The search engine optimizer's work is almost never done. Only in very rare instances have I seen sites that have been optimized for every possible keyword phrase and is ranking well for all of them. But I also know that websites can reach a point where the vast majority of the optimization work has been done. All the low-hanging fruit has been gathered and the primary keywords have been optimized into the site properly. All that remains is the "upkeep" of the optimization efforts, the tweaking to squeeze out better performance and blazing new ground into the long-tail keywords.

Many site's reach this point of the optimization campaign while many of their keywords are not quite ranking as they hoped or want. This is the point of diminishing returns in SEO. More work won't necessarily improve the rankings in proportion to the effort it takes.

Can the site be made more search engine friendly? No.

Can I tweak the Titles, Descriptions and Copy any more to improve performance? Not Likely.

Can I add more internal keyword rich links to other pages? Already done.

But the competitor's gain! How? Why? What else can I do?

I've talked to many website owners about this very thing. Some see competitors climbing and want to make sure that they maintain dominance. Others feel that their rankings have plateaued and are looking for an explanation.

The solution is pretty simple, yet profound: Do more.

But didn't I just say that the SEO for the site has reached a point of diminishing returns? Why then would we continue to do the same thing over an over again when the ROI isn't there? Simple. Once the site (or any given web page) has been fully optimized, it's time to open a whole new drawer in the SEO and web marketing tool chest.

Step outside the SEO box

One of the things that concerns me most is when clients want to make sure that their competitors don't outpace them. They see competitors making headway but don't look deeply enough as to understand why. What is it that's allowing the competitors to gain so much ground? The first questions to ask is, what is the competitor doing beyond traditional SEO? How much time and money is being invested in their campaign?

Even with a mile head start, a runner moving at twice the speed as you will eventually overtake you. So what do you do? If you can't run faster, you have to run smarter. You have to open yourself up to new strategies, engage in leveraging new opportunities, and yes, you may have to invest more time and/or money in order to keep pace.

Beyond SEO and basic link building there are a few things that you can do to give yourself the extra push. The first is invest in link building or social media marketing. The idea here is to do, build or create something that is worthy of attention and can generate interest (and links) to your site. Social media and link campaigns can often get you a nice shot in the arm boost.

Good link building efforts are really just good marketing. Can you get a news show to take an interest in your product or service? Can your company do some community outreach and get a bit of recognition for it? Can you write some industry related tutorials that people find essential? Can you produce some video tips that get passed around and linked to from related blogs and industry sites? The opportunities here are really limitless.

Sometimes it just takes a little modification in your current strategy, but everything takes time. You have to move from optimization mode to the mode of doing something worth being noticed. You have to build a Destination Website.

Just keep making it better

The next point of action is to simply keep making your website better, building on customer service and visitor satisfaction. Build a library of tutorials, videos, helpful tips, links, and whatever else your audience would find helpful. This isn't necessarily social media worthy resources but they can set you up to be the place people go for industry info. You may not get any direct business out of creating a resource library, but you will get links, and those links will help fuel the rankings on your site.

The better resource your site is the more eyes, attention and links it will draw. Too many people think that there is nothing special about their industry. That may be true to the average person, but not to the person who needs what you offer. Use that need to your advantage. And if you still feel that your site isn't interesting, make it interesting.

Rankings are not eternal. There will always be someone out there investing more time, money and energy to beating you. Don't just assume that you deserve to hold those top positions. If your competitors are investing, then you should be investing more. If your competitors are making waves, then you need to make bigger waves. Find out what more you can do, and then build the strategy to make it happen. You don't have to neglect the SEO to expand your campaign, but you do have to think outside the SEO box.

October 1, 2009

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.


Great article Stoney! I like your focus on actually creating a better destination website as the main component of your SEO strategy. Creativity and understanding what people are looking for is key.

Hi Stoney!

This is a very fitting post. SEO is incredibly significant in getting visitors. Showing up on the 1st page of organic searches increases visits by 3 to 5 over visits from the 2nd search page. And, traffic or hits are equally important to generating and maintaining high ranking.

However, as you stated "keep making your website better" is the true key to blowing competitor's ranking out of the water. It's been said, content and relevancy is everything - PLUS regular additions and updating of relevant and captivating content. Satisfy these, and people will keep returning back to the website.

The formula? SEO + NEW visitors + RETURN visitors = High Ranking

Let's face it, I don't want to look at the same thing twice (let alone a 3rd time), nor does our audience.

Cheers, and thank you for the great post!

A great article and full of some great tips that a lot of people could take note of. I agree with you that creating a better website is the key to gaining more visitors and so is adding more content regularly to help with the rankings on search engines.

Hey Stoney!
Agree with you in all aspects of article. Internal linking is now more important then before.
Thanks for article

I think once a site is 100% optimized and ranking there is not much more you can do to further optimize that site unless you add more pages or new industry buzz words come out. The beauty of link building is that it kills many birds with one stone. Not only is needed for rankings but proactive link building will create many path ways leading into a website.

Spot on, webmasters sometimes fail to realise that SEO can take time and effort.
One thing webmasters need to remember to do is create backlinks to inner pages of their website and not just the main page.
Creating PR rankings of numerous pages of your site will massively benefit SEO.

Regarding the internal backlinks (from the comments above), I also agree to that statement, but not to the extent that it creates a 'black hole' like the one's in wikipedia. all links are internal, that's why the PR are just circulated within the site

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