Small businesses are often left in the dark when it comes to which SEO strategies really work and which don’t. Online there is an onslaught of information freely available online, much of it contradictory. Small business owners who attempt to perform SEO for themselves are often left wondering “What strategies are more important than others? Which are worthless? How do you tell the difference?”
Slogging through SEO forums, blogs and article sites can provide a great deal of good information, but it can also leave the small business owner confused on what—or what not—to do. Last week, in an effort to bring to light those things that any small business owner shouldn’t be concerned about, I started counting down the top 10 things that a small business should never have to worry about regarding their SEO campaigns.
Though some of these fall under the “Duh!” category to seasoned search marketers, this is not the case for many unseasoned small business owners who are either confused or still following advice from 1999. Here I continue counting down to some what many would consider to be even more obvious things that are simply irrelevant and/or not worth thinking to much about. As obvious as they may be to some of us, I hope that this list does speak to those who most need it.
And as a bonus, I’ll end with the number one most important thing you should worry about.
5) Worrying about shifting rankings or temporary losses
Search engine rankings change. That’s just a fact of life. New sites are always going online, old sites are disappearing, new information is added to the web, and new competition with fresh marketing dollars emerges. Add to that the fact that search engines are always tweaking and adjusting their algorithms and you’ve got a search engine ranking roller coaster.
And you know what? There’s not a whole lot you can do about that. Now that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to any of your keyword rankings (though there are dozens of reasons why you shouldn’t). But if you’re compelled to monitor rankings, don’t consider minor shifts as being significant. They’re not. Heck, most of the time you shouldn’t even stress over major shifts. So often these are just temporary hiccups that soon correct themselves.
What you should be concerned about, however, is overall trends. And again, trends in rankings are not the most important thing, but… if you do start seeing a month to month trend of your rankings dropping, that’s when you need to start looking at things more closely. But when it comes to rankings, don’t sweat the small stuff. Change happens. Get used to it.
4) Outperforming Wikipedia
Not. Gonna. Happen. Well, it’s not likely to happen, at least. The simple fact is that Google gives Wikipedia wicked amounts of ranking love. Search almost any topic that Wikipedia has an entry on and you’ll see that Google puts Wikipedia right there at or near the top.
Does that mean that your site could never outrank Wikipedia? Well, never say never. Just don’t expect it to happen. Don’t even think about trying to make it happen. You’ll just get yourself frustrated over something that you have absolutely no control over. Wikipedia ranks where it does because that’s where Google wants them. And until that changes, just move on and make your site as valuable resource as possible.
3) Fretting about DMOZ listings
Is DMOZ (the Open Directory Project) still relevant anymore? It’s been a long time since I’ve given DMOZ any kind of thought, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong. But I just don’t see that it has the pull that it once had just a few years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think DMOZ is still worth the cost of submission (it’s free). It’s even worth the time spent making that submission, but in this case you just have to submit and forget. If your site gets added, kudos to you. If it doesn’t, well, thanks for playing and try again next year. In fact, that’s about as often as we revisit our DMOZ submissions. Since it doesn’t take much time you can’t go wrong trying, but any more time spent checking, rechecking, contacting editors, or re-submitting gives you a net loss on your ROI. This just ain’t the stuff that top-rankings-a-make.
2) Fussing over Alexa or Compete.com rankings
Yes, I do occasionally peek at our site rankings on Alexa. Why? Because it can provide a nice historical trend of the overall popularity of the site—but only among Alexa toolbar users, of course. And that’s the thing, Alexa is not an accurate ranking of a website’s popularity. It is merely a ranking of websites by Alexa users. So while it can provide some nice data to compare over a long period of time, it really doesn’t give you much of anything in terms of day to day importance. Do I get concerned when my Alexa ranking goes down? Not even a little.
What about Compete.com? Well, the very same principles apply. While it may have better stats and accuracy than Alexa, when it comes down to it, the information should be used for entertainment purposes only. Take it with a grain of salt, don’t live by it, and don’t let the rankings bother you. But do follow trends because that can tell you quite a bit.
1) Obsessing over your meta keywords
I know, I can just hear the sighs of all the people who are thinking, “Well, duh!” But a lot of small business owners, who only know what they read five years ago, still think that the keyword meta tag is a big deal. Sorry folks, it’s not. Commas or spaces? Doesn’t matter. Properly spelled words, or misspellings? Doesn’t matter. Keywords or related words?
Ok, so maybe, maybe, maybe it matters a tiny smidgen on Microsoft Live search. Or is it Yahoo? Oh heck, I don’t even remember any more because really, it just doesn’t matter. There is really nothing you can do with the keyword tag that’s going to give you any kind of relevance or ranking boost with the top search engines. Do some engines read it? Yes. Do they apply it to their algorithm? Doesn’t matter. Because even if they do, it simply doesn’t carry enough weight to make a difference. And hey, this is coming from an every-little-bit-helps kind of guy!
[Editor's Note: Our Meta Keywords Tag 101: How To "Legally" Hide Words On Your Pages For Search Engines goes in-depth about which search engines use the tag and how].
So, what should you do? I say, put some relevant words into your keyword meta tag and then don’t ever worry about it again. Ever.
There you have it, the top ten things that you should never have to worry about again. Do you feel better? Do you feel like a heavy burden has been lifted? You should. There are just so many other things that are far more deserving of your time, energy, and worry than these things ten items.
But before I go, I do want to provide you with one more bit of information…
The number one most important thing you should worry about
SEO isn’t about PageRank, links, or who says what is or isn’t important (and yes, I get the irony of what I just wrote). Heck, it’s not even about rankings. Pure and simple, it’s about getting conversions, whatever that is for you. Everything else in SEO is just a means to that end.
Here is the thing that you need to ask yourself before worrying about any one thing or another… Does this affect my ability to get conversions?
I’m not talking traffic here, I’m talking conversions. People actually buying your product or service, signing up for information, filling out a contact form, or emailing or calling you on the phone. Focusing on the conversions is where the money’s at. In fact, the better your conversion rate, the less traffic you have to rely on. And relying on less is always a good thing in an online world when things can change overnight.
SEO is much like the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” If you’re going to worry, worry only about the things that you know you can do something about, and those things which will actually make a difference. Anything else is just a waste.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.