SEO Basics: The Three Spheres

Posted by Visifii Admin on July 22, 2021

“Effective search engine optimization requires a commitment, not a campaign.” – James Reynolds, SEO Sherpa

Rank tracking.
On-site optimization.
Local search optimization.
Algorithm-based ranking fluctuations.


It can seem like the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is pretty complicated. Much of the work occurs “behind the scenes”, sometimes leaving the efforts feeling more like black magic than anything else. And, although the technical elements can be dense with nuance and expertise, the big picture really is quite simple.


If we break it down to the absolute basics, there are three areas which determine how our SEO efforts are performing on any given day:

  • Your SEO Efforts
  • Your Competitors’ SEO Efforts
  • Platform (Google/Bing) Changes


If we think of our efforts as a little car with three wheels, the rate at which each of these are spinning make up our progress. Some days, everything is going in our favour and we motor through that front page. Other days, competitive pressure and unannounced platform changes drop us back and leave ground to be made up. The important thing to remember is that SEO is fluid, it’s always changing – we can never “set and forget” a strategy while expecting success.

Your SEO Efforts

Gettin’ to work


Keeping this at a bird’s eye view, your SEO efforts are exactly that – the sum total of your past and present SEO investments. This ranges from your current on-site efforts, to your Google My Business (GMB) work, to how well you planned and executed your last website provider (CMS) switch. It’s a combination of:


  • The foundational pieces you’ve (hopefully) set up in the past – like a good CMS, implemented properly


  • Your current, ongoing work – like well optimized key pages


… working together, and pushing in the same direction. For this article, we’re not worried about the details of what those efforts are, but to again appreciate that SEO is both a long term game and one that never stops changing. This is why the most successful dealerships think of SEO as a strategic, long term investment and not a monthly sales lever.

Your Competitors SEO Efforts

Work gettin’ done


Having wrapped our minds around our efforts, it’s straightforward to extend that to our second area – our competitors’ efforts. A wholesale swap of everything we’ve invested in, to that which our competitors have invested in. This is another common misstep in thinking about SEO, in that once we reach top of page rankings we’ve “won”. Although that might be true for that day, unless your competitors aren’t doing a thing it likely won’t be true in the near future.


Just as sales goals kick over each month, Google never stops refreshing the data coming in to determine which is the most relevant site to show an interested user. Part of winning that fight comes from proving to Google that you are investing in delivering that experience that the user is looking for.

Platform Algorithm Changes

The wheels always turning


And that, brings us to our third and final area – platform changes from your search engine of choice (Google/Bing). Although the differences can be wide, we can keep things at their most simple by saying that each search engine has a system in place to determine which pages to show to a given user for a given search. As we touched on just earlier, those systems rely on countless data points that are crunched in real time for each and every search. Not only is the data updating, but the way in which the platform interacts with the data is too.


Most often, the “algorithm changes” we hear about are subtle changes to the relative importance a search engine assigns to a certain piece of data. Although the changes are subtle, their effects are often significant as they are amplified across the great expanse of the internet. Predicting, interpreting, and responding to these changes is perhaps the most important task of an SEO provider. Although there may only be a handful of “major” changes in a year, there can be dozens to hundreds of minor changes that can be specific enough to affect only certain types of businesses.


As all three of these elements – Your Efforts, Competitor Efforts, Platform Changes – ebb and flow from day to day. When we consider this, it’s easier to understand why SEO success factors (like rank gains) fluctuate as much as they do. When reviewing your dealership’s progress, whether internally or from a vendor, make sure to consider these points. Make sure your review covers enough time to fairly judge the outcome of your investment, while also ensuring that you’re staying ahead of the curve and not becoming stagnant.


Until next time, keep those wheels spinning.


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