SEO: When Enough is Enough

in Internet Marketing,SEO

I’ve been talking to a number of companies about their search marketing goals over the past few months, and I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of people out there with an unhealthy and in most cases, ill-informed obsession with SEO. Recently, I had some dealings with an agency in Vancouver, BC. They asked me to have a look at a few of their client sites in an effort to identify opportunities for better rankings. After auditing a handful of their sites and providing some recommendations, they informed me that they wanted me to quote on specific activities, estimated hours of work, etc.

My response included a healthy reminder that SEO is a process, not a project. I ended up turning down the work, because I felt that their approach to internet marketing was short-sighted and contrary to the goal of developing defensible websites. While I was somewhat annoyed at having wasted a few hours of my time, the experience got me thinking about the disconnect that exists between people that understand the power of SEO as a distinct element within their marketing mix, and people that chase rankings for the sake of rankings.

What amused me most while looking at their sites was how incredibly well they were ranking. They were, on average, first page for all of their major terms across a small network of sites in a fairly competitive travel niche. Even more surprising was that they had next-to-no decent links from outside their own network of sites. I have to admit, I was shocked to see such impressive rankings built upon such a weak foundation.

At some point, it’s important to recognize that rankings for the sake of rankings are a wasted effort. Furthermore, good rankings built upon a foundation of low-quality links from within an easily identifiable network of partner sites will be short-lived at best. The goal of every forward-thinking publisher should be to build sites that are *not* solely dependent on search engine traffic. If you have top rankings for competitive keywords, and you still haven’t managed to acquire a self-reinforcing market position, you probably don’t deserve the rankings you’ve acquired in the first place.

I don’t consider myself a rockstar SEO on the level of @graywolf or @gregboser or @davenaylor or @aaronwall, but I’ve been in the trenches long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Trying to build a sustainable, profitable business on a short-sighted SEO strategy is a recipe for failure, plain and simple. If I owned the sites referenced above, my primary focus would be on converting my existing visitors into proper customers. In many cases, publishers do not need higher rankings and more traffic. They simply have to adapt their mindset to focus on conversion. Ciao for now, folks!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>