Long Term vs Short Term Search Engine Optimization

Long Term vs Short Term Search Engine Optimization

by Dave Curtis on 03/26/2012

in Small Business SEO

If I have a personal quirk then it’s that I like comparing search engine optimized web sites to racing cars. The reason why this is is because of all of the conceptual similarities. From the information superhighway (now with high speed internet) to the “finish line” (in our case page one in the search engine results), and the fact that anyone can own a car (whether it be a nice new expensive one or an old used clunker), or that in the highly¬†competitive world of business racing and business websites it’s the one that’s been built best, driven by the best, and optimized by best that wins in the end.

The similarity doesn’t end there, but since this article is about long term vs short term search engine optimization suffice it to say that some businesses will benefit financially from short term SEO and get a steady satisfying number of clients from their web sites with a small investment (see competition below) and others will have a more difficult kind of race that needs to be won with a lot more competition spending a lot more money and time to be the winners.

That’s just the start though. Consider the first two factors mentioned above in my analogy between cars and web sites.

The site build relies to a degree on the website hosting platform. Good hosting with a modern control panel known as cPanel such as those used by Bluehost, Justhost and Hostmonster provide a myriad of exceptional benefits and features at low cost, with total ease and flexibility which make working on site development and expansion a true pleasure. Other hosting platforms like Plesk provide less flexibility, less control, and inevitably thwart the goals of the webmaster and search engine optimizer (often but not always two separate people).

Another factor is “the driver” or owner or manager of the business. The SEO should have control over the engineering of the site and SEOing of every element on the site, but it’s the owner or manager who turns it left or right and ultimately either takes the advice to pull it in for a pit-stop for gas or tires, or who gives the budget go ahead to get some necessary modifications done.

The owner/manager sometimes has the idea that the site should become something other than a site to make sales and would rather turn it into an extension of some personal private agenda to gain the admiration of friends on Facebook or Twitter. That will hold a site back as well. A lot of external links to causes and cluttered up pages full of things that don’t attract and convert new clients won’t do it. So the SEO who takes on the task of dealing with a site like that has only two choices:

  1. Perform short term one time SEO and walk away or
  2. Stay in it for the long haul and keep pushing for the changes required

But the decision there will (as in my case) often rely upon gut feelings.

  1. Is the product or service good enough?
  2. Does the product and brand have the chance of going national or global?
  3. Is the business owner sincere and serious, and is there a real vision behind the company brand?

Whether you have a web site or are planning to have one some Search Engine Optimization is probably essential if you want to increase your web based income. That’s all there is to it. The first step is to evaluate the competition.


Let’s say you are building a microbrewery in NYC and you want to start now preparing your web site for optimization. So you sit down at your computer and type into Google “microbrewery in nyc” (without the quotations) and you come up with about 1,340,000 results. You also note that there aren’t any sidebar ads – or at least not more than one or two (depending upon whether they’ve used up their daily budget of clicks they’ll be there or have disappeared until tomorrow). So only 1.3 million competing pages and almost no advertisements… with three or four in the top showing in Google places, it looks like you’re not going to need to spend much on search engine optimization because there are enough people in the city to keep all of the microbreweries busy. No need for serious optimization – but you’ll want to have someone spend a few months on it, tweaking and refining, getting you links and jump-starting the process of bringing traffic and building awareness until nature picks up where the SEO leaves off, and then have the SEO monitor conditions once every quarter with a new analysis each time to make changes when Google changes its rules (what’s good today might be announced as bad tomorrow by Google – they do it all the time) and also to keep you informed in case one of your competitors is optimizing suddenly and looks like he’s going to knock you out of your spot.

How good is the talent handling your SEO?

There are multiple disciplines involved in turning a site into an internet sales juggernaut.

  1. Email marketing (super scientific and one of the best ways to measure exactly what works and what doesn’t with people who have already pre-qualified themselves as potential clients if they’re not your clients already)
  2. Marketing copywriting (sales pitches on the pages – whatever it is that convinces people your site and product are the right places to buy right now.
  3. Back link building (hated by most, but some people out there love doing this and really thrive on the challenge. I like to think of them as gluttons for punishment)
  4. Social Media Optimization – bringing in the traffic and working with the copywriter(s) if they’re not also writing copy.
  5. Graphics designers – Another area requiring a ton of work and time, even if you’re using a stock photo site and not your own in-house photographers.
  6. Videographers (Yes, video, sales pitches made in video can be very subtle or outright obnoxious – and Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google, which just so happens to own Youtube – so it’s part of SEO now too)

Those aren’t all of them by far, but unless the SEO has already done the above jobs and understands their importance and place in what he is doing, and understands that the talent may have their own lines that should not be crossed, then the SEO is going to be a problem.

If SEO alone brings 1,000 visitors to a site a day but less than 1% convert or take a desired action on the site, and changes to the site marketing copywriting result in a 10% drop in visitors arriving from the search engines but conversions or other desired actions increase to 2% of the total visitors to the site then the net increase is over 100% greater even though the total number of visitors has decreased. The SEO is still doing his or her job, but there must be cooperation with all of the other creatives during implementation.

Does this mean the SEO is losing control?

Absolutely not. The SEO doesn’t have the last say. The site owner doesn’t have the last say. The copywriter, the email marketer, and the graphics artist don’t have the last say. The last say is what the customer decides. And that’s where the SEO’s job is most important, in analyzing the site data, visitor patterns, conversion goals, A/B testing, and gathering information and making changes to the site based on customer responses in site surveys.

Wow doesn’t that sound great? A professionally built site on a great hosting platform with an owner manager who has vision and focus and a great SEO with enough talent around him or her to take a site to the highest level it can achieve, always up and forward and in the black!

The committed SEO who sticks around for the long haul in a company waiting for the opportunity when his influence will finally come to bear and he can turn it all around is worth his weight in gold. Markets with heavy competition, lots of paid advertising, national brand name competition and sites that obviously are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain (yes, these exist in more places than you might guess) require long term search engine optimization.

If you look at your own market niche and suspect that you need long term search engine optimization but all you can find are people interested in performing quick one two fixes for you, ask them to tell you honestly why. It may just be that it’s not you, but one of the other elements that’s not right. And if they can’t tell you that it’s one of those elements then ask them “Is it me, and if so what about me (or my company/product/service) and what can I do to make that different so it will work?” Because you know what? SEO is a career like any other and everyone needs to rack up successes to move onward and upward in the game.

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