Sometimes people talk about SEO (search engine optimization) as if it were a mystical art of some kind. It isn’t. It’s good business, good communication, ordinary stuff like that. If you wanted to find a metaphor for SEO, though, I think video games would be a better choice than magic. Like video games, SEO requires speed, strategy, and focus. There’s a thrill in vanquishing — excuse me, I meant in moving ahead of a competitor in the search results. and of course an equal sense of loss when they smite — or rather, when a canny competitor moves ahead of your company.
So is it a hard game or an easy one?
I can give you a solid “It depends” on that. Optimizing a page for search requires skills which are fairly rare, but those of us who have them don’t find it a particularly hard task. When you come to the fight for top ranks on the search pages, it can be quite easy or very difficult, depending on the company and the website.
If you want to predict the level of ease for your own company, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you deserve a top spot? Is your website the most useful and authoritative resource for the keyword in question? Are you a recognized leader in your field? If so, then SEO will be a matter of pointing this out to the search engines. If you don’t really deserve the spot, it’s going to be hard. Changing keywords or improving your website can both help with this issue.
- Are there a lot of orcs out to get you? It is easier to get a top spot for custom musical arrangements for brass quintets than for SEO services. The number of players, their skill levels, and the amount of time they spend on the effort makes an enormous difference. This varies from one keyword to another.
- Do you have any special challenges? A very common company name, especially if there are competitors for the name who have a very strong presence online (I’m still working on that one that’s up against a couple of government programs, Microsoft, and an Amazon offshoot), can make your task harder. Not having access to your site or having other limitations that prevent the best on-site optimization can also make things tough.
These factors affect the speed with which you can expect results, and they affect the best strategy for your online marketing. They don’t make the process any less fun, though. Just examine them with a realistic eye, and then go ahead.