Contrary to popular belief, SEO isn’t something you set up once and never touch again. SEO is constantly changing, which means marketers have to be on the lookout for new SEO practices.
However, many small businesses are disappointed with their existing SEO strategies. That’s because SEO is incredibly complex; you can’t assign SEO to an entry-level marketer with zero SEO experience and expect amazing results. Brands need professional resources for SEO that moves the needle.
The thing is, SEO is unpredictable. But the buoying nature of SEO can be problematic for brands that rely on SERP positioning to find customers.
SEO is volatile because it relies on search engine algorithms, which change on almost a daily basis. While the larger tweaks get the most attention, search engines are always changing their algorithms to better serve their users.
SEO can’t stagnate because search engines don’t stop moving. Nearly all algorithm changes affect on your website. Good SEO professionals scramble to improve rankings any time there’s an algorithm change, but this is usually a recipe for frantic decisions and confusion.
Fortunately, marketers can make their SEO practices more predictable so they don’t have to bite their nails over every algorithm update.
Search Engines, Algorithms, and SEO
As maddening as algorithms can be, they help search engine users find the information they need more quickly. Search engines like Google use proprietary code to figure out what websites to show users and which to bury.
Search engines send crawlers to gather data and rank websites against each other. In this ongoing process, crawlers score sites on intent, content quality, accessibility, trustworthiness, and more.
SEO uses the search engine crawlers’ criteria to overhaul your website. In an ideal world, your SEO strategy helps you steadily rise up through the SERPs over time. Brands use SEO to figure out how to deliver exceptional on-site experiences.
The problem is that search engines aren’t keen on sharing how, exactly, they rank websites. While Google has gone public about many of its ranking factors, it’s not going to cough up its proprietary methods just so brands can try to game the system.
Because of the secrecy behind search engine operations, SEO teams are often flying blind. SEO has never been an exact science, which makes it hard for brands to improve their search engine ranking. It’s a game of trial and error that costs brands thousands of dollars.
5 Ways to Predict SEO Performance
While we can’t know for sure what’s going through Google’s mind, we can adjust internal processes to make SEO a little more predictable. Follow these 5 strategies to create a predictable, formulaic approach to SEO.
1. Set internal metrics and benchmarks
You can download dozens of free SEO tools right now that will score your website. As helpful as these tools seem, they won’t tell you very much about your business. That’s because one size fits all goals don’t work for SEO; the metrics that matter to other businesses may not apply to you.
For example, if an SEO report dings you for bounce rates but your bounce rate isn’t a concern, that’s irrelevant information. These tools give your team too much information to sift through that get away from the heart of SEO.
That’s why it’s important to set internal metrics and then benchmark around those metrics. The right metrics will be different for every company. Consider looking at content relevance, domain or page authority, or accessibility for starters. From there, create internal SEO models so you can score your SEO efforts. This allows you to not only compete against other companies online, but against yourself.
2. Focus on data
Data is the heart of SEO. If you want predictable SEO that works, you need to focus on the numbers. Thanks to data, you can look at past SEO performance, predict the future, and make adjustments to help you achieve your goals more efficiently.
With that said, don’t let your SEO team use disparate tools. Everyone needs to pull information from the same place to get the results you need.
But even if your team is using the same tools, often these tools don’t speak to each other.
Brands interested in predictable SEO should invest in platforms that pull all SEO information together in one place. Whether it’s Moz, Hubspot, or dozens of other SEO platforms, this is your best bet for giving your team consistent, actionable data.
3. Look at your competitors
While it’s important to benchmark against yourself, you still need to know what your competitors are up to. In fact, the right blend of SEO and competitor analysis will help you get more predictable SEO results.
First of all, make sure you’re looking at the right competitors. If you’re a small shoe shop that sells custom Italian leather shoes, you shouldn’t benchmark your SEO performance against Nike or Adidas.
Second, invest in SEO research software like Spyfu that helps you see how competitors structure their SEO. You can even score competitors using your internal benchmarking system to compare against them, apples to apples.
4. Insights over raw numbers
As great as data can be, raw information alone won’t make your SEO more predictable. Humans need to take raw data and process it into actionable insights that mean something.
And once you understand these insights, you need to improve on them. By synthesizing your data into one software, it’ll be much easier to spot issues and quickly implement changes.
5. Balance human and robot needs
Your SEO may be all over the place because you focus too much or too little on SEO. The difficult part about SEO is that it should balance the needs of the humans and the search engine crawlers visiting your website.
In your efforts to stand out to search engine crawlers, you can’t overload your site with spammy keywords. Human users will hate that and bounce from your site. On the other hand, if you appeal too much to human users and don’t give any consideration to SEO keywords, you’ll never get found on search engines.
Strike a balance between human and machine to get the predictable SEO results your brand needs to boost rankings.
The Bottom Line
We can’t make SEO 100% predictable because we don’t control search engine algorithms. However, there are steps brands can take to do SEO more consistently.
But SEO still isn’t easy. To do it well, you need to have a knowledgeable pro at the helm. If you still aren’t getting results on your site, it’s time to shift gears. Get in touch with Logical Media Group’s team of experienced SEO strategists to brainstorm your next move.