On-page search engine optimization is the foundation of an online marketing strategy. But what happens when the optimization hits diminishing returns?
To be sure, SEO will exist as long as people use Google or any search engine to discover web pages. Organic search is the primary driver of site traffic.
Technical SEO is ongoing, focusing on server optimization and site speed, as examples. Content marketing, which often relies on discovery research, is also underway.
But that doesn’t mean that some SEO activities, including some on-page SEO tactics, won’t reach a point where the incremental value isn’t worth it.
Let’s say a business is solely focused on Google search and constantly worries about link equity (or link juice). In this case, this company may have reached such a point.
The point here isn’t that interlinks aren’t important, but at some point rearranging the navigation to get an extra ounce of link juice probably isn’t worth it. There are plenty of other things a business can do to engage their audience.
John Muller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, made a comment a few years ago that helped spark this kind of discussion.
He replied to a tweet who asked about site navigation and link equity.
“I want to pass link juice from my home page to my category pages. Where should I place my category pages, in the navigation menu or in the home page content? the tweet read.
Muller’s response: “I’d forget everything you’ve read about ‘link juice.’ your users.
A few SEO practitioners, including Roger Montti and Barry Schwartz, have noted that a business can improve organic search rankings with strategies other than link juice – whether a link has more juice in the navigation or content.
Think of it this way: if your goal was to get 10,000 extra visitors each month, how much time would you need to optimize URL structures, manipulate internal links and play with title tags, and At what price ?
Traffic and engagement
SEO isn’t the only marketing discipline that can increase traffic. Other marketing tactics, sometimes complementary, can achieve the same objective.
Improve site speed. It’s probably worth focusing on technical SEO rather than on-page. A faster website can lead to higher rankings (site speed is now a component of Google’s algorithm) and also improve user experience.
Double the keyword research. Develop keyword-optimized content to attract, engage, and retain the kind of customers your business needs.
Develop an email newsletter. Editorial newsletters are experiencing a renaissance. Messaging platforms like Substack have built an entire business around it. By early 2022, the company would have over 500,000 customers paying to read newsletters.
It is not unreasonable to grow a newsletter list quickly. Sahil Bloom, investor, podcaster and newsletter writer, has grown his list to over 100,000 in just a few years.
Create affiliate relationships. Merchants engaged in modern affiliate marketing often seek relationships with creators and influencers who produce content, have an engaged audience, and are willing to endorse products. Think about the value of an expert in your industry explaining the merits of your products.
Don’t Skip SEO
I am in no way suggesting that a company should discontinue a strong internal linking strategy. But at some point, working hard on internal linking won’t yield as much organic search benefit as the alternative metrics.