SEO "Quick Wins Mentality" is wrong

If you are doing SEO for being "less of a loser," well, we are in different business, I guess.

I have problems with the "low hanging fruit/quick wins" idea. The fundamental is that in any context/website, you can easily find things that will have a significant impact at a low cost in little time.

That is unrealistic as fuck.

Let's put the most common scenario: someone calls you to optimize a website. You run your tools, look at your dashboards, ask your questions, and after a few nice-looking PowerPoints presentations and documents, you end up with a prioritized backlog of SEO initiatives.

Why don't I like this? Because, generally speaking, there are just three possible scenarios:

  • First, the quick wins are issues on your website.
  • Second, the quick wins are untapped market opportunities.
  • Third, the quick wins are anything that is incredibly easy to grab and can be considered the very bare minimum. Doing less than this is not working at all, and it will not give any competitive advantage, just going to help you be less of a loser*.
*If you are doing SEO for being "less of a loser," well, we are in different business, I guess.

In the first case, why are you launching a website with easy-to-fix problems?

The developers should have done everything easy to implement right in the first place. If not, in most cases, there is no one taking care of SEO (or, at least, nobody competent enough), or the team (or commercial priorities) decided to go without proper SEO care (because it is a problem for the future). Most of the time, the technical debt is so heavy that you never can ever pay it back. Once the website is live, most "SEO quick wins" are not quick, nor cheap or easy.

(Notable exceptions to this are the robots.txt and sitemap since you can create these using an external tool and simply upload them).

If we talk about things that we can do over something that nobody in the market has seen yet, another player will compete for it if the opportunity is worth something. In the best-case scenario, you will spend time and resources running after something that will disappear shortly after you take it (that happens in competitive markets, get used to it). Worst case, you wasted the same amount of resources just to realize that the opportunity wasn't valuable.

Of course, many people will say that "it was like this when I started" or "the head of marketing is pushing this." I get that. We all have been there. I have no problem calling "quick win" to doing something minimal that won't have any impact, but you have to disguise that as a gold mine that only you could ever find because that is what will buy you time. As long as you are not fooling yourself, pretending a little bit is acceptable.

(I know, I know. How do I dare to say such a thing? I do have a draft in progress about the Ethics of SEO to try to get to those tricky situations that we face not just in SEO but in marketing in general)

I would suggest focusing on looking for bigger, more important things to solve. Because after three or four months of implementing "quick wins," you will find yourself slightly better than at the beginning, but with none or little more "quick wins" to do and a delay of four months in the backlog of essential things that will bring real value.

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