This blog post is intended for anyone who has struggled to find the time to invest in SEO, which is to say nearly 100% of people who have ever considered implementing an SEO plan.  The fact is, the most common reason for SEO failure is due to the inability to allocate the proper time to create optimized SEO content.  But this doesn’t need to be the case.

The fact is, there is a simple way to avoid the time-trap as it relates to SEO, and to ensure that zero time is ever wasted on another SEO project: you need to start applying “systems-thinking” instead of “project goals” to your SEO plan.

The Typical Goal-Based SEO Approach (Bad)

Here is what this means: a normal “project” approach to SEO typically starts with some version of the following: a content audit followed by keyword research, followed by a gap analysis, followed by a competitive set review, and finally resulting in an SEO plan for creating content that that addresses the “gap” you identify in your industry.  This typical approach will predictably flounder because the people who are best suited to create the content are busy doing their normal jobs, as SEO is not their only responsibility.  Or, it may flounder because the first few pieces of content will have predictably bad results, and won’t hit their traffic goals.

The Systems-Based SEO Alternative (Great)

By contrast, the alternative “systems-based” approach to SEO (hat tip to Dilbert creator Scott Adams) by definition cannot possibly fail. This is because it starts with you designing systems that accomplish your SEO goals automatically, while avoiding taking a “keyword-first” approach described above.  Essentially, you need to create “dual-purpose” content, which means that even if it fails to accomplish its SEO objectives, it will still accomplish other critical objectives.

Here are some examples of this from my own websites:

  1. I produced an entire training website ( that is full of 175 distinct AdWords + SEO lessons, in order to train my own internal team members, and to drive new sources of revenue.
  2. I created a microsite full of public facing inbound marketing reports ( that highlight different ways to make SEO and marketing dashboards.
  3. I created the AdWords ROI calculator to show clients how to know whether a paid search campaign is profitable or not, and I use this calculator during sales presentations regularly.

All three of the items listed above are different types of dual purpose content, and this means that they cannot possibly fail, which cannot be said of most pure SEO content, which is a failure if it doesn’t hit its SEO targets.  This is why it pays to take a “systems” approach to SEO, rather than a “project-” or “goal-based” approach.

I’d love to hear what you think of this, and if you try it, I’d love to know what type of results you get.

Will Marlow is a search engine marketing consultant who loves helping high growth companies optimize and improve their PPC results: and he holds seven certifications: Google AdWords Search, Display, Mobile, Shopping, and Video Certification, Google Analytics Certification, as well as certification as a Bing Ads Accredited Professional.

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