There Is No Certainty in SEO

Written by Nick Stamoulis

I know that site owners with tight budgets (or marketing managers that need to account for every penny) are always looking for programs with the best ROI possible. After all, you don’t want to invest time and money into something that isn’t going to have a positive impact, right? Unfortunately with SEO, like many other marketing campaigns, is hard to predict hard and fast results. I could say your SEO campaign will grow your organic traffic by 15% in the next 8 months but I can’t really make that guarantee because there is no certainty in SEO.

We Don’t Know What Google Has in Store for Their Next Algorithm Updates

Whether you love the search giant or hate them you can’t deny that SEO exists because of the Google algorithm. Google rolls out small tweaks every day, but every few months (especially lately) they come out with a major change that has a dramatic impact on how the SERPs work. Unfortunately, no SEO firm really has the “ear” of Google and none of us can predict what Google has planned for their next big update or even when it will arrive. While a white hat SEO firm should never be “chasing the algorithm” and the risk of a penalty is small, even white hat firms have to pay attention to the updates to ensure they are still on the right side of Google’s guidelines. What works today might not tomorrow, but we won’t ever know ahead of time for certain.

You Can’t See Everything Your Competitors Are Doing

I often get asked by prospective clients what their competition is doing that is so great, especially if on the surface level it doesn’t look like much, or it looks like they should be getting penalized for their tactics. I know it’s very frustrating as a site owner to watch your competitor “cheat” at SEO and win, but you never know for certain exactly what they are doing. You don’t have access to their analytics or their marketing programs; you might be able to see some of their link building efforts but you’re not getting the whole picture; they might have been at their SEO campaign for twice as long as you and have a lot of good will built up and so forth. While a competitive analysis can give you a general idea of what your competitors are doing you’ll never be 100% certain of their SEO game plan.

Search Volume Can Change

If no one is searching for your keywords then don’t be surprised to see few visitors coming to your site. For instance, what kind of search volume do you think “Christmas tree farms” get in July? Probably not much. Come November that number surely skyrockets, but practically disappears after December 24th. Even if your SEO campaign is less subject to seasonality, there is no certainty that search volume will carry from year to year. Search behavior changes and searcher’s needs change, and iches and markets are created and abandoned every year. For example, a whole industry has been built around iPhone accessories. But the iPhone didn’t even exist until 2007; until then it was a market controlled BlackBerry. But as the iPhone gained dominance over the smartphone market, search volume for BlackBerry accessories went down and was replaced with searches for iPhone add-ons. Companies that had built themselves around BlackBerry suffered, even if they had fantastic SEO campaigns.

SEO is Constantly Evolving

Social signals are surely going to become more and more important as time goes by, but social media really only game into existence as we know it in the last few years. Even if you just look at how Facebook has evolved you’ll see a stark contrast from where it started to where it is. There are plenty of bloggers that declare SEO is dead, and while certain tactics may fall by the wayside SEO is far from dead; it is constantly evolving. There is no guarantee that what works today will be as useful or influential in 6 months. Your SEO campaign needs to do the same if you want to survive.

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