There are really no “secrets” to SEO success. We SEO professionals aren’t sitting on a magic formula that will catapult your website to the top of the SERPs if only you have enough of a budget to convince us to tell you. The basics structure of a sound SEO program will be fairly similar from one website to another; keyword research, onsite optimization, link building, content marketing and social media marketing are essentials for just about any website. That being said, there is no “one size fits all” SEO program because each website, business, and industry is different. Your website has different assets that can be leveraged for SEO, different online marketing goals, and is targeting a slightly different audience with different values than even your closest competitor. All of these factors and more mean your SEO program is going to vary from any other site online. Looking for a “one size fits all” SEO program isn’t going to help you find/create an SEO program that is right for your website and will actually help your online brand rise above the clutter.
These are three of the most common questions I get asked from prospective SEO clients that tells me the site owners are looking for a “one size fits all” SEO program. My answer to these three questions and others like it — it depends.
How much content is enough content?
There is no such thing as the “right” amount of content — it’s however much content your company needs to connect with your target audience, build your industry authority, attract links and social signals and more. I should point out that quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to your content marketing. 3 fluff blog posts a day aren’t going to provide any more real value to your SEO program than 2 well researched and well-written posts each week. Yes, the freshness of your content does factor into the search algorithm but what good is fresh content if it is boring or bland? In an interview I did a few months back, Internet marketing expert Jordan Kasteler said “Having filler content, even if it’s just quick commentary on a curated and relevant story, can help keep readers pleased.” Filler content is just that, filler posts between your high quality content so make sure you aren’t relying on curated content to do the heavy lifting! In my opinion content is what is going to push your SEO program to the next level but how much is needed to get there is really up to you and want your audience expects.
How many links will it take to get the top of the SERPs?
If I knew the answer to that I would have retired a long time ago! I wish I could tell prospective clients that they only need 3,482 links to rank number one in Google. But think about it — what happens when you and your top two competitors all have 3,482 links? 3 different companies can’t all rank number 1 at the same time so clearly there is more to doing well in the SERPs than just having the most inbound links. I will say this though, traditional link building is still a cornerstone of any solid SEO program and it’s something that is mostly manual, time consuming and forever. My advice to site owners that are short on time or patience has always been to look for at least one new quality back link a day — it’ll keep things moving forward and the right kind of links can generate activity and beget more links that you don’t have to work too hard for.
What percentage of my traffic should come from organic search?
A few of my full service SEO clients are big, well-known brands and a huge chunk of their traffic from organic search uses branded keywords to find them. This doesn’t mean that their SEO isn’t working; it just tells me that their other forms of marketing do a good job at getting people thinking about and searching for their company by name. Obviously if you’re investing in an SEO program you want to see the percentage of traffic coming from organic search growing over time but I would caution you to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. What if an algorithm update comes down the pipeline and your website gets caught in the crossfire? Can you survive if 80% of your traffic vanishes overnight? In my opinion it’s good to have a balance between organic traffic, direct traffic, and traffic from referral sites because it leaves your site less vulnerable to dramatic changes.
No, there are no secrets to SEO success (and any SEO firm saying they know something the rest of us don’t is selling something!), but that doesn’t mean that any old SEO program will work for your website. Even if something worked really well for the competition there is no guarantee that you’ll see similar results. As frustrating as it may be to hear, whenever a prospective SEO client starts asking me questions like the ones above I always have to start my response with, “well, that depends on a few things…” Make the most out of SEO and build a program that is designed to help your website succeed!
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Boston SEO agency Brick Marketing. With over 13 years of industry experience Nick Stamolis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.