Site Admin - The Eighty-Twenty Rule

by Richard Zwicky

All SEO Articles

This article from The Mender (Issue 21),
Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter.


Last month, I was fortunate to travel to Moscow, Budapest, and Munich on business. It was a fascinating trip, but exhausting. Moscow really surprised me. It reminded me of New York and London. It was much nicer and in much better physical condition than I expected. Unfortunately I needed 15 flights in 12 days to do the trip. I could have saved two flights, but I'm not comfortable flying Aeroflot, so I added 2 extra flights to avoid it. Aeroflot may end up being a great airline, but at this time, it's not as safe as some others. I'm glad I did take that extra flight however, because on one of them, I chatted with a really interesting fellow for about 2 hours about the 80/20 rule in business. A lot of the discussion was tongue in cheek, but it got me thinking.

For those who don't know, the "80/20 rule" has been applied to business practices for many years. It follows along the lines of "20% of your sales force produces 80% of your revenue" - "80% of your problems arise from 20% of your dealings" - and "80% of completing an assignment takes 20% of your efforts and the last 20% takes 80% of your work." I like that last one. It seems, as a nonscientific measurement scale, to be fairly accurate.

I never really knew the origin of the 80-20 rule, or that it was coined by an Italian almost a century ago. One observation that was made to me by my seat mate was that in today's business we seem to have lost some perspective on this rule and some wise ways to apply it. Here's his perspective: If 20% of your sales force get 80% of your deals done, they must be the most talented sales people. So why do businesses give them the toughest accounts? Once a sales person gets to be successful, they are given tougher accounts. These tougher accounts take more work than average, and are slower going. Because they take so long they don't add as much to the bottom line.

So why take someone who can sell like crazy, and generate lots of revenue for your company, then put them into a position where they cannot sell? Why not give them the easy 80% of the market to work with and let them run wild? Today's modern corporations tend to put their best and brightest in positions where they work on the toughest 20% of accounts. From an objective perspective this may not make sense.

Let's relate this equation to Search Engine Optimization. 20% of your efforts in SEO can get you 80% of the way to success. But if you don't do it right, it will take you 80% of your time to get 20% of your work done. If you do your SEO work manually, and if you are reading this and are a customer, it's unlikely that you do, you will spend 20 hours a month doing your SEO work. If you use Metamend, you are spending almost no time each month doing anything related to SEO, but 80% of what needs to be done is performed by us on your behalf.

What is the other 20% of SEO activities you should be involved in? Getting content up onto those page is something you should do regardless, but also helps your SEO work for you. Also, looking at and reviewing your statistics is important. Your stats. help you understand how people use your site. In all likelihood 80% of your visitors will only look at 20% of your site. The 20% of the pages people look at are crucial to your success. You can spend 80% of your time worrying about why people rarely visit this or that area within your site, or you can spend it improving the areas people truly visit.

This is where you are making your revenue, and it's where your clients have shown interest. Why waste your time trying to get them to look at things only you find interesting? Why not concentrate on adding your content, products, and services to the areas that appeal
to the people who want to spend time and money with you online? Many people do not realize it, but this is indeed a part of the Search Engine Optimization process as well. An SEO firm will prepare and promote a site you build and maintain, based on the content. It won't advise you on your products or services - they're not experts in what you know, only in how to present it properly to the search engines. However, the effort you put into creating and maintaining your site is your contribution to SEO. So, concentrate on getting everything your clients are visiting you for onto your site. If you need more detailed information about where to spend 80% of your time, on 20% of your site, pick up Urchin Advanced Stats from us; you'll find out everything you could want to know about how people use your site and you will improve your productivity for building your online business.

Other articles from this issue:
- You Never Know Who's Out There
- Consolidate. It's Not Too Late!
- Miva Merchant and Metamend

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