Focus On What You CAN Control in SEO

Honest-SEO-Ch02.0-BreakSearch engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of your business’s digital marketing strategy in today’s online landscape—however, it can feel frustrating and difficult to control. It takes a lot of time and effort to begin to see results, and you may implement new tactics without knowing whether they’ll really make a difference or not. 

The nature of marketing is that there is a lot you can’t control. If you go in having a mindset of needing control, you will focus on the wrong things and won’t get very far. You can’t control people’s behavior, and marketing is all about influencing people in hopes that they’ll pay attention to your brand and ultimately do business with you. Instead, you have to focus on what you can control. 

The truth is many businesses aren’t doing SEO well at all, either making little effort or focusing on the wrong things. If you understand what you can and can’t control and maximize your efforts in areas you have control over, you’ll see much better results. Any effort you put into something outside of your control is wasted. All you can do is choose how to respond to those circumstances.

Here are a few areas outside of your control:

What people search for. While it’s important to research and recognize search trends so you can customize your keywords accordingly, you can’t make people search for the keywords you choose. 

When Google’s algorithms change. This constantly changing algorithm can be intimidating, knowing that your strategy will have to continuously adjust. And there’s little you can do to prepare, beyond having a mindset of adaptability. It’s a waste of time to try to predict what Google is going to do next. Instead, focus on what works right now, and be ready to respond and adapt when the algorithm does inevitably change. That may mean updating older posts and adjusting your SEO strategy to fit the new rules.

What your competitors are doing. If you’re trying to rank for particularly competitive keywords, it can be frustrating to see the top spots held by strong competitors you know will be difficult to beat. Maybe they’re even using strategies that are well outside of your marketing budget to achieve their results. You can analyze your competitors in order to learn from what they’re doing well and to find places where you can out-compete them, but you shouldn’t let this distract you from your own digital marketing strategy. If you put too much effort into competing, you may end up neglecting another vital area of your strategy.

Who links to your website. Again, since you can’t control the behavior of others, you can’t force them to link to your site. You also can’t prevent negative or spammy links, though you can keep an eye out for them and have them taken down. The best way to gain excellent backlinks is through providing great content people want to link to. 

Reviews on your business on your Google My Business listing. Reviews are federally protected in the U.S., and they’re a valuable tool for businesses. From a consumer’s perspective, you probably appreciate the reviews people leave when you’re considering buying a product or engaging with a business. You can’t control what people say when they leave a review, and as long as the review is genuine, you won’t be able to get it taken down, either. You can respond to reviews, but you can’t fabricate reviews or force people to give them. The best way to get great reviews is to provide excellent service and to ask happy customers or clients to leave positive feedback. 

Providing great service and having a strong digital marketing strategy will get you the best results, and to do those things, you have to focus on what you can control. All of the items mentioned above are things that will work in your favor if you focus on doing well in areas you have influence over. 

Here are a few of the key things you can control:

Create an awesome brand. You can’t become successful in digital marketing without a strong brand to build your marketing strategy on. When you put the work in to create a brand that people want to engage with and that’s easy to promote, many things you can’t control will fall into place. 

Have a lightning-fast website. Loading speed and other technical aspects of your website are vital to your success in SEO. It doesn’t matter how great your website is or what you’re offering if your website doesn’t load quickly, because users won’t stick around long enough to see it. Your loading speed and other technical aspects of your website will also affect the way Google ranks your content, because user experience is a priority for Google. 

Invest in epic content. The content on your website is the main reason people visit it—it’s what attracts users in the first place, and it’s the largest factor Google uses to rank your content. If you can consistently beat your competitors in the content you publish, you can beat them on the search results page. Great content also encourages people to link to your website, because when they provide something useful, they’re more likely to share it.

Provide excellent customer service and encourage reviews. Providing a great experience for your customers or clients is essential to a great marketing strategy, because happy customers are some of your best promoters. One of the most effective forms of marketing is mouth-to-mouth, because people are more likely to trust personal recommendations. You can also ask your satisfied customers to leave five-star reviews—often asking is all it takes.

Build a social media following and create email lists. There’s more to digital marketing than SEO alone—play all the notes on the marketing piano. Every level of marketing affects SEO, because the more popular your brand becomes and the more people search for it, the higher you will rank with Google’s algorithm. 

By focusing on the things you can control, you will have better SEO than most businesses do already, and the things you can’t control will begin to fall into place.

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Jason Hennessey

Jason Hennessey is an internationally-recognized SEO expert, speaker, and serial entrepreneur whose ethos of “educate and empower” has earned him a reputation for excellence in digital marketing.

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