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Why Good SEO is like Weight Loss

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I get to talk to a wide variety of prospective clients about search engine optimization and internet marketing in general.

The amount of information about what search engine optimization is, is as varied as the motivations of the companies that employ it. To help companies understand the various aspects of SEO, I often make comparisons to things just about everyone can relate to. So here are a few reasons why effective SEO is like successful weight loss.

1. No pain, no gain. Losing weight takes work. You have to make changes in order to make a significant improvement. If your web site doesn’t rank well, you will have to make changes and those changes will cost time effort and money. In most cases there is not a simple, “painless” solution. Same goes for weight loss. For a great SEO program, expect to make an investment.

2. Changes must be long term. The current fads for weight loss often involve quick solutions like pills, concoctions and other “magic” programs, but they don’t work long term. The most successful weight loss programs include lifestyle changes, not some kind of quick trick. The same principle applies to search engine optimization. SEO is a long term strategy. Quick tricks and algorithm loopholes might get you results in the short term, but you’ll be right back where you started (or worse) as soon as the search engines discover them. How many people have you heard of that have lost a lot of weight only to put it back on? In both cases, the solution is a long term commitment in order to be successful. If you need short term search marketing results, use Pay Per Click. If you’re not in it for the long haul with search engine optimization, then don’t bother starting.

3. No spam. Spam in a can is going to make you fat. (My opinion – sorry Hormel ) Spam in your SEO is going to get you in trouble with the search engines and alienate your users. Just say no to spam.

4. Value meal SEO. Different people respond differently to attempts to lose weight. Genetics, metabolism and overall health all affect how your body will respond with a weight loss program. Value meals, aka fast food, are certainly of no help for weight loss. “Value meal SEO”, or pre-packaged SEO solutions are not much help either. Web sites are often as different as people. What would be an appropriate SEO program for a 5,000 page ecommerce site selling dog and cat toys may not be the solution for a 100 page, static B to B web site for a systems integration IT consulting firm. There is a unique aspect to almost every SEO program and therefore require unique solutions.

5. Fundamentals are key. With weight loss it’s food and exercise in the right proportions. With SEO it’s content and links. Those things have always been true and will always be true in the forseeable future. While the fundamentals have pretty much stayed the same over the years with search engine optimization, it’s the execution that has varied a bit. Start and stick with the fundamentals, but pay attention to small changes needed in execution to accommodate for changes in search engine ranking methodology.

Now I suppose the people that know me will expect there to be a skinny (or at least skinnier) Lee at the next conference. All I know is, if I applied a fraction of the energy I put into our SEO biz into weight loss, I would regain my junior high moniker, “skinny” soon enough.

Lee Odden is President and Founder of
TopRank Online Marketing, specializing in organic SEO, blog
marketing and online public relations. He’s been cited as a search
marketing expert by publications including U.S. News & World Report and
The Economist and has implemented successful search marketing programs
with top BtoB companies of all sizes. Odden shares his marketing
expertise at Online Marketing Blog offering
daily news, interviews and best practices.

Why Good SEO is like Weight Loss
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About Lee Odden
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and public relations firm in Minnesota that specializes in search, social and online PR consulting and training for companies worldwide. Odden has been cited for his internet marketing expertise over the past 10 years by the Economist, Forbes and U.S. News and contributed a chapter to the book, "Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley. For the past 5 years he has also been the editor of TopRank's Online Marketing Blog, a Technorati 100 favorite blog and one of the top marketing blogs according to Advertising Age. WebProNews Writer
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