16. September, 2020

7 Problems Marketing Managers Face With SEO [And How To Solve Them]

Author avatar
Martin Petrov
Marketing @ Morningscore.io

Nowadays, SEO is one of the very trending marketing activities that most of us in Marketing consider. We see that change not only because we hear about it every time we go on the internet, because of all the case studies and results shared online, but also because many us are starting to realize and understand the potential that SEO carries and the implied positive long-term effects it can have on our businesses. Talking to our customers, we found that Marketing Coordinators and Managers struggle with these 7 specific problems listed below when it comes to working with SEO.

SEO Problems & Solutions – Quick Learnings

Now, this is definitely not Quantitative Research – but while we can’t tell you the exact percentage distribution of these problems, we can already deduct important Qualitative findings. That is, we were able to find both the patterns in what the underlying causes behind those problems are, as well as the answers or solutions to them. Interestingly, the overarching pattern with those problems can be summarized as such:

1. Not enough strategic knowledge and understanding of SEO
2. Therefore can’t justify SEO efforts (i.e. the Input)
3. Therefore can’t visualize the benefits and progress (i.e. the Output)

Thankfully, the solutions are very much aligned to the problems and generally speaking, do not require vastly different and major changes to your current processes and operating procedures. The overarching solution is that, fortunately, there are some tools and apps out there nowadays that address exactly those problem. So the goods news are that there is a solution that can be seen in the horizon – and it’s closer than you think! You will find proposed solutions under each of the problems that will get you a step closer to both understanding and justifying SEO as a marketing channel for your company.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the problems, some of which you might be facing yourself, and our advice for how to solve them if that’s the case. The one thing I want you to personally take away from this post is to become aware and identify the problems you’re facing when it comes to SEO – as this is the first step in finding a solution to them.

Problem 1 – We don’t understand SEO

Let’s be honest, we can’t all be experts in everything. As Managers, however, we often find ourselves in the unique (and sometimes awkward) position that we have to know just about enough to understand not only the very basics of SEO but also some of the specificalities – given that we need to be able to communicate with our teams and colleagues and report to the board.

But how should we report to the board if we don’t understand those things? How can you break down SEO so good and to such simple pieces, so you can communicate it without having to spend hours upon end on the subject? A funny quote comes to mind that once Einstein said:

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

Now, I’m not here to tell you that you need to spend a ton of time learning SEO, writing and ranking pages, building links and so on. Instead, there are smarter ways to go about this, that only require you to get a general idea of how things work. That is, you only need to know so much that you can easily find a reference when needed – which is sort of like looking it up a a dictionary without having to learn the whole dictionary itself.

Solution:

Some newer SEO tools come with explanations on both general SEO problems and specific insights that are custom fitted for your specific case and problems. As we’ve seen lately, multiple industries, products and services are being transformed into “smart” and “personalized” – meaning that they are befitted with functionality that targets your bespoke needs. The more concrete advice here would be to find and use an SEO tool that not only provides you with access to their database, but actively tries to teach you along the way on how to understand SEO, exactly how things work and what you can do for your specific needs based on that knowledge and understanding.

Recommended Read: “9+ Strategic SEO Q&A For Managers”

Learn More: “How Morningscore Helps Managers With SEO” 

Problem 2 – We can’t justify the SEO results

This is an underlying problem that stems from Problem #1 – and it can be seen in that those of us who lack the details, also often lack the strategic understanding of how to work with SEO – which therefore makes our justifications hard at the very least, if not impossible. You’ve definitely heard it in the past – you should only buy or invest into things you understand. Well, considering we lack the basic understanding for SEO, it’s hard to justify spending our time, money and emotional investment into working with something that MIGHT some day far in the future bring us “great results” (What are “great results” anyway?! Great results compared to now or to 2 years from now?!).

