Search engine optimization is an often mis-understood field. The feeling I get from most people I meet is that they think you can make a bunch of changes, add a bunch of keywords, maybe make a few changes every couple months or so and you’ll simply rocket to the top of the ranking board. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
SEO is a constant struggle – with you always fighting against yourself, search engines, and your competition. Constant changes are needed, content must be constantly added, and constant attention must be paid to the latest techniques and algorithm changes. It’s a fight to get to the top, and once you get to the top it’s even harder to keep others from taking over your spot – and that’s just in the local rankings.
One of the biggest factors is that Google is constantly making algorithm changes – they have historically made more than 500 changes a year, with 2-3 large changes. Each and every one of these could potentially affect your ranking and no one’s going to let you know about it so you need to keep up with Google’s change record or be consistently checking your rankings. SEOMOZ and Search Engine Land both keep pretty good track of the major changes for you and SEOMOZ Pro Tools and Google Rank Checker are great tools for constantly checking your rankings.
On top of that, you need to beat your competition on a regular basis. This means keeping up with the latest news and keeping track of your competitor’s sites. The good news is that if you’re still reading this post, you’re likely already doing more than most of your competitors. However, every industry has a couple of businesses that REALLY get the importance of SEO and push a lot of resources into it. You need to track them on a regular basis and make sure you’re staying ahead of them. Follow some SEO blogs, look through their websites and the code, and make adjustments to stay ahead.
The biggest thing you can do to fight for your spot is your personal maintenance of your site. SEO requires consistent attention and activity. Constantly blog, constantly update your meta tags and put in keywords. Pay someone or update your code with the latest techniques and rich snippets. Constantly crawl your site to look for opportunities for improvement. If you keep up on your site and the maintenance, you’ll easily stay ahead of your competition and win the fight for your placement.