You know, SEO is the channel I stand with, and have stood with for over a decade now.
I recommend this channel to everyone that has a website.
You may have heard me say this before, and I’ll continue to say it –
If you have a website, you need SEO.
No ifs, no buts, you need SEO.
Even I as a marketer who’s specialised in this channel for over a decade will say to you that there are times when SEO could be risky for your site.
Let me explain…
If your site is like most sites, you’ve attained organic traffic before you’ve engaged with SEO – specifically activating it to generate you more traffic.
Isn’t it great what this channel can do for you…? This is one of the many benefits of SEO. It can generate you a lot of traffic even before you realise it’s a channel to invest in.
As a result of having attained organic traffic prior to you investing in the channel, a precedence has been set.
And this precedence, large or small, good or bad, is part of what makes up your organic visibility.
When you invest in SEO, in an attempt to improve your organic visibility, you risk disrupting what you already have established. You risk disrupting the status quo of your website. You risk worsening your organic traffic as opposed to improving it.
What do I mean by this…?
Your site, especially if it is a huge site, would most likely not have SEO best practices in place across the 3 pillars of SEO.
If you have a look at your on-page optimisation, your off-page optimisation and technical SEO, I’m sure you will find there are elements that fall short of what we, SEOs, will consider best practices.
However, those elements impact the way your site ranks. They are part of what holds-up your site – if you will.
Making changes to those elements means you’re opening up the possibility of negatively impacting your rankings.
And this is true, especially, when you have sitewide optimisation that you’re seeking to implement.
For example, let’s use Amazon as an example.
Amazon is a beast of a site.
They get shit loads of traffic from organic. They do many things right. From an SEO point of view, they do many things right.
However, their URL structure does not follow SEO best practices.
If they were to, out of the blue, aim to change their URL structure, this would be a massive risk for them.
It would be so huge a risk, it would not be an approach an SEO would be seeking to implement for the entire site – not all in one go!
This would be too much change for the site.
Change that puts the status quo at risk.
Now, every individual optimisation you carry out for your site, technically puts it at risk because it’s a change on your site, right? Every change is a risk to your organic traffic.
However, when you’re seeking a change that impacts your entire site, you’ve got to have risk analysis forefront of the SEO decisions you make.
This is why, for example, plenty of time and careful planning, with SEO, is required on a site migration project.
This isn’t just a typical change on your site, it’s a change that can, and will, impact the entire site.
So although SEO best practices may suggest you use a certain approach, your risk analysis would – and should – override it.
When you have several things on your site that requires an improvement, what you don’t want to do is aim to fix all of them at the same time.
And the bigger your site, the more you’ll want to refrain from optimisation that poses a risk to the status quo.
This is, of course, assuming the status quo is stable and generating you organic traffic.
If this is the case, you’re already established. You’ll want to improve your establishment, not make major changes that will risk your site’s visibility.
So how do you SEO when SEO poses a risk to your site?
Well, you go slow.
I know this may sound counter intuitive but it’s a risk-less approach.
I know the conventional thinking would be to optimise your entire site but this may be the worse thing you could do.
You may come across several elements on your site that needs to be improved. You may conclude that fixing them all at the same time, and quickly, will lead to you seeing an increase in traffic, and quicker, but this may lead to the exact opposite of what you want.
There are times when SEO best practices are in direct conflict with what’s working for your site.
Going ahead to act on them could be detrimental to your site.
If, for example, you have a site that has several products all over the place, structurally, rather than seeking to restructure the entire site, you’ll be better off doing so a product or two at a time.
You can be very strategic with this approach.
You could tier your products and then begin the restructure with a product group that will have the most impact, after the restructure.
Heck, if you wanted to be extra careful and test a restructure, you could pick a product that currently isn’t performing well but has a good potential to be a traffic-driver – should the restructure be successful.
This would be far better than seeking to improve the performance of the entire site by restructuring the entire site.
In your well-intentioned attempt to improve performance, you stand a high chance of worsening it with this approach.
It could set you back by months, if not years.
This is the risk you face when you choose to optimise the entire site in one shot.
If you haven’t been hit by an algorithm change, if you haven’t seen a regression in your SEO, you needn’t use a top-down approach to make improvements on your site.
It may be too risky.
And as much as I am an SEO guy, even I will say to you, you ought to mitigate risk when you go-about optimising your site.
So please, before you drive forward with your goal, take a step back and think of the risk you may pose to your site by using the wrong SEO approach.
And never, ever, implement SEO best practices simply for the sake of ‘good SEO’.
The stability of your site, in the SERPs, depends on you avoiding this mistake.