Is Your SEO Killing It or Getting Killed?

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Is Your SEO Killing It or Getting Killed? | SEJ

“Movement is life.” In the movie World War Z, those were the words Brad Pitt’s character spoke to a family who opted to barricade themselves into their apartment rather than seeking to be rescued with him. To be fair, they had a good thing going: a few weapons, some food, and even beer. For them, movement was the unknown. Staying put kept them in their comfort zone, where they felt protected.

It also got them killed.

In SEO and even web marketing in general, staying put can have similarly disastrous effects on your business.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a gentleman in a LinkedIn group. The question posed was “How long does SEO take?” This is the answer that got my attention: “If you know what you are doing, you can get top three results…overnight.”

While I’m a 16+ year veteran in the industry, I also know I’m not always the smartest guy in the room. But this was a new one to me. Overnight?

Well, it turns out the example used showed extremely low search volume in Google. Ok, that makes sense. So, spending a few hours to optimize a page on your site for low hanging fruit can often yield near immediate results in the search engines. But there is more to successful SEO than going after the low-hanging fruit. If you want to survive, grow, and thrive, you have to compete with the big(ger) boys.

Web Marketing Never Sleeps: How to Stay Awake, Alert, and Alive

Managing a web marketing campaign effectively is like trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. If The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how holed up you are, eventually you will find yourself in danger.

Is Your SEO Killing It or Getting Killed? | SEJ

The SEO you do today can be solid and effective. It should even continue to provide value as time passes. But eventually, if you’re not actively maintaining and improving your optimization efforts, you will find yourself losing the momentum that carried you to your current level of success. When you lose that momentum, you may still be going forward, but others begin to catch up.

Be Content But Not Complacent

There is something to be said about being content in life. I try to teach this principle to my kids. Be content with what you have, but never be complacent. What does that mean? It means you should be happy with what you have or where you are in life, but also always seek to improve.

I always want our clients to be happy with our SEO and web marketing efforts. But at the same time, we can’t expect them to continue to pay us if we sit back and rest on our past successes. Our goal is to build success on top of success. Each success brings new excitement and, for the client, new business. But we can’t stop, lest we lose those very successes we worked so hard to achieve.

Look For More Keywords to Target

In my 16 years of doing SEO, I’ve only had a couple of clients run out of keywords to target. Of course, they were all hyper-niche industries where there wasn’t a lot of topical room to explore.

Most sites we work with have thousands upon thousands of keywords to target. They have a number of topics from which they can extract new keywords, and each of those topics provide the opportunity to focus down even further. Many of these topics and keywords come from questions people are asking about your industry. Monitoring social media can help you determine what those questions are, and you can then use your blog to answer those questions and showcase your expertise. The result of this is ranking for keywords your audience is really interested in and searching for.

Don’t Rely on Yesterday’s Algorithms Today

Algorithms change on a regular basis. While search engines routinely roll out algorithm changes that ding spammy SEO tactics, there are still legitimate tactics that become less and less valuable over time. Some may lose their potency all together. Not because they are wrong or bad, but because the search engines no longer see the value in them. There was once a time when being listed in the Yahoo! Directory mattered. Today, the Yahoo! Directory is dead.

When past SEO strategies no longer provide value, that strategy needs to be replaced by a newer tactic. The smart SEO is one who is holistic in their online marketing efforts. When you spread your focus among many factors, you are less impacted when the value of one factor changes. Stay aggressive in all areas of building your web presence and you’ll stay ahead of just about every algorithm adjustment.

Grow Your Online Marketing With the Algorithms of the Future

There once was a time when your CSS and JavaScript didn’t have an impact on your rankings. Now Google wants to see them and may ding your site if you keep them hidden. Remember when your site being secure had no impact on your SEO? Yeah, that was just a few months ago! Now Google factors in site security into the algorithm. It’s a small factor now, but it will likely grow as more sites go secure.

If you’re not keeping up on your SEO, you’ll completely miss new factors like these. Your rankings will slowly start to decline, and you’ll be wondering why, with such solid SEO in place, you’re moving in the wrong direction.

Be Aware of Everyday Site Changes

Very few web sites are in a state of completeness. Whether it’s new pages being added, old pages or products removed, new blog posts published, or new coding implemented, websites evolve. With every change comes the possibility of something going wrong. Regular site checks are important to ensure these regular maintenance changes don’t produce a problem in your otherwise perfectly optimized website.

Keep an eye on Google Webmaster tools, run frequent broken link checks, and even consider architecture tools like Microsoft IIS. These three alone will give you a wealth of information you can use to keep your site in tip-top shape.

