Why Patience is the Most Important Virtue in SEO

As the adage goes, good things come to those who wait.

These days, that saying seems like more of an outmoded cliche than genuine advice. We live in a world built to stoke our impatience, a civilization defined by instant gratification. In such a world, it’s all too easy to mistakenly assume that anything requiring a bit of time and effort isn’t worth doing. 

This very much applies to search engine optimization (SEO). Although the shysters and scam artists that infest the SEO industry would have you believe otherwise, it’s not a strategy that will generate results overnight. It’s focused more on the long-term—some SEO campaigns take months or even years to achieve results. 

SEO is not a set it and forget it strategy, either. It requires constant, ongoing effort and improvement. You must be willing to not only perform regular keyword, audience, and sentiment research but also regularly produce high-quality content. More importantly, you must understand that there is no such thing as guaranteed results in the world of SEO. 

This is because at its core, SEO isn’t solely about traffic. Not really. It’s about getting as many eyes on your website as possible and ensuring everything is in place to capture and hold people’s attention. 

It’s about building authority, establishing a strong reputation, and cultivating relationships with your audience. Unless you’re dealing with someone who’s a walking red flag, none of this happens overnight. These things take time and persistence. 

It’s also important to emphasize just how much content exists online, even within your industry and niche. You have scores of competitors all vying for the same audience you’re targeting. Many of these competitors have likely been doing this for far longer than you have—meaning they have a head start. 

Although it can be tempting to look for shortcuts, we strongly advise against: 

  • Regularly changing your domain name. 
  • Completely changing your content strategy. 
  • Targeting competitors with ‘black hat’ techniques. 
  • Trying to buy your way to success. 

If it helps, think of SEO as a sort of digital gardening. Your initial keyword research plants the seeds, but it’s up to you to cultivate them and help them grow into something tangible. And while it’s certainly possible for these things to grow on their own, the best results will come to those with the right blend of patience, persistence, and skill.

So be patient. Learn to navigate the complexities of SEO. Approach your optimization efforts strategically, deliberately, and intelligently.

In the long term, it will all ultimately be worth it. 

5 Things to Account For When Planning Your SEO Budget

How much should you spend on search engine optimization (SEO)? 

That’s a challenging question. One made all the more difficult by the fact that no two companies will have the same answer. There are many different factors at play where SEO is concerned. We’ll go over some of the most prominent.

Here are five things you must account for when planning your SEO budget. 

Your Current Website

Are you starting fresh and optimizing for an entirely new website, or are you looking to drive traffic to an established brand? Have you put any thought into your website’s information architecture, content quality, and backlinks? Are you currently suffering any algorithm penalties?

These are all questions you need to ask yourself at the outset before you even begin planning a strategy. 

Objectives

What do you want to achieve with SEO? Measurable, realistic goals and milestones will help you track your progress and help you figure out a baseline for how much you should spend. The keyword here is realistic. 

Avoid striving for a specific place on the SERP or trying to generate explosive traffic in just a month. You need to understand that SEO isn’t immediate. It takes time to get results. 

Once you’ve established your goal, try to estimate how much additional revenue your website will generate once you achieve it—that figure can then be used to guide how you spend. 

Marketing Budget and Spending Limits

In most cases, SEO is not going to be the only line item on your marketing budget. You’ll likely have to balance it with things like paid social, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and inbound marketing. To figure out how things should be allocated, you need only ask yourself a simple question.

In a perfect world, what’s the maximum return each of these investments will generate? 

Current Traffic and Conversions

While a small or mid-market business certainly could dedicate its budget towards enterprise-level SEO, that doesn’t mean it should. Just as the current state of your website represents an important SEO starting point, so too does your brand. Consider the following when budgeting: 

  • Monthly traffic numbers.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Average order value per customer, if relevant. 
  • Other marketing channels. 

Your Competitors

Last but certainly not least, look at what your competitors are doing. If you can find and assess a business that’s similar in size to your own, you’ll be able to determine your SEO budget more accurately. More importantly, this research can help you identify potential opportunities—weaknesses in a competitor’s brand, for instance, or a gap your business could potentially fill. 

The Right Budget Doesn’t Break the Bank

Taking into account all of the above, we’ll wrap things up with one final piece of advice. The right budget is one that you can comfortably afford while still generating a reasonable return. Keep that in mind, and everything else should easily fall into place. 

Should You Consider Targeting Keywords With a Low Monthly Volume?

This story should be familiar to most of you.

You’ve come up with an excellent idea for content—something you’re confident will resonate with your audience and bring in qualified leads. However, when it comes time to start researching keyword permutations for that topic, you’re met with a rather unpleasant surprise. No matter how you phrase or rephrase your terms, no one seems to be searching for the topic. 

