The Five Stages of SEO Denial

How to Get Targeted Website Traffic with a Keyword Strategy – and Like It!

Whenever you get together with a group of editors from several different publications, you’ll always find yourself with a mixed bag of professionals who either love or hate search engine optimization.

In general, the editors who love SEO are the ones who have seen the results. These editors don’t just believe in SEO, but they’re excited about it. I group myself into these kinds of people and often refer to myself as an “SEO junkie”.

Charlie Sheen can have his seven-gram rocks, I’ll have my keyword research.

When a publishing company is “introduced” to SEO, or rather, they’re starting to realize its importance, there is a big transition period. We see it every single year at the Mequoda Summit. We’re even seeing it this year at the Mequoda Summit which is still currently in progress.

The presidents, CEOs, CMOs and Editorial Directors will all get together and discuss the results they’re seeing from dabbling in search engine optimization. The publishers who are intrigued and want to go full-force into keyword research will start writing down a to-do list, in which their horrified editors are telling them, “no way!”

Like I said, we see this every year. Fortunately, the same editors who refuse to optimize their articles this year, will be nodding their heads next year and be excitedly shouting out their numbers in sessions like others who are doing it this year. Like I said, it’s a cycle that I’ve personally watched repeat year after year.

Over the course of a year, this is generally what your average editor will go through. In order to help them along, you’ll need to understand the reactions that you will be facing as a manager. In the most dramatic, extreme-case scenario, of course. I promise, it’s written with love.

The First Stage of SEO Denial: The denial.

Your editors will blow off everything to do with SEO. It may be all doom and gloom until about stage four, so watch out for it.

The internal dialogue: “Excuse me? You think that I am some kind of marketer now? No thank you. I signed up to be a writer and I refuse to throw away my journalism degree and editorial integrity in order for you to “get ranked” on this “Google” you speak of. People will come to us because our content is so great. NO. NO. NO. Not going to happen.”

[insert smoke break and/or huffing and puffing here]

The Second Stage of SEO Denial: The career-switching idea.

After making a company-wide decision to give importance to SEO and let your editors know that this will soon be part of their job description, they may consider finding a more “traditional” publishing job.

The internal dialogue: “This isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing. Other publishers aren’t doing SEO. Maybe I should find a job somewhere else where my writing is appreciated.”

Note: If they do decide to leave, look for them in their next job as a book editor, the only place in the publishing industry where SEO will never be used.

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The third stage of SEO Denial: The “smile and try it” moment.

Once your editors realize that this is something that every periodical publisher is doing (and may have seen some job descriptions where SEO is now a required skill-set), they’ll settle in a bit more.

The internal dialogue: “They’ll realize soon enough that this is silly. I’ve been given keywords to use, so it’s not that much extra work anyway. I’m a great editor, so I’ll find a way to make these articles still look awesome and also do that SEO thing too”.

Note: Don’t worry, your best editors will hang in there and do what they always do – write great content. The only difference now is that more people will see that great content.

The fourth stage of SEO Denial: The moment of curiosity.

You’ve been implementing your new SEO strategy for a month or several months now. You’re starting to see more targeted website traffic and instead of just getting small boosts in traffic every time you post, you’re seeing a continual stream of traffic coming from Google. You’re giving out high-fives to your editors.

The internal dialogue: “Dang, my articles are getting a whole lot more comments on them and my Managing Editor thinks I’m awesome. Having control over the success and visibility of my article is awesome. I’m going to do a little more of my own keyword research to see if I can’t find some even better keywords.”

Note: High fives are not required, but definitely recommended.

The fifth stage of SEO Denial: The AH-HA moment.

Once your editors start poking at doing their own keyword research to find niche keyword phrases for their articles, they’ll be hooked. Think of it like gambling. Your editors are now able to go and find a keyword phrase that they want to use and they’re going to be excited when they write the article (or landing page, salesletter, product name or whatever else they’re using it for) and suddenly it’s the first thing that pops up in Google when thousands of people are searching for it.

The internal dialogue: “SEO is awesome! Hmm… maybe I should get a new career in SEO instead!”

Note: Unlikely internal dialogue, but I’ve seen it happen.

So you see? It can happen. It will work out. Awesome content is only made better by SEO, because instead of getting found in Google for random keywords, you’re getting found by exactly who you want to read you.

Of course this is as dramatic a scenario as it comes and it’s meant to be written in fun, so if you’re an editor who has made it to step five, I hope you’ve gotten a chuckle from it. If you’re still in step one, please do hang on until stage five.

You really can use “SEO” and “fun” in the same sentence, I promise.


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