How Real-World SEO Practices Can Differ from Google’s Advice

If you’re a marketer, then you know what it’s like to be frustrated by Google’s seemingly whimsical rules and standards. The advice they give to the SEO community doesn’t always translate to real life.

How Real-World SEO Practices Can Differ from Google's Advice

Getting mixed results for the same strategy

You’ve seen it happen before: An SEO strategy works flawlessly on Client A but fails completely on Client B. A formula that works for one client won’t necessarily work for another, even when they’re fundamentally the same. It’s annoying—even depressing. But you’re not alone. This is a problem for many SEOs.

Here’s the reality: Because so many factors affect the overall ranking system, you can have a tactic that works for 10 clients but doesn’t work for five. This seems to conflict with Google’s promise of a democratic ranking system. But here’s what’s happening: The main idea behind the strategy may be right, but the rest of the story that’s guiding how Google is interpreting the rankability and SEO value isn’t lined up the same way for Client B as it was for Client A.

Does this mean that Google is misrepresenting their rules or is lying about how they rank websites? No. It’s just a complex environment. As a marketer, you need to be able to keep your emotions in check and keep your mind open.

Google claims that the SEO industry is overcomplicating what they do, and that everything is really much simpler than we try to think it is. Perhaps they are right—perhaps SEOs are guilty of overanalyzing while neglecting the basics. 

Real-world coping skills

Creativity and the ability to see the bigger picture goes a long way in real-world SEO. Don’t be limited by conventional thinking such as “link building has this impact,” or “publishing content at this volume has that impact.” It’s no longer that simple. It used to be in the old days, but algorithms have come a long way.

To rank in Google, you have to think like Google. Put yourself in their shoes. They are in the business of trying to serve the best results to get the best overall engagement from their users, which ultimately preserves their market share and drives the most ad clicks. Serving the best search results is good for their bottom line—so that’s what they’re trying to accomplish.

Given this, what can you do as an SEO? Three things:

  • Publish really good stuff,
  • Promote it really well (make sure people know about it), and
  • Care about user experience.

In other words, build a website so good that Google will be embarrassed not to rank it.

It’s not enough to find 5 top-ranking keywords related to your market space, produce a piece of content for all of them, and then call it a day. This kind of linear strategy won’t fly in real-world SEO.

Instead, think about the breadth and depth of your content in a way that’s completely different from what you’ve been conditioned to think.

Ask yourself: How can I satisfy the maximum number of users visiting the site? A majority of them are likely looking for information that involves those 5 keywords you built pages for, but they might have 20 other questions that you haven’t addressed. Be sure to satisfy those other questions to improve user experience and eventually boost your rankings.

Dealing with downturns

In the meantime, how to stay on top of a sudden downturn in rankings? This is another common SEO dilemma.

The key is to set the right expectations right from the start. Have a policy of transparency. From the very beginning, educate yourself and the stakeholders on what search really is. Make it clear that ups and downs are inevitable. Steer them to long term goals, not short-term gains.

Here are SEOValley, we specialize in creative SEO that truly works in the real world. Contact us today if you’re interested in collaborating.