There is something about taking everyday life lessons and applying them to specific business situations. We often hear proverbs and anecdotes that we can apply throughout our daily routines, but until we hear them placed into a specific context we are often left with bumper-sticker philosophies that have little practical application.

Last week I presented a two part series of questions that SEOs and clients must ask themselves in order to work together to create a successful optimization campaign. Each of those questions could have been posed of anybody for any situation. But by looking at each specifically in the context of SEO we were able to create a thought process that allows for specific application of those questions in the SEO / client relationship.

DecisionsToday I want to take a set of guidelines about making good decisions and apply them to the SEO and business success environment. Every day SEOs and business owners looking for ways to improve their online exposure are faced with dozens of decisions. Any one of these decisions can breath life into a dying SEO campaign, push a successful campaign to greater success, or cause a site to crash and burn in the search results.

Here are the first five of ten decision-making guidelines that'll help you rock your SEO and SEM campaigns to success.

Never make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.

Rankings are volatile and frequently change as engines adjust their algorithms, new competition emerges and site changes are implemented. Sites that have held top positions for years can often find themselves displaced with the next algorithm update. Sometimes this can be a legitimate drop in relevance, while other times it can be a temporary snafu. Before making any sudden or permanent decisions, you must know the difference.

Every now and then we have a client that watches their rankings on a daily, if not hourly basis. If that ranking drops, for whatever reason, they are on the phone calling us to find out what's going on. Each time we stress the need for patience. Often times the adjustments are temporary and making any changes will be more likely to prevent the ranking from bouncing back.

At the same time, investigation is in order. When such changes happen, one must investigate the issue to determine if the change is a temporary glitch, or if it's the result of something else going on. Only once that determination has been made should any action be taken.

Don't let your emotions blind you to reason.

The business owner or the SEO (if they are different) can often find themselves heavily invested in achieving "top rankings". We've convinced ourselves that the only way to be successful is to have our keyword rank in the number one position. Logically, however, we know this isn't true. There are many different things that factor into success, and search engines are (or at least should be) just a small part of that. Nobody should place the whole of their business success in Google's hands. Especially considering the volatile nature of the search results.

While reason can tell us that the higher the ranking the more traffic you'll receive, but traffic alone is not what you're after. The most crucial thing to being successful is getting more sales while maintaining lower expenses. While you need to have traffic to get sales, increasing traffic isn't always the best way to achieve it.

This is especially true in SEO where targeting certain keywords may bring an abundance of traffic but low conversions and other keywords will bring lower traffic but greater conversion rates. Similarly, changing a title tag may cause a drop in rankings but may also be more compelling and entice more clicks to the site than the better ranking title tag generated.

SEO is about the big picture and we can't get wrapped up in the smaller issues. That's not to say that we should do nothing, but we must be reasonable about what is the right course of action and what action is truly producing the best results for the business.

Surround yourself with sharp people and draw on their gifts, without being intimidated by their expertise.

People are often intimidated by those who know more than themselves. In SEO this mentality can keep us away from seeking out people who may be able to help us in ways that we cannot achieve for ourselves.

In running an SEO firm, I strive to employ the "Robin Hood" model, at least as it was relayed to me by a friend who actually read the book! From what I understand, Robin Hood would not allow someone to be a part of his gang that couldn't beat him in a fight. In order to be successful, Robin Hood brought in only people who were better than him.

This principle applies throughout business and SEO. One person simply cannot have the monopoly on all SEO and web marketing knowledge. Therefore it is important to rely on others who know more and can do better than we ever could. With this model, I find that I learn many new things about SEO from those whom I employ or communicate with because they are in different trenches than I am. At the same time, they learn from my differing skills and expertise as well.

In some cases it's easy to find people to perform certain jobs, especially when we know we have little or no knowledge of that particular area. But in areas where we know we are strong, it's often difficult to bring in others who are just as strong, if not stronger. Especially when they have their own style and way of doing things. SEOs and business owners can benefit a great deal by finding people who's skills overlap and ideas can be bounced off each other, creating far more success than any one could do individually.

Take time to consider all options.

With all the options there are at any given moment of an SEO campaign, it is important that you take adequate time to consider each option carefully. While we can often get far on gut instinct, the first option isn't always the best option.

In SEO, there are times where one set of options will conflict with another leaving you to have to chose which is the best route forward. Other times you simply only want to implement one change or new campaign at a time in order to know what's effective and what's not. In these cases, proper decisions can be made only once all the options are presented and thought through.

Do you change a title tag? Increase or decrease keyword usage? Go out and get more links? Employ a social media campaign? Do you have the budget for one and not another? What is most likely to improve the results? Which is riskier?

These and many other questions must be asked and analyzed before moving forward with any one-single option. And once you decide to move forward, monitor carefully. If the results are negative, go back, undo, and try something different.

Choose your battles.

You can only do so much at a time. One of the things we come up against in performing SEO is budget vs. time. In SEO there are simply an unlimited number of options before you at any given time but you must pick and choose what you can and want to do.

In many cases the fight isn't so much about budget or time, but it's about approval. We often find we can do little more than make certain recommendations and then it's up to the client to do the rest. We can push hard and potentially sour a good relationship, or we can move on to other things that can and will be implemented.

Each decision must be weighted with the potential benefit, both in terms of immediate and long-term success for the optimization campaign and the client. Deciding what to do and when is as important as just about any other decision you can make.

Later this week I'll continue with Part II, providing five more decision making strategies that can be applied to creating a successful SEO campaign.

November 25, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


@ Becca - thanks for your comments. Not every article is for everyone, I get that. But sometimes you have to go off the beaten path for those that do get something from these.

The most important and first thing anybody should do before starting an seo campaign is selecting the proper keywords. Many times people target really "expensive" to rank keywords that provide thousands of daily hits but do not convert as much as easier more product/service targeted keywords!

Very nice stuff, you represented your thoughts by thinking out of the box... great post

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > How to Make Decisions That'll Rock Your SEO Campaign, Part I