More and more companies are beginning to understand the importance of expert search engine optimization in their overall marketing efforts. It is typically harder for them to understand, however, why the discipline requires an ongoing effort for long-term success.

Companies often fear that they are paying ongoing fees for one-time work, and, unfortunately, these fears are often justified. Many so-called "expert" search engine optimization companies charge setup fees, then add steep ongoing fees, when in reality the work for the campaign was done up front and the "ongoing" component consists of running a simple ranking report every month and dressing it up for the client. Fees for these reports can be thousands of dollars, making it potentially the highest-margin business since the repeated sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In reality, expert search engine optimization really is an ongoing process. It is a process of honing and refining, while simultaneously expanding. It is a process of protecting and bolstering while also minimizing the risk of setback. Recurring costs for search engine optimization should go primarily toward increasing the value of the campaign over time—not maintaining the status quo, or, worse yet, simply reporting on the state of the union.

Enter Campaign Expansion

Quality optimization providers put the launch of an expert search engine optimization campaign in the proper context—as the beginning of the data collection and campaign refinement process. The purpose of the data collection is to see what is working and what is not, and to expand the campaign in a more targeted direction.

There are numerous benefits to this approach:

The "freshness" factor: Search engines are interested in "fresh" content—to the point that they often give newer pages a temporary ranking boost in search engine results. Engines seem to have a disdain for stagnant Web sites. The underlying logic of the engine algorithm makers is that if a Web site has not been updated in quite some time, the content must surely be dated, or, at the very least, not the newest available information.

Sites that are updated more frequently are placed in higher regard—a primary reason that industry portals, with their rapidly updating content, often dominate search results for competitive terms. Moreover, the engines visit frequently updated sites more often. This means new pages will be included in search results more quickly.

Increasing value: An expert search engine optimization campaign will target a variety of keyphrases at the outset. However, no matter how carefully these phrases are chosen, some will perform better than others. Some may not perform at all.

Using Web analytics software, a quality optimization firm will track the conversion data from each individual phrase (simply put, this means the phrases that are bringing in the traffic that takes a desired action on the site). It is often the case that the phrases that are sending the most traffic to the site are not particularly valuable, since very few of the visitors from the phrase are converting. By studying the individual keyphrase conversion performance, an expert search engine optimization firm can target additional phrases similar to those that are performing best.

This refinement process never stops, and the end result is that each expansion is more effective than the last. In fact, after several expansions, it is not uncommon to see the newer group of keyphrases (chosen after data collection began) outperform the entire list of keyphrases targeted at campaign outset. Results like these are hard to ignore.

Addressing new business concerns: Most businesses are constantly evolving. New products or service offerings are perpetually in the works. New vertical markets are targeted. Directives are handed down from up high that demand more business in more areas.

If your search engine optimization firm's "management" package primarily consists of a ranking report, it may be time to look elsewhere. Part of your management package should be the opportunity to routinely address new business challenges without paying more setup costs.

More Rationale for Ongoing Management

There are additional reasons that expert search engine optimization management, done properly, is a necessity. Those reasons include the need for ongoing link-building to protect and improve positions, careful competitor-monitoring (both to see how your search engine performance compares with theirs and to make sure they aren't violating any search engine rules) and careful monitoring of the industry to reveal any new opportunities or potential dangers.

Of these, however, campaign expansion and refinement may be the most crucial. The most effective campaigns are routinely expanded based on what has been successful in the past. It's hard work, and it takes passion and dedication, but it always pays off.

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image of Scott Buresh

Scott Buresh is founder and CEO of Medium Blue, an award-winning search engine optimization company.

LinkedIn: Scott Buresh