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Don’t build what Google is rewarding. Build what Google wants to reward. Embracing this philosophy will have you popping champagne corks when Google makes a major update instead of freaking out and worrying about getting fired.

You Chose to Aim at the Moving Target.

Don’t blame Google. They aren’t a non-profit. We know they want to create SERPs that make them money, which involves encouraging click-through on relevant, credible ads, but also delivering valuable results to the user so they come back. So don’t make excuses. Google wants the best, most applicable pages at the top of their organic results, knowing that they’ll make money over time through loyal customers.

Knowing Google is constantly trying to improve the results they serve, you make the choice every day to either build what Google is rewarding today or yesterday, or you can build what Google wants to reward.

What Keeps Us from Choosing the Latter

Pressure. Whether from clients, our boss, or a mortgage payment, we feel pressure to get results now. There isn’t an easy answer to this, which is sort of a good thing. Everybody does the easy and you end up with a lot of competition and it becomes hard to separate. But it is in choosing to do what is difficult and risky that separates the successful.

“In whatever you choose to do, do it because it’s hard, not because it’s easy. Math and astrophysics are hard. For every hard thing you accomplish, fewer other people are out there doing the same thing as you. That’s what doing something hard means. And in the limit of this, everyone beats a path to your door because you’re the only one around who understands the impossible concept or who solves the impossible problem.”

-Neil DeGrassi Tyson

Sink or swim. Know there is risk in this. You may fail or you may simply not have enough time, or the decision maker might not be practicing enough patience. I’m not trying to convince everyone to choose this path. I’d rather not have the competition. I only want to show that there is another option.

How to Change Your Strategy

Make Sure You’ll Have a Job

The biggest obstacle is going to be getting buy-in. Your manager or client needs to understand the long-term versus short-term strategy. This is no different than financial investing. Your strategy needs to match the goals and expectations of people making decisions about whether or not you’ll continue to be working for them.

Try Empathy

Ask yourself what your business does that makes people happy. The point isn’t just to get rankings and traffic, the goal is to get your solution in front of people with the appropriate problem. So you have to approach your website and business from the visitor’s point-of-view. Be honest with yourself. What can you provide better than the myriad of other sites on the web?

Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

Consider your competition and what they do. If you can’t be considerably better at what they do, find the niche you want to dominate. Keen Footwear grew rapidly not by targeting the largest segment of the market, but by targeting people with wider feet who didn’t have many options. Most other shoe companies made shoes only for people with a regular width foot, since that was the largest market. But it also, then had the most competition. So instead of fighting for a small slice of a big pie, Keen went for a huge slice of a slightly smaller pie.

Line Up Your Resources

Hopefully, you already have some of the resources you need to make what you need to make. And most of your resources will be the skills people possess. There are less than ideal, free software solutions for almost anything, so don’t worry about that right now. Good people are resourceful, and you can’t find open-source alternatives for writers, designers, coders, etc. You need storytellers and people with vision and hustle, regardless of their medium. If you don’t have creativity, you have nothing.

Lift Heavy Weights

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”
-Ronnie Coleman

This isn’t about quick wins and low hanging fruit. This is about grinding and being patient. If it can’t easily scale, you’re probably on the right track. Still strive for efficiency, but don’t sacrifice the end product. The web is already full of mediocre content.

Expand the Conversation

Everyone knows that unique content is important, but some interpretations of this are better than others. The easy way out is to take the unique content requirement as a need to have a unique grouping of words and numbers. If this understanding of “unique” is what you’ve used to craft your unique value proposition, you have more important things to do than reading this. You’ll want to go back to square one.

Unique content should offer unique value, a unique interpretation or idea, or is able to create a feeling inside people that everything else in that realm hasn’t done before. So do that. Expand the conversation, don’t repeat what’s already being said.

Grow Your Kingdom

Content is king, but outreach expands your kingdom. Just as a great product needs exposure to get traction, a great website needs exposure to get traffic. I’ve always been less inclined to” building” links, there is no doubt you have to get in front of eyeballs. But be careful with scaling your efforts. Again, apply empathy, and think what you’d do if your email arrived in your inbox. If you wouldn’t give yourself a link, keep reworking your outreach until you would. The same goes for social posting.

More Tortoise, Less Hare

People who are bad at cards claim winning at poker is all about luck. Good poker players say it is all skill. And like so many things, it’s a little of both. To win, you need skill to stay in the game long enough to get lucky. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and get a quick win. But expect steady progress instead of the spikes that stick out in reports. You’re big wins will be when new Panda updates roll out and they’ll be long lasting.