The SEO story and challenge: What should you do?

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Recently one of my internet friends, with an excellent reputation and truly high-value content on his site, complained to me that he faces some difficult decisions. It seems a recent Google algorithm change penalizes infrequently sites with a significant number of infrequently visited pages. If you have a site with some pages with very high traffic and others that few view, the overall site will be pulled down — and that is costly to anyone who depends on Google’s search algorithms for traffic.

He says he may have to remove several dozens solid content pages, just to keep Google penalties off his back.

Frankly, I’m not sure if the story he describes is 100 per cent accurate. Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) is an often murky game of cat and mouse between SEO consultants and Google. Site owners want their sites to rank highly, of course. Google purportedly wants to prevent “gaming” of its systems by sites that are less than useful to viewers. And the issue of “infrequent page visits” seems complex to me in part because of my own SEO experience.

In some cases, things look quite logical. This Construction Marketing Ideas site, for a while, had number one spot on the search index and the top-ranking months generated lucrative inbound business opportunities. While I truly appreciated the leading rank with Google while it lasted, but equally understood how I lost it. Other, better funded and organized enterprises, created sites that would naturally appeal more to the Google algorithms. they had better domain names, content, and much more attractive back links.

However, for the past couple of years, one of my company’s regional construction sites has managed to hold its number one Google search rank through several algorithm changes. I won’t name it here to jinx it, but this site, while quite useful and relevant to the industry regionally is really not much better than any of our other regional sites, some of which have been around even longer.

I can see the impact on revenue. When we replace fixed price contract ads with Google AdSense, my AdSense revenue jumps quite significantly. Last month AdSense revenue reached a record monthly total in part because of year-end contract changes, which caused the site to default the Google ads. I’ve since reloaded the contract ads on this and other sites, and my AdSense revenue is declining quite significantly — but traffic/visitors to the site remains high along with its number one search ranking. (The contract ads generate far higher revenue than AdSense, so of course it makes sense to pull the Google ads in this situation.)

So, what should we do then about SEO?

First, I think some common sense SEO makes sense for everyone. If you can get to top spot for keywords directly relevant to your business and potential clients, you will see incredible gains and revenue benefits. Remember of course that different viewers may see different things, and it may be quite easy to achieve the top keyword ranking for words that don’t matter or are visited infrequently — while key combinations directly relevant to your business may be very competitive and almost impossible to reach.

If you are a residential contractor, you may find value in Brian Javelin’s My Online Toolbox service, where you can learn the fundamentals of a do-it-yourself approach to SEO directly. Even if you decide to contract the services out to him or someone else, at least you’ll understand the basics.

If you are in the ICI field, you may find worthy consultants through your relevant trade associations, conferences and events, or through connections with non-competitive competitors (perhaps a peer business in a distant market.)

I’d steer clear of any inbound offers especially the nasty spam that consistently infects my email box. (The problem is especially bad for me because we own several domains; it seems some of the smaller and specialized domains attract the most “spam” interest from supposedly personalized communications by SEO “experts” — I expect because these guys think we are relatively unsophisticated players who may bite at the opportunity.)

Finally, although I think there are merits in contracting or putting special effort into SEO, based on experience, I also know that simply producing good quality content closely tied to readership interest and relevance, will often do the trick without any excessive mechanisms. You can achieve good results by registering your site with Google Webmaster Tools and perhaps using a simple SEO plugin if you are working on a WordPress.org site. Heck, that has been good enough for me, at least for one of my major sites.

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