Put People First Always with SEO

A few weeks ago, my colleague Kevin was reading a brilliant article from the good folks at Distilled discussing better ways in writing business documents. In the article, Will Critchlow highlights and reiterates that it’s not Distilled’s “job to deliver reports, it’s [their] job to effect change”. The article makes recommendations on how to effectively report to clients without breaking your back delivering a 100-page snoozer while missing key deliverables, such as actually doing the work!

What we’ve always found a challenge is finding the happy medium between completing the work and reporting on the results from the accomplished work. Often times we find ourselves spending the month reporting and sharing our findings with the client, that by the end of the month, we’re already a few weeks delayed in completing the action items we set out to do. We’ve been doing a better job in the last year but there are still some improvements to make. Identifying that Distilled had a very clear mantra to follow, one of the questions Kevin postulated to help improve our team was “What is our mantra to live by?”.

What Is Our Mantra To Live By?

For the next few weeks, we started brainstorming on what our SEO team stood for, how we operate, what we mean to our clients and why we do the things we do. One of our daily 15-minute morning huddles turned into a 2-to-3 hour philosophical discussion on where we see our SEO team going, where we are now, and figuring out our mantra to live by. Out of that discussion, we identified our client-interaction as such:

  • - we help ensure our clients clearly identify their needs
  • - we work our asses off towards meeting those needs
  • - we measure, we optimize, we measure again
  • - we communicate the results of our work, in a way that the client clearly understands it

And upon further conversation, we also identified the following key things we believer users and search engines are looking for in a website:

  • - they have to have high quality content
  • - they have to have useful and practical information
  • - they have to answer the user's query
  • - they have to meet the user's intent
  • - they have to be user friendly to navigate
  • - they have to be fast

People First, Always

A few days later, I came up with a few simple statements and ran it by Kevin.

“We help ensure businesses identify their needs, work towards meeting those needs, and lastly, measure and communicate the results of our work”.

A day later, I simplified it even more.

“Clients and Users First, Always”

A few hours later…

“Users First. Clients First. Always”

And finally, the next day Kevin replied with “People First. Always”

Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner.

These three simple words easily define who we are, what we do and why we do it. In the early days of SEO, the best practice to optimize a website was to ensure the best possible experience for the search engine with no consideration for the user.

Remember keyword spamming?

Yes, this article says “Get more Organic Traffic” a billion times in the title, headings, text and description but it doesn’t actually tell me how do it! WTF GOOGLE!?

With the rise in mobile-use and search engines behaving more and more like users, user experience is in correlation with ranking signals. In other words, the better the user experience, the better you’re ranking. It’s quite simple really - if your website offers something that keeps users coming back, then it deserves to be shown prominently on the search results page. This indicates that your website holds something of value that should be displayed for everyone else to experience. However, if your website offers a plethora of bullshit, then your website deserves to be put on Page 50 (also known as the place where websites die and wither) never to be seen by anyone. When optimizing a website, remember to consider user experience!

Putting People First Into Practice

This same sentiment of putting the user first can be easily applied to clients. I found this nice little video when I searched “People First” on Youtube and it illustrates exactly what I mean (minus the application to insurance). Whenever you are doing any work for the client, ask yourself “Is this people first?”. Clients are people too and they need all the attention you can offer, especially since they’re paying for it!

  • - Will this report actually be helpful to the client?
  • - Is optimizing this page going to get them the right leads?
  • - Is ranking for “keyword xyz” really in line with their end goal?
  • - Is my work making things easier for my client’s business?
  • - Am I actually helping make my client’s life a little better?

For the past few weeks, Treefrog’s SEO team has been putting this frame of mind – this mantra “People First. Always” - into practice. Any work we ever do for the client, any thought we ever have for the client, we tell ourselves “People First. Always”. We found ourselves more focused, more motivated and more inspired to ensure we meet the needs of our clients. It also kept reminding us of the bigger picture: we’re not just trying to rank for keywords, we’re trying to make a real difference into our client’s business and their customers.

Do You Put People First?

Our philosophy is simple: if you put people first, search engine optimization will fall into place accordingly. If you create a website with high quality content and quality user experience then sharing your content, link building and user engagement becomes so much easier (factors in which all play a significant role in ranking). If you put people first, your client relationship will become a positive one. Creating reports, sharing results, building a solid foundation for your SEO strategy, having a clear understanding of the bigger picture and working towards your client’s goals becomes so much easier.

When optimizing websites or working with clients, the same frame of mind needs to be set in place - People first, always.


Written on November 15, 2016