SEO Generalist or Specialist – Which is better?

 

 

Last week i read the post: The New SEO Process (Quit Being Kanye).  This post reminded me of the old post by Rand: The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded.  Both of the posts talk about how different elements of inbound marketing impact SEO and the new roles of SEOs. These are great posts no doubt but somehow they give the impression that:

1. To be a good SEO, you need to be a jack of all trades

2. SEO is purely business development

3. Just because something may impact web rankings you must develop expertise in it.

I normally don’t write rebuttals. But since last year or so, there has been a trend going on to become a generalist for all the wrong reasons in the name of inbound marketing. The theory of being a marketing generalist has done nothing much on a positive side but has disrupted the normal and actual SEO process and has morbidly increased the expectations of our clients.

When a newspaper put your ad on page 1 it doesn’t promise you any sales or leads. When a billboard company put your ads at all prominent locations throughout your city, it doesn’t promise you any sales or leads. Yet somehow SEO is expected to generate sales and leads from page 1 rankings.

 

Being a generalist is not bad but being a specialist is not for insects either.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

 

The SEO equivalent of above quote:

To do effective SEO now, at the very least, you have to be a digital strategist, social media marketer, a content strategist, conversion rate optimizer, and a PR specialist. 

 

Are you working your ass off to be: a social media marketer, a web analyst, CRO specialist, PR specialist, a programmer and a Jack of all trades? You really don’t need to be that Jack. Here is why:

 

You are losing money

Your client wanted to hire you as a SEO but you offered yourself as a business partner (in the name of inbound marketing) who will hold himself responsible for client’s sales ability on his own free will but yet charge a monthly retainer instead of partnership in profits.

 

You are disappointing your client

Your client wanted to increase the relevant organic traffic (traffic which has the potential to buy) via search engines to his website. But you offered him much more (& that too at no extra cost): social media marketing, conversion rate optimization, reputation management…. all in the name of SEO. Consequently you have raised his expectations. With so many marketing channels being leveraged, he is sure to earn a lot of money. Isn’t he?

Here is what can happen ->> You brought your client to page 1 of Google, you did all the A/B testing and PR gimmick, still nothing much happened sales wise and your client screamed ‘ripped off’. May be the client’ product has no market value to begin with. But you overlooked all these factors and sold yourself as a business partner all in the name of SEO.

 

You are working in a vacuum

When you work as someone who provides holistic solutions (in the name of inbound marketing) to develop a successful business, you are overlooking important aspects of your client’s business:

1. Client’s reputation in the market

2. Client’s market value

3. Client’s after sales service

4. Products pricing & range

5. Products’ quality and perceived value

6. Market saturation

 

All these factors are beyond the control of a SEO but yet we tend to come up with an inbound strategy which will make our client’s business a success. 90% of online businesses fail each year just because they overlook the aforesaid factors. Are you the SEO of a business which is bound to fail?  You don’t need to make yourself responsible for client’s sales ability unless this is what your client wants and this is why you are hired.

 

You are getting away from the actual SEO process

SEO is all about making websites SEO friendly, doing keyword research, developing contents around the target keywords and building links to rank high. When I say ‘all about’ I never mean that this process is easy or small. Fixing crawling and indexing issues esp. of a big website has never been an easy task. Similarly keyword research and link building are specialized fields on their own. Companies need people who are specialized in link building for a particular niche let alone SEO.

 

You are narrowing the definition of SEO

By saying SEO includes conversion rate optimization, social media marketing, coding, reputation management……..you are narrowing the definition of SEO.  SEO has never been easy or quick fix process even without these marketing channels.

 

You are not building synergy but disrupting most digital strategies

Being a jack of all trades, you know bits of everything (at least this is what implied to many, including your client/employer) but since you are not an expert your suggestions may not always align with the recommendations and strategies of the subject matter experts (PR Specialist, offline marketing managers, product managers). This may not work in your favor if you are not the only marketer in your company. So think about it.

 

You are stepping foot on other people’s toes

As you expand your knowledge in other areas (like web design, coding, and Social media) which impact SEO in some way, your eagerness to give suggestions to subject matter experts (web designers, coders, community managers) will increase by many folds. These suggestions (which are often SEO biased & look at only one aspect) may not always be well received by others.

 

You tend to be a control freak

Do you believe that as an SEO you should be given the control of social media campaigns, content development , PR campaigns and even product development because no one understand search better than you? If you do, then you are on your way to be a control freak. Just because something is impacting SEO, you should automatically get control of it is a wrong mindset, at least as long as you work in a company which is run by 2 or more people and other people are not SEO.

 

You are spreading yourself too thin

Do you constantly find yourself  saying “I am not learning enough”. Reading dozens of blog posts every day on every topic related to internet marketing won’t make you a better SEO. Continuously streamlining your SEO process will.

 

You are losing Job Opportunities

Being a ‘jack of all trades’ rarely goes well in resume shortlisting. “I know Social media marketing, conversion rate optimization, web analytics, link building, coding and even PPC really well”.  But can someone believe you? To prove your worth, you need to talk first. For that you must be shortlised in the first place. Being a jack means you know a bit of everthing but are not an expert in any field. Do companies really look out for generalist? No. They don’t want a SEO who claims to code a website better than their developer or run a social media campaign better than their community manager. They want to hire a person who is specialized in SEO.

 

Does that mean I should stop learning anything not directly related to SEO

No. Learn everything which impact SEO but only to the point where it helps in communicating with other specialist and help you in looking at the bigger picture. For example learn coding but don’t get carried away and try to become a pro coder. The secondary knowledge that you are picking up in the form of articles on conversion rate optimization, social media marketing, and web analytics will help you in your SEO but you will also reach a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly. For example learning to code will help you in your technical SEO but only to an extent, after certain point you are just wasting your time if coding is not your bread and butter.

Other Posts you may find interesting:

 

 

Do you know the difference between Digital Analytics and Google Analytics?


99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Digital analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Digital analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Digital analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.


Digital Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Digital Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Digital analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Digital analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.


You learn data analysis and interpretation from Digital analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.


You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Google Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Digital analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Digital analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in digital analytics and marketing field.


So what I have done, if you are interested, is I have put together a completely free training that will teach you exactly how I have been able to leverage digital analytics to generate floods of news sales and customers and how you can literally copy what I have done to get similar results.

Here what You'll Learn On This FREE Web Class!


1) The number 1 reason why most marketers and business owners are not able to scale their advertising and maximise sales.

2) Why you won’t get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing Google Analytics.

3) The number 1 reason why conversion optimization is not working for your business.

4) How to advertise on any marketing platform for FREE with an unlimited budget.

5) How to learn and master digital analytics in record time.

 
 

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence.

The Digital Analytics Association is a world renowned not-for-profit association which helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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