With most businesses, you know what you're going to get when you hire them. If you hire a plumber, you know you can get your pipes and leaks fixed. When you hire a web designer, you know you'll end up with a website.
But when you hire an SEO, you're actually hiring an entire digital marketing experience.
Back in 2004, when I started doing SEO, that was all I did. I didn't take on social media accounts, PPC, or video. Those things were left to the experts of their individual specialties. Fast forward ten years and the opposite is true. SEO is now just a term that people use when they call me for help - what they really need is a plan.
AJ Kohn summarized this phenomenon recently with his Stone Soup story. He's right - most business owners think they need SEO - they've waited long enough, or they've just recently heard about it - and they want in. They want more traffic, and they assume that means SEO. But it really means more - content marketing, social presence, link building, conversion optimization. etc.
I like to think of SEO as a gateway drug - it's what gets you hooked, but then you crave more (and I have more). Soon you'll want AdWords help and a Facebook page. Then an ecommerce site or a newsletter. Whatever it is, I'll be ready to provide it to you.
If you're reading this and you think you need SEO, you do. But be prepared for a realization that it's a lot more than just keyword research and a few nicely placed links. It's a machine that grows and grows, and you'd better be ready to keep up with it.