Are you Proactive or Reactive?

Some SEOs have been telling folks far and wide, for a long time, that it’s the proactive SEO that has the advantage in their optimization efforts. Flexible, proactive, adaptive, future-proofing… these are terms most of us have heard many times in this context.

SEO's last stand

Proactive SEO? What a Concept!

Obviously, that makes a lot of sense, and many of us practice that religiously. Others, unfortunately, jump on every new shiny gimmick that appears, and ride it into the ground.
Personally, as a consultant for many years, I don’t feel that’s the best use of our clients’ money.

People go to consultants for advice and guidance, and it should be a reasonable assumption that a consultant will spend their client’s money as though it were their own – responsibly. Latching onto a technique that is obviously going to provide only short term benefits is not what’s considered to be responsible use of resources.

Be Prepared

Google is in a constant state of flux. They apply for patents on concepts that are never acted upon. They implement features that are later tossed aside. Like any business, they sometimes file patents simply to keep an idea out of the reach of their competition.

Be Prepared for Google

So granted, guessing what they’ll do next does involve some level of uncertainty. Welcome to the real world. As they say in the US Marines: Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

In other words, get over it!

It makes me nuts when I see a bunch of so-called SEOs or Internet marketers bitching and whining about Google having made this change or that, and destroying their livelihood.

I haven’t been playing in the SEO schoolyard since Day One, I’ll admit, but in the last eight years that I have been around it, I have yet to see anyone’s livelihood “destroyed” unless they were either on the far side of legal/ethical behavior or were putting way too many eggs in one basket.

Don’t Blame Google. Google is Your Friend!

Can you get hurt if the directory where you uploaded all those hundreds of articles is suddenly de-indexed? Sure! Can it pinch a little if the thousands of links you purchased from a blog network are suddenly devalued? Absolutely!

If you had used your head and not left yourself so vulnerable to a single arrow, would it have been smarter? You’re damned right! When it comes right down to it, you did it to yourself, by not being smarter about the way you went about optimizing that site.

And that’s fine – provided it’s your site. I won’t feel sorry for you. You’re certainly entitled to handle your own site however you see fit.

Stop Draggin’ Em Down With You!

But I DO feel sorry for your client, if you didn’t make damned sure they understood all the ramifications of any risky actions, as well as the fact that even acceptable practices can suddenly become unacceptable overnight.

It’s your job to make them understand that, and help them mitigate the risks by implementing an optimization strategy that doesn’t make them unduly vulnerable on any single front.

Sorry, kids… if you’re not doing that, then in my opinion, you’re a sorry-assed excuse of a consultant.

Risk vs. Reward

Thankfully, I’ve seen relatively few people in this business nonchalantly put their clients at risk. I’m comfortable that they’re a tiny minority. Unfortunately, though, I see a lot of SEOs and Internet marketers put their clients at risk every day, by failing to use a strategy that limits the damage that can be done by just one change to Google’s algorithms.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not one that considers the Google Webmaster Guidelines to be a sacred edict. I determine my ethics, not the search engines. But my ethics are cast in stone… they’re not situational. That means that when I take a client’s money, they deserve the best I can give them, and that includes being proactive on their behalf.

Divide and Conquer

Just as I build link profiles from diverse sources, I try to diversify all aspects of my client’s optimization and marketing.

  • Anchor text
  • linking sites
  • technologies such as RDFa
  • HTML5+CSS3 or Schema.org
  • social media
  • video marketing…

there’s a long list of possibilities. But it’s not a “pick one” list.

Focusing on just one aspect can leave my client out of luck if the search engines suddenly make that aspect ineffective (or worse yet, penalize it). The last thing I (or my client) want is to have to scramble to react to a major algorithm change. By implementing a limited-focus strategy that addresses the newest, shiniest method, I’m left in a scramble mode if that shine suddenly tarnishes.

The Only Thing that Never Changes is that Things Always Change

It’s normal enough that we’ll try to repeat past successes by using the techniques that delivered the goods the last time. But if we learn nothing else in this business, we should certainly know by now that nothing stays the same for long.

We can give ourselves and our clients a tremendous edge, even if we can’t accurately predict changes, by at least being balanced.

Hone Your Technique

In martial arts, balance is at the heart of every technique. Without it, you can be moved in directions you don’t want to go.

I think the same holds true in our industry… always maintaining a balance can keep you from being put in a reactive mode, being pulled in directions in which you’re not yet prepared to move.

Balance your stratagies

So, taking an objective look at your current projects, are you balanced in your approach, or are you, instead, trusting your ability to react quickly? If it’s the latter, I think you’re doing yourself and your clients a disservice.

About Doc Sheldon

Doc Sheldon has been providing SEO consulting services for 14 years. His passions are technical on-page SEO and the Semantic Web. Fluent in Spanish, he has also provided consulting services to several large clients, specializing in cross-border operations in Latin America. Early on, he saw exciting potential for those that could figure out what the search engines might do next, and were willing to work within the guidelines set by the search engines. To that end, he first founded his content strategy agency, and later launched his SEO agency, now serving clients on four continents with content, WP web development and SEO services.

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