My 4 New Year’s Resolutions For A New Year Of SEO

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Normally, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. The implication is that you only improve yourself once a year, often on a problem that has persisted for most of the year prior.

In digital, we already know we can’t work like that. We have to improve ourselves and our tactics constantly throughout the year. We can’t guest post and article spam all of 2014, knowing it’s a problem, and then just resolve to change it at the new year.

But I’m trying something different this year — maybe because SEO is a different beast with different problems, or maybe because I’ve been getting soft and complacent. Who knows?

We all signed an implicit pledge when we started working in digital to make the web the best place possible, and there are some things I realized I either need to change or should have been doing all along in order to do that. So let’s give this New Year’s resolution thing a try.

Resolution #1: I Will Stop Obsessing Over New Tools And Instead Learn One Tool Really, Stinking Well.

New tools pop up every day that pledge to “change the way we do XXXX forever” or insist that they are “the one XXX tool you can’t live without.” It’s easy to get distracted by these shiny new objects.

SEOs are obsessed with new tools almost as much as we’re obsessed with links. We leave every conference with a dozen we just have to buy, and we one-up our peers by spewing off tools we think they don’t know about.

2015 will undoubtedly bring new tools for mobile SEO, multi-touch attribution and social analytics among many, many others; and while these may, in fact, change your life, it’s likely you already have a tool in your repertoire that does something similar.

So instead of knowing a little about a lot of different tools, I’m resolving to knowing a lot about one – and for me, that’s BrightEdge. I’ve always used BrightEdge for keyword tracking, but that just scratches the service to everything that it’s capable of doing.

My close second choice is Google Webmaster Tools, which every SEO has accessed at least two dozen times. Just recently, I realized how much it tells you – for free, I might add – like giving you the data to create your own click-through rate study rather than relying on others. You can also use it to track title tag and meta description A/B testing by looking at click-through rate and average position.

Resolution #2: I Will Look At My Data Every. Single. Day.

The first day of the month is usually the worst day of the month for SEOs because it’s reporting day. All too often, it’s also the only day of the month we actually look at our numbers.

I’ve been guilty of that offense on more than one occasion, but no more.

No, I won’t look at all of my data points every single day. That could easily take all morning, every morning, and I’d just be setting myself up to fail. Plus, things in digital often don’t move that quickly, and there isn’t as much fluctuation day in and day out, so I’d rather not waste my time agonizing over numbers that might not even matter in the long run.

I’m still working out the specifics based on what I see works as I get into it, but I’ll look at revenue and traffic every day. Weekly, I’ll look at a high-level roll-up of all of my keywords, spotting the biggest winners and losers to see if anything sticks out. Dashboards are going to be your best friend here.

Note: This isn’t reporting on data every day because we don’t need to drown ourselves (or our C-suite) in reports instead of actually, you know, working.

Resolution #3: I Will Really, Really Try To Report On Multi-Touch Attribution.

It’s hard, man, I know. The average customer journey these days resembles more of spiderweb than a linear progression.

Many people have already dubbed 2015 the year of multi-touch attribution, and they’re right in the sense that we need to pay more attention to it – but do I think that we’re going to get to a point in 2015 where we’ve figured it out? Not even close.

Still, I know I can’t rely on one-touch anymore. That doesn’t tell the whole story. I don’t know anyone who searches one phrase on Google, finds one website, and then immediately buys something from the one page they landed on. It just doesn’t work like that anymore.

It’s more likely they’ll see a Hulu commercial, ask for a recommendation from their Facebook friends, read a blog about this new great service, forget the exact product their friend mentioned, Google a closely-related search term to the original product, scan a couple of websites, and then buy – or even better, buy it in a store.

How do we report on that? We’ve come a long way, but our 60-day cookies aren’t nearly that sophisticated. Since the technology isn’t quite there yet, I can at least resolve to think in terms of multi-touch attribution in all of my reporting.

We know SEO is top- of-funnel. We know it’s used in the research phase, so we know to expect a low conversion rate, but just because they’re leaving the site doesn’t mean they’ll never purchase.

Resolution #4: I Will Pick My Battles.

I used to work for a small agency where I could pretty much do (and get) whatever I wanted for our digital strategy. I had rank, I had been there forever, and more importantly, I had the access to physically make the change myself, whether it was fixing a typo in our website content or implementing an email marketing campaign.

Now, I work for a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company where access is limited to those who only really need it, and every task involves at least two other people from two different departments. Needless to say, you’re not going to get everything you want, and frankly, you can’t ask for everything that you want.

Regardless of the situation that you’re in, there is not enough time in the day to fight every fight and test every theory. Prioritization is critical for 2015, so when you start thinking of what battle you’re going to fight, consider these things:

  • How Much Benefit Is This Going To Bring? Monetary, yes, but sometimes it’s about the networking. Will this help someone you have hard a time building a relationship with? Will this further the divide?
  • How Much Time Is This Going To Take? How Much Is This Going To Cost? Everyone is looking for quick wins with the “biggest bang” that cost nothing. but very rarely will all three of those fall in line. (And by very rarely, I mean never.) Weigh the cost and effort against the benefit.

You only have so much capital to work with. Don’t waste it all on something that isn’t worth it.

Those are just my four. What are yours? What have you been doing in 2014 that you’re resolving to stop or change in 2015?

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