To start off with a simple statement, SEO has gotten harder. Some will agree with me, others not – this will ultimately show when/how you got introduced to it and your own path within the industry.
Regardless of which direction you come at this, there is much to distract you from running an efficient & successful SEO campaign. You’ve got to be on your “A Game” & ensure that your time is well spent.
Below are some of the distractions which I’ve personally wrestled with the most over the years some all-important guiding thoughts to get you through it.
1. Hearsay & conjecture
I’ll start with the “fun” one here. I think no one would really have a problem if I said that I could spend at least 80% of my day-job reading about different theories & thoughts about SEO on blogs and forums.
Going out on more a limb is the assertion that over half of that time will be consuming conflicting information – and even less will provide any real help to my campaigns. This isn’t nearly as arrogant as it sounds! I don’t refuse read anything else that anyone has written on SEO (far from it), I’m just more than aware how much of a distraction this kind of content can be.
There are no shortage of case studies & experience which have shown interesting results and help change our perceptions of what works & what doesn’t. The main issue is how little of this kind of research is transferable onto other sites and projects. There may opportunity to learn from it, but don’t zig-zag between approaches because others have told you to.
What’s more, for those who agency experience, you’ll have no doubt come across the “friend who does SEO”. Their input could likely be just as valid as yours, but theirs is often a distraction that doesn’t fit into your campaign, your roadmap or wider strategy – just be careful where you let this kind of external hearsay & conjecture take you.
Be clear on what you know (possibly more clearer on what you don’t) and build a campaign which is straightforward and easy to understand.
Help clients & stakeholders to relate to what you’re doing and why, and you’ll find it much, much easier to state focused.
SEO, whilst complex to outsiders is still a simple process at a high-level. Help clients & stakeholders to relate to what you’re doing & why, and you’ll find it much, much easier to state focused and stop distractions getting in the way.
2. Poor web/development infrastructure
A robust SEO (or digital) strategy is often only as good as the platform(s) they’re built on and in my experience this can more often place larger companies at a disadvantage. Cantankerous, old & bloated websites can be the bane of any SEO’s campaign. What is often a larger issue is when the development support process is linked to this problem.
Put another way, a “legacy” CMS which is out of date means that the development team need to be fluent in “best practice” for a bad/old system – which compounds the problem dramatically. What’s more, when you enter a scenario like this it’s often symptomatic of a wider problem, why or how did things get this bad in the first place?
a “legacy” CMS which is out of date means that the development team need to be fluent in “best practice” for a bad/old system
When all is said and done issues like these are part of the campaign you have to deal with, the difference between a good SEO and a distracted one is how you’re able to work around the problem. Do you accept that the problem not fixable and get resentful at your current situation, or do you try to work around it? To pick one example, Google Tag Manager, when implemented correctly has been a real ally for frustrated SEOs who need to make changes when they’re not easily done.
3. Internal power struggles
The benefits of a well-managed SEO campaign aren’t beyond company politics, far from it. This is not a distraction related to SEO over any other kind of activity, however, I’ve seen large amounts of time & effort wasted on a project because it didn’t line up with a narrative somewhere in the organisation was creating.
What many don’t realise is that the problems that “just SEO” can solve are far-reaching and the strategic implications go beyond where many first imagine. If you are brought in to work your “magic” and then insist that the “web” strategy for the last 2 years is wrong – you’re going to cause some friction.
When you are brought in to work your “magic” and then insist that the “web” strategy for the last 2 years is wrong – you’re going to cause some friction.
Anyone working in-house for any period will feel this more acutely, but an SEO who can side-step this form of distraction has to be a better diplomat than a “guru’ if they want to see their recommendations put into place.
4. Prejudices Against SEO
I’ll keep this one short, because I’m well beyond arguing my corner here – good SEOs are worth a hell of a lot of money something that many are too quick to write-off based on bad previous experiences.
… if you ask a neighbour to fix a leak and your kitchen ends up flooding, you don’t write-off plumbers altogether
Put another way, if you ask a neighbour to fix a leak and your kitchen ends up flooding, you don’t write-off plumbers altogether do you? If you encounter this mind-set in any campaign you’re running, invest the time in breaking down any prejudice – a constant air of suspicion on your activities or motives will only sap from and undermine the campaign in the long-term.
5. SEO Tools
I love SEO Tools, I really do. But over the last few years I’ve had to really ask a few tough questions about what they actually mean for my day job and more importantly, the campaigns that I manage.
Like most SEOs I have a load of “go to” options here which really make the difference, but if I’m honest nearly half the tools I’ve used in the past have been a bit of a luxury. If I put my hand on my heart I would say that too many tools out there simply invoke the “Huh, that’s interesting” response, but give little ways of really improving what it is I do.
… many tools out there simply invoke the “Huh, that’s interesting” response
This isn’t to say my thoughts on this are applicable to everyone, I’m not so naive to believe that the reason why some tools don’t provide a lot of value is because I’m not in the position to use the data or put into practice what they’re giving me. Certain tools work for certain jobs, and that’s the point – use the right tool for the right job.
The cost of tool mis-management is far-beyond the “death by monthly payments” scenario, think of the time and money you’re wasting on tools which won’t provide an ounce of extra, actionable input.
6. On-Page Technical SEO
Given my background, this one might feel a touch controversial – why on earth would I open up a large part of my job to criticism by claiming that it’s a distraction? Well I look at on page technical SEO work in two ways:
- The work which makes the difference
- The work which wastes you time
Some people may argue that the benefit of hindsight is what shows you whether you’re wasting your time or not, but I think I’ve gotten enough experience to know what a time-wasting SEO recommendation looks like.
Getting a website “100% perfect” is a goal for many, particularly those who want to go for bragging rights. Being told a handful of title tags are a few characters too long, or maybe that there are some low-quality links in your backlink profile may make some people feel insecure, but you have to be real about what this means.
Technical SEO work which makes a real difference to how Google crawls & assesses your site is essential, the work which is done because of some false sense of “best practice”, could in-fact be damaging because of the distraction in causes.
… work which is done because of some false comfort in “best practice”, could be damaging
If your site is solid, the navigation is crawlable, your main target pages have quality content and you’re not throwing up a load of errors, you’re winning the on-page battle.
Are you tweaking meta descriptions when what you really need is some high quality external links? Maybe you’re heading in the wrong direction!
So what distracts you?
Knowing what a distraction is can be tricky, if only because one person’s distraction is another’s way of working. But what burdens have you eased of by doing things differently?