One of the mistakes that I still sometimes see people making when they are new to the world of online optimization, is attempting to focus on too many things at once. This might mean trying to optimize for too many keywords per page, trying to offer too many promotions or trying to draw the eyes to too many features. These people forget that when you try to make everything "the most important thing" you actually end up making nothing important at all.
Rohit Bhargava makes this point beautifully in a short, simply analogy today at his blog.
A drum solo is a tricky thing. There are no other instruments, and typically no melody ... only rhythm. You have to bring the audience into the rhythm and engage them in the beat. The problem with most drum solos is that they are overly complicated and indulgent - with the drummer focusing more on demonstrating the speed and skill with which he (or she) can play rather than offering a beat that audiences can connect with. There are moments in most drum solos where the drummer gets a beat, people start clapping along, and it's a nice moment. We all know what happens next. The drummer switches the beat, you stop clapping because you lose the connection, and now you are just watching a performance again. Marketing is exactly the same as the drum solo. If you focus too much on your own story - you will end up only appealing to the drummers in your audience who understand you and listen between the lines.
Rohit comes at this from the point of trying to demonstrate too many things to the customer at once. He explains that when you move from delivering the goods to simply trying to dazzle and impress them, you end up accomplishing neither.
It's an excellent point in terms of marketing, but it also carries over to search engine optimization.
At it's very basic level, search engine optimization still requires focus. Yes, you can optimize for unlimited phrases and for the keyword long tail, but you can only do it by having a large site with lots of unique content. You simply cannot optimize for twenty, ten or even five competitive phrases on a single page of your site.
Because as soon as you try, you end up telling the search engines something like this...
Web site: "Hey Search Engine, this page is about X."
Search Engine: "Ok, the page is about X, duly noted."
Web site: "Hey search engine...this page is also about Y."
Search engine: "Umm, ok...this page is about X and Y, duly noted."
Web site: "Hey search engine! This page is also about Q."
Search engine: <impatiently> "Arg...ok, so your page is about X, Y and Q, I got it."
Web site: "Hey search engine, did I mention my page is about R?"
Search engine: <aggravated> "What? R? Ok...whatever...so your site is about X, Y, Q and R." <loud grumbling>
Web site: "Hey search engine..."
Search engine: <interrupting> "What!? What now?!"
Web site: "umm....my web page...did I um, mention it's also about C?"
Search engine: "Go away kid, quite wasting my time!"
You see, people (and search engines want to be like people) can only recognize so many things as being special, unique, or important. We laugh at the lame, feel-good types that try to tell you "everyone is special" without realizing the irony of their statement...but then we turn around and do the same thing with our web sites.
You can't optimize for every phrase and you can't try to direct your visitors to every offer or area on your site.
Learn to focus and reap the rewards that come from it.
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