I recently attended an “advanced SEO course.” Because I admire both the author and the firm who designed the course, I came with high expectations: I was expecting to dive immediately into highly exotic, multidimensional techniques for creating and maintaining social buzz. I was ready to learn how to pull down guest spots at nationally established news outlets like the New York Times or CNN without sweating blood, creating complex networks of redirects in dodecahedral formations mapped out against non-Euclidean topologies. In short, I was ready to learn some new ninja skills.
But while the presentation was very competently and clearly presented, I wasn’t bowled over. The course would be an accelerated course for small business owners who think they know something about SEO, but actually have an outdated concept of how to win at search. I should also underline at this point that, in all fairness, this was only the first four lectures. I have no doubt that we’ll be doing dodecahedral redirects by the fourth lecture.
I believe we do have blog readers who are still learning SEO basics. If so, I think there’s a good chance you might learn something valuable by reading my notes. I hope they’ll be easy to read – they’re basically just bullets of points made in the presentation. But if you’re an SEO professional, you might ROFL.
Whatever the case may be, I hope that you get something out of them and I invite you to answer the questions at the end of this post.
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Lecture No. 1: “SEO for the Elderly”
- Keywords are important.
- If you only enter one word into the search engine you may have to sift through quite a few results to find what you’re looking for. By entering more words you can get “more granular.”
- Longer searches are called “longtail.”
- Maybe you’re exposed to billboards in your daily life!
- 85% of searches are on Google
- FACT CHECK: This varies significantly according to your industry and your audiences and, not to split hairs, but the number is more like 81.8% the last time I checked.
- What Matt Cutts says is important.
- “Googlebots” or “Search Spiders” sift webpages continuously by “crawling websites.”
- If you build a website, you’d better tell it (Google) by sending searchable signals.
- A website that talks about a hotel in Tampa will be compared by search engines to other websites with similar content about hotels in Tampa.
- Links impact how Google ranks websites.
- There are 200+ variables in Google algorithm.
- One of these algorithmic factors is PageRank, which takes into account link-quality as well as link-quantity.
- There are other factors, aside from links, that come into play.
- Quality of links is more important than quantity.
- Fresh and dynamic content is important, and you should add new content regularly.
- Everything is debatable in this industry.
- Reliability is a factor in the Algorithm.
- Information organization is a factor in the Algorithm.
- Trust is important. Do people trust you? No? Well, they’d better start trusting you… Otherwise you’re going to have to go out there and get them! That’ll show them to trust you!
- Social impacts search rankings
- Popularity also impacts search rankings–how many people visit your site compared to your competitors’ websites?
- Site integrity and architecture are important. How does your industry perceive your site?
- “The objective is not to make your links appear natural; the objective is that your links are natural.” -Matt Cutts
- If you’re going to have advertising on your website, it should make sense for your business.
- (FACT CHECK: If you are in a business other AdSense Marketing, you should not have ads on your website.*)
- AdSense Marketing: “Look at that! I built this website, put all this content on here, and Google just cut me a check for $10! And it only took me a year!”-P. Golobish
- White hat is the good witch; black hat is the bad witch
- “It (SEO, earned media, etc.) is about creating a better experience for our users!”
- Google might penalize websites whose content indicates that they are keyword stuffing.
- When writing for the Web, it’s important to be as descriptive as possible while making sure that your writing is still natural.
- “For those websites that were found to have done keyword stuffing on their site, Google did indeed perform a smack-down.”
- Social is definitely playing a role in Search Ranking.
- On-page SEO or Owned Media is “on your own website.”
- Off-page SEO is “off of your website.” In other words, “not on your website.”
- Off-page would include other websites, directories, and social platforms.
- SEO requires vision and planning
- What kind of vision and planning you might ask?
- Know your audience.
- Know your Goal/Objective.
- Know your strategy and tactical approach.
- Measure its effectiveness…Don’t just dump and run…you’ll need to tweak things.
- Rinse and Repeat
- Fertilize your garden
- What should I measure?
- Social Buzz
- If you rank for the term most relevant to your service or product, here are some effects you might observe when you’re measuring your progress:
- More traffic
- More money
- Longer time-on-site
- More social buzz
Even after the last year of earthquaking algorithm updates, the above tips still hold true. But knowing all of the above will no longer necessarily win you your target search terms 100 times out of 100. To do that, you have to stop communicating with Google’s algorithm and start communicating with your human audience. Your success in search is now intrinsically tied to how interested these humans are in the content you create–both on and off your website. Your success is tied to how interested users are in interacting with that content, and it’s also tied to what channels they’re going to in order to find that content.
The final lesson: SEO is becoming less about math problems and more about people.