Shawn Manaher

SEO Isn’t A One-Time Thing

seoWhen I meet with clients for the first time to talk about optimizing their site for search, the main goal is to teach them about search engine optimization.  What it means, what it is, what they have to do, what I have to do, etc, etc.  Most of the time people already know the results of good SEO work.  They’ll get more traffic to their site, they’ll get more exposure, they’ll make more money.

The trick is explaining both what SEO is and what it isn’t.  One thing that makes people successful at doing this professionally is their ability to manage client expectations.  Working against them are misunderstandings of what SEO is and lies that may have been told to them by other SEO “professionals”.  SEO should really be called SEO management because it isn’t a one-shot deal.

Well There Are Some One-Shot Tasks

I don’t want to make this out to be post about how SEO has to be a long-term commitment.  Yes overall it is an ongoing effort.  A constant battle between a business that wants to be prevalent in search and search companies constantly working to make their results better.  There are also market trends that are uncontrollable that influence the methods and content a business uses to perform well in search.

With all that being true, there are some things that can be done to a website and then probably not looked at again for a while.  I like to call these foundational tasks or things that you have to do in order for all the other SEO work you do to work well.

For example making sure a site has:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions are present and of optimal length
  • That there is a sitemap and a robots file
  • That page response codes are not throwing excessive 404s or any 500s
  • That images on the site have alt text
  • That authorship is configured on the domain
  • That pages of a site are optimized for target keywords

There are probably others that I’m not mentioning here but you get the idea.  Unless you’re changing content on pages all the time or moving your site, you probably aren’t going to have to change these elements very often.

long-term-seoThe Long-Term Part

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO or if you are looking for someone to do it for you, you should know that good SEO is for the long-haul.  The foundational elements listed above are necessary if they aren’t configured right but they are just the base-line.

One of the reasons that SEO can be expensive, tedious and time consuming is because real SEO is boring, tedious and time consuming.  There aren’t many people who know how to do it well and even if they do, it takes a while to see results.  It also takes sustained effort to keep up progress.

Here are some common tasks that can easily take many months or years of effort to do right:

  • Building Links
  • Blogging
  • Reconfiguration of content architecture
  • Social optimization

Link building for example is one of those things where there are quick and dirty tasks you can do to a website but the trade-off is potentially being de-indexed or having your work thrown out when an algorithm starts ignoring your site.

To get traction from a blog, it can take months or years’ worth of posts to develop a following.  Just ask the folks over at Moz how long it took them to see results.  Naturally it won’t take nearly as long to rank one post for a target phrase but to build authority overall takes time.

An On-going Effort

long-roadEven though there are things you can do one time and not do again for a while, that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do them over, improve them or change them for some reason.  Search engines are constantly changing.  Google changes its algorithm hundreds of times each year.

In order for site to rank well in search, it is heavily dependent on how a search engine works and if that keeps changing, so should the website.  There are many basic components that don’t change very often but there are others that change frequently.

SEO Is A Practice

I’ve come to the conclusion that like medicine or law, SEO is a practice.  One can never really know everything because what was true one day may not be true the next.  It is Google’s mission or organize the world’s information and serve users data that is extremely relevant to what they seek and the questions they ask.  As they and other search engine companies get better at that, businesses marketing their sites in search must constantly find new ways to facilitate that process.

What has your experience with SEO been like?  Join in the conversation by commenting below.  

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