4 Things Your SEO Program Cannot Control

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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There are 200 and some odd factors in Google’s ranking algorithm and it’s constantly evolving. While we know that certain factors help your website do better organically, we cannot say quantifiably exactly how much of each factor equals success (and anyone who says otherwise is selling something). With so little in our SEO program that we actually CAN control, sometimes it feels like SEO is a bit like shooting a moving target in a darkened room. Instead of panicking over those things, here are four things your SEO program cannot control, so there is no use worrying (too much) about them!

How Quickly Google Crawls Your Site

Pie Chart InfographicWhen you publish a piece of content, you and I and other human readers can find and read it (provided it’s been properly linked to and promoted). But Google doesn’t crawl every page of every site every day. Depending on the crawl rate of your site it may take a few days, or even a few weeks, for Google to recognize that you made drastic changes to your site or published a slew of new content. Typically, you can “train” Google to crawl so your site more frequently by keeping up a constant stream of fresh content. Google essentially learns that your site usually has something new to process, and so it might only be day (or just a few hours) before your content is indexed. Sites that publish less frequently might only be crawled every two weeks so your new content might be a big hit with your readers, but transparent to searchers.

Take a look at your Webmaster Tools account and see when the last time Google crawled your XML Sitemap was. Take not of when that date changes and you’ll at least have a rough idea of how quickly your site is being crawled.
Who Links to You

It seems counter intuitive that with all that work that goes into link building the best thing you can do for your SEO program is to not worry about your link building so much. The best links are almost always going to be natural; people find and share and link to your content because it is educational/informative/interesting. When you go chasing links is usually when you get into trouble. However, you do need to at least be aware of who is linking to you naturally, because some of those links can appear to be unnatural and land you in hot water with the search engines. You can’t stop people from linking to you, but the last thing you want is to be penalized because a scrapper site stole and republished your content and Google thinks you did it on purpose. You can’t control who links to you, so don’t agonize over every little link, but at least know what the big picture is looking like.

How People Are Searching

A few years ago “article marketing” was a thing. Now it’s not. If you’re site relied on “article marketing” and related keywords to survive you’d be long dead. You can’t control how people search ad a super popular and powerful search term one year might not even exist next year. It’s important to always be looking at how your customer is searching NOW and not just how they always have. People and their search patterns change, and unless you want to go out of business your SEO program needs to evolve right alongside them. More than one business has gone out of business simply because the needs of their audience changed and they didn’t adapt. Don’t let that happen to your website.

What Your Competitors Are Doing

If your friends jumped off of a bridge would you? Remind yourself of that old adage the next time someone tries to convince you something is a good idea simply because your competition is doing it. Not to say that your competition doesn’t have a few great ideas you might be able to morph into something that you can take advantage of, but if the competition is doing something even remotely smelling of black hat don’t go near it. Even if they are getting away with it now they won’t for long. A client of ours admitted to cheating and trying to game the system, but thought that since the competition was cheating harder their SEO program would skate by unnoticed. Well they didn’t it and it took over 2 years to recover and millions of lost dollars in revenue because of it. You can’t control what the competition is doing, nor can you reverse engineer their SEO programs so stop trying to!


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