By Jeffrey Radin
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University developed an algorithm while working on their dissertations. The algorithm—affectionately known as “Backrub”—relied on some both on and off page factors to rank the prominence of web pages. The algorithm would be pretty damn successful: the two students—Larry Page and Sergey Brin—went on to found Google, and Backrub would become PageRank, the first iteration of Google’s much-vaunted algorithm.
Soon after PageRank’s initial deployment, savvy internet users began optimizing their pages to score well in the eyes of the algorithm. Back then, some of what today are among the clumsiest SEO tactics—stuffing pages with excessive and inaccurate keywords using blatantly misleading and inconsistent meta descriptions—actually worked! What’s more, what would be the first forays into SEO worked quite well.
You know what happened next. Search engine designers began adjusting and fortifying their precious algorithms. The process became more holistic, and search engine designers wisely started taking into account more and more factors that would be difficult for the earliest SEOs to manipulate successfully. Those klutzy tactics were rendered unsuccessful, and some search engines—driven by growing competition to provide the most relevant results possible—even began applying penalties for blatant attempts at manipulation. The last 19 years—nearly my entire life—have continued apace, with SEOs developing new tactics and search engines responding in turn with additional fortification.
There is one clear takeaway from this brief history of SEO: that search engine optimization, driven by the need to stay a step ahead of the algorithms, has evolved and developed incredibly quickly and continues to transform at a lightning pace. This takeaway may seem obvious and not particularly insightful, but even the most mundane realities can carry with them enormous implications for your business.
So how can you apply this to your business strategy? Due to how quickly the sands of SEO shift, to be successful, any implementation of SEO must be consistently monitored, reassessed, and updated. For this reason, there is only one select group with both the expertise required and available time to stay abreast: devoted SEO specialists.
Who else has the time required and expertise needed to stay ahead of Google? The industry just evolves too quickly; a rudimentary knowledge of SEO in 2015 does not even guarantee results in 2015, much less 2017. Assiduously keeping abreast with even the minutest tweaks of Google’s algorithm are essential to sustained search engine results page dominance; for a small business owner tasked with maintaining day-to-day operations, there are simply not enough hours in the day to keep SEO in-house. And any business owner is likely too busy to successfully keep abreast and satisfactorily implement SEO on his or her own. Therefore, it makes overwhelming business sense to outsource SEO to a professional specialist.
Business owners can simultaneously outsource SEO and retain flexibility—a good SEO will work on a month-to-month basis—to obtain the consistent results they want without having to pour their precious hours into learning SEO. Moreover, many SEO firms specialize in specific niches. By dint of having previously worked with similar companies in your industry, the SEO firm you hire may very well be even more uniquely suited to helping your business than you may have ever imagined.
Jeffrey Radin is the founder of Sherman Square Marketing.