I’m continuing to have a lot of conversations about the devastating impact that Google’s Organic algorithm updates have had on the bottom lines of some businesses. It’s disheartening to hear stories of business owners, online marketers, and webmasters who, many without deep understanding (though some clearly knew, or looked the other way, what was going on to attain such high rankings), followed the advice of non-best practices’ SEO specialists and now have previously top-ranking web pages drowning in obscurity beyond page 3 in Google’s Natural Search Results – with traffic falling to below half of what it once was.
In my day-to-day work talking to so many online marketers about their websites, I sometimes begin to feel like an old-fashioned schoolmarm lecturing about the need to follow the rules (and Google’s Guidelines) of Best Practices. But, then I have the kinds of bleak conversations about traffic and revenue losses as described above, and I’m reinvigorated to extol the work that I know will be most beneficial for these websites’ longevity.
- Nothing is free or easy: Organic traffic is not free. It’s expensive. It requires hard work, expertise, and lots of time and resources. You may not literally pay per click in Natural Results, but if you believe that traffic is free, you’re setting yourself up for a perspective that you don’t need to invest in it, and I think that’s why so many people try to cut corners.
- It’s not about keywords and rankings: Even as 2014 comes to a close, I still encounter people who are concerned solely about their rankings – especially for every possible keyword variation they can imagine. Granted, if you don’t rank for relevant keywords, then you won’t be found and able to drive qualified traffic and business to your site. But the operative words there are relevant and qualified. Ranking for the sake of ranking for keywords that are only loosely, at best, relevant to the intention of a qualified visitor are a fool’s goal. SEO isn’t about haphazard volume, it’s about being the most thematically relevant within your specific niche and driving traffic that intends to engage with your firm.
- Good SEO is good for users too: I’m tired of hearing people say, “Well, I did that because it’s what the search engines (or Google) wanted.” In reality, if it’s not good for users, it’s not good for search engines. If you do something just to “rank” that goes against UX (user experience) best practices, you’re really sabotaging your entire effort to drive meaningful business with SEO.
- SEO isn’t dead: Organic search can drive upward of 50% of a business’s online traffic. Presence there is a necessity. No matter how much people tout social media (which is still vitally important to driving audience engagement and a halo effect of brand affinity and interest) and other channels as being nails in the coffin of traditional SEO, it’s just hysteria, not fact. Social, even in the best cases, will only drive a fraction of the actual traffic volume that search does – and those behaviors aren’t showing any signs of change as social is now entering a more mature, less “new kid on the block” phase. So stop believing the hype about SEO being less important in today’s multichannel online landscape. Need more proof? Consider those who have been impacted by algorithm updates and lost most of their Organic traffic … are they decrying the death of SEO? Or lamenting their loss of presence there?
For more on this topic, including actionable advice and solutions for improving your SEO success, check out our recent webinar: SEO: Tips for Staying Ahead of Google Updates.