4 Steps To Tackling Any Search Challenge

July 6, 2015 | Sean McQuaide


Search Marketers are no stranger to facing challenges head on. Be it Google penalties, convincing clients of the benefits of content marketing, or trying to make sure a migration goes smoothly, it seems there is no end to the variety of challenges we face on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately these distractions can take time away from focusing on our goals while we concentrate on getting things back on track. But perhaps those obstacles that are thrown in our way don’t need to be obstacles at all. What if instead we viewed them as road signs?

What follows is the process I use for accepting the challenges that are thrown my way and the way I avoid them in the future.

The Challenge.

The only true constant in this world is change and that applies doubly so for anyone in search marketing. Algorithms will change, organizations have red tape, and occasionally developers will go rogue. Sometimes none of these things happen, sometimes all of them happen simultaneously.

No matter what plan you lay out or goals you set, challenges will arise. Denial of this fact will have you living in a world consumed by frustrated hair pulling. Accept that it’s going to happen and move on.

Pro Tip: Need help getting over change induced stress? Use a four count breath and ask great questions. Asking questions will give you a better handle on the situation and make you feel more in control. The key is to never make or accept assumptions when it comes to inquiring about a situation.

The Process.

Once you have accepted Murphy’s Law you can gleefully move onto processing the situation. I say gleefully because this is where search marketing experts shine. Countless hours reading forums, articles, and Google documentation not to mention years of experience have primed a search marketer to be able to instinctively solve common issues, and if shit really hits the fan all of that time spent online makes them the go-to guy or girl for hunting down the answers to the really tough questions.

Pro Tip: Know when you need help. The Process phase is all about using knowledge that you already have to create a solution as quickly as possible. If you find yourself over your head, it’s time to bring in a specialist on the problem in to assist you.

The Action.

During The Process you defined the problem and developed a list of possible solutions. Action is all about making a decision or presenting to someone who makes the final decision. This is not the time to be verbose. Explain to your client or to-be decision maker what the problem is and then use simple language to explain possible solutions.

Pro Tip: Having trouble deciding what the right solution is or what priorities should be? Bring in someone with less technical knowledge than you to listen to the options. Salespeople are a great for this. They have a great understanding of the industry but are far enough away from the technical stuff to ask obvious questions that differentiate options.

The Analysis.

Don’t forget to write! Document the process you took to solve the problem and its results. Include questions that proved fruitful, knowledge gaps that came up during the process phase, and mark down what actions led to the best results. You will also want to consider underlying problems that this issue shed some light on and create a game plan for overcoming that issue before it happens again.

Pro Tip: Keep this somewhere that your entire team can have access to it. They’ll be thankful next time an issue arises that you have already solved.