SEO: 7 Questions to Fix Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis, that tendency to want to find problems rather than resolve them, destroys your ability to grow the natural search channel.

One of the hardest aspects of search engine optimization is knowing when to dig deeper to discover areas that require optimization, or to uncover the cause of an issue. It’s satisfying and sometimes easier to find issues to fix than it is to implement those fixes. However, natural search will not drive a single additional dollar in sales until you optimize something on your site.

These questions can help you walk that fine line between knowing whether you need to dig deeper to make a real difference in the outcome of your work, or whether it’s time to just get to work and take action to implement the things you’ve already identified.

One of the hardest aspects of search engine optimization is knowing when to dig deeper to discover areas that require optimization, or to uncover the cause of an issue.

Answering these questions honestly can help you move from an eternal consideration stage to action. Few, if any, of these questions will be relevant in every situation. Pick through them and discard the ones that don’t apply at the time.

7 Questions to Fix Analysis Paralysis, for SEO

Do you have game-changing work to do now? Clearly you shouldn’t implement if you don’t already have something meaningful to do. Look at your to-do list. Which of the items represents the most significant improvement in natural search performance? If the answer is “none,” then you should go back to analyzing the site for more impactful opportunities.

Optimizing bits and pieces purely for the sake of staying busy doesn’t improve performance in a meaningful way. If your list does contain a project that could improve performance measurably, ask the next question below.

Are there still questions to answer? Projects are like stories. All the elements, technologies, and players need to be present and organized the right way for the project to succeed.

Are there still pieces missing or questions to ask to tie up the loose ends of the project? If the answer is yes, check to see if the solution could be broken into phases that will each have benefit that builds on the one that came before it. Maybe all the questions don’t need to be answered today for the first phase to be successful. If each phase has some value, just not the full value that the complete project will have, releasing in phases might have potential.

Be honest with yourself and the team, though. Premature implementation could mean the difference between success and failure.

Will it come back to bite you? If you implement today, what outcomes can you foresee? If you can only envision positive outcomes, implement today! If your game changer is a short-term gain that will potentially cause other issues, consider further analysis to identify a solution that won’t be as risky — unless risk is honestly what you’re comfortable with and you’re prepared to triage the negative effects.

Is it possible? Sometimes you can’t optimize something. Period. If the technology or expertise doesn’t exist to optimize the way you need to, and you’ve explored every avenue to try to accomplish your goal, move on to the next opportunity. Butting your head against brick walls doesn’t convert to sales.

If it’s possible to accomplish but requires additional budget or manpower, that’s a different matter altogether. Become adept at selling the benefit of SEO implementation in terms that your management team values. Is it revenue, traffic, rankings, brand impressions, keeping up with the competition, or spotlight on a critical product or line?

Ultimately, you want to move management’s value system to the sales side of that benefit spectrum, since only revenue truly matters to the bottom line. Use projections to achieve the additional resources.

Is it cost effective today and tomorrow? Whether it’s possible and whether it matters enough to warrant the budget and manpower required to implement are two different questions. As you dig deeper and identify all the different people and technologies required to make a solution work, the answer to whether it’s cost effective may change.

Always keep the ultimate value of the project in mind. Does the projected performance improvement warrant the budget and manpower required to fix a problem?

Remember, the cost isn’t just today. Implementing a solution that requires new processes or scripts or other patches between systems and people that don’t exist currently may lead to failure tomorrow as processes and systems change. Duct tape breaks. Keep in mind whether the solution you can cobble together gets too tenuous to maintain. Don’t be afraid to let a solution go if it’s not sustainable.

Is there a work around? What else could you do to achieve the goal if the project you had planned isn’t possible? All of SEO comes down to technical signals, relevance, and authority — sifted through the search engines’ algorithms to determine rankings. There are many ways to improve technical signals, relevance and authority. Don’t be blocked when one way is closed. Identify an alternate way to achieve the same goal.

Can anyone else fix this? The question of ownership can be empowering. I ask myself this question after I’ve already pulled in all the other knowledgeable parties that can contribute their expertise.

If the answer is, “No. No one else can fix this. If I don’t find the answer, this problem won’t get solved,” then you’re in the driver’s seat. It’s a way of reassuring yourself that you have the best skill set possible to solve the problem at hand. It’s time to stop procrastinating and get to work.

Jill Kocher Brown
Jill Kocher Brown
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