One common mistake I’ve seen SEOs make since the dawn of search engines is tweaking their pages every time a change in ranking occurs. This is partially due to the fact that SEOs are notorious for mixing up cause and effect.
Rankings for any given keyword phrase change constantly due to a variety of factors. These include algo changes, different data centers being queried, geo-targeted searches, personalized search, gaining or losing an authoritative link, and much more. It’s a big mistake to assume that your rankings loss (or gain) had anything to do with something you’ve specifically done on the page itself. More likely than not, your rankings would have changed irregardless of anything you did on your site.
If you optimize a website that wasn’t previously optimized, you need to give your work time to settle in. Getting the new content and/or URLs indexed doesn’t mean that where they first rank is where they will stay. Sometimes new content will rank highly right out of the gate and then drop down a few days or weeks later. Other times, new content will slowly move up in the rankings over some period of time (usually months) after some of your links start counting.
The absolute worst thing you could do during this time period is lose your faith and re-optimize!
If you re-optimize when the algo changes or before your site has had a chance to “settle in” with the engines, you’ll never really know what works and what doesn’t. Those small changes may help with the algo of the day, but not the one after that, or the one after that. I don’t know about you, but I’m not fond of chasing my tail. When you try to figure out each new algorithm, that’s basically what you’re doing—and just like a dog, you’ll never catch it.
If you’ve optimized a few websites in the past, you must have some idea of what works and what doesn’t. Have faith in your skills, and don’t let the rankings roller coaster scare you. Do the things you know work, and leave it alone.
This is not to say that you should sit back and rest on your laurels. There’s still plenty for you to do. Learn where people are finding your site from, and what keywords they used to get there. Is there a segment of words they should be finding you for, but aren’t? If so, why not? Are you missing key information on your site that would target those words? Pay attention to your site traffic and make sure it’s steadily increasing. Focus on your conversions, be it sign-ups, contacts or sales, and make sure those are steadily increasing. Make certain your site isn’t confusing your potential customers.
Never forget that the search engines are hoping to show their users (the searchers), the best, most relevant pages for the search query at hand. They’re not trying to show their users the sites that have the most keyword density, or the most H1 tags. Always optimize for people, while keeping search engines and searchers in mind.
Be creative and unique and set yourself apart from your competition. Instead of tweaking your code, do some traditional marketing, advertising and public relations. In no time, your pages will be immune to the usual ups and downs of the engines—and you’ll be too busy to even notice!
Jill Whalen, CEO and founder of High Rankings, a search marketing firm outside of Boston, and co-founder of SEMNE, a New England search marketing networking organization, has been performing SEO since 1995. Jill is the host of the High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter. The 100% Organic column appears Thursdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.