When it comes to search and digital marketing, it's important not to throw all your eggs in one basket. You need to be flexible and move with the times. Otherwise there are risks to your business in plummeting profit levels or worse.
PPC and SEO
A number of businesses start out by using Pay Per Click advertising to get a kick start online, while slowly building on their presence in the organic search results over time. Some fall into the trap of getting overly confident with the progress of their organic rankings and cut down or completely stop their PPC campaign. This is a risky strategy for several reasons; firstly, you'll be losing out on potential visitors and customers who will be snatched up by your competitors. Secondly, relying exclusively on your organic listings is risky because you can't guarantee you will always hold the same rankings or indeed get the same amounts of traffic over time.
Search engine optimisation is a constant, on-going process that cannot be neglected. If you stop working on the optimisation of your site (both on and off-page) your competitors will edge ahead as they continue their marketing efforts and push their rankings above yours. Also, unless you're using an ethical digital marketing agency to manage your SEO, you risk falling in the rankings when Google updates its algorithms or makes some changes to the way it judges websites. Google is constantly changing its techniques with updated technology and more intelligent algorithms.
Using black hat techniques or doing the wrong thing (perhaps without realising it) could see your rankings fall or indeed result in you being banned from the search engines altogether. SEO practices that were perfectly acceptable years ago would now result in penalties from Google that could potentially destroy your business.
Many businesses were negatively impacted by both the Google Panda (duplicate content) and Penguin (webspam) updates which saw their rankings fall and their traffic drop drastically. Of course if those businesses (or yours) were relying exclusively on organic rankings for sales then they'd suffer diminished revenue which could even lead to bankruptcy in extreme cases. Having both a PPC campaign and an SEO strategy is obviously important, but other digital marketing techniques such as affiliate marketing, social marketing and more can help ensure you don't lose out by throwing all your search eggs in one basket.
Obsessing Over one Keyword or Phrase
Another trap many business owners fall into is an obsession with one keyword or phrase. Daily checking of rankings or obsessing over analytics stats for one keyword is not only unhealthy, it's a risky tactic. If you spent all your efforts focusing on just one key phrase the rest of your business will suffer.
This has been highlighted recently by the Google Penguin update which focussed on 'webspam' and began penalising businesses who built overly optimised sites with an excessive keyword specific anchor text link building campaign. So for example, if a business's main produce was banana protectors, their external link building would point to their site with a link 'banana protector'.
These sorts of links are obviously unnatural and manipulated as the average user would probably place a link with the company name, brand name, product name, URL or other text, rather than exclusively by the keyword or phrase. Caught by Google the links would either be devalued or penalised and many sites have seen their rankings drop as a result. It's important to vary your link building and make it as natural as possible by encouraging customers to share your products, rather than seeking links yourself.
Search Trends Over Time
There is another risk to focussing your SEO on one keyword – time. Just like in the real world, people's interest in things change over time. Advances in technology, culture and society all result in fluctuations in search in the same way they will impact offline business. Moving with the times is just important for business online as it is offline.
A perfect (and perhaps extreme) example is the search term 'mini discs' – that wonderful musical technology that was briefly popular a few years ago. A quick look at Google Insights For Search demonstrates how search traffic for that term has fallen over the last few years.
If you had a business that sold mini disc players or just mini discs and only focussed on that keyword then no doubt your business would have suffered from a drop in traffic when iPods and MP3 players became much more sought after in 2006 onwards. If those businesses didn't branch out, they'd risk being squashed by competitors and generally fading out of existence. If the business had had the foresight to sell other products and also focus an SEO campaign on those keywords then they might have survived.
It's important not to forget the 'long-tail' – that is those less competitive keywords that are still relevant to your business and drive smaller amounts of traffic to your site over time. Combined, those key terms could help generate a great deal of revenue that would otherwise be lost if you only focussed on one keyword and nothing else.
Keeping Track of Your Stats
Of course keeping track of your website stats is an important part of SEO. If you monitor your keyword rankings and the traffic generated you'll start to pick up on falls in interest in keyword and perhaps interest in other keywords that you might not have thought of. This will allow you to constantly adjust your business model to make the most of your marketing and generate better revenue levels. Avoid the pitfalls and don't throw all your search eggs in one basket!