Back to the drawing board, right? 

Maybe not. As it turns out, low-volume keywords can be just as valuable as low-hanging fruit, if not more so. As noted by marketing expert Neil Patel, this comes down to a few factors:

  • Clear intent. This means that any content to which the search phrase is connected will be highly relevant. 
  • Low difficulty score. As you may already know, the lower a keyword’s difficulty score, the easier it is to rank for that keyword. 
  • Length. A long-tail keyword that contains a secondary, more valuable or higher-volume keyword may not appear worth targeting on the surface. However, it can still generate considerable traffic—and again, there’s the matter of intent. 
  • A highly niche topic. Some topics are going to be low-traffic no matter what you do—for example, a blog that exclusively targets business brokers and their clients may appear to primarily contain low-volume keywords. But the people who search for those keywords have high intent. 
  • Low cost per click. A keyword’s cost per click is another indicator of its competitiveness. Lower means the keyword has less competition, meaning it’s easier to rank for it. 

There’s also one more factor to consider—your competition. Competitors are very likely taking the same approach as everyone else, targeting relevant keywords with a reasonable search volume and difficulty score. 

By switching your focus to lower-volume keywords, you might well be able to get the jump on them from a marketing perspective. As long as you understand your audience, what they want, and what they search for, low-volume and non-competitive keywords can be just as valuable as high-traffic keywords. In some cases, more so. 

“Ignore the metrics that everyone else is using to select their keywords,” advises SEO expert Dmitri Dragilev. “Instead, focus on keywords where you can intercept the customer in the middle of the purchase decision, piggyback on the authority of an established player in a related field, [or] offer a better solution to a problem posed by an established player in your field.” 

At the end of the day, targeting low-volume keywords is really a matter of quality over quantity. After all, which would you rather have for your business? 

  • Content that brings in 50 qualified leads but generates no additional traffic. 
  • Content that brings in thousands of leads, but none of them convert. 

It’s simple mathematics at that point, really. 

Search Engine Optimization Is Not A Magic Bullet. You Need to Understand Its Limitations

We’ve all met at least one search engine optimization (SEO) snake oil salesman. You know the type. 

Grandiose and sweeping promises. Language bogged down with so much jargon it’s functionally meaningless. An endless barrage of gaslighting and cold opens. 

To hear these people talk, SEO is some sort of mystic art, and mastery means you’re guaranteed to dominate the search engine results page (SERP). 

Anyone who’s spent even a little time studying the craft knows this to be a blatant lie. SEO is valuable, indeed—it’s a powerful lead generation and marketing tool in the right hands. But it’s not some secret weapon, and it won’t allow you to seize control of Google’s algorithms. 

In order to leverage it effectively, you need to accept that—you need to understand the limitations of SEO.

It Can’t Save Low-Quality Content

All of Google’s most recent algorithm updates have been deployed with the goal of making the search engine better at recognizing whether content is valuable to the audience. Rather than operating exclusively on keyword matching, the search engine is increasingly focused on intent. It’s focused on understanding what the searcher wants and providing them with the content that best fulfills what they’re looking for. 

For this reason, if your content is poor quality, it doesn’t matter how much time you put into SEO. It’s not going to generate any meaningful returns. 

Google’s Algorithms Are Mercurial, at Best

Google releasing an algorithm that completely upsets our understanding of SEO and penalizes countless websites is very nearly an annual tradition at this point. It’s easy to forget that, regardless of how much effort we put into optimization, we’re ultimately at Google’s mercy. A single algorithm change could wipe out our progress. 

It Doesn’t Provide Immediate Returns

Unlike other paid promotion strategies, SEO is more of a slow burn. It rarely generates fast traffic or an instant return on investment. Instead, it’s more about gradually cultivating your website, building up a reputation and a rapport with high-quality content, and ensuring that content is seen by targeting the right keywords. 

It takes patience, in other words—and some people lack that patience. 

It Might Not Be A Secret Weapon, But SEO Is Still Valuable

We’d like to conclude with a bit of a disclaimer. We spent a lot of time today talking about the limitations and drawbacks of SEO. We are by no means trying to say that SEO isn’t worthwhile. 

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Even though it’s relatively slow and heavily relies on Google’s algorithms and inbound marketing content, an effective SEO strategy is ultimately a cornerstone of every successful business. It’s not a magic bullet or some holy grail of marketing. But it’s still more than worth exploring. 

What Role Does Page Speed Play in Search Engine Optimization?

Faster is better. 

