January 2014 – Issue 1

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I would go on to eventually spend the majority of my free time engaged in a never ending turf war for valuable search result placements. Am I on page 1 now? How about now? What about now? Often times I was on the first results page for a monster search query and it would pay off. Sometimes good keywords would be complete duds. That sucked.

Over time I learned that SEO wasn’t just a battle against competitors, it was a battle against the search engines themselves. Every so often Google would tweak the algorithm and banish companies big and small to Internet purgatory. One day people found you and the next day they didn’t. That was the catch to free leads, not that I really ever considered the time spent to generate them to be free. Trying to beat the system was like playing Russian Roulette. I was amazed to see how many ISOs, funders, and lead generators were out there SEOing it up just to get a small piece of the action even if their tricks lasted for only a short period of time. When the party would end, they would just fire the SEO guy and hire another one to pick up the pieces and go back into battle all over again.

Google Search

There’s a problem with that strategy in 2014. Google and other search engines have grown tired of the game. The rules have changed so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if your “SEO guy” has any idea what’s going on anymore. Once your website gets run into the ground through manipulative tactics, you can’t recover from it…ever. For the most part if Google determines that you were doing something unnatural to rank better, they’ll make sure you never rank well again. Tell them you’re sorry, they won’t care. Blame it on someone else and they won’t care. Submitting a reconsideration request and disavowing bad links might help get you out of a penalty but it doesn’t mean you’ll be back on page 1 anytime soon. Once you’re gone, you’re pretty much gone.

What is page 1 in 2014 anyway? It doesn’t really even exist anymore, at least not the way it used to. If you and I google the same keyword, there’s a huge chance we’ll get different results. Page 1 is all relative. Are you on a desktop or a mobile device? Are you logged into Gmail? What have you searched for previously? Who are you friends with online? What country are you in? What state? What city? What block? All of these things and more factor into the results we are presented with. If someone tells you today that they’ll get you to the first page of Google, ask them what the hell they’re talking about.

SEO is not dead, but your SEO guy might be. If his or her only job is to “rank your site”, Google will happily begin planning your funeral. Optimization in this era goes hand in hand with your overall marketing plan. If anything you do is meant to increase “rankings” rather than increase customers, you’re doing it wrong. Call a meeting and ask yourselves, if there were no such thing as organic search results, how would business owners in need of capital find your site? Your ideas might not work out the way you initially plan, but there’s nothing wrong with a little trial and error. At the very least, your SEO guy’s job will be to make sure your site is optimized for conversions and that it is compliant and readable by search engines. Execute a successful comprehensive marketing campaign that doesn’t focus on search and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll benefit in search. That’s the way the wind is blowing in 2014.

I’ve run a few websites in my time day and I still do. One viral story can outperform the traffic produced by an entire SEO team in India over 6 months. Once you’ve made it happen, you’ll get that feeling I did almost 4 years ago, that you are somehow cheating the system. Except you won’t be.

“New Form Submission | DBA: xxxxxxxxx”

Feels good, doesn’t it?. There’s no substitute for good marketing and if you treat the customer right, they’ll find that there’s no substitute for you either. DF

For a good read on the new era of SEO, I personally recommend buying Google Semantic Search by David Amerland. If not for yourself, then for your marketing team.

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