Why SEO Is No Longer A Commodity

What you will learn: Why pre-packaged, canned SEO programs no longer work.

Who should read this article: Marketing leadership.

In the early days of SEO, best practices were rather uniform and regimented. For instance, adding specific keyword phrases in certain Web page areas at particular intervals a specific number of times would usually yield results. Structure, consistency and meticulous execution were the names of the game.

Because of this uniformity, it was possible to hire technically adept SEOs that basically executed the same campaign for every client, regardless of the company’s business — and certainly, in those early days, current SEO performance was not much of a factor in laying out a campaign because companies didn’t have an SEO history.

These canned, prepackaged, formulaic SEO campaigns are the residue of the early years of SEO. They are no longer effective. Why are they still offered?

  • Companies that have not stayed current with developing trends in SEO think they still work.
  • Unscrupulous SEOs capitalize on this misconception and offer package deals as a way to make easy money.
  • Well-intentioned SEOs bundle services as an attempt to help a high volume of smaller clients — but the results are seldom, if ever, up to par.

Why Packaged SEO Deals Fail

Viewing SEO as a commodity, where technicians pull a preset system of magic levers behind the scenes to put a company on Google page one, is a pipe dream. Many reasons explain why customized SEO campaigns are required today. These are the most important:

  • Google’s organic search algorithm is far more sophisticated today. It can detect formulaic SEO techniques used to manipulate its system. When these formulaic techniques are identified, the associated content is ignored, devalued, or in some cases, penalized.
  • Google places great emphasis on the quality of content, and its algorithm is able to detect it. Thus, a company must put meaning, uniqueness and relevance into its content — a task that cannot be commoditized.
  • Organic search is no longer monolithic. Google users sometimes look for general results, but also look for results in specific categories such as news, images, video, etc. Depending on a company’s business, content assets and other factors, certain types of content present the best opportunities for optimization.
  • As noted earlier, companies today have SEO history. Depending on a client’s current SEO strength and the strength of competitors, an entirely different approach will be needed to widen the gap where competitive advantages exist, and close it where the client is lagging. There is no formula to determine this; the SEO agency must conduct careful research and analysis to shape the campaign strategy.
  • Certain subspecialties within SEO have become crucially important for many businesses. Consider:
    • Companies in localized markets (e.g., dental practices, restaurants) must deploy local SEO campaigns rather than generalized SEO campaigns. Local SEO has a unique set of best practices that is quite extensive and unique.
    • National or global companies seeking to expand SEO presence in various local markets must also employ local SEO campaigns.
    • Mobile search optimization has become extremely important to most companies, especially those with a large volume of mobile traffic. As mobile devices continue to displace desktops as the preferred method of Internet access, virtually every business will need a mobile SEO strategy fitted to its specific audience and keyword requirements.
    • Companies in a global market — with multiple websites and/or having multiple brands — need customized enterprise SEO campaigns to prevent their domains from competing against one another, cannibalizing the company’s business; implement multilanguage optimization; and, prevent self-destructive duplicate content issues. Far too complex for any cookie-cutter SEO solution!

In today’s SEO landscape, the first steps for every company include:

  • Conducting keyword and competitive research.
  • Developing a customized SEO strategy based on those results.

Anything less guarantees mediocre results and wasted SEO investment. The good news is, with the right campaign, SEO continues to be a highly promising driver of qualified website traffic, sales leads and online revenue — making it well worth the investment.

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