By Goosh | February 22, 2010
On many occasions when I take on a new client I have to introduce myself to the other specialists involved in the contract: the web developers. We don’t build websites ourselves as we like to specialise on the SEO and results. Unfortunately, due to this stance, the introduction can go either one of two ways…
- As easy as a hot knife through butter
- Like pulling teeth out of a gorilla with a pair of nasal hair tweezers
If the web developers are clued up and have worked with several agencies in the past they have more often than not built SEO requirements into their CMS and its plain sailing from here on in (if you are one of these companies – I love you – I really do!)
Unfortunately, more often than not it is the latter; this is where I want to turn round and run as fast as I can into the nearest wall in some vain attempt at knocking myself out cold so I don’t have to go through the same shitstorm that happens every time.
I’m Not Doing This For Fun – It Actually Needs Done
As an SEO you will know that there are on-page elements that need 100% necessary changes to them to ensure success for your campaign ala SEO 101. Whenever I sit and look at a client’s site I create a checklist of what needs optimised (titles, copy, interlinking etc) and check whether this can or cannot be done via their CMS. I then make my suggestions and contact the web developers with a list of proposed changes.
At this stage I am being helpful with screenshots, coloured boxes highlighting elements and any reference material to help them along with their job – it may come across as condescending, but I am actually saving you time going looking for the relevant info. It has also cost me time so please be grateful and don’t do what I know that you are going to do…
Nobody Likes Criticism – Some Just Take It Better Than Others
This is where it starts winding people up, and when people get wound up with no excuses they retreat to a corner and start flaying their little arms everywhere.
Let’s face it – Most web developers are precious arseholes. I know – I used to be one! Like most people, they hate their work being criticised and they hate being told they have done something wrong. This is the reason that I know it will be like pulling the proverbial gorilla tooth because consistent scenarios rear their ugly head at this stage:
- The web developers become extremely agitated saying they already have an SEO solution in place to do the changes. LIAR!
- They become SEO’s themselves and tell the client that I am asking for changes for asking sake and they are unnecessary and just costing the client money. LIAR!
- They become awkward individuals and tell you that something cannot be done. LIAR!
- They say the changes can be done but the cost is in the 4 figures for a simple solution. LIAR!
When these scenarios come up I simply put on a pair of my whitest Slazenger shorts, my best Adidas t-shirt and my most comfortable Puma trainers – It’s time for Email Tennis! The never ending process of serves and counter-serves to try and get simple, fundamental solutions in place to give the client their best shot at success in natural search.
It Shouldn’t Be This Hard – But It Is!
Having already pissed off the web developers and had to reiterate to the client that I know what I am doing by quoting past successes as testament to the fact I am not one of my arch-enemy bullshit SEO’s, it’s time to sit back and take stock of what you need.
I find writing up a list of ALL changes and breaking them down to help them get their heads around it really does help both parties. Let’s face it; they are going to drag their knuckles and arses across the floor like a bunch of Neanderthals at a 50 IQ Point or Less Celebration Ball to try and save some respect so it is best to head them off at the pass and give them no excuse for not telling them – I am now the enemy so I have to back myself up.
Let’s face it, nobody likes to be told their work is shit, but I can guarantee you that no-one likes to be called a liar – irrespective of what side of the “heated conversation” you are on. I’ve had web developers call me a charlatan, tell me that I am no better than someone selling a cure for a problem that doesn’t exist and that SEO is just one big lie to extract money from uneducated businesses. Believe me, I’ve had it all – and I am sure you have too.
Wind Ya Neck In – Shit Just Got Real!
As you can expect, this is where I generally turn into a bit of an arse myself. Having been a web developer in a previous life I am able to go back to a client and give them an honest opinion, based on experience, on what the web developer can and cannot do (within the limitations of looking at their CMS).
I am in the fortunate position of being able to cut through the crap, the waffle and bamboozling that a work-shy web developer will use to his advantage. I don’t know everything, but I know enough to smell the nasty aroma of bullshit.
Some of the best bullshit I have heard from web developers have included:
- Custom Title tags were not an option as there was a site-wide solution of “Bobs House Builders”.
- To add content to a client’s website I was only able to add on-page content via a plain text box (no bolding, no markup etc). After asking for a WYSIWYG I was told a WYSIWYG was not viable as MySQL could not hold special characters such as < / “.
- ColdFusion does not support full domain 301 redirects. I was told this by a very large UK-based web development & online marketing company – even after referencing several online how to guides. Their solution: Redirect the URL using my domain registrars redirect facility. Yes, an iframe!
- mod_rewrite URL’s were not a viable option due to the fundamental parsing of the website’s base level language. WHAT? Did he even understand what he was saying himself? Basically, the guy was a lazy fucker who tried to waffle his way out of it and failed miserably.
And the one that I love the best as it always keeps coming up:
- Installing Google Analytics will take at least 2 hours on a site with < 10 pages.
It’s at this point that I roll my sleeves up and get amongst it myself – I love a bit of coding, especially when it proves a liar wrong. Irrespective of whether they have the defence of not knowing as much as me I go by the simple rule – If you don’t know, then don’t profess to know! If you aim your bullshit in my general direction nine times out of ten you will get the proverbial bitch slap of an e-mail with a loving kiss for your trouble. And if I don’t know, well, I’m humble enough to admit it and go off and find out.
It’s Worth Pissing People Off
There is no better feeling than battling the shit that comes with the territory and making a success of a client’s campaign. Perseverence, insistence & generally digging your heels in when you know you are right helps you prove your point; achieving thousands of new 1st page rankings for an e-commerce site after months of this bullshit – all from a provider that professed to have already supplied an SEO solution in the first place. Dicks.
In this whole process, the only people who lose out are the web developers themselves as they have proved they can’t cut it and simply won’t receive referrals on the back of the success I achieve. I’d rather send it to someone who actually has a fucking clue!