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There Is No Such Thing As SEO Magic

Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes

When people ask me about SEO for the first time, I often get the impression they’re expecting to hear something about “SEO Magic” – something – one small thing that will instantaneously fast-track them to the top of search results and make their phone start ringing.

SEO Magic Doesn’t Exist

SEO is about hundreds of small things that add up to success or failure. It’s rarely about just one thing. When it is, it’s usually the result of a mistake

Photo of a city skyline partitioned into hundreds of small parts by what appears to be a grid overlay.  Used on the there is not SEO magic bullet blog post.

Image thanks to Steven Eisen on Flickr

or oversight. A good example is when a single tag, a robots tag, is not set properly and Google is deterred from indexing your website content. Google doesn’t search the Internet, it searches it’s own proprietary index of the Web. If you want to turn up in search results, Google has to index you first.

But even in this extreme example, when the switch gets flipped there still might still be hundreds of other things that are wrong, contributing to your low ranking and performance. By flipping the switch, you will have effectively given search engines permission to index your site. That doesn’t mean you’ll rank for the terms that are important to your business. Nor does it mean you’ll convince people to pick up the phone and call you. SEO is about a long list of things and this photo is a subset of the one prior, showing a single column of photos cropped from the original.

I wish I could tell you SEO was quick and easy but it’s not. SEO is about a long list of things and this photo is a subset of the one prior, showing a single column of photos cropped from the original.The most common scenario is a website with a long list of shortcomings that need to be addressed in order to improve its performance and rankings. Shortcomings usually include things like:

  • improving the back-end architecture of your website (the design and code elements that make your site findable and indexable by search engines);
  • creating content that is relevant and influential, meaning content that uses the same language as your peers, prospects and customers while, at the same time, convincing them to do something like call you, link to you, or share or bookmark your content.

SEO is hard work. It’s also a slow process.

What You Can Do

There are definitely some things you can do to help yourself. The best thing you can do is to start blogging. I wrote a post about “why blog”, but ultimately it’s about putting the words on your site that people search for, and building trust, confidence and popularity with your audience.

Something you can’t do for yourself but I always recommend is a SEO audit. An audit identifies the things that are being done well and where there is room for improvement. It allows us to determine what will get you the biggest bang for your buck and help you prioritize the work. It gives you, the client, far better control over the situation and your wallet.

If, for example, your site falls short in terms of it’s perceived popularity and authority, efforts can center on link-building and blogging. Those things signal popularity and authority to Google. If you have problems with your site architecture – how the site has been built – we’ll work on that first. The point is, we figure out what needs improving and prioritize those things. If something is working well, we leave it alone.

Don’t Forget About Your Audience

If there’s any magic at all to SEO, it’s about doing what’s right for your audience. People sometimes get so caught up in trying to please search engines, they forget about who they should be trying to help – their audience.

And Google’s aware of that too. As complex as their ranking algorithm is, ultimately it’s about Google trying to make sure it gives it’s audience the best results possible. They know they have to keep searchers happy in order to maintain their market position. You have to keep your audience happy in order to maintain a viable business too.

Always prioritize your audience over search engines.

SEO is about keeping your focus on the audience. This photo is a subset of the one prior, showing two cells cropped from the original photo.

People come to your website to find information and solve problems. They rarely make an instantaneous decision to do business with you. You have to earn their trust and confidence by providing them with the information they want and need. Often, blogging enables that.

The Bottom Line

There is no SEO magic. It’s hard work and it takes a long time. You have to satisfy search engines AND your intended audience. There isn’t a checklist for that, and there aren’t any right or wrong answers. Ask your SEO for advice and use your best judgment. Do what you think is best for you, your business and your best prospects and customers. If there’s a question, err on the side of satisfying visitors first.

So what do you think? Do you agree? Do you still think there might be some secret weapon I’m not telling you about? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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Philadelphia SEO Consultant Donna Duncan

Donna Duncan is an SEO and content marketing consultant with 10+ years experience helping small businesses improve their website visibility and profit. Donna practices white-hat SEO and stays current with Google algorithm updates and industry best practices.

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This small business SEO blog offers free advice, best practices, how-to's, and examples for small business owners, marketing managers, and content writers who want to rank at the top of Google search results. Contact me for a free consult. Follow me on social media (top right) for helpful news, tips, and advice.

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