Best piece of SEO advice

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focus on creating trust through everything you do online and offline.

You have two audiences: search engines and humans. The former (let’s just say “Google”) wants to show web pages that it trusts will provide a good experience to the searcher — pages that will answer their query. When you look at a page of search results, you’re looking at what Google thinks are the most trusted pages to answer the search.

When Google begins to trust your website, your natural traffic will grow and grow and grow. You won’t have to worry about algorithm changes. Your website will be crawled more deeply, your content will get indexed faster, and you’ll be able to rank for more competitive terms faster.

Humans? We basically operate on trust. All of us like to do business with companies that we trust. We like to spend time on websites that we trust. The first thing we do — subconsciously — when we visit a new website is make a quick decision about the trustworthiness of the company/site. When searchers trust you and your site, you’re much more likely to convert them into customers/leads.

If you focus on building trust in all you do, you’ll be on your way to longterm SEO success. It’s the #1 factor for search engine rankings/visibility.

Very challenging to name only a single thing and call it “the best” but I’ll share one of my favorites:

Create a site, service, product or hook that has a natural, viral feedback component accessible to search engines, via — links, embeds, badges, incentives to share, etc. Make it repeatable and compelling.

E.g.

  • Urbanspoon’s — Spoonback
  • SimplyHired’s — Job trends charts
  • OKTrends’ — Data-driven blog posts
  • Mixcloud’s — Social voting/promotion
  • Wikipedia’s — Crowdsourcing
  • StackExchange’s — Community + gamification model, etc.

If or when you achieve this, the hardest part of SEO — spreading your message in a way that encourages engines to rank you well – is in the bag, mostly. The key components then become content, keywords and a scalable business model, not that those are especially easy either.

 

It’s nearly impossible to come up with one, so I’m going to give you a short list:

  1. Know and understand technical SEO
  2. Know and understand Analytics
  3. TEST!

1. Know and understand technical SEO

I’m not talking about basic things like HTML tags (<h1>, <h2>), I mean know and understand how to perform a full technical SEO audit on a Fortune 500 website.

In my opinion, technical SEOs are a dying breed. Too many lazy ass SEOs don’t know shit about how a website functions. If you can learn this skill you can command $200,000 salaries (easily).

I know this is easier said than done, but here’s how I recommend you learn:

  1. Leverage the web to find content on how to perform SEO audits
  2. Download Screaming Frog, Xenu Link Sleuth, and other free tools
  3. Run them on websites like Best Buy

Blog about your results. You’ll learn a shit load – trust me.

2. Know and understand Analytics

Analytics are the life blood of any marketing tactic, especially SEO. Know your way around GA and GWT – they’re your best friend.

AMAZING post on SEO analytics: Steal My SEO Dashboard for Google Analytics | Webris

 

3. TEST!

Search engine algorithms change everyday. That SEO ‘guru’ selling you a  guaranteed 1st page ranking may work today, but probably won’t tomorrow.

There is no singular blue print to SEO success – if there was, we’d
all be rich. That’s what makes this field so fascinating – it’s dynamic and it’s really difficult.

Most people who think they have an SEO problem actually have a brand problem, a page titling problem, or a quality problem. If you have a good brand, good page titles, and good content then Google will usually rank your site in the place it deserves.

Rather than thinking about why Google doesn’t like your site, it’s better to think about why humans don’t like your site. One way to find out why humans don’t like your site is to pick a query you would like to rank for, look at the current results, and then try the following exercises with a user study participant:

  • Show them just the brand name – Ask them to rank the names of the sites that currently rank for the query, based on how much they would trust that site for that query. If they don’t rank your site name highly then you don’t have an SEO problem – you have a brand awareness or brand reputation problem.
  • Show them just the page title – Ask them to rank the titles by how much they would expect the page with that title to give them a really high quality answer for their query. If they don’t rank your title highly then you don’t have an SEO problem – you have a titling problem.
  • Show them the landing pages – Ask them to rank the pages by how high quality they are, how trustworthy they are, and how well they address the need expressed by the query. If they don’t rank your page highly then you don’t have an SEO problem – you have a page quality problem.
  • Otherwise, maybe you do have an SEO problem – If users do think that your brand is good, your page titles are good, and your content is good then it’s possible that there is something broken in your site that is preventing Google from realizing this. In which case, follow Google’s Webmaster guidelines to learn how to help Google understand your site.

Note that I haven’t revealed any “secret insights” about Google. This is all just common sense and applies equally well to all search engines – however common sense often seems lacking in the SEO industry.

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