• http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Change boss to prospect/client and I’ve had many similar conversations over the years. Sooner or later we all have to face this conversation where what we want to say is the not-so-nice version of how we should phrase it. The key thing to remember is that people don’t know SEO the way you do and you have to break down the myths and give them the facts.

  • Scott Clark

    Small typo I think? “in natural vs. organic search”-> “in natural vs. paid search”

  • Pedro Martheyn

    On-going conversation with clients! Great post. I’m just going to start sending them this link

  • http://twitter.com/jenastelli Jen Marie Robustelli

    hey Scott, good eye. Unfortunately I can’t fix it since it’s in the hands of SEL editors now. Thanks for reading!

  • ronniesmustache

    – 1&1 Hosting isn’t a “small company.”

    – re: “This means a brand’s focusing on paid search means they are not appearing in the real estate where a majority of searcher attention is given.”

    That’s not a true statement

    – “Arming” yourself w/ heat map images and com score studies that are almost 3 years old, isn’t the best way to gain credibility (e.g., Ann vs. D-bag boss).

    – You and I know that the Google organic traffic faucet can be turned off at any time. Often for reasons that have nothing to do with the SEO/marketing professionals. What will Ann do then? She told everyone that PPC is for chumps. “Bye-bye, Ann. We no longer need your services here.”

  • http://twitter.com/Nathan_Safran Nathan Safran


  • http://www.policeprocedure.net/ Mark Bowers

    “First, based on Conductor’s analysis of more than 31 million referral visits, you can see that organic search accounts for 7 out of 10 visits, whereas social accounts for 1%.”

    Right-o, but this certainly doesn’t take in to account the SEO benefit of social signals, which seem to matter more and more every year.

  • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

    We are noticing these sorts of queries more and more with our clients at Summit Web. The thing from a client (rather than a boss position) is that they sometimes catch a snippet of something and make a conclusion based on incomplete information. The most recent one was ‘there’s no point doing SEO now’, which demonstrates our responsibility as Marketing Agencies to inform clients and prospects as to what ‘SEO’ actually means, rather than what historically people have thought it meant.

    These misconceptions aren’t going away any time soon, so it’s good to have a defence – but I encourage readers to make their own mini-case-studies to demonstrate the facts underlying your assertions. Time for us all to step up to the mark methinks :-)

  • ronniesmustache

    Almost 2,000 employees too.

  • ronniesmustache

    It is your job as an SEO to show your boss or clients the ROI on your efforts.

    First thing you should do is establish a clear line to the P&L.

    It beats presenting out-dated studies.

  • http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashvini-vyas/37/474/451/ Ash Vyas

    That’s an interesting post and I felt Ann is really pissed off. It reminded me one of my client who told me that can’t we say Google that we are the best in industry and deserve to be in top fir every product. And it was damn difficult to make her understand the scenario. What I liked the most about this post is the thumbnails used. LOL

  • ronniesmustache

    “SEO is over…” Come on, buddy!

    I don’t like to see SEO vs PAID/PPC discussions because there is no right and wrong. For some businesses, SEO might not be more than a one-time project. For others, it might be their #1 source of business. It is for many of the companies I work for.

    For the most part, I like to see the brand I’m working with ALL OVER THE SERP. Dominating the space w/ PPC ads, PLA’s, organic results, local results, side boxes, etc…

    Big businesses KNOW that SEO is absolutely vital to long-term success. And is certainly one of the best longterm investments they can make.

    Smaller businesses may be apprehensive because there are unskilled “SEO pros” out there who are either incompetent or reckless.

    There are indeed some ignorant misconceptions about SEO, but I really don’t feel this article addresses them. The scenario presented, features an in-house SEO employee. That means that the company was sold on the opportunities SEO brings. If the SEO employee (Ann) has to justify the viability of her job, then she’s doing a lot wrong. And it’s probably just bad communication. DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE CALLED TO PRESENT YOUR PLAN, STRATEGY or BUDGET. That’s not the time to defend the legitimacy of your profession.

    I’ve done in-house and agency consulting and the most important thing right now in SEO is communication. Every person with a hand in the website (even CSR’s) need to have some degree of understanding of what the goals are.

    Push for frequent meetings w/ marketing, IT, C-level guys if necessary. Even if it’s just an informal status update. Get involved in as many areas of the company as possible. “SEO’s” can no longer run off and “do SEO.”

    It’s much easier to get buy in to new ideas when people are informed and feel as if they have a hand in the success of the SEO results.

  • http://twitter.com/Nathan_Safran Nathan Safran

    true, it is strictly a look from a traffic perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/Nathan_Safran Nathan Safran

    Martin: Good point. In addition to industry counters to the arguments, it is important to do one’s own mini-case studies to validate what SEO is or is not doing in one’s own space.

  • sharithurow

    Hi all-

    I would counter that brand search with data on navigational, informational, and transactional queries.

    A brand search is often (but not always) a navigational query. Informational queries are still the most common search query on browsers in multiple devices. Here’s a pre-print article from one of my colleagues in Germany (with citations)


    There are many other citations, but that’s a good place to start.

  • ronniesmustache

    The heat maps are old though.

    Say your selling Oakley Sunglasses, Sony Headphones, or even ‘microfiber cleaning cloths’…

    Your non-paid options are pretty limited. Especially on tablets and phones.

  • sharithurow

    There are still many, many research citations you could use for navigational, informational, and transactional queries. Heat maps are only one citation. (Humans are quite visual; therefore, I understand why it was used in the article.)

    As I stated previously, all data should be taken into context. The article author was providing examples to help us deal with ignorant bosses (among other types of people). Even search engines put keywords into context.

    From a paper by Ryen White et al at Microsoft:

    “A query considered in isolation offers limited information about a searcher’s intent. Query context that considers query activity…can provide richer information about search intentions.”

    I just try to figure out what types of citations and other evidence I need to convince someone, and get that supporting evidence if I can.

    BTW, the keyword phrases you provided show informational intent, not necessarily navigational intent.

  • http://www.montvillegrove.com.au/ Montville Grove

    I like the way Ann thinks – great device for keeping us reading. Also found the heatmap useful.

  • http://www.thomasrudy.com/ Thomas Rudy

    The click density image is interesting. I’ve often had a lot of success with PPC without focusing on getting to the top spot and spending less money. However I only do this with my own sites. Clients won’t hear any of that.

  • brad curtis

    Great article with great references to back it up. Thanks!

  • http://www.elcario.de/ elcario

    Nice post Nathan! But please let me correct your SERP Screenshot: 1and1 is not a small company, it’s part of “United Internet AG”, a german company with 2,4 Billion Euro revenue per anno and large media / advertising coverage!