- Search is not everyone's priority
- Find friends and influence people
- Empathy goes a long way
- Education with an eye for personality
It took me that long to change the meta tags on one of my very first SEO jobs.
For two years, a company paid my agency to report on their SEO progress while refusing to implement the changes I suggested.
Until one day, I decided to bring donuts to the IT staff.
As you can see, back then the IT staff was 100% responsible for maintaining a company's website.
If you want to make changes to the site, submit a ticket and hope the IT staff found your request remarkable.
I was so tired of waiting that I decided to go analog.
I found out when the IT team had their weekly meeting.
Donuts were procured.
I rushed the meeting – introduced myself and dropped the donuts.
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I made sure they all knew my name and who I was working for.
Two weeks later, 10 of the 30 tickets I had queued were deleted.
Search is not everyone's priority
Most of you who read this column live and breathe search.
However, it's a pretty safe assumption that most of the people you work with have priorities that replace search engine marketing.
If you want to make your priorities the priorities of those you work with, you need to find your "donuts".
You need to understand how to make those whose input you need to do your job understand how important your job is.
Find friends and influence people
Many of us in the search engine marketing industry spend our own “dens” with our own tribe.
However, when you depend on others to accomplish your goals, it helps to have friends in your corner.
Regardless of whether meta tags are placed on a website to which we have no access, new content is broadcast live or links are created, search engine marketing does not live in a vacuum.
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It really takes a village to optimize a location.
If you're an in-house search engine marketer, you understand the value of someone who owes you a favor when it comes to getting things done.
When you're in an agency, having an effective champion with your client is more valuable than all the SEO knowledge in the world.
Status calls can't just be about status.
In my agency account management training course, we preach that at least 30% of the time most customer calls should relate to elements other than SEO.
We talk about our clients' lives, the weather, and even what's going on in the rest of the jobs.
In short, we are working to make friends with our customers.
After all, firing a friend is more difficult than firing a contractor.
But not only do we keep our jobs, we get more done when we work with people we like and respect.
If your customer doesn't want your efforts to be successful, your efforts will not be successful.
The best way to make sure your clients or co-workers are invested in your success is to make sure that they respect you (and preferably, that they like you too).
Empathy goes a long way
Empathy is the art of understanding another's circumstances.
I think it's the most important skill for anyone in advertising.
Whether you're collaborating with clients, buying media, creating content, or working creatively, understanding your audience and internal decision-makers is critical to the success of any campaign.
This is especially true when dealing with customers or internal decision-makers.
When I worked with this client who took two years to approve meta tags, I had no idea what the loads and workloads the IT department had.
In fact, for many days I referred to them as lazy idiots who just didn't understand what it takes for the company to thrive online.
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What I didn't understand was that they were responsible for keeping the company running on a day-to-day basis.
Every time someone's email wasn't working properly, they got the call.
They were up to their ears just keeping the doors open and at the same time advancing the company's technology in a time of rapid technological change.
My meta tags could always Wait as fixing it would not help the IT department in any way.
After bringing the donuts to the meeting, I was invited to attend future meetings.
I soon understood what the IT team was up to.
And it made all the difference for the future.
I no longer just filled out a ticket and hoped that the IT decision-makers would see the benefits of my work.
I realized that my tasks were making their job difficult and they didn't understand why I wanted to change these meta tags.
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Not to mention, they didn't fully understand how the code worked and were concerned that my changes would break something and make their job difficult.
I started by teaching the IT team about the basics of search engine optimization and how it can benefit the company.
This team may have been overworked, but they definitely wanted the best for the company.
Once I understood this, I was able to prioritize and present solutions that I could either implement myself or that made sense from the IT team's point of view.
I may not have agreed to the IT team's priorities, but I've tried hard to understand them.
And by understanding their priorities, I was able to present my priorities to them in such a way that they became their priorities.
Education with an eye for personality
I often ask my clients to take personality tests.
I find when I understand how my clients prefer to work based on their personality, we work better together.
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There is no place this is truer than when training a customer.
When a customer's personality is very detail-oriented and they must be right at all times, it is extremely important to begin their training with specific search engine marketing strategies.
This personality type doesn't go well with the standard SEO answer to any "it depends" question.
Until they understand the landscape, they need a black and white answer – even if these rarely exist in the world of search engine optimization.
Other personalities don't care about the details and only care about the results.
But it's still important to raise this personality type.
If they don't understand how things work, they will blow you away if you have to do something important that they don't think is important.
I work to educate these clients by presenting items so that they can see the personal benefits of the strategies and tactics.
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Training shouldn't always be done with a webinar, as it doesn't appeal to all of your decision-makers' personalities.
It is important to offer training that addresses the individual personalities of your decision makers.
Knowing your audience is important in search engine optimization.
In search engine marketing management, it is important to know and understand your decision maker – whether it is a customer or internal decision makers and gatekeepers.
And sometimes it takes donuts to get things done.
Featured image by the author, March 2021