SEO and Magical Thinking

Confession: I used to think I was pretty good as SEO.  My site was getting about 600-800 unique visitors from Google every day, we built links, we published content, traffic went up.  Easy-pesi.

That was two years ago.  Yesterday my site got about 151 unique visitors from Google and nothing I do seems to ebb the flow. Each time there is an update (Panda then penguin) our traffic halves.   I’ve tried:

  • Rewriting all the content so that it is unique.  We used to use only the manufacturer’s decription which was not only used by everyone else but also on our 5 eBay IDs.  We are about half way though doing this.
  • Higher quality link building.  We are concentrating on getting links from baby bloggers of PR 1 or above.  Links from high quality relevant sites, what is not to like?
  • Content creation.  We are writing a regular blog and adding new products all the time

So far none of this has worked and I am beginning to lose hope.  Talking to Scott Wingo at Channel Advisor Catalyst, organic traffic has dropped across the board as Google has stuffed more adverts onto its results page so perhaps we have been hit but a general trend.  That said, oursite is of a high quality with lots of great incoming links so I find it surprising we have been hit so hard.
I’m beginning to think that the whole process of SEO shows symptoms to magical thinking.  Magical thinking is characterised by the belief that thinking or wishing something to occur can cause it to occur.  In SEO we do things, thinking that they have an effect but without any real way of checking the causal relationship.  Does this really differ much from Witchcraft or praying.  I’m beginning to wonder….<


  1. Matt Sharper says:

    yep they want you to buy ads! 

  2. Howdy Trevor,

    I think you need to reword SEO to SEM and delve into paid-for marketing instead.

    Harsh, but the results pay the bills.


  3. Of course they do 🙂

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