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Maintaining Focus as an SEO Professional
By Eric Lander - December 04, 2001

Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is an amazing industry to be involved in, and I think it is safe to say most optimization specialists know that. It is obvious that every SEO stands behind their work and will do as much as they possible can to make things happen for the positive. While that attitude is great, it is easily to become too involved and too lost in the shuffle to maintain a successful SEO organization.

When an optimization specialist first focuses on any project, there is an abundance of research work that should be done so that the best plans can be proposed and later implemented. That plan's research and implementation will likely take a substantial amount of both time and energy. It is at this point, that many SEO’s become married to their projects – and also where business operations begin to suffer.

Let’s start off with the basics for any business offering services. Their goal is to use their expertise to provide quality services for a fee. That fee covers the plan, business overhead, and future developments. And, as is the case with any business: More clients and business typically leads to reputation and company growth.

In order to make an organization grow though, there must be some very clear plans emplace with thanks to the executive officers and business owners. In my professional experience (within SEO as well as other IT services) specialists often get too wrapped up in the duties they perform for clients, and let internal things fall by the wayside.

The essence here lies within the ability to get too involved with sites for your clientele, to the point that your own online presence suffers. Sounds nearly impossible, but we have all had experience with “big-name-dot-coms” that we just need to continue tweaking every little facet of the page according to up-to-the-minute information. While the client sure won’t argue – you do have your own site to continuously maintain. Even if you are just one SEO in a team of many, you need to always lend the advantages to your own site and online presence. That is after all, how you retain most of your business.

While the idea of this may seem elementary, think of the unfortunate consequences. If you perform Search Engine Optimization as a service, and ‘net users cannot find your site listed prominently within searches for that phrase…. How likely are they to spend money on your services?

Staying on top of things is truly very simple within this industry… just as long as you realize you cannot be restricted to a 40-hour workweek.

When you work as an SEO, you need to find ways to save time and energy while maximizing efficiency and securing quality. Cutting corners simply cannot be tolerated to achieve maximum results! I suggest SEOs take some time when they are not tremendously busy and document their routines and habits. By doing so, they are able to notice some trends of how time is spent. Another product of process documentation is that others can easily jump in your role as needed and understand how to go about their work.

Documenting optimization routines also ensures that clients are all equally treated. This is critical to an organization that offers services that are similarly priced for all clientele. Now, while I have not met a single SEO that can afford the time to over-analyze everything for a client’s site, their pride and effectiveness is always at stake. In order to retain that pride and maintain effectiveness throughout the campaign – requires discipline. Know when to move on to something new, and know when your work is done. With such effectiveness constantly in mind, it becomes second nature for any SEO to maintain these standards time and time again.

The results of a well organized and structure optimization plan will always yield more effectiveness and less time involvement, while allowing any excess time to be devoted to the pride and joy… Your own website.

Some tips that I have accumulated over time that set the approach I use:

Document Everything
Before and After Rankings, Submission Details, Continuous Rank Changes, etc.

Avoid the “All in One” Tools
Any application that builds out META Tags, submits sites, performs ranking analysis, and resubmits… is just scary. If one thing goes wrong in the process, then it can likely infect the rest of the process down the line.

Follow Tried-and-True Steps
Again, these are from my own experience, and just how I like to go at things initially:

1) Research things carefully (Industries, Keywords, Competitors, etc.)
2) Write down your optimization plans
3) Ask another SEO to review them and make suggestions
4) Devise the final plan
5) Perform the site optimization
6) Perform hand submissions
7) Find a way to automate and report ranking changes over time
8) Move on to the next project

Revisit the Optimization
Once you have gotten your initial projects taken care of, read up on the latest SE changes and patterns. Find what should be implemented based on success, and get it done on your own site. Watch traffic stats and logs, and make sure targeted visitors are coming in. If they are, leave it as is – your job is done (for now anyways).

Retain the most Positive Outlook
No matter how trying a project may seem – just think of how the efforts of one SEO can alter the future of a client’s online presence forever. If you approach an optimization project with a skeptical view of the outcome, you will never meet or exceed your goals. Expect the best from your work, and don’t settle for second best. Remember, if you let up for just one second, that’s the best rank you will finish with.