So with the latest round of “slaps” that Google has dished out – whether Penguins or Pandas or EMD updates or whatever you want to call them, the fact that peoples’ sites have been delisted or lost rankings comes down to one thing and one thing only – questionable SEO practices.

Folks, this stuff isn’t rocket science and there are countless “SEO Experts” out there employing all manner of CRAZY techniques / strategies to try and help their clients rank their pages.  Long story short, there is no magic button nor magical tool to achieve this.  It comes down to whether your site/page is relevant to the topic and whether your site or page engages the visitor in any way shape or form so that they don’t bounce immediately from the page. 

Think about it, if you search for a particular topic using the big “G”, and you are presented with 10 search results, if you click on the 1st result and the landing page presents you with nothing REALLY useful to the topic you searched for, you bounce – or you leave the page and try the next search result.  This is pretty standard right?  Ok.  So let’s take that one step further… Why are these results there in the first place?  Why did it present me with a result that was irrelevant to the topic I searched for?   Google is doing everything it can to PREVENT this from happening – this is vital to their business, their core, their fundamental reason for existance – if the results being presented are crummy, why use Google in the first place?  

Well, many SEO’s believe they can actually outsmart Google and enact all sorts of strange hocus pocus to your site in order to make it rank for a term that it may or may not actually DESERVE to be ranked for – this is kinda crazy talk.  If an SEO is telling you they can rank your site in the first 10 results of the SERPS for a long established, super competitive keyword phrase – and your site is not presenting anything that is *materially MORE beneficial* than the existing 10 results, your existing visitor traffic is marginal, you have no social signals or nobody in the social networking world is talking about your business and there’s no “activity” on and around your site – they are frankly being unethical and pretty much lying – RUN AWAY.  Of course there are DEFINITELY some long tail terms that have weak rankings that you can rank for, but let’s say you’re a mortgage specialist or an insurance brokerage firm – those are SUPER COMPETITIVE markets and I’m afraid without a LOT OF MARKETING DOLLARS, you aint gonna outrank the people that are already there – sorry to break the news to you.   Can you outrank them?  well, technically yes but you need to do MORE than what they are already doing – and in competitive markets, they are doing a LOT.

What becomes more important as a business owner is understanding your market, capturing NEW sources of traffic beyond Google/search traffic that can bring you more business.  Keyword research is absolutely the most important thing as well as increasing the visibility of your site / business in other areas (social signals via facebook, twitter, pinterest etc).   If you aren’t incorporating these elements into your marketing mix, you aren’t going to rank or maintain your rankings vs your peers who ARE doing this – plain and simple.

So in a way, you technically CAN outrank SOME of your competition provided they are sitting on their butts and not doing some of the things I’ve mentioned.  But in most competitive markets, trying to rank for a competitive keyword is going to be pretty difficult because all your competition is doing this *OTHER stuff* besides just chasing Google rankings.

This post might not clear up anything or may even confuse you more, so please pardon my rant – but I’ve seen so many crazy things people (SEO’s) are doing for clients, it’s almost embarassing and actually scary.   

Longer story short, make sure when you engage an SEO that they fully understand your business as a whole – not just the fact you want to “rank”… who cares if you rank if when a visitor hits your link, they leave your site immediately because you haven’t optimized your site for conversions or for visitor engagement.