Quantity and quality are often diametrically opposed.
Increase the former, the latter drops like a rock.
Try to bring it back up, and pretty soon, you’re back where you started; lowering quantity back down to bring them into balance.
But here’s the thing.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In a world of endless competition, incredibly savvy competitors, AI, and zero-click SERPs, you simply can’t afford not to scale both quality and quantity at the same exact time.
Don’t just take my word for it. Go look at the SERPs. Look at what is actually working vs. what anyone “tells” you should work.
I’ve had the fortune of working with countless billion-dollar brands. And what separates them from everyone else isn’t just a budget number on a spreadsheet.
But a deeper understanding of how to avoid these five self-imposed mistakes below.
Mistake 1: Poor operational systems create self-imposed ‘glass ceilings’
It’s true to a degree.
SEO is complex. Getting more so by the day.
It is technical. Canonicalization and Time to First Byte (TTFB) are living proof.
But there is a giant misconception about why SEO campaigns fail.
That’s because, contrary to popular belief, SEO is not just a technical problem. It’s also a people problem.
Obviously, a site that doesn’t get indexed properly is a problem. That’s a technical issue.
But the bigger, more fundamental, and common underlying issue is that you’re not publishing enough good stuff around highly relevant keywords or getting attention and clicks back to those pages.
Simple as that.
Go look up the biggest sites across any category. The biggest brands in your industry. And what do you notice?
An overwhelming number of websites whose pages number into the thousands (or more), and referring domains into the tens of thousands (or more).
That’s what you’re up against. Welcome to the future of SEO. Where the big get bigger, the rich get richer.
And the faster you come to realize this, the faster you’ll be able to set up your workflows, processes, roles, and responsibilities accordingly to unlock insane growth.
The trouble is, most SEOs continue to think too small. Too tactical. Too minute.
They’re busy scrappin’ around, looking for those one or two or three “NiNjA rOcKsTaR uNiCoRnS” – except they don’t exist!
Or, at least, your over-reliance on them continues to undermine future potential because you rely more on raw talent than proven systems.
And therefore, your workflows are garbage. Processes full of holes like a stinky, sweaty block of Swiss cheese.
So the first lesson is to stop. Look at yourself in the mirror. And admit that what got you here won’t get you there.
You need better internal operating systems – not just better, more talented people – to scale million-dollar brands into billion-dollar ones.
Mistake 2: You don’t have processes to simplify complex activities
I <3 Andy Crestodina.
One, because he’s incredibly nice. Two, incredibly smart. But three, ‘cause he drops truth bombs on the regular.
He’s been publishing a study on blogging statistics for years – possibly even a decade by now.
And there are always two overwhelming conclusions staring marketers in the face:
- The stuff most people do consistently don’t correlate highly with success.
- The things that most likely correlate to success are often practiced the least.
Let that sink in a moment.
Here’s my favorite excerpt. Let’s take a look at the top seven activities that correlate most with “chance of success,” as reported in the increased likelihood from those with “strong results:”
- Publish daily – 128%
- Write 3,000+ word articles – 116%
- Write 10+ draft headlines before choosing one – 84%
- Research keywords for every post – 80%
- Include 10+ images per post – 56%
- Include contributor quotes for every post – 56%
- Use a team of editors – 52%
Now. Ask yourself. How many of those are you practicing on a regular basis?
One? Maybe two? Imagine you pushed that to six or all seven.
How on Earth is that possible? To publish loooooong, in-depth, action-packed articles that include expert insight backed by a team of editors – all on a daily basis?
The short answer? You can’t.
At least, not without excellent processes that break down complex, multi-faceted challenges into simple steps and checklists.
Take even one of those, like publishing daily. Only the greatest workhorses of writers could publish one 3,000-word article on a daily basis.
Because they’re also often getting pulled into too many other directions and distractions.
Because you’re also falling victim to the third common mistake below.
Mistake 3: You have the wrong people in the wrong roles
Great writers make bad editors and even terrible content managers because their skill sets are often contradictory. For instance:
- Great writers thrive on ingenuity, on saying the same thing multiple different ways at different times.
- Great editors, meanwhile, thrive on consistency, making sure that all content under their purview has consistent standards and a unifying voice.
- Great content managers thrive on orderly logistics, keeping their teams on task to guarantee milestones and due dates are met, and output continues to increase.
OK, thanks for the lecture. What does all this mean?
It means to publish a 3,000+ word article on a daily basis, you’re not just looking for one killer writer. You’re looking for a team of them.
That team of subject-matter experts needs to be supported by a team of editors. Who’re all backed up by a team of content managers working in sync like a professional kitchen on a busy night.
The only way you get teams of people to work together, day after day, is through having the right people in the right roles.
So everyone’s playing to their strengths. And nobody is pulled into their areas of weakness.
This is easy in theory but difficult in practice. And it’s why most can’t – or won’t – do it.
Mistake 4: You’re ‘guessing’ instead of ‘knowing’ what works
The Internet’s rich keep getting richer.
I don’t need to tell you that.
All you need to do is look up the SERPs in your space and notice how giant “business” publishers are now dominating categories like “best mattress for your home.”
They often don’t need to play by the same rules as the rest of us, sweating over concepts like “topical authority” that their mere presence makes a mockery of.
When the big brands drop the ball on the basics.
Their SEO complacency and entitlement ultimately do them in. And that’s how you beat them at their own game.
Take a super competitive, saturated space like “make money online.”
Big brands often fall short when they “guess” instead of measuring twice and cutting once – knowing exactly what they should be doing before even writing a single word.
No way this should be happening. Except, it’s obvious to experts: search intent is simply misaligned.
They’re just publishing whatever they feel like, a product landing page, expecting it to work instantly.
Instead of rolling up their sleeves, understanding what the SERPs are telling them, and then executing accordingly.
Mistake 5: You haven’t transformed ‘subjective’ elements into ‘objective’ ones
Understand that nearly everything in life is subjective – varying shades of gray.
There are few truly “black” or “white” issues where one side is always wrong and the other is always right. (No matter what loud people on X.com lead you to believe.)
The real world isn’t binary. But that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) do everything possible to transform subjective elements in your process into objective ones.
Take a look at the following edits and tell me which ones are “right” vs. “wrong”:
One person reading this might like the first example. While others, the second.
So what’s the right answer?
Trick question, because there is none.
The point is to take something subjective, like the phrasing of a sentence, and turn it into objective truths for your brand or style.
And then consistently re-train your team to align around that tone going forward.
Unlocking SEO success: People and processes, not just tech, matter
It’s true. You can’t guarantee SEO success.
But that’s OK in the long run.
‘Cause it means that most of your competitors will continue to take shortcuts and miss the obvious facts staring them in the face.
You, putting your head down and trusting the process, can lap them over the next few years before they even know what hit them.
You can’t guarantee SEO results. But you can predict SEO success before publishing a single thing.
You just need to look at what actually works, what is actually driving results in real time.
And then align your workflows, processes and people accordingly.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.