The Most Important SEO Advice Most People Never Learn

A lot of people look at search engine optimization (SEO) as some sort of holy grail. They operate on the mistaken belief that if they can only master the sacred art of SEO, their website will shoot to the top of the search engine results page. To be blunt, this is false.

SEO is just one facet of website management. Together with social media marketing, content creation, lead generation and conversion; and web design, it’s part of a unified whole. Yet even if these five tasks are all done to perfection, it is not a guarantee of success.

More importantly, even a perfect content strategy and peerless SEO cannot fix a broken brand. 

Maybe you’re lagging behind your competitors. While they keep pushing out cool and exciting new products and services, you’re still struggling with product development. While they have a good handle on one another, you’re constantly stuck playing catch-up.

Maybe you’ve committed some terrible faux pas that’s damaged your brand’s reputation. An executive made a problematic remark on social media. A faulty product caused endless frustration, injury, or worse. 

Or maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe your brand has simply faded into obscurity, replaced by newer, shinier competitors. When the time came to pivot and adjust to a changing market, you were either unwilling or unable to respond, and now you’re paying for it.

Until you address this problem and repair the damage to your brand, no amount of marketing in the world will bring you back into the spotlight. Until you can make your business engaging and compelling to its target audience, it doesn’t really matter how much traffic you bring to your website. SEO cannot help you here, and this is something we see businesses consistently fail to understand.

Instead, what you need to do is take a step back, figure out what’s broken, and take steps to fix it. Your first step is to get your organization’s leadership on board. This is a requirement for any major cultural shift, but repairing a damaged brand especially.

A poor reputation is arguably the easiest of the three to deal with, believe it or not. Endeavor to understand why your audience is upset and what you can do to mitigate that, then issue a formal, public apology.  As part of that apology, make a commitment to do better moving forward, and make the necessary cultural changes to fulfill that commitment.

Bringing your brand up to speed with its competitors is a bit more challenging. You need to identify the bottleneck in your product design and development process. What is causing you to lag so far behind, and what can you do to solve that issue?

Pivoting to a new business model and brand identity is perhaps the most challenging of the three. You’re going to need to completely rework not just your organizational culture, but very likely revisit your revenue model and product suite. Very few companies successfully pull this off, but if you want a few examples, we’ve listed some of the most successful below.

  • YouTube
  • Slack
  • Groupon
  • Yelp
  • BlackBerry
  • Shopify 
  • PayPal 
  • Netflix 

SEO is a powerful tool, but it’s not a panacea for all that ails you. Without a strong business foundation and brand identity, it’s irrelevant how well-optimized your website happens