That’s been common knowledge for a while now. Unless there’s a noticeable gap in quality,  a faster website will almost always outperform slower sites in the same niche. We aren’t solely talking about search engine optimization (SEO), either. 

More than half of mobile users abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Bounce rates increase exponentially for each additional second it takes a page to load, topping out at 123% for 10 seconds. On top of this, for every second above the average a page takes to load, customer satisfaction plummets further. 

All this is to say that if your website is slow, you’re getting hit from multiple angles—by Google’s algorithms as well as a dissatisfied audience. 

How to Optimize Your Website for Speed

So, we’ve established the importance of page speed. Let’s wrap things up with a brief overview of what you can do to optimize yours. We advise the following while also using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check on your progress as you do: 

  • Minimize HTTP requests wherever possible. 
  • Implement a content delivery network positioned geographically close to your primary audience. 
  • Leverage browser caching. 
  • Use adaptive web design, including both images and layout. 
  • Compress your website’s content. 
  • Minify your code, and only use scripts where absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid using rich media where possible.
  • If you must use JavaScript or rich media, asynchronous loading is your friend.  
  • As an addendum to the above, defer resource-heavy files so that they only load after the most crucial elements on your site. 
  • Work with your host to improve your backend and minimize time to first byte.  Note that this may require you to choose a new web host if your current one does not meet your needs. 
  • Consider running a compression audit with a tool like GIDNetwork
  • If you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, assess your plugins and uninstall any that you don’t absolutely need. Factors to look for include: 
    • Overlapping functionality.
    • Tasks that can be easily accomplished manually.
    • Poor performance optimization. 
    • Lack of consistent updates.
    • Security flaws.
  • Cut down on redirects. 
  • Optimize for mobile first, desktop second. 

We realize that’s a bit of a comprehensive list. But we also promise it’s worth the effort to incorporate every piece of advice. Not only will Google’s algorithms like your website a lot more, your audience will thank you for your efforts. If you want to see other ways you can increase the SEO performance of your site, check out our post on the role of Backlinks in SEO.

Remember that you also don’t need to incorporate all of our advice overnight. SEO has always been a gradual, ongoing process. This is really no different—ironically, if you try to rush your page speed optimization, you might end up shooting yourself in the foot before you even manage to get off the ground. 

Struggling with a Search Engine Optimization Skill Gap? Here’s What You Can Do

Given that it’s been plaguing the IT sector for years, it was inevitable that the ongoing digital talent shortage would eventually sink its talents into marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). As noted by MarketingWeek, upskilling has become crucial for specialized agencies and ordinary businesses alike. An annual survey from online marketing agency Verbli, meanwhile, found that SEO expertise is one of the most desirable skills in marketing.  

It follows that, if you currently lack that expertise internally, you need to start looking for ways to bridge that gap. We’ll walk you through how to accomplish that.

Start With a Decent Tool

Tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush can seem incredibly overwhelming at first glance.  But they also provide an excellent—albeit temporary—solution to a lack of internal SEO knowledge. All three tools are relatively simple to use once you get past the initial growing pains, and all three organizations maintain comprehensive knowledge bases to help you and your employees learn the basics of SEO.

In some cases, this might even be enough. These tools could serve as the foundation from which your business builds up skills in everything from content marketing to PPC advertising. On the other hand, you might find that you simply aren’t getting your money’s worth. 

At this point, you have three options—though there’s no rule saying you can’t attempt all three:

  • Initiate a hiring push to bring in the necessary expertise
  • Hire an agency to manage marketing and SEO for your business
  • Implement training and reskilling programs to develop SEO professionals internally 

Handling Things Yourself

If you’ve decided to take the talent acquisition route, start by looking at a few job listings for similar roles in your industry. This will give you an idea of what constitutes a competitive offer, as well as what to look for in a candidate. Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone with a proven track record—but failing that, they should at least be able to demonstrate a baseline knowledge of SEO. 

If instead you choose to develop SEO skills within your existing staff, start by looking at materials like Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Consider how you might translate that into hands-on, self-directed training courses—if possible, allow anyone interested in this training to engage with it while on the clock. 

Bringing In an Agency

group of people sitting in front of computers

Believe it or not, hiring an agency has a great deal in common with hiring someone internally. Here as there, you’re looking for someone with a proven track record, an established client base, and clear expertise. A prospective agency should be willing to sit down with you in a discovery call to hash out your requirements, expectations, and budget. 

Be wary of anyone who over-promises. We’d also advise establishing at least a baseline understanding of SEO so you’re able to spot the scammers. Their knowledge is often only surface-level, and they rely on their targets knowing even less than they do. Want to learn more about how to avoid missing out on opportunities to increase traffic with SEO? Check out our blog where we cover SEO-related topics monthly!

