Don’t be tempted by quick results in search engines. It is better to keep your technique and SEO approach natural when targeting competitive keywords. One trend I have noticed pertaining to search engine optimization that still persists is the inability to grasp time lines for organic or natural optimization. Granted, we live in an I want it now type of society, but some things like trust and authority status in search engines must be earned rather than rushed.
Since the inception of search engines, there have been attempts to exploit every loophole using every manor of abuse from cloaking, keyword stuffing, link schemes and every possible imaginable tactic to exploit their algorithms to artificially inflate relevance for pages.
As a result of battery, trial, error and recovery, search engines are weathered veterans and prepared algorithmically to spot any type of unnatural pattern or anomaly that does not coincide with a natural organic growth rate ranging from on page and off page continuity.
Real SEO Means Scaling Results Over Time
Chronology and using a time line for optimization and scaling it over time is the most misunderstood elements organic/ natural search engine optimization. It is not always about how much SEO costs or the budget involved, there are just some things that require timing and patience to acquire, regardless of the tactic involved.
Link velocity is one of such attributes, it is not natural for a website to have multiple links appear with duplicate shingles across multiple or clustered IP addresses (as this indicates automation).
For example, it is not natural for a website to go from having 10 pages to 10,000 pages in one month. It is not natural for a website to instantly gain 2000 subscribers on an RSS feed without adding fresh content in months. The point being, your website is gauged by the curiosity of surfers, the content you produce and the value proposition you offer.
These are the metrics that translate into website popularity and authority. As a result, things like increases in RSS subscriptions, a reasonable amount of backlinks (linking to your content), and a steady growth over time in base level traffic (1,000 to 4,000 visitors a month, not 1,000 to 250,000 visitors a month) is considered natural.
In order to get past the sophisticated trust rank algorithm, certain cues and signals must be present (for extended periods of time) before your site is acknowledged as a real contributor to the industry or (semantic) niche your content is focused upon.
I stress the importance of understanding this delicate chronology and not only developing content and links over time to accommodate a natural rate of growth for your website, how optimized it is, how many external links you attract, etc. There is no faster way to end up at the bottom of search results (buried somewhere past page 11 in obscurity) if you trip a penalty for over optimization (which is the result of abusing or using unnatural methods to inflate your position).
Each keyword has a unique threshold and each industry has its own degree of competition. The idea is, if you are starting fresh (not ranking for anything related) you want to (a) set the tone for future optimization through using overlapping keywords (unique modifiers, singular, plural, superimposed keywords, as well as synonyms) to create familiarity, then as time progresses, use each page as a piece of the puzzle to internally link them together to accomplish the crowning achievement (your trophy keyword or key phrase).
Essentially, starting with multiple 3 word variations that have a lower barrier to entry (such as less than 100,000 competing pages) is an ideal way to (a) cut your teeth and build relevance as well as (b) see incremental gains in traffic over a short period of time. Going after the word “internet” or “sales” or “marketing” with a new website and expecting to rank for them quickly is an exercise in futility.
Keywords that are that broad and competitive are not always worth the effort to acquire. You are much better off acquiring keywords that are specific to the landing page they are most suited for, that have a high concentration of search volume and low number of competitors targeting those exact phrases. As a result, you can essentially devour multiple keywords with traffic that can (a) increase the bottom line and website conversion while (b) creating relevance for the root phrase they embrace.
When tackling a competitive keyword, it is not always about what you have to “fix” to get there, it is more about starting with a goal in mind initially, then crafting a site (or a segment of the site) specifically around that ranking objective.
90% of SEO projects are based on dilemma where that are stating with (1) a broken / non optimized site, (2) marginal content on the subject (3) sparse internal linking if any at all (4) no history of high crawl or indexing rates from search engines (5) not enough backlinks (or deep links to sub pages) to be of consequence for rankings or (6) a plethora of challenges from URL parameters or entire segments of the site that are not friendly or conducive to search engines due to programming preferences. Yet at the same time, all that the prospect cares about is ranking for the industries “trophy keyword” or crowning key phrase.
Sadly, considering SEO after the fact means that your site already has a history of not ranking (which will take some time to undo). So, until some process intervenes, it will remain that way unless you know something we do not about organic optimization. SEO’s are not magicians; there is more science to the method than most understand.
Just as search engines are not just thrown together with bubble gum and duct tape, creating a viable search engine ranking strategy must embrace all of the countermeasures they have in place to detect and eliminate unnatural patterns, while providing value, quality and appeal while integrating best practices in order to stay on the good side of search engines (if you value free editorial traffic).
When you start after the fact with SEO as an afterthought, you essentially have to “get in line” behind all of the prior websites that have started optimizing those keywords before you and essentially “earn your” way to the top.
Fortunately for most, websites that enjoy top rankings have a tendency to become complacent once they have reached a suitable summit. The good news is, through a systematic application of content, links, traffic or (D) all of the above, a website further down the food chain can evolve and devour the competition and market share with the right cues.
However going back to one of the real topics for discussion that spawned this article, you should start with a feasible range of keywords (that are within your reach) while developing inroads for more competitive keywords over time.
If the keyword you are targeting is competitive 1,000,000 competing pages or more, depending on your website, the age, authority and trust it has, as well as the amount of content you have to work with (5 pages 20 pages, 500 pages, etc.) when initiating an SEO campaign all determine the amount of time it will take to acquire favorable positions for the said keywords.
SEO is not just something you do; it is a continual process that perpetuates self sustaining momentum over time. It’s not just about keywords, it is about market share and constantly broadening the funnel to reap additional rewards from searchers in need of a solution, product or service.
Depending on the amount of relevance, trust and authority each website has, essentially determines who ranks at the helm of those respective keywords and who does not. So, for anyone seeking to “skip in line” and cheat the system when it comes to search engine algorithms, do so at your own risk.
The proof is in the pudding with SEO results and just like Newton’s law for every action, there is an equal or greater reaction, so choose which actions you put into play wisely if you want to rise above others who have started before your conquest or endeavor to grace the top 10 results for any competitive keyword.