Solution:

If you’ve taken all factors into account and still consider that it’s the right time for you and the company to go down the SEO path, there are not only many resources you can find online, but often it’s best to translate things into financial terms. That is, when you hear “5 new website visitors”, often that quite literally means nothing – both to you and to your boss / board / investors. What you’re looking for, is something that can show you what £ those clicks translate into. There are several ways you can achieve that:

Manual spreadsheet calculators

You could spend the time upfront to create a quite basic but somewhat sufficient Excel / Google Doc spreadsheet which you could use to benchmark your Monthly / Quarterly / Yearly results. But let’s not kid ourselves, you probably already have a few of those – and they are a pain in the bum to maintain constantly. This immediately renders this solution as a little outdated – also considering that systems like that are simply too much trouble to maintain on a daily or weekly basis, and we all know how busy our everyday work lives already are.

– Value-Based Goals & KPIs wherever possible

.. Especially in Google Analytics. That way, you could correlate traffic and traffic sources to the ROI each channel brings you. The big issue here is that often Google Analytics is not the best tool to measure SEO success considering that it does not provide you with a lot of incredibly useful data points like Keywords, Positions, CTR, Search Volume, etc. Essentially, if you do this step, you will be a step forward to understanding SEO, but in a “retrospective” manner — that is, you can analyze after things have happened, but you can’t predict where those trends are headed.

– Automated tools

After all, why reinvent the wheel, huh? It goes without saying that you wouldn’t waste hours upon hours to create your own (sometimes substandard) systems and processes, when you could simply use what others have collectively built. The big barrier here is, of course, being or becoming aware of such tools, systems and processes.

While I am definitely biased here, my definite pick is using automation and smart tools and apps. And this also goes for other parts of our business and not just SEO, where the logic goes something like: “Nowadays, people spend the time on homemade bread only when they want to – and the primary reason is because they want to do so. If you really need bread tonight, you’d just go to the store and purchase it.” Or to put it simply, you’d exchange money for added value.

Problem 3 – We can’t fit SEO in our current schedules

“What is the best solution here? How can I do the best job possible without wasting too much time and resources? Will this deliver the results we want and expect?” These are questions we all consider when determining our strategic approach for the marketing for our companies. This is already a hard enough activity, but it gets even harder to answer once we’re talking about middle- to long-term activities like SEO.

After all, how much balance should there be between short- and long-term focus for the company? We don’t avoid SEO because we think it’s bad – obviously not! We avoid it because we can’t make it tangible for ourselves – which means we can’t make it tangible for the people on the other end, too. So how would we spend 50, 100, 200 hours on this thing for which we can’t even clearly visualize the “endgame scenario” for?

But thinking about it both logically and emotionally, I don’t want to be a “one-day wonder” for the company either, that is, I want to leave good things behind me, even if one day it turns out that I’ll leave. And I believe you see it the same way.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been having problems with that myself  – and that comes from the guy who actually works at an SEO software company and is at the very least supposed to somewhat “take his own medicine.” If I can’t see exactly what I need to do, I tend to try and find ways around it. But in recent times, fortunately, I’ve been better and better at explaining and seeing the value of SEO myself – which, I promise, is great news for someone like you.

How come? Simply put, I find myself in THE most competitive niche when it comes to SEO – which is SEO itself. So how am I, someone who neither has decades of experience nor tons of budget or workforce available, supposed to compete for keywords and rank pages that might bring in “relevant traffic” sometime in the future?

Well, here’s the solution – my personal solution which you can learn from – and the reason why I’ve decided to step up our SEO efforts even without clearly “having the time for it”.

Solution:

First of all, let’s be honest and get this out of the way. I’m no time management guru and this is not the right time or place to act smart and tell you how to manage your time.

Instead, let’s get straight down to business and look at the problem from a logical / analytical / numbers perspective. Given that I find myself in THE most competitive niche when it comes to SEO – SEO itself, here are the 3 questions I ask myself if I’m spending my time and efforts right. This helps me essentially justify my decision of whether or not I should work on SEO:

1. Does it make sense to rank for this keyword? Is it in my topical niche? (SERP Overview)

2. Are there enough searches on this keyword / topic? In other words, will I just waste my time or is there good ROI behind that keyword? (ROI Estimates)

3. Can I rank for this term/keyword? Is this too competitive or is it something I can achieve? (Keyword Competition)

There’s just one disclaimer we need right here – to get these estimates, I use our own tool to answer and justify my decisions, simply because it fits my needs perfectly. Even though I’m “biased” – and it is possible that some other tool out there works similarly, I still haven’t found anything close to it. Truly and honestly, I’m yet to meet any other SEO tool than Morningscore that “thinks about me and my problems throughout the workflow.” Is it perfect? No, not yet. Does it have all the answers? Definitely not all the time. Is it good enough to get me from A -> B? Absolutely yes.

