Are You Falling Asleep at the SEO Wheel?

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A recent post here on SEJ by Alan Bleiweiss certainly got the comments flowing. If you haven’t read it yet, “Get Over Yourself – Matt Cutts Did Not Just Kill Another SEO Kitten” is a great read and Alan makes some fantastic points—but the thing that stood out of me the most isn’t actually in the post itself; it’s in one his replies to a comment.

My concern is getting people to wake up and realize it’s their operating while asleep at the wheel (regardless of WHY they are asleep) that’s the bigger problem and the underlying cause of so many failings related to SEO…

I have to say that I think Alan hit the nail on the head with his asleep at the wheel comment. Site owners that put their SEO on autopilot tend to be the ones that are ultimately dissatisfied with SEO (how many times have you heard “SEO doesn’t work!” from a disgruntled site owner?) or, even worse, are the ones that eventually get whacked with a black, white and furry penalty. No matter what SEO tools or software you use (and there are plenty of both that can make your SEO load a lot lighter) falling asleep at the SEO wheel is only going to cause you trouble in the long run.

You might be asleep at the SEO wheel if you are guilty of one of the following things:

Links for links sake.

In spite of Penguin, I still see plenty of sites and site owners that are on the hunt for any link they can get their hands on. White, black, grey—it doesn’t matter as long as they get a link of the deal in the end. And while I admire the dedication these site owners have to growing their link profile I hope they realize sooner rather than later that they are playing with fire. Yes, it is very easy to push link building to the backburner and go weeks without actively building quality links but you have to remember that everything else you do to grow your brand online, including social media marketing and content marketing, is naturally developing and attracting links with time.

Some site owners or marketing managers might set a link quote for themselves to help ensure they aren’t letting their link building slide but the flip side of that is forcing yourself to create a link when you’d be better off passing and looking for a more valuable linking opportunity. Stop getting links just ‘cause and focus on quality links that will actually drive targeted traffic over to your site.

Guest blog posts for all!

There is no shortage of reasons why guest blogging is a fantastic addition to any SEO campaign but my concern is that guest blogging will become the next link exchange if we aren’t careful. Just because a site will accept your guest blog post that doesn’t mean you should publish it there. Think before you post! Does this blog get any actual traffic (doesn’t have to be much as long as it’s real and targeted!) or is it just a link farm disguised as a blog? Will writing for this blog help grow your industry authority? Does this blog even target the right audience? Does the blogger have a solid social media presence? If you are just starting your guest blogging campaign chances are you won’t be invited to write for the high-profile industry blogs just yet but that doesn’t mean you should publish on any site that will have you. You’re (hopefully) taking the time and effort to write a great blog post; doesn’t it deserve a decent site to live on?

News, news, news!

Alan’s SEJ post was primarily about online press releases and their value (or lack thereof) so I figure it’s just best to quote him on this one:

REAL Press releases, that communicate TRULY time sensitive  newsworthy information, have, and always will be a valuable means of spreading information that deserves to be spread.  REAL press releases don’t get written purely for the links.  REAL press releases are designed to communicate with legitimate news people.   REAL press releases are designed to let others know valid updated information.

If you have REAL news that is worthy of REAL press than an online press release is a great tactic from both a pure marketing as well as an SEO perspective. But publishing a dozen “press releases” each month that don’t actually have anything to say just to get the links is classic SEO auto-pilot.

1 tweet every 3 months.

I love when a site owner comes to me and says “Yeah, social media just really hasn’t been working for us” and when I visit their profiles it’s obvious as to why—they don’t do anything with it! Having a Twitter or Facebook profile is only step one in a very long term process; you actually have to do something with it to make it worthwhile. One tweet every 3 months and a Facebook update around the holidays doesn’t really count as social media marketing…it doesn’t even really count as social media usage as far as I’m concerned. You get out of social media what you put into it so don’t expect one Facebook post to send a flood of brand loyalists to your site overnight.

SEO, just like the rest of your marketing, is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. Yes, there are a lot of ways you can automate or streamline some of the more time consuming tasks but you still have to be involved in what is going on with your SEO campaign! If you want your SEO to work for you then you have to get to work.

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry,... Read Full Bio
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis

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  • Sahil

    Hey Nick! That’s a really great advice for autopilot SEOs, They are the ones who just think building links by blackhat, greyhat or whitehat techniques (occasionally) will either keep the serp rank for the targeted keywords constant or increase by a negligible margin. These men focus on coming up with keyword optimized individual landing pages for each keyword and build links to those pages using the same rich anchor text all the time. They really have no idea about how to provide value back to their users and hence the clients. People don’t realize that SEO is not all about links, links and links.

  • Matt Giovanisci

    I agree that a lot of site owners will hire other companies to do SEO and get mad when it doesn’t work. People have different views of what SEO is and it can be frustrating.

    What I find frustrating is the lack of a good post about basic link building. I have found a few, but it just leads people on a wild goose chase. There has to be some clear, and actionable post to get the job done. And the biggest problem with SEO is the short win – there are none.

    You can’t create a good post and expect it to rank soon enough so that you know you’re doing the right thing. That annoys me and I end up waiting and constantly checking my ranking. When i move down, it’s deflating. When I move up, it’s great. When it takes FOREVER for those things to occur: it’s boring and I give up.

  • Ken

    Excellent post. This is true that SEO is quite frustrating work and most of the big SEO company outsource the SEO work to others and in this way they can get some bad response. If you have good link builders, that does not mean that you are going to rank well, there are many things you need to check and balance to get ranked higher !
    Thank you

    • Matt Giovanisci

      What else besides link building do you really need though? Assuming on-page SEO is taken care of.

  • Chris Hughbanks

    This is an excellent post! Matt made a good point of how site owners and fellow SEO’s feel though. To those site owners I say this, if you do what needs to be done and keep doing it, the results will come, even if it’s eventually.

  • Eilidh MacRae

    Some thought provoking points! It is my belief that any site owners looking to link build should produce quality brand new content their selves in order to make the most out of link building.

  • Simon T

    Link building is just one part of of the digital marketing mix but Google seems to love links from social media and I expect Google + and proof of authorship to carry extra weighting in 2013.

  • Paul Sykes

    Hi Nick
    Nice article – Ideally I would remind all clients that this is the essence of good SEO. Don’t do stuff because it is easy and to hand, but think about what really works for your brand and business then apply it rigourously.