Like with any career field, becoming an SEO professional has its fair share of challenges. As you navigate the industry of search engines, you'll encounter having your strategies and campaigns work exactly the opposite as expected. There'll be times when you'll have to tackle tasks like you're juggling plates while in the water. There'll also be technical issues arising that would be out of your control.
These situations are inevitable. However, the way you approach and overcome these hurdles will make or break your career as an SEO freelancer.
That's why we've rounded up the six common challenges an SEO professional like you will likely face in your career - from managing expectations to choosing the right tools. By knowing what to expect during your career, you can prepare and tackle them with ease.
1. Managing client expectations
Many people, including businesses, have developed misconceptions about SEO that it's a fast-track approach to achieving the results they want. That after a few tweaks in on-page elements or posting some content on the site, the higher ranking will come anytime soon.
It's up to you, the SEO specialist, to keep their expectations realistic. When discussing with a potential client or quoting your services, never make overt promises. You'll tend to under-deliver and affect your reputation this way.
So before you get into an agreement or deal with a client, be transparent. Let them know how long it will take you to attain the results they want and the strategies you'll use to do so.
Educate them on the basics of SEO, too - how it works, the general strategies you use, the usual time frame for achieving the objectives, and even the ideal budget for the scope.
Aside from the work expectation, make sure to discuss and set expectations regarding communication and the workload. Inform the client of your work hours, discuss your preferred communication channel, and ensure you both understand the services you'll be doing for them.
Once you've set these expectations with your client, you can expect better working relationships and more satisfied clients in the long run.
2. Balancing tasks
SEO isn't like content writing or social media marketing. It branches out into different subcategories. You could be doing keyword research, competitor analysis, social media optimization, and a whole lot more. And let's not get started with the weekly monitoring of metrics and unexpected issues popping up like jumpscares on a horror movie.
There'll be a time when you'll be challenged to finish everything under your to-do list without compromising output quality. For that, you'll need to have a concrete project and time management system to get you through.
Thankfully, there are project and time management tools today that can help you get through the burden of your workload. Tools like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp are built to assist freelancers like you to plan, organize, and track the progress of your projects. You can also use time tracker software to manage your time for each task efficiently.
As you move forward with your career, document your strategies and discoveries on project management strategies. When you grow from a one-man army to a team of SEO experts, you'll want to onboard everyone on the same flow and pace of efficiency to deliver the best results to your clients.
3. Figuring out the cause of an unexpected ranking drop
You could have winning content, optimized pages and social media profiles, and a site that loads faster than lightning and still encounter an unexpected drop in ranking. You can't automatically point your strategies at fault, but still, it could be a bummer to know that your efforts were not enough to remain at the top.
In cases like this, it could be traced back to unexpected search engine algorithm updates. Sometimes, it could be minor technical issues. Or it could also be on a client's side (like slashing their budget or transfer of ownership when they've sold the site).
Whatever the root cause may be, it's up to you and your problem-solving skills to pinpoint the reason behind your dethronement. Once you've located the problem, you'll need to act fast to adjust your strategies and adapt them to new changes.
4. Keeping up with SEO trends and updates
Speaking of algorithm changes, it's imperative for SEO professionals like you to keep up with the latest in the industry.
You've probably heard this a million times now, but SEO is an ever-evolving field. The ranking factors we value today may not be the same ones in the next algorithm update.
If you're thinking that it's one heck of a challenge on your SEO career, you're not alone. In a Twitter poll question by Search Engine Journal, 20% of SEO professionals say that keeping up-to-date is one of the biggest hurdles in their career.
Staying in the SEO loop is easier said than done, but thank the heavens for SEO blogs, resources, and online communities for being great sources of what's popping in the SEO world today. You can follow these trusted sources for your updated dose of SEO:
- Google Webmaster blog and YouTube channel
- Moz blog
- Search Engine Journal
- Moz's Google Algorithm Update History
- Social media sites (particularly FB groups, LinkedIn, and Reddit communities)
5. Getting too attached with vanity metrics
We consider top rankings as the ultimate goal, the peak of the mountain. But in reality, clients don't care about their site's position on search engine results. What they care about the most is the effect of ranking at the top.
While they'll always appreciate your discussion of top rankings and high traffic volume, they would always care about the results first. So when monitoring the progress of your SEO campaigns and strategies, look beyond the vanity metrics. Instead, focus on how a high ranking or a lower bounce rate can bring your client closer to securing those sales or clients.
6. Investing in the right tools
Thanks to the innovative minds of people today, more tools and software have spruced up to alleviate the burden of our SEO responsibilities daily. There are tools for automation, keyword research, competitor analysis, content scheduling, invoicing, and customer relationship management, to name a few.
At first glance, the variety of choices seem like a godsend. Many options mean more chances of winning, right?
Well, it is, until you find yourself deciding which tools to invest in that will prove a bang for the buck. Should you choose this tool because of the cheaper plans, or that one because of one unique feature?
You can read reviews and feedback from other users to find out which tool to invest in, but in the end, it all depends on the level of your needs. If you're still a small-scale freelancer, it's okay to settle with the free ones in the meantime. But as you grow, you'll need to bring out some moolah to enjoy a more automated workflow process.
It's all about being ready.
Whether you're a starting freelancer or the next Brian Dean in the making, challenges will come to test your skills and wits as an SEO professional. It all comes down to how you handle these obstacles with poise.
While there's a multitude of situations that may arise, these six SEO challenges are the most common ones you'll encounter along the way. By preparing for what lies ahead, you can conquer these obstacles like it's child's play!