During a recent conversation with a friend, I was struck by how similar SEO is to investment planning. People tend to take the same approaches to these subjects, with the most common being; 1. do nothing, 2. hire an expert to handle it for you, or 3. dig in and do it yourself. Let’s look at each in turn:
Bury your head in the sand. Obviously, the “do nothing” approach has one key benefit – it’s easy. Of course, it is also the least likely to yield tangible results. The most common reasons a person selects this approach are a lack of resources such as time or money, and that it’s too complicated. Sound familiar?
Hire a so-called “expert”. Many people recognize that SEO is important and hire an expert to handle it on their behalf. The challenges of this approach are similar to those you face when hiring a financial planner. You have to make sure you hire a skilled agent who uses respected practices, you have to ensure the agent understands your goals and has your best interests in mind, and you need to find a way to quantify the value generated by the agent on an ongoing basis. Not so easy, huh?
Do it yourself. This approach requires the most effort and can be daunting to many people. The primary benefit of this approach is that you are in control and can make your own decisions. Besides the desire to take control, people often adopt this approach because they are excited about the subject, the prospects of success, and wish to enhance their own expertise. The downside of this approach is that both SEO and investing are complex subjects, and you might make a few mistakes along the way.
So, what does all of this mean? We can easily apply some tried and true best practices from the world of investment planning to the domain of SEO. They are:
Get educated. Avail yourself of the many sources of valuable information. If you don’t know the basics, you won’t be able to make much progress by yourself, and you won’t know how to evaluate results. Start by perusing the content on reputable sites like searchengineland.com, and because SEO is constantly evolving, check in regularly for new tips.
Set goals. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, set some goals. A goal might be something like this: Increase my qualified search traffic by 10% by October 1. You might also use a proxy for this, such as the bounce rate of traffic that originated from search engines. If you adopt this approach, you could set a goal like this: Reduce the bounce rate of my search traffic by 10% by October while preserving the total amount of search traffic I receive. This goal describes your desire to improve the quality of your search traffic.
Start early. In financial planning, it’s good to start investing early because your investments benefit from compounding over time. In SEO, it’s good to start early because it takes time for your efforts to generate results. Even if you only do a little at a time, start today.
Diversify. There are many different elements to successful SEO, and you don’t want to just focus on one of them, like link building. You also need good, unique content and an outstanding user experience. It may make sense to tackle one thing at a time, but make sure you cover all the bases. Search engines change their algorithms regularly, and you want to make sure your SEO success is not strongly tied to any one technique that may go out of favor.
Use available tools. Use the tools that provide you with insight and guidance. Seek out tools that are affordable and easy to use and understand. When you’re just starting out, these tools will help to shape your thinking and should provide you with clear recommendations. Investment planning calculators serve this purpose in the financial domain. For SEO, there are tools like Alexa’s SEO Audit and Site Audit. With these, you can increase your site’s traffic and optimize its performance using our personalized, recommendations to improve SEO, site security and usability. Learn more by visiting www.alexa.com/tools.
With this approach, you’ll not only take meaningful strides toward reaching your audience and traffic goals, you’ll achieve much greater independence and control over the success of your site.