When Do You Pull The Plug On A Keyword?

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Some of us SEOs work on clients websites. Some of us work on our own. Some of us, maybe many of us do both. There comes a point, in certain projects where things seem to either take a stale position or you seem to have less progress than what you may have hoped for. When do you choose to move on from a keyword you’ve been working on optimizing?

This post is really a question to the SEO community which, in my opinion, maybe a very hard one to answer. Maybe to some of you it’s an easy one to answer. Have you ever worked on a website where you put so much effort and work but the keyword you’re optimizing for just won’t get to where you need it to be?

We all know SEO takes time, but the question comes into play, specifically when dealing with a client’s website, how much time is enough? How much time is too much time?  In this economy, time is of the essence. While most of us understand the complexity of what is search engine optimization, a client, for the most part (if you’re not that lucky) understands that they are paying you to make a keyword rank. That’s it. It’s that simple. It should be, so they think, right?

Over the past two years, I’ve been working on a website in which its niche is VERY COMPETITIVE to say the least. We’re talking about going up against million of other websites and besides the amount of competition, this niche is very web savvy. What does that mean? I got my work cut out for me. While the client understands the competitive nature and the nature of the search engines, there is still a sense of ‘get it done.’ I even put more pressure on myself than the client does. I actually think I care more. This is what I do…this is what I love. You never want to fail at anything like this, and with SEO, reputation is on the line.

Granted to say I would never call my example here as failing. I got the site for an extremely competitive keyword to ranking in positions 10-12 currently (tends to swing within those ranges). Nevertheless, a task was given to me and I took it. Some great progress was made and I continue to work on this project which takes a lot of work and time.

How much is enough time to get the site to a place I think we can get it to?  Solid link building tactics are in place and better quality content (I should say more sources of content) are being distributed. It is definitely about persistence and understanding your niche. But again, if you’ve been working on optimizing a keyword for a few months and rankings aren’t changing, do you keep working on that keyword or are you better off choosing another keyword to optimize?

When working on a client’s website, you should always have their best interest in mind. I think many SEOs really do. Less competitive and lower search volume keywords really may be the way to go after a while without any real success.

I once came to the conclusion of letting the client know we would be better off optimizing their website for another keyword that would be less competitive but at the end of the day and even in the long run, their ROI would be very positive. So, what did I do?

I set up a search marketing campaign in Google with 4 keyword possibilities I thought would work well for them. We started the campaign and within a week, I showed them the traffic and conversions to the page. Adwords was such a useful tool to determine what keyword phrase we would want the client ranking for in order for them to be happy, satisfied, and know I was working towards something that would work for them, eventually.

Have you worked towards ranking for a keyword / phrase for a long period of time? If so, if the results weren’t what you expected, what did you do next?

Pablo Palatnik
Pablo Palatnik is the author of the blog PalatnikFactor, focusing on all things Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization specialist for Fortune3, a shopping cart... Read Full Bio
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