Dusting off the SEO program

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Few chores are as frustrating as dusting. Some might say that it is best to just let things be, letting the dust pile up. After all, the minute one rearranges a shelf, it is obvious that work must be done.

And so it is with an SEO program.

A few months after the site has been recently built or optimized to meet the criteria of search engine spiders, the dust begins to collect. Unfortunately, it is not until enough content has been moved or added that the tell-tale dust traces are noticed. In the worst- case scenario, enough dust has built so that guests cease to come by.

It never ceases to amaze me how frequently marketing managers ask if they can execute search engine optimization in a single shot. "Can't I just pay once?" "What is the best tool to get the job done and be over with it?" "Aren't there any agencies that will do this and then move on?"

It's time to consider search engine optimization as an ongoing investment. While you have a choice over whether you hire an agency or execute search engine optimization internally, it is still an ongoing job with a budget line item attached. Just in case your higher ups disagree, here are three reasons why it pays to invest:

New content. Like my dusty shelves, Web sites rarely stay the same for too long. Pages are added or subtracted. Branding evolves. Language is modified. Whether you are closing out DVD players or orchestrating a massive brand experience, it is highly likely that things will change over time. The golden rule is this: anytime something changes, search engine optimization must be addressed.

New competition. Of course, if your site changes, so will your competitors. There's nothing like realizing that enemy No. 1 has just relaunched a site, decimating your search rankings. A good portion of search engine optimization should be focused on how competitors are faring. Your SEO team should constantly be asking how well are they scoring for particular keywords. Is it their content? Links? How can we best compete?

New visitors (or perhaps just new language). Consumers also evolve over time. New audiences might require niche content to meet their needs. This content, of course, must be optimized. It is also possible that your existing client base has changed its behavior, using new language or searching differently. This behavior should be observed on a monthly basis and trended over time. A bonus from this data is the fact that it can be folded into your firm's overarching messaging.

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