Always Be Thriving

Is Your SEO Killing It or Getting Killed? | SEJ

SEO that isn’t keeping up with algorithm changes and seizing new keyword opportunities will fall behind. In fact, even SEO that is growing can fall behind purely on the basis of a competitor investing more into their SEO efforts than you. The more aggressive you are at keeping up, the more likely you are to stay ahead of the competition. Because if your SEO isn’t killing it, it’s only a matter of time before it’s getting killed.

Image Credits

Featured Image: canburak via Flickr
Image #1: eonuk via Flickr
Image #2: Thomas Tolkien via Flickr

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!, and President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading web presence optimization firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Follow him on Twitter: @StoneyD.
Stoney G deGeyter
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  • Instead of focusing so much on the search engines and the algorithms, focus on what your target audience wants. After all, that’s the purpose of the search algorithm too- to give searchers the best possible experience/result.

    • I agree, but you can’t ignore site architecture issues. Visitors don’t really care about such things, except those that hinder them reaching their goals. But that’s most of what SEO is, finding all the things that are visitor (including search engine spiders) impediments and fixing them.

  • Very good read and incredibly thought-provoking. It highlights to me the need to keep on moving with the industry and i only wish clients would read this and then maybe they would realise the work that needs to keep being put in to continue to achieve good rankings and that it isn’t a “do it once and forget about it” thing!

    • I agree, clients want soemthing, but they are often their worst enemy in achieving it. Unwilling to do–or allow the SEOs to do–what it takes.

  • Great piece, Stoney. I try to keep my SEO fresh as often as possible. We are so content focused. What are your thoughts on how many words each article should have compare to blogs?

    • I have no thoughts on the number of words. To me, content, whether it’s a blog post, article, product page or product category page should be as long as is needed to do what the page is intended to do. No more, no less.

  • John

    Great thoughts Stoney. Thumbs up.

  • Andrew Dennis

    Great article Stoney, loved the zombie references!

    I couldn’t agree more that SEO is an ongoing investment. For some reason, many people believe that once you start ranking for your top keywords you’ve achieved success and you can sit back and start reaping the benefits. However, in order to maintain that position (or as you mentioned expand your search visibility into other keywords/phrases) you need to keep working.

    Similar to other forms of marketing, you can’t expert the same results if you stop investing in SEO. If you’re not actively working to improve your SEO, you can be sure your competition is filling that gap and gaining ground on you.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Thanks Andrew! If you’re not moving forward in SEO then you’re moving backward… because someone is catching up to you!

    • I agree this is a common mistake that many websites are making these days. Just because your website has ranked for certain keywords doesn’t mean you are done your website has to evolve. Furthermore if you don’t have a strong foundation (a marked up website template) then you can improve this greatly.

  • Thanks for the reminders Stoney.
    I was thinking I could rank some pages overnight! haha
    Funny the kinds of things clients ask and people claim in response. Not only is it kinda pointless, but also nonsensical to ask about SEO and “how long” “much many visitors” etc. Of course with extensive experience in one industry you could make some guesses, but ultimately there are so many variables. Best just to improve the existing :> and not claim you can part water!

    • Yup. I just started telling my potential clients that we want to get them from zero to awesome as quickly as possible. When they want to start with a lower budget we just let them know that just means it’ll take longer to get to awesome.

  • steve.plunkett

    Look For More Keywords to Target =)

  • kant

    Focusing on SEO is good but before that focusing on quality of the content.

  • Stoney, you’re absolutely right. SEO is progressing at a rate where it’s unwise to stagnate. Keeping tabs on algorithms is a great way to stay ahead of the pack, and it should always have an influence into what you write.

    Recently, though, I realised that if your content is geared correctly towards the right kind of customers, then the SEO kind of follows suit. Google has been changing its algorithms to better reflect how humans search, so if we make content that meets the searcher’s needs, the SEO should flow naturally out of that, right? I mean, as long as we’re observing and keeping to the guidelines, we can keep working to the ranking.

    What are your thoughts for the future of SEO? Knowing the direction it’s tending to has to have some kind of impact on what we do now, right?

    Best,
    Brooke.

    • The more we seek to please the visitor the better our sites will do. If Google just wants to deliver results that the searchers want, if we give searchers what they want, we’ll be in a better position for top rankings.

  • Hey
    first off i want to say thank you for the great read.
    as far as seo goes i believe it takes about a year for you to truly see results…..(my opinion of course)
    With that being said…
    i don’t think seo is any good unless, you have an audience…
    if you are a new blogger i think guest blogging is where it is at if you want to improve your seo..
    And again thank you for the great read

    jason