How SEO and Diets Are Alike

by Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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Diet is a four letter word. 

Unfortunately, I’ve been down the diet path quite a few times in my life.

I fall into familiar patterns… eating very healthy for several months, achieving my goal weight, reveling in my new-found slimness and then… okay, it’s back to eating “normally” (i.e. the way I used to pre-diet).  Before I know it, I’ve regained all of the weight and eventually, I have to start all over again.

Lose Weight.  Gain Weight.  Repeat as necessary.

SEO… the Holy Grail of Internet Marketing.

A few weeks ago, I sat down at a client meeting and proposed a Facebook contest. This client (rightfully so) has always placed a high value on SEO.  But when I suggested a contest, the response was, “How is this going to affect my SEO?”

I was sort of floored by this question.  Not by the question, but that it came from this particular client.  We had previously run a contest hosted on the client’s blog, but publicized on the Facebook wall.  This blog was launched specifically for the contest, with the intention to utilize it extensively down the road.  During the contest, my client routinely came up as #2 in Google searches (the person planted at #1 had 28 reviews on Google).  Lots of clicks were going on, helping to gain visibility through search engines.  It was exciting!

After the contest ended, the client needed a well-deserved break from contests.  I suggested we take off a month, and in the meantime, use the blog to continue building on the SEO earned during the contest.  I even did a personal tutorial with the client, demonstrating how to use WordPress.  

I realize my client is a very smart and busy person.  I also understand that blogging can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. Yet in spite of my client being given tools needed to start blogging, so far no blog posts have been published.  The engaging Facebook, Twitter and YouTube content has continued, but nothing extra.

And now, my client asks why the SEO isn’t as high as it was during the contest.

Constant Maintenance.

My least favorite phase of every diet is the maintenance phase. I’ve lost the weight… I’m where I want to be. So why can’t I eat whatever I want?  

Because anybody who has ever successfully lost weight only to regain it later knows the sad but irrefutable truth… If you want to keep the weight off, it’s critical to maintain behaviors that involve healthy food choices and exercise on a regular basis. There’s just no way around it. (Sad and boring, but true.)

Here’s the connection: SEO, like weight loss, is something you have to work hard to maintain. Those of us who call ourselves “bloggers” can testify that on days when we publish blog posts, our web traffic goes through the roof. On non-publishing days, traffic plummets.  This is why many people recommend blogging 3-5 times per week (which is clearly not always realistic or doable). My personal goal is to blog once per week.

What are the results of regular blogging?  When I launched my business in Sept. 2010, searching for “Project Social” brought my site to page 8 on Google.  And now?  Well, check it out for yourself right here.

Many businesses are interested in (but also confused by) SEO.  They all understand the importance of being at the top of Google search results, but if they want to get there organically (i.e. no paid advertising), the best way to do it is to regularly post content to engage fans, persuading them to become evangelists for their business.

SEO is NOT a one-time activity.

So SEO really is like a diet.  If you want to maintain your weight loss, then you don’t go back to your old ways that cause weight gain.  And if my client truly wants to maintain the high SEO achieved after the successful contest, then blogging (and publicizing the blog posts in appropriate media streams) or doing another contest would be the way to go.  SEO MUST be built on a regular basis, not sporadically.

And just to clear things up, Facebook is NOT an SEO platform.  Facebook is an engagement platform, and when content is posted which causes people to comment, like or share, the search engines DO pick that up.  (Read more about that here.)  However, if SEO is the bottom line for businesses, then I recommend blogging… or setting up a business page on Google+.

Next week, I’ll post a blog explaining how a business page on Google+ can be beneficial for SEO.

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