Problem 4 – We can’t manage an SEO team

Now, on the other hand, some of us are having difficulties managing a miniteam with at least one dedicated Content/SEO specialist. Regardless of whether they work full- or part-time, the problems still exist. How can you delegate tasks to that person, if you yourself are not fully onboard with the idea of doing SEO? Also, how would you understand their decisions and efforts — and even more so, put them in perspective for your boss / management / board when it comes up for discussion (as it usually does, haha, right.)

Solution:

There are 3 obvious solutions here:

– You could spend a month or two learning everything there is to SEO – which is not realistic from a time-management perspective since there are so many aspects to it.

– You can agree with them that they are solely responsible for the channel, and they have to present you with the tangible insights that you can use – both for yourself and for reporting throughout the organization.

– You can also use other simplified solutions with which you can “translate” and break down the data into actionable bite-sized knowledge chunks. Some SEO tools out there do a good job with that – some visualize the changes in a great way, some even literally write it out for you – but, of course, most of the time, you will still need the core / basics to understand and justify what, why, where and when.

Recommended Read: “9+ Strategic SEO Q&A For Managers”

Learn More: “How Morningscore Helps Managers With SEO” 

Problem 5 – We can’t analyze & use the SEO data

Unfortunately, some of us are not as familiar with SEO metrics as good as others and, therefore, don’t exactly know how to use the data we are presented with. While that is OK as we can’t all be experts in everything, personally I have a bone to pick with a few SEO tools and agencies out there. I mean, sure, some things are more complicated than others. But it serves absolutely no good using overcomplicated jargon and metrics to measure SEO. And I’m telling you first-hand, as I’ve been on both sides of the table. It’s harder for agencies to explain the value they provide and it’s harder for companies to justify the resources potentially invested into SEO.

On the other hand, there are 2 types of content / posts / lessons / courses online:

– Either super hardcore data-crunching where you spend half the time thinking how far behind the curve you are and how much more effort it takes to “catch up” to peers and colleagues

– Or the super-simple general ones where the same stuff is recited over and over again, with no actionable advise on how you can get started with SEO as a beginner/intermediate (and especially as a Manager)

The reason for that is simple – Experts don’t think it’s in their interest to teach you how to think about SEO strategically, because that’s their advantage over you! Why else would they have customers, why else would you hire an agency if they didn’t seem like the expert by having that upper hand on you? I mean, after all, in theory, you could hire a freelancer (touched upon in the next thing on the list) right now to write the content you need, if you knew EXACTLY what content and improvements you needed!

Solution:

The solution is only one. You need to take control in your own hands, take the “steering wheel” when it comes to SEO. Here are the ways you can do that (and they are not mutually exclusive):

– Measure the agency by tangible and understandable metrics and challenge them to put things into financial terms / perspective.

– Use a tool that explains those things to you and lets you monitor the changes so you understand what the agency is doing even if they don’t “translate” things for you

Problem 6 – We can’t work with freelancers

This is generally the problem for many aspects of outsourcing work, regardless of what exactly the work we need done is. It’s hard to outsource not because we don’t want to do it, but because we are not sure how to judge the person (on what criteria) and if we can trust that they will deliver. After all, it feels like we’re handing over our businesses in that person’s hands – and if they don’t produce the value we need, they have wasted not only our time and money but actually created even more problems indirectly through the potential revenue loss of someone else doing it correct instead.

Right, we all know how the saying goes,”You get what you pay for.” But then again, we also know way too well that more often than not, there are exceptions to this rule. And as it turns out, we can get a lot more value for money from a cheaper single freelancer or consultant that knows exactly what our problems are than we could with a bigger and more expensive agency that just (only) generally brushes over our problems and approaches it with the “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” mentality.

