If there is any one reality to SEO, it’s that there are winners and losers. There are certain qualities that are necessary for any winning SEO strategy that can be broken down into the 4 Ps of SEO: proactive, persistence, perseverance, and patience.
Being proactive is fundamental to being a good SEO for a couple of key reasons:
Latency Effect Between Work and Results
Any SEO work done today likely won’t affect traffic or revenue today. When it comes to SEO there is a latency effect as new changes to your website or your off-site profile (backlinks, social activities, etc.) get indexed by the search engines and filter into the SERPs.
How long the latency period is depends on the situation. If you put up a new targeted page on your site that gets indexed quickly, you could indeed start to see some new traffic from new keywords within a day. If you’ve made a lot of sweeping on-site and off-site changes to your website, it might take a month to see the results you’re looking for.
The idea here is that it will almost always take longer than you would like to get the results you want from the activities you’re doing today, no matter how hard and smart you work. Think and plan ahead. Make sure you factor in the long-term into your day-to-day activities.
- Actionable tip: Use a calendar to plan all SEO activities ahead. Compare this on an ongoing basis against results tracking to make sure your plan is consistent with your SEO gains. This may also help you see whether you have space for innovation within your tactics.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
The other key point here is to be proactive as opposed to reactive – do your best to keep yourself ahead of the curve. Time and time again I see knee-jerk reactions to changes in the SERPs, and that is the worst thing you can do because new changes are made to the search algorithms all the time.
Firstly, you should have seen the changes coming and changed your strategy months ago. Secondly, if it’s already too late, you’re just going to need to accept reality and adjust your strategy accordingly.
You might be able to get back to where you were before, but it won’t happen overnight – sorry. Engaging in a huge flurry of SEO activity immediately following an algorithm update, for example, has a good chance of doing you more harm than good.
- Actionable tip: Meet with your team regularly to discuss the trends and whether your strategies require adjustment. Where do you see the industry in two years? Five years? Make sure your strategies are in line with long-term trends and are built to last. That way you’ll be more likely to ride out the future Panda-type algorithm updates with no trouble and stay ahead of the curve.
SEO isn’t something you can spend a few weeks doing, and then sit back and watch the money roll in. In just about any given niche, several or even dozens of other individuals or groups are attempting to beat you.
In competitive niches, the competition is going to be doing something every single day to reach that goal. Unless you’re doing the same or better, you’ll simply fail.
You need to work every single day at something that contributes to your SEO success. That could be something as simple as publishing new content or developing your branding, but it should all be considered within the scope of your global SEO strategy.
- Actionable tip: Work harder than the others! The minute you stop working is the minute you stop winning, even if it takes a few months for it to become apparent.
No matter how strong your SEO strategy is, you don’t control the SERPs, the search engines do. What that means, fundamentally, is that you’re investing resources into something you have absolutely no control over. Yes, you can influence it (sometimes very heavily), but you can’t control it.
What that lack of control means is a high potential for volatility. Inevitably, you’re SEO campaign is going to have highs and lows. You might have huge successes, with money pouring into the coffers, followed by catastrophic losses that set you back months or even years (think of some of the Panda losers).
OK, those are extreme cases, but you need to be prepared to not always be winning, and to ride out the tough times. Those who persevere in SEO are those who eventually win.
- Actionable tip: Ensure that you are prepared for possible periods of no-growth or decline. Preparedness will help you understand the reasons behind the poor performance, which in turn will help you to respond faster and more effectively to get back on track.
This is maybe the toughest of all the Ps. No one is really patient, especially in business – everyone has bills to pay, executives to report to, investors to satisfy… considering that financial planning typically works on a quarterly basis, it can often be difficult to justify SEO spend in one quarter when results might happen the next quarter.
The fact about SEO is that results happen on their own timetable, and that’s just the way it is. Results sometimes come later than expected, particularly if you are taking a softer, lower-risk approach.
You really want results next month? Sure, go ahead and build 200 new backlinks this week with the exact same anchor text for the big-money keyword… and see what happens (hint: don’t do that).
Want to win in SEO? Create a solid foundation and gradually – patiently – build on it.
- Actionable tip: Take the evening off and smoke a cigar. You’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow and if you’re smart about it, the eventual payoff might be big.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!