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Why Great SEO Can’t Promise Great Results

SEO is a dicey and unpredictable world full of uncertainty. Even if you follow all the rules, you still aren’t assured of moving a single notch in the rankings space. At least not on the time table you’d prefer – which for most of us, is instant.

Think of SEO as a full-scale long distance race. Don’t aim to be the road runner; be the turtle instead. SEO turtles are slow, methodical, sturdy, and persistent. They understand the race will bring challenges and hurdles. But they never, ever give up.

Don’t Believe the Hype – There are No Guarantees

As you embark on your SEO adventure, it’s imperative that you be very mindful about those you trust to lead your charge. Many business owners reach out to SEO professionals to help them implement short and long term strategies, and for good reason – trying to decipher this ever-changing landscape is a full-time job.

If you come across a contractor or firm that guarantees results, be very, very wary. SEO is not an exact science, and if someone is promising you top rankings, or any level of movement, they have no tangible proof to back up their claims.

Why can’t we promise our efforts result in higher traffic and revenues? Let’s examine the most relevant factors.

#1 – Competition

The single most volatile aspect of SEO is the intense competitive landscape. Depending on your industry, you have dozens to hundreds and maybe even thousands of competitors, and you’re all vying for the same or similar keywords. Even if you’re rocking your SEO, your competition may be even better. SEO professionals can’t possibly guarantee that your competition won’t leap frog ahead of you.

Don’t be disheartened by your competition, however – be inspired. The presence of our competitors helps guarantee we are on our “A” game, and prevents us from getting lazy. This in turn helps us reach our highest potential as business owners. Keep that tough turtle shell going, and even rockstar competitors will be a blessing.

#2 – Know Your Link Partners

Another major ding in the world of SEO lies in link building. Your SEO team or firm may advocate mass submissions to link directories worldwide, but you need to do your homework before you allow someone to link to your site. Whatever reputation your potential partners have becomes your reputation when you link in either direction.

Many business owners with the best of intentions merrily submit their site for inclusion in directories that are essentially glorified spam listings. It’s not a matter of if Google discovers such things – it’s when. Don’t let all your hard work via on-site SEO fall like a house of cards because of ill-fated link partners.

How do you know who’s legit? Follow the advice of Google search specialist Matt Cutts:

“Does the directory reject urls? If every url passes a review, the directory gets closer to just a list of links or a free-for-all link site.

What is the quality of urls in the directory? Suppose a site rejects 25% of submissions, but the urls that are accepted/listed are still quite low-quality or spammy. That doesn’t speak well to the quality of the directory.

If there is a fee, what’s the purpose of the fee? For a high-quality directory, the fee is primarily for the time/effort for someone to do a genuine evaluation of a url.”

#3 – Keywords: Don’t Stuff ‘em

Everyone knows how important keywords are. The ones you choose become a core part of your marketing efforts, across the board. As such, marketers are often guilty of plastering these keywords with a ridiculously high density. Not only does this bring zero rewards, it’s now a full-on Google sin.

Why is this so sinful? Because it’s a wretched user experience – your site copy should never ever be written for a bot. People first, please.

Let’s pretend you run a website that sells herbal teas. If your homepage read something like this:

“Welcome to Tina’s Tea House, the place to buy herbal teas! Herbal teas are a natural healthy choice and this is the best place to buy herbal teas! There’s no better way to feed your body and mind than with herbal teas, and we have the best herbal teas on earth.”

You get it – this is abysmal from a user perspective, and Google isn’t having it. Nor should you.

#4 – A Website That Epically Fails the Conversion Test

I’ve saved the best for last – conversions. Most SEO professionals spend less time helping you build great linking partners and Google rankings, and instead help you build a better website. While this should be common sense, the truth is folks get so focused on being the best in Google’s eyes that they forget it’s the website that matters.

Yes, great websites help SEO. More importantly, great websites mean high conversions, a fantastic user experience, and impressive profits. If you embark on a masterful SEO plan, successfully driving new users in droves to your site, you’ll waste your efforts completely if your website can’t convert.

Make your website the best it can be before you go full-scale into off-site SEO. Then, alert the masses. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of time and effort with little to show.

Almost all of us are hot-to-trot on the best SEO techniques these days – that’s precisely why you read articles like these. While it’s important to know the latest trends and tactics, it’s just as crucial to manage your expectations, and to never fall for false or unattainable claims.

Just remember that Google, too, is a turtle – they are slow to notice all your hard work, and that means you need to stay consistent. Let your competitors be the ones who give up just before the tipping point. Keep your eye on the prize, follow the rules, and with a little luck, you will indeed with the SEO race.

Do you approach SEO from a long-term or short-term perspective? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

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