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Successful SEO is More Art than Science

There are really great tools for help with search optimization—for websites in particular. Because of this, many people have been led to believe that SEO is purely a science. And that makes sense, after all, the entire SEO discipline is dependent on a Google algorithm.

These SEO tools are an absolute necessity—but they are not enough. They will take you about 70% there—far enough to optimize your website better than it was, but not far enough to pull ahead of competitors or make a real difference in where your company appears in search results.

Many extremely bright people have tried to figure out the algorithm and I suppose they succeed to some extent but by the time they figure it out and build a campaign around it, Google changes it again. And I do suspect that too many people figuring out how to game the algorithm is one of the reasons that Google makes another change.

The point here is that trying to outsmart Google is not a great strategy.

Here is where the art comes in. While you will never be able to decipher the algorithm, if you actually watch what’s happening in search results day-to-day and see the patterns, you will have a good basis for tweaking your strategy. And it’s not just the patterns of titles and descriptions that were successful (on the first page of search results), just as edifying are the titles and descriptions that went nowhere.

Also, every industry is different. Industries that are highly competitive with dominant players are going to be an SEO challenge. Short-tail terms probably won’t work, so you opt for longer, more relevant terms that may not drive as much traffic, but will drive just as many, if not more sales. Coming up with those terms is tricky—the best source of help will be people on your sales team.

Finally, read what the SEO experts have to say, but don’t plan an SEO campaign around it. It’s all really educated opining. Valuable for sure, but not necessarily applicable to your situation. The best way to win at SEO is to continually analyze what is actually happening in search results and experiment—that’s the art.

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