HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Too much SEO can be a Bad Thing

…or just because you CAN do some SEO does not mean you should.

I recently stumbled across a few client situations that had one thing in common – like kids with a box of matches – just because they could do some search engine optimization “thingy” doesn’t mean they should have.

A business owner had heard that they should “get with the Google Places program”. Well this business owner did get with the do-it-yourself program, and did see good results. Then they thought, “if I have one Places listing doing very well in Google SERPs, two would be better”. And then there were three, and then four was even better. He thought, “I can own the entire SERP (page) and get even more visitors!” …until there were nine Places listings. Yes. There were now 9 different Google Places listings for this same business. The method to accomplish this is pretty easy to figure out. Each department could have its own listing (address) because each had a unique phone number (to validate the listing).

And as you might have already guessed why I have written about this, things took a turn and listings started to disappear while traffic tanked for keywords vital to this business. Interestingly, his reflex in the face of being penalized, was to do more. Frightening when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be when Google decides you have gone too far – Spam!

We deleted all those spammy duplicates and waited. After a few weeks, things returned to a very respectable normal for the business’s real location(s). How is that for a fancy solution?

But some business owners (and many SEOs), having gotten bitten by the Internet Marketing bug, have a very hard time accepting the advice that sometimes doing nothing is the best SEO strategy.

I recalled a post at Webmasterworld, a question asked by one SEO to the community was “What single thing would you recommend to improve search rank?”  Approximately 50% of the responses were “Nothing”.

For the business owner, solid SEO means doing the basics very very well. Make sure the website does not have errors or other nonsense that looks good to people but inhibits search indexing of the site. This kind of basic SEO can’t be overdone. A perfectly search engine friendly website takes lots of wisdom, work and discipline – the wisdom and discipline to not overdo it is just as important as the work.

Think about it this way: How realistic is it to expect an ever-increasing number of visitors to your website? A small local business may only expect 3000 local searches from what I call viable customers (those who will actually drive to your location). Its unrealistic to want 10,000 monthly visitors in such a case. Someone 1000 miles away is not going to visit the store (period). Look in your Analytics and look at your traffic from Geo’s within a reasonable distance. Focus your SEO efforts on more of those.

Just because you CAN, does not mean you SHOULD.