Why You Should Include Sentiment Research With Your Keyword Research

Like most content creators with a mind for search engine optimization, you understand the importance of thorough keyword research. It’s at the heart of developing an effective inbound marketing strategy. And for any given piece of content, it’s crucial in determining which keywords you should focus on when it actually comes time to write. 

What you may not realize, however, is that keyword research is only part of the equation. It’s not enough to devise a list of potential topics without context. You also need to know what people are saying about those topics and how they feel about them.

This is especially important with topics where there may be some degree of controversy. And if you don’t know what side of an issue your audience falls on prior to writing? There’s a very good chance you’ll end up leaving a significant portion of your audience feeling alienated. 

Let’s say, for instance, that you decide to write about non-fungible tokens (NFTs). If your audience is against them and you attempt to cast them in a positive light, you can and will lose their interest and likely their trust. Similarly, if your audience is involved in cryptocurrency and you try to claim NFTs are the same as Bitcoin, most people probably won’t appreciate the comparison. 

As for where you can conduct this kind of research? That’s the good news. You have a nearly limited well of information upon which you can draw, including: 

  • Social media. Figure out the social networks on which both your audience and your competitors are most accurate, and pay careful attention to comments, shares, mentions, and hashtags. This will not only allow you to gauge sentiment around a broad range of topics, but also regarding your brand as a whole. For ‘trendy’ news, Twitter will typically be the best bet.
  • Ratings and reviews. Although generally more useful for determining direct sentiment around your brand, customer reviews also have the potential to provide unexpected inspiration for both possible topics and the approach you should take with them. 
  • Customer surveys. Provided you can properly incentivize your audience to take them, surveys are easily the best way to gauge sentiment on virtually any topic. These could be offered via email, on your website, or even through your existing social channels. 
Facebook home page

Ultimately, sentiment analysis is about more than simply figuring out tone and angle. That’s really only part of it. What’s more important is that it helps you understand who your audience is and how they think. 

And from that understanding, you can brainstorm more compelling topics and express them in a way that’s much more likely to resonate.

Word Count is Not A Ranking Factor, But it Does Matter

If you’re like many people, you probably believe in the unimpeachable word count. The notion is that the longer you make a piece, the better it will perform on the search engine results page. The idea is that there’s some sort of magic ‘sweet spot’ for content length that will land you on the first page of Google.

It’s somewhat unclear how these became such common beliefs in the search engine optimization space.  Because the truth is that content length has no direct bearing on PageRank. It never has. 

This isn’t just us saying this, either. As noted by Search Engine Journal, Google has stated as much on more than one occasion. More specifically, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, who’s posed the question on a regular basis. 

“Word count is not a ranking factor,” wrote Mueller on Reddit. “Save yourself the trouble.” 

“Word count is not indicative of quality,” Mueller explained, this time on Twitter. “Some pages have a lot of words that say nothing. Some pages have very few words that are very important & relevant to queries. You know your content best (hopefully) and can decide whether it needs the details.”

Search Engine Journal noted in another piece that Mueller has also stated that word count is a quality factor rather than a ranking factor. Adding more text without good reason will do nothing to improve your content. In short, there is no arbitrary ‘perfect’ word count. 

Content should be exactly as long as it needs to be in order to convey its message. A piece with 1000 words is no more likely to be relevant than a piece with 100 lacks relevance—in actuality, longer content could potentially perform even worse than short form, depending on device and audience. 

Therefore, the best advice we can give you is to stop stressing about length. Just focus on creating high-quality, compelling content, and everything else will fall into place. And remember that there are many elements that are significantly more important than meeting some milestone that doesn’t actually exist:

  • Page speed
  • Performance
  • Ease of use
  • Bounce rate
  • Domain age, history, authority, and registration length
  • Keywords—primarily whether or not they appear in your title tag, header tag, and copy 
  • Backlinks
  • Optimization

If you’re looking for affordable web hosting that is built around SEO development, check out our services! In an era of microblogging and mobile Internet, length is functionally irrelevant. What matters isn’t how much space something takes up on a page. What matters is that it fulfills your audience’s search queries. What matters is that it provides people with genuine value.

Beyond that, everything else is ultimately secondary. 

Wondering Why You’re Not Ranking on Google? Here’s Three Possibilities

If your content isn’t ranking—or if it was ranking but has suddenly dropped down the SERPs—you’re generally left up to your own devices when it comes to figuring out what went wrong. In our experience, however, the answer usually isn’t all that complicated. When content isn’t ranking on Google, it usually comes down to one of three things. 

