Trying to figure out how Google ranks web pages for organic search is a lot like reading tea leaves. For obvious reasons, Google does not share the specifics of its search algorithm, leaving it to SEOs to analyze and interpret a confounding, oceanic mishmash of data.
SEOs, even when using good research methodologies, can reach the wrong conclusions. A company that acts on those conclusions in its SEO campaign, thinking it has discovered something new, might be too smart for its own good. Instead of improving the campaign, the campaign may drop in effectiveness — or worse.
Being Too Smart Can Really Smart!
A good case in point is the back-and-forth thinking on backlinks as an important ranking factor. Going back a couple of years, a lot of SEOs were suggesting Google had devalued links as a ranking factor. However, if companies took that insight too much to heart, shifting away from link building entirely or to a high degree, they hurt themselves. Preferring the conservative approach, we resisted the temptation to make too radical of a shift, and we’re glad we did after reading several very solid analyses in 2016 indicating backlinks were still the most important Google ranking factor.
Another area where companies squandered resources by overreacting occurred when Google began promoting Google Authorship — a hot initiative from a few years ago that is now dead. If an SEO campaign dropped everything to concentrate on building its Authorship program, it probably wishes now it had stuck to link building and other time-tested techniques.
How to Be Smart Enough to Not Outsmart Yourself
For any given SEO topic, you can find tons of contradictory opinions and research. The trick is to know what to believe and what not to believe. Here are some ways we do that at Straight North:
- We invest a lot in our data collection and analytics platforms. By using our data, which is extensive, we have a high degree of confidence in its accuracy, a clear understanding of where the data came from, and perhaps most important, an appreciation for what the data isn’t telling us.
- It’s important to be forward thinking and conservative at the same time in any SEO campaign. If you shut your eyes to new SEO developments, you run a real risk of using outdated, truly ineffective techniques — same problem as when you get ahead of the curve. By sifting through the new developments, knowing which SEO authorities have solid research, we can slowly but surely isolate the real innovations and then mix them into campaigns.
- It’s also imperative to avoid “magic bullet” thinking. SEO has been around for decades, and there has never been a shortcut to success — when all is said and done, Google’s algorithm has evolved at a slow and methodical pace. This pattern is likely to continue.
Looking for a better approach to SEO in your business? Please contact us now!