Alright. So I’ve given you two reasons why some agencies have a shit SEO service – the leadership in place, and the agency having too much focus on sales.
I want to offer you a third reason why some agencies have a shit SEO service – a culture of driving talent, driving good SEOs, away.
I’ve found that this third reason is a result of the first two reasons.
SEO is a marketing channel that’s still very young.
Wielded by leaders who are salespeople, who knows very little of the channel results in them relying on people who are specialists of the channel.
So whilst they focus on the selling, they rely on SEOs to do SEO – in the beginning.
I’ll get into why this changes later on. But in the beginning, SEOs are relied on to provide clients with SEO.
Salespeople sell SEO and leave the servicing of SEO to SEOs.
As a salesperson, you don’t need to know much about what you’re selling. You just need to sell it.
You also don’t need to concern much about capacity – why would you? Your job is to bring in clients, right?
And being good at your job, if you bring in shitload of clients, you’re beloved by the agency – you’ve made them money.
You’ve done your job.
The way your job affects those servicing what you have sold is rarely considered.
SEOs may already have clients that they’re servicing and are maxed out on but if you bring in additional clients, they have no choice, they have to service the new clients.
They have to service the clients even if it means working late.
This old school approach at agencies, comes from a time when there was no SEO.
There were no SEOs.
There were no digital marketers.
The agency culture of working late comes from the era of Boomers.
I say this to say times were very different back then.
Boomers may view working late as going the extra mile.
Millennials and Gen Z, look at this as people taking the piss with one’s time.
It’s unreasonable to spend an additional 3-4 hours in the evening to have the time to spend servicing a new client that’s recently been brought in.
A Boomer, a Gen X, may view extra hours as quite normal at an agency, and perhaps this was normal when they entered the workforce at an agency.
An additional 3-4 hours of their day, on a client, simply meant they worked late.
New folks, on the other hand – the Millennials and Gen Zs – think differently.
An additional 3-4 hours of their day means they are being robbed of their time, whilst the agency benefits from it.
If 3-4 hours of SEO work is sold to a client and this time is not planned in, this means the the SEO person doing the work has to spend their personal time to get the work done.
The SEO spends their personal time, the agency pockets the income.
This is a singular example but an example used to illustrate why operational work, and actually, anything other than sales, is seen as the shit work at agencies. Some agencies.
And when you have a culture that simply gets down like this, this is just what it is.
Being new to the agency, being a Millenial, a Gen Z, isn’t factored in.
Your options as a Millennials, a Gen Z, is to get on-board with it, or, quite frankly, leave.
Now, in the beginning, an SEO, tasked to service SEO, would do just that – provide the service.
Even if there is more hours needed to complete a piece of work than there is in a working day, they may spend it.
However, when the frequency of working late becomes high and normalised, or should I say, when they realise the frequency of working late is high and normalised at an agency, they seek to make a change.
At the point of this realisation there almost becomes this…survival mindset.
They view their options almost along these lines…
Stay, and put up with the shit.
Show your value in helping to sell and land SEO services – i.e. transition to being a salesperson.
Or, leave the agency and no longer have to deal with the shit.
If they decide to put up with the shit, how do you think this affects the work they carry out?
What shortcuts do you think they take?
What clients do they take shortcuts on – the ones with the higher spend, or the lower tiered ones?
How do you think the quality of the work is affected?
If they decide to show more of their value in the process of winning new business, how do you think this affects the deliverables that they already have?
And perhaps, who do you think then works on the deliverables…?
As I indicated in part 2 of this series, SEO work, at some agencies, is left to the Executives and Managers.
This is by design, and yes, this is the case even if there are line items that show the ‘transparency’ of who work is assigned to.
The third option, of SEOs leaving, is one that continues to be exercised at agencies – some agencies.
You simply have to look at the amount of agencies that have sprung up over the past 10 years, let’s say.
I’m sure you’ll find that many of those agencies have SEO as a service and/or a product.
I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of these agencies that have SEO as an offering have a leadership team that are Millennials – elder Millennials.
I do not know this for certain. It’s just a thought.
It’s just what I’ve seen in the SEO industry from having worked both client-side and agency-side.
After having seen, first-hand, how things are at agencies, and spoken to colleagues, I offer you these 3 reasons why some agencies have a shit SEO service.
When working with an agency that provides you with SEO services, consider the leadership in place.
Consider if they value sales to new clients over retention of existing clients.
Consider the working culture they have, and how they treat the SEO talent they hire.