You’re Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Each and every piece of content on your site should be built out of the following questions

  • Why am I creating it? 
  • What value does it provide to my audience? 
  • What search terms would someone typically use to find this content? 

The last question is where we generally see people slip up. They might be targeting keywords that are too competitive, or trying to rank for phrases dominated by a much larger, more successful brand. Or maybe they’ve chosen keywords based on raw numbers rather than intent

Either way, if your content isn’t ranking, your first step should be to re-examine your keywords. 

Your Website is Bad

Picture two department stores.

  • The first store is clean, well-lit, and laid out in a streamlined, intuitive way. The way everything is laid out makes sense to shoppers, and the staff are friendly and efficient.
  • The second store is a dirty, confusing labyrinth. No one is entirely sure where anything is, and employees are surly at best, actively unhelpful at worst. 

Where would you rather shop? 

The best websites load fast and have an interface that’s easy to both navigate and understand. Their content is well-organized, and their design is aesthetically pleasing. Can you say that about your site, too? 

You Simply Aren’t Publishing Compelling Content

Not everyone is a content creator—and not everyone needs to be. If you know for a fact your keyword research is accurate and your website is well-designed, it may well be that your content simply isn’t that good. Remember that the best content is:

  • Original
  • Concise
  • Informative and/or entertaining
  • Well-written, with no errors
  • Trustworthy
  • Authentic

If you’re simply rehashing word for word the things you’ve found elsewhere, you’re not going to rank. 

Closing Thoughts

If there’s one thing that’s remained constant about search engine optimization for the past few years, it’s Google’s insistence on keeping its search algorithms close to its chest. Much of what we know about search engine optimization (SEO) and the search engine results page (SERP) is the result of observation and educated guesses. It’s conjecture made by knowledgeable experts, but conjecture all the same.

That isn’t to say that Google has provided no SEO guidance, mind you. The company has actually published a fairly comprehensive SEO Starter Guide that walks you through pretty much all the basics. The last piece of advice we’ll give is to familiarize yourself with that guide if you’ve not done so already.

It may help immensely.

Understanding the Different Types of Keywords

Keywords used to be simple. You’d enter your search terms, and you’d be presented with a list of results containing your keyword or phrase. Pages with more instances of that phrase ranked higher on this list. 

As you might expect, this system was incredibly easy to abuse. That’s why since then, both keywords and the algorithms that analyze them have grown considerably more complex. These days, there are a ton of different classes of keywords—and it’s in your best interest to understand them all. 

Specificity

Let’s start with the different matching options you can choose during keyword research and ad targeting. Once you’ve defined your initial topic, focus, or core keyword, you can find variants of it in a few different ways. 

Broad Match

Although search engine optimization research tools still allow broad match searches, broad match keywords have been retired by Google as of July 2021. Originally, they used to match any result containing your core keywords. They accounted for any permutation or variation of those words, and also included similar words. 

This functionality has largely been wrapped into phrase match keywords. 

Phrase Match

Phrase match keyword searches contain your core keywords in the order you typed them. When it retired broad match keywords last year, Google also tweaked phrase match keywords. Phrase match searches now apply road match criteria while still preserving the original meaning of the search. 

Exact Match

An exact match keyword is exactly what it sounds like. The exact permutation of each word in the exact order you typed them. With that said, exact match targeting will also typically include reordered or rephrased close variants if Google determines that they retain the original meaning. 

Intent

Arguably the most important characteristic of a keyword is its intent—what the searcher is looking to do.

Commercial

Someone searching with commercial intent fully intends to make a purchase as soon as possible. They’re effectively right at the end of the sales funnel, ready to convert when they find what they’re looking for. 

Transactional

Transactional intent is similar to commercial. Searchers do intend to make a purchase at some point in the future, but they’re still doing research. 

Informational

Someone searching with informational intent simply wants to learn. They might be looking for a how-to, developing their own content, or performing academic research. Though they may be convinced to convert, they typically aren’t looking to purchase. 

Navigational

A person searching with navigational intent is looking for a specific website or brand. They know exactly what they’re looking for, and why. Your job is to ensure your site provides this to them. 

Length

Lastly, keywords can be categorized in terms of length. 

Short-Tail

A short-tail keyword tends to be much more general and consists of only one or two words. Generally speaking, a short-tail keyword acts as a starting point. Users don’t typically only type one or two words into Google, instead resorting to more generally conversational searches. 

Long-Tail

Long-tail keywords consist of three or more words. Particularly with the growing prominence of semantic search, long-tail is generally the way to go.