And it’s completely fair and understandable that we have doubts throughout this process. After all, are we going to get the attention we deserve from a bigger and busier agency? Would they deeply care about our company on a close personal level as we do ourselves compared to someone in a smaller consultancy would? Would they know exactly what blog posts to write so our specific target customer sees them as they search in Google? Would they prioritize not only getting you to #1 in Google – but doing so “sustainably” – that is, with long term effects that actually bring ROI?

Solution:

We must get concrete about the expectations and potential ROI generated from those activities. As we all agree that Marketing is generally measured on performance, on Inputs vs Outputs, we need a way of knowing what to expect. Sure, previous case studies are great social proof – but the underlying question is always “Will this be the outcome for our company as well?”

The best advice I can give you here is to look at SEO from a strategic point of view. Once you have that ready, here are some questions you can answer to decide whether it’s the right choice for your business:

1. Which direction is the business going into? Are we relying strongly on inbound or outbound?

2. How much return do we need? How much should we expect to be able to see positive ROI?

3. How long will this project take? Are there any low-hanging fruits I can immediately take advantage of?

4. Will the work / inputs they create be relevant for us? Will they be done right?

Now, it also goes without saying that you need a way of benchmarking this – and for that, as mentioned above, you need data.

Having trouble answering these questions? In the blog post linked above, you will find help on how to think about them and the potential answers there could be.

PSA: In the near future, I’m planning on writing a guide for Managers on how to work with SEO Freelancers. Interested? Simply drop me a message through the chat at the bottom-right corner and I will share the exact steps I use to outsource work.

Recommended Read: “9+ Strategic SEO Q&A For Managers”

Learn More: “How Morningscore Helps Managers With SEO” 

Problem 7 – We can’t outsource to agencies

While it sounds similar to Problem #6, this problem deserves its own category because of the different aspect it portraits itself into. We generally saw two aspects of it which actually intertwine:

1) There are certain personal limitations which come back to justifying SEO as a channel. Usually, agencies are supposed to bring in not only the tech skills to the table which can often be limited for in-house staff. However, they usually go off the assumption that the strategic side of this is covered – i.e. you’ve 100% decided that SEO would be a channel that will bring you results. The problem here comes from us not always having the full strategic overview for where SEO comes into play. This in turn brings two problems – it makes us suspicious of the inputs the agency creates (i.e. we can’t justify the ROI) and whether our own results and position can be justified considering we’ve been hired to know these things. With a barrier like that, it’s often hard to ask for help up the organizational chain from external parties.

2) On the other hand, there certainly are some company limitations as well – which are often rooted in the Value Proposition that comes with SEO itself. Essentially (and especially when money is tight), the underlying question, the elephant in the room that everyone is thinking about is the question “Is the money invested really going to give us the equivalent or more value back – and if yes, how long from now.”

Solution:

To solve this problem, I answer these two questions:

– Do you need sales now to survive? That is, are you a bootstrapped company that literally needs sales today to be able to put food on the table tomorrow – or do you already have stronger channels that “carry the weight” so that you have some wiggle room to try other channels? If you certainly need sales ASAP, then SEO will not be optimal and it’s good to consider other (advertising) channels.

– Do you offer a brand new and unheard of solution or are your products known to public? The logic here is that, although there are 3.5 BILLION searches a day in Google alone, no one is searching for novelty products – that is, these products that have never existed before – simply considering the fact that no one is aware that they exist yet and how exactly they should search for them. In those cases with new and unique products, it’s best to “push” a message on your audience with the goal of spreading the word about you first.

Takeaways

I hope that by now you can already see the patterns yourself. It’s obvious that

For that reason, I strongly recommend you checking out this next post in this series titled “9+ Strategic SEO Q&A For Managers.” A fair disclaimer: Don’t get hung up on the position / title mentioned. I simply used a broad term to describe all of us who are to some degree responsible for the marketing for a company – some of which would be Head of Marketing, CMO, MD, Marketing Managers, Marketing Coordinators, etc.

On the other hand, if you’re curious whether Morningscore is the solution you’re looking for, you can learn more about that on this page.

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