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February 20, 2008

Instilling Fear In Site Owners

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I’m always a little concerned when I head out into the SEO forums and find people talking about absolutes and how doing X will tank your search engine optimization rankings. It’s even more concerning when such threads get picked up and broadcasted.

Over at Search Engine Roundtable today, Tamar Weinberg comments on a thread going on over at WebmasterWorld where the topic at hand is whether it’s a good idea (from a search engine perspective) for site owners to edit their Web content. Based on excerpts from the thread and Tamar’s own insight, it seems like the popular opinion is no, site owners should not edit their pages for fear of tarnishing already established rankings. Instead, just pile on new pages. Everyone loves new content!

See, now that makes me nervous. And it makes me even more nervous that newbie SEOs will stumble across that thread or Tamar’s post and now be afraid to touch their Web site in fear of tanking their rankings. We have to get people out of this fear element when it comes to search engine optimization. SEO is not supposed to be scary. Okay, maybe the blackhats are scary, but that’s it.

I agree with Tamar and other forum members that adding fresh pages to your Web site is beneficial to your search engine optimization goals. You want to be seen as a subject matter expert, and one of the best ways to do that is by creating authoritative content that brands yourself as a resource to your users. However, let’s not turn our Web site in a museum for legacy Web pages that we’re afraid to touch. The goal is to get quality traffic, not to collect dust.

Take a look at your site and your analytics. If your home page and important landing pages are ranking well for your keywords and are still relevant and up-to-date, then don’t touch them. Freeze those pages and work on improving the others. But if the information needs to be updated, your keyword objective changes, or you think the page can simply be improved in general, don’t just leave those pages to die out on their own. Edit them.

Let’s be honest here. Are we going to rewrite our entire web_rank page (the one that ranks for search engine optimization) from scratch? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t touched it in the last 10 years either. As your competition changes, so do things like optimum keyword densities and page requirements. You have to tweak pages to stay current and keep meeting the search engines requirements for relevancy.

As Tedster points out in the forums, if your page is highly dependant on on-page search engine optimization factors, then any substantial changes may affect your rankings. However, chances are your stronger pages are also ranking due to off-page SEO factors like incoming anchor text and backlinks. As long as you’re not changing the focus of the page and discrediting those links, you should be okay.

Often these "Don’t Do X Or Lose Rankings!" threads instill unnecessary fear into site owners, which in the end, hurts their site. If you never change the content on your site, how are you going know if your conversion rate is as high as it can be? Why would the spiders continue to visit and respider your site if the content is the same each time they visit? What if you think of a better, clearer way to word that call to action? What if you find a new keyword that you think would greatly increase your overall revenue? Are you really going to sit on it because you’re afraid of doing damage? Not acting as a result of fear is no way to live or to run a search engine optimization campaign. Your site is your baby, it’s okay for you to fuss with it.

But fuss with a purpose. When it comes to content, it’s quality over quantity. Adding copy that won’t convert and doesn’t help to strengthen your brand or explain your services won’t help you.





One response to “Instilling Fear In Site Owners”

  1. TheMadHat writes:

    I propose not even looking at your own website. It raises a red flag and Google will track you down knowing your an evil SEO. ;)

    Don’t update content??? That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard…well, top 50 anyway.

    In 1908 when Ford was ranking well after they built the Model T, I guess they should have left it that way. They changed it in 1909 and got banned for 80 years until the 90’s. Just think of the market control they would have had.

    Yes, I’m in dire need of a beverage.



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