Relying Too Heavily On SEO Leaves Your Website Vulnerable

My heart goes out to all the website and business owners that felt the wrath of the Google Panda updates last year and the Penguin update back in April of this year. After the rollout of those two

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updates my SEO company received an influx of calls from panicked site owners wanting to know A — where they had gone wrong, and B — was there anything I could do to help them recover their lost traffic and rankings. Some of these site owners easily lost 80 percent or more of their traffic and their entire business was on the verge of collapse because of it. I felt especially bad for the site owners that didn’t know where they had gone wrong and couldn’t understand why their site had been penalized. Many of these site owners, who hadn’t been able to afford a white hat, full service SEO firm, had either outsourced their SEO to a black hat company or tried to do it on their own. Obviously something had gone very, very wrong — without them even knowing how or why — and they were paying the price for it.

While I would never wish to see any site owner in such a dire position, situations like this only reaffirm a point I’ve been making for years about SEO — if you rely too heavily on SEO to keep your business alive you’re putting everything at risk.

1. The search engines don’t “owe” you anything.

Obviously the search engines want you to do a good job with your SEO. After all, when a well-written

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and optimized site does a good job with their SEO it helps clean up the search results (hopefully keeping the spammers at bay) and gives the search engines a better product. Remember, the search engines are trying to run a business, just like you or I. You might sell pet supplies or IT services; they sell the search experience. It is not Google or Bing’s job to help your business survive. Your success is only relevant to them as long as your site provides the best information for their users. Once your site is no longer the “best” they are under no obligation to keep your site high in the SERPs. What other online and offline marketing channels do you have in place to protect your site should that happen? Could your website take a hit and keep on trucking?

2. What if Google vanished tomorrow?

Admittedly, the odds of Google falling off the face of the earth are poor, but look at some of the

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other former Internet giants that are no more (or holding on by a thread); Digg, MySpace, AOL — they were all once the undisputed kings of their online space and where are they now? Should Google topple someday (albeit it will probably be a slow demise and not an overnight death) where would that leave your website? How would visitors find your website if Google didn’t exist? Those other marketing channels become a lot more important when you think about it that way. Even if the majority of your traffic is coming from the search engines, you want to make sure your site could survive should is disappear.

3. Good marketing is good SEO; good SEO is good marketing.

SEO is just another form of online marketing, alongside content marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), online banner ads, retargeting and more. All of those elements make up the

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whole puzzle; SEO is just one piece. It’s important to remember that just because you are doing SEO that doesn’t mean you can forgo all your other marketing efforts, both online and offline. The more touch points you can create with your audience the better. Most consumers aren’t prepared to purchase something from the first website they see, even if it’s a relatively simple purchase. The more complex the buying cycle the more touch points you need to create and the stronger a relationship you need to create with your target audience along the way.
It may sound strange coming from an SEO professional, but site owners cannot rely on SEO along to keep their business alive. While SEO is an important part of the mix it is by no means the only part. Failing to diversify your marketing efforts leaves your site in a very vulnerable position should things ever go wrong with your SEO, the SERPs or the search engines.

About the Author

Nick Stamoulis is president and founder of Boston-based SEO and social media marketing firm Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of industry experience, Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO articles to his blog the Search Engine Optimization Journal and publishes the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, which is read by over 150,000 subscribers. Read Nick Stamoulis’ full PubCon speaker biography here.

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