This SEO Writing Tactic Never Works

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Has your boss or a prospect ever said, “I’d like to try optimizing one page to see what happens. Then, if the page positions the way we want, we’ll work on other pages”?
Argh.
You hear this a lot if you’re freelancing or working for a boss who doesn’t get SEO. In their mind, you should be able to achieve some pretty sweet Google positions with just one page. That is, if you know what you’re doing…
And if you don’t grab some great Google positions after the one-page test? Well, that’s your fault.
Nope, nope, nope.
As one of my colleagues said about this very topic, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”
Here’s the real deal…
SEO writing success is more than “let’s optimize one page and wait for the rankings to flow in.”
SEO is an ongoing process for ALL your site pages. Not just one.
Think about it.
Let’s say a company had 1,000 un-optimized pages, and they wanted you to optimize just one of them.
That means your one optimized page — no matter how well you did — is being dragged down by 999 UN-optimized pages that aren’t helping the site.
The odds are unfortunately stacked against you (and your client) no matter how good you are, how smart you are, and how well you wrote the page.
It’s a no-win situation.
What can you do instead?
Well, this depends on how educated the client is — and how motivated they are to change their situation.
Sometimes, you can suggest an SEO content audit instead. This is where you comb through your client’s site and pinpoint any optimization opportunities.
For instance, many sites (yes, even in 2019) are keyphrase-free. Or, have crappy Titles. Or, their content doesn’t match the searcher intent.
THESE are bigger SEO content issues than just “tweaking one page.” Sure, fixing these issues will cost more time and money than what the client had in mind — but, it does help him reach his goal of better site positions and more traffic.
Or sometimes, you may be able to help the powers-that-be in a different way. For instance, your client may have a bunch of good (yet un-optimized) blog posts that all talk about a certain topic. You may be able to optimize those posts, create an authoritative pillar page, and drive traffic that way.
Granted, that’s a longer-term strategy that would also involve some promotional efforts. And it will take more time and resources. But, it’s a more successful strategy than randomly optimizing a page and praying for results.
(BTW, I talked about this strategy as it relates to new sites — but the strategy could also apply to older sites with existing content. Here’s some additional information about how to do it.)
But, what if they still insist on optimizing a single page, even after you share why it won’t work?
If you have the freedom to turn down the work, that’s something you may want to consider — especially if you get the feeling that the prospect isn’t listening to your advice.
It’s always OK to walk away from a prospect if you know you can’t give them what they want.
Or, if you do take on the work, consider writing a strong CYA email that reiterates your concerns. That way, your client can’t come back in six months and say, “Why didn’t you tell me this won’t work?” (Yes, it happens.)
Just don’t get sucked in to the “well, can you send a detailed email outlining what you would do instead” trap. General advice is fine. Customized advice would fall under “consultation” or an SEO content audit…and cost money.
Don’t give away those tasty SEO tidbits in your brain for free.
What do you think?
Have you been asked to optimize one page “as a test”? What other weird SEO writing requests have you heard? Leave a comment and let me know.
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