As I mentioned in the opening article, online marketing drives me crazy for many reasons. This is Part 2 of the series, and we’ll specifically address search engine optimization or SEO.

The classic meaning of SEO is to “optimize” your website so that it shows up “at the top” of the search results for specific search terms. There are innumerable articles, blogs, videos and so on how to to “do” SEO to beat the search engines. People try to reverse-engineer the secret sauce to figure out the exact formula to always get to the top. People closely follow Matt Cutts from Google, and if he farts, the whole SEO community reacts and runs around re-coding their websites.

To me, there are several issues with all of this.

First of all, I tell people in my class that Google has 1 trillion web pages indexed in their database, and as SEO experts, it’s our job to beat all 1 trillion pages to get our page to position number one.

Simple, right? Hmmm.

First of all, just taking the basics of what we know about Google, there are perhaps 200-500 factors that Google uses to determine who “wins”. We don’t even know what all the factors are. Sure, we can talk Title and META tags, header tags, link juice, URL structure, yadda yadda. Those are a few. What are the rest? And more importantly, do we honestly have any control over them? How much influence do each of those factors have on the actual search results? It’s like trying to take a cake and back out all the ingredients. It doesn’t work.

Furthermore, Google changes the rules (or the “recipe”) every day. So today’s recipe won’t be what it will be tomorrow. It’s like there’s a secret random passcode that regenerates every day, subtly different each time, and you don’t actually know what the passcode is.

Next, Google uses personalization to generate the search engine results page (SERP). This means that as more of us use our various Google accounts (Gmail, Google+, YouTube, etc.), Google is keeping track of everything. What do we search for? What do we interact with? What do we click on? What do we bounce out of? It’s all being tracked and tied back to us individually.

Some people get freaked out by this. It’s really a good thing, because if I’m searching for “fishing equipment” in Google, do I want fly, bass or ocean fishing stuff? If Google knows that I like a particular type of fishing, they’ll deliver more appropriate results to me based on my own preferences and history. So based on this, there is no “top” or “number one” position, because it’s different for everyone, as I wrote in this article last year.

So What’s the Right Way to do SEO?

This all sounds pretty bleak, right? Yes and no. The bottom line is that as much as we want to try, we have absolutely no way to predict or control our position within the search engines. Even if you were to do a perfect job today (if that existed), a competitor might do a more perfect job based on the new rules tomorrow, and overtake you.

So as business owners, what should we be doing? Throw our hands up in despair and walk away? Absolutely not.

It’s very simple. Set up your website with “proper” SEO factors and forget about all the rest of the noise.

  1. Make sure every single page on your website has a great, keyword-rich page title
  2. Make sure every single page has a great, compelling page description
  3. Make sure every single page has great, compelling content (text, videos, etc.)
  4. Create more great content in your blog and publish it on a regular basis (daily, weekly, at a bare minimum, monthly)

That’s it. I say, “Set it, and forget it.” Since we don’t really have a lot of control over most of it, I can’t worry about it or obsess about if my position is 3 or 5 for a specific keyword (more on this in part 4 of this article series), because it’ll change tomorrow.

So just stop and take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK.

What are your thoughts? Please comment and let me know below.