No, I don't work for Google!
I had an experience this past weekend that I feel fairly certain many others in the industry can commiserate with. Surrounded by many friends and family members, I found myself asked over and over what I was doing with my life. I already had this conversation multiple times when I joined the SEER team, so one might think it would be easy by now, right? I wish!
My response depended primarily on three things: who I was speaking with, how much time I had to fully explain the answer… and if their eyes started to glaze over before I was finished! I found myself asking a leading question to determine the knowledge of my audience: “Do you ever search for things on Google?” When I got a “yes” response, it made the rest of the conversation flow more smoothly. Imagine my chagrin when I received “no” responses for not just the Google question, but also for searching for anything online, for going online, and for even having a computer! That took some creative thinking that ended with me comparing Google to the Dewey Decimal System and the phone book. I know, both examples are a stretch, but it was an older relative who really wanted to understand exactly what I did, so I did my best!
In the easier conversations, I was able to relate the experiences of my friends and family back to what I do at SEER. They told me themselves that they almost never search past the first page in the SERPs. They recognized the value of getting the keywords right to reach the site’s target market. Once they comprehended the importance of these two key elements of SEO, it was just a matter of explaining the details of how SEO agencies work with clients to develop their sites to be more search friendly.
I did have a few friends who work in either marketing or IT who immediately reacted with comments like, “Wow, you work in SEO?” I hadn’t even used the acronym, but they were already familiar the term “search engine optimization” from their own experiences. Each of them told me how massive this industry is becoming and just how hard it is to break into it. One friend had already heard of SEER! Unfortunately, this level of knowledge seems to be the exception, not the norm.
The whole experience got me thinking. I’m not going to over-generalize based on people who attended the party, but it did seem that people in their 20′s were the ones who might already be somewhat familiar with SEO, while those in their 30′s had less knowledge of it but still found it easy to understand. It was adorable listening to my mom explain what I do, even if it wasn’t perfectly accurate, so it might be inferred that the baby boomers haven’t completely grasped the industry. If this is the trend for the rest of the population, how can we improve the awareness of SEO?
It seems that most people do not understand that the search engines aren’t just magically producing the best possible results for their searches. People can easily understand the marketing industry as a whole, but many do not realize that search engine optimization is a form of marketing that affects them daily.
Has anyone in the industry had an experience like mine? How about any readers who are clients of SEO agencies — Have you had any difficulty explaining the purpose of working with SEO and PPC consultants and how it will benefit your company?