It is human nature to want simple solutions to complex problems. Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to push a button to get whatever results you were hoping for? That is rarely how it works. There are no magic silver bullets, especially in SEO and most other ways of promoting your business online.
At first, SEO may seem very simple: Create a page about something, make sure the page contains enough of the right words to describe the topic, and get some other sites to link to it, right? Well, no. Google claims to have over 200 ranking factors and that simple process only covers a few of them. And it isn’t just a matter of ticking the checkboxes on what you believe or what SEO experts think are the most important factors. All those things that influence the search results are intertwined and are often dependent on each other. No matter how thoroughly your SEO person explains those relationships and what they mean to your website, it will still only scratch the surface of the complexity. As frustrating as that may be, achieving good search visibility is rarely a simple step by step process. is only going to increase your frustration.
There may not be a single magical bullet, but there is one thing you can do to make SEO work better, whether you are doing it yourself or working with an SEO professional:
Always keep “the big picture” in mind.
While your on-page SEO and off-site marketing may have some issues that are a higher priority than others – maybe you have a lot of duplicated content on your site, or maybe you don’t have as many good links to your site as your competitors – no single thing is likely to be the one magic bullet that will make the other issues irrelevant. Doing just the easy stuff and hoping the difficult things will fix themselves is not going to work. The word optimize means to make something as effective, perfect, or useful as possible. If you knowingly do something only in part, it is not optimized.
Here is an example of this:
Your SEO consultant tells you that your earlier link building efforts have triggered a penalty from Google, which seems to have impacted the entire site. He also says over half of your website content is either poorly written or copied from somewhere else (that $5 per blog post thing didn’t work out very well). There are also some formatting and other code issues with the site that are hindering its ability to rank well. You know that those links all came from a link building service which is able to remove all of them, so you get the spammers to remove all of those links and think “problem solved” – but it isn’t. The penalty may indeed be the biggest, ugliest problem, but all of those other things are still there, still causing problems with Google.
So you now have the following options:
- Spend the time and money required to improve all of the known issues.
- Fix the next easiest to fix problem and hope that one thing makes everything better.
- Hire someone who will tell you only what you want to hear: “All you have to do is ____”.
Option 1 will work. It may take longer or be more difficult than you’d like, but it will work.
Option 2 may work. Putting forth the minimum effort in small increments can sometimes work if you are very lucky. Most of the time, that list of issues shown in your SEO audit is not a menu. You do not have the luxury of picking just one thing and working only on that.
Option 3 will likely end up costing more in the long run and may even be a set back. If you have not dealt with the very real things that are holding your website down in the search results, seemingly easy solutions like pointing more not-so-great links to the site are not likely to help – no matter how special that new link builder told you they are.
It is true that the tiniest details can be extremely important when optimizing a website.
It is also true that all of those details add up in the big picture.