Editor’s note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO experts Jenny Halasz and Kristine Schachinger. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Frequently, I see people on Twitter or Facebook discuss how a ranking factor on their sites does not need to be fixed after an algorithm update because a competitor is doing just as poorly on that same factor – so it must not be affecting them either. The update must be about something else.
This is usually a very poor way to determine why your site was hit by an algorithm update, understand what you need to do for your site to help it improve in the rankings either after an update or just generally speaking.
When your site is having issues ranking well because of algorithm updates or general adjustments by Google, what other sites do is irrelevant.
It would be like If you are an Olympic athlete and you decided you did not need to train as hard because your main competitor trains less.
The Case of Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps was infamous for eating burgers and drinking, even smoking cannabis between competitions in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Trials.
For one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time, he even went through a period where he seemed to lose focus on his swimming career and skipped training so frequently that there was talk about him not even making the London Olympics.
However, he not only made it. He went on to win four gold and two silver medals.
Now on the news that Phelps, arguably the biggest competition at the games – might not even make it, do you think his competitors all decided they could slack off on their training?
Of course not. They trained as hard as they ever trained because they know what Phelps did and did not do had no effect on whether they won.
They had to be ready. They had to train.
They had to eat right, sleep, not smoke, or drink too often.
They had to be in peak physical condition if they were…