Page Content Edits; C. 301 page redirects, or D. Improvements in the conversion path, etc. are just too hard to change.  Or IT is just too busy with other things to get it done, or the Content Management System we invested a small fortune in won’t let us do it.
  • We need to blow up our web site and just start over.  It’s pretty self explanatory.  The website is more of a hindrance than a help in delivering what it’s supposed to for users.  You can deliver all the search traffic you want to the site, the site will fail to deliver or may actually give the searcher such a bad experience they will never consider going back to it ever again
  • You gave us Too Many Leads. Yes we have actually given a business more leads than they could ever handle and in the process they actually started looking into how much it was costing them internally to process those leads and where their inefficiencies were within their own company.  The growth and the inability to handle it made them re-think their business model, and believe it or not they decided that they didn’t want explosive growth after all, they were satisfied with just having a slow lifestyle business that didn’t require them to “ramp-up” in a big way.

We discover problems like these all the time and give recommendations on how to fix problems like them all the time (some of those suggestions are well out of the scope of just search marketing).  We keep pointing them out and keep trying to work around them, but their is only so much a search agency can do.  We can drive enormous amounts of traffic to an e-commerce shopping cart, but if the final high product price in shopping cart is driving abnormal abandonment, the search agency isn’t going to be able to fix that problem.  The business has to take corrective action, and sometimes they just can’t.

In converse to all of these set backs, we are also the first to see what is working and what is successful about a business through use of search behavior and analytics.  Businesses that are successful in search are successful in making the adjustments where we find problems and are “invested” in the relationship with the search agency.  We are making it work and it’s a “good marriage”.

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