2019 has been a year of change in the world of SEO and Google Local Search. So was 2018, and 2017, and… The point is that if you are going to invest in SEO, which can be incredibly successful when done right, you need to be ready for change. In fact, I wrote this post originally back in 2017 and am revisiting and updating because most is still true today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The fundamentals of SEO have been the same since I started in this industry in 2006 before the iPhone existed, but the details and technology have improved, and with that we must make adjustments. This year has underlined that even more with small businesses. Though the major factors for ranking well haven’t changed much in over a decade, the weight each one has, and Google’s ability to measure and punish have changed considerably.
The fact is, though only some Google updates get their own names and headlines in the paper, Google is constantly updating their algorithm these days and getting better, in their minds, at their business of presenting the best search results for their users. Just this summer we have had people in the industry about which of the clear tremors in rankings symbols were big updates vs. normal changes and tweaks from Google. In fact, even some of the bigger updates in the past year seem to have shown some indecision and back and forth from Google, with those hit by one suddenly being boosted back by the next.
Often, and even more in recent months, algorithms roll out slowly, maybe from geography to geography, or industry to industry, or even from search to search. Sometimes certain aspects of an SEO plan are more important to big businesses or certain industries than others. In fact, Marcus Tober of Search Metrics discontinued his annual search factors study simply because he believes that doing by industry is much more effective. There is enough fluctuation from industry to industry and search to search, that the answers may be different from one to the next, and the priorities may shift. This makes the job more individualized for each client and even each page of a client site. Every search is different and it has reached the point where a good SEO has to approach it that way.
As Google keeps making changes to what is important, often different aspects of your website become more important and you need to be able to adjust your SEO plan on the fly. One of my strengths as an SEO specialist is staying on top of the latest trends, adjusting to them, and translating into whether you need to make a change in focus right away. We can change strategies on a month to month basis and we do. This is something that is very difficult for corporate providers to do. First of all, they aren’t paying as close attention to shifts in the algorithm, and secondly, and worse for your bottom line, is that they typically provide packaged universal plans that don’t adapt and don’t separate you from their other clients, which is the whole point of search marketing. You want to be the choice that is made when your clients search.
Keep that in mind when working with an SEO provider. They shouldn’t have your plan set in stone a year out. They should revisit what you are doing each month and communicate shifts that you or they are going to be doing to make you more competitive. Since it is your site, you should be a part of that. Though we do our best to do the heavy lifting for you when changes are based on content, this is how you are presenting yourself to your clientele, so you need to be a part of it. It may take many more hours out of my month when changes lead to phone calls and developing new content than when we can keep moving forward with more traditional measures, but it is important that we are able to do that, so if you start trending downward, we can turn it around right away, and not a year down the line. Also, we know how to turn it around because we are paying attention.
Embrace change. That is what allows us to set our clients apart from the rest. If it was always the same old formula, you could just throw money at it and it would go away. Changes let the good guys outsmart the others. We are the good guys.