There are plenty of old sayings that people repeat on a daily basis: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, or don’t bark up the wrong tree. Today we are going to examine one of our personal favorites: don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Just ask Detroit, and the rest of the rust belt how things work out when you build your foundation on one thing. When that thing disappears, you are screwed. Recent developments from Google have shown us why it is dangerous to put all of your SEO eggs in one basket: when Google takes that away, you are left with a bunch of empty egg shells.

The local SEO shift

Everyone knows the importance of local SEO these days. In 2013, small businesses spent 46% of their marketing budgets on local. And why shouldn’t they have done that? Look at these stats from local SEO from last year:

  • 97% of consumers used the internet when researching local products
  • 2014 saw an estimated 140 billion local searches
  • 98% of searchers chose a business on the first page
  • 72% of small businesses were using social media to promote at that time

It only seemed natural to throw all of your money into getting there, and once you did get there, you reaped the benefits. In essence, businesses put all of their precious SEO eggs into one sturdy wicker basket that couldn’t possibly have broken on the way to grandma’s house. Except something happened that they didn’t expect: instead of the basket breaking, it was stolen. Google’s “snack pack” update effectively took away the area in which the businesses were investing. There were 7 spots, now there are 3. In one fell swoop, mighty Google performed a land grab for the ages, and affected almost 60% of businesses fighting for those spots. The investment was almost all for naught.

Lesson learned

For those companies who did over-invest in this one sector of their SEO, and neglected the other areas, there was a rude awakening. They now were out thousands of dollars, and still didn’t have the visibility that they wanted. They had to start from scratch. This should be a lesson to all of those entrepreneurs out there: diversify. A holistic approach is the only sure-fire method to success in SEO. Notice how Detroit no longer gives every investment dollar to the auto industry, and now puts them in tech, banking, health, education, logistics, and manufacturing? So should you do the same with local, PPC, organic, content marketing, and social. None of these things is stable enough to go all out on. Think about all of the content updates that Google has rolled out, the snack pack update, local search revamps, and everything else. There is no way to know what is coming next.

Tip: Organic local search has been greatly diminished, meaning that local PPC is now more important than it was formerly. Geo-targeting is your friend here. Use this to now target your area and pay for your ads to appear at the top. It could be your only way to grab a spot above the fold.

Spread it out

Your approach now to SEO should be across all of the disciplines that we mentioned before. Invest a little into paid search with geo-targeting, be sure to run a steady, informative blog, encourage reviews for social, invest in getting authentic organic links, have a Google My Business page, and optimize your on-page content for location-specific criteria.

If there is anything that the snack pack update can teach us, it’s that there is no one area that we should concentrate on. Only through a diverse, holistic approach can we conquer the rankings, and be prepared for the tumultuous updates that are sure to come. Predicting the future, and getting ahead of trends is valuable, but nothing beats stability. The more things change, the more that other things stay the same.