SEO: There Are No Tricks

I lost count of how many times I’ve been followed by an SEO/SEM expert, consultant, or programmer on Twitter. All these people claiming to be experts on something anyone can learn to do from a single-page leaflet. Because really, if everyone is claiming to be an expert in something, are there any experts at all?

If I had just one piece of SEO advice to give, it would be to stop paying for SEO advice. You can find it ALL online! Here are probably the most common ones you will read about:

  • Domain Name
    If you own “foobar.com” you can make a great bet you’ll be on the first page when someone searches “foobar”
  • URL Structure
    If you’re not lucky enough to own “foobar.com”, or any variation thereof, make sure your URLs segments can throw it in. “somethingelse.com/foobar” is better than nothing. Search “Typography” in Google and take a look.
  • Title
    In today’s multi-tabbed browsers it becomes harder and harder for users to read your full title. Search engines don’t have that problem so don’t forget to make each page title relevant to that page.
  • META tags
    Your description and keywords should be as relevant and unique as possible on each page. Yes I know Google doesn’t care about keywords anymore, but there are still other search engines.
  • Linkbacks
    Having other sites link to your site is key. If you want people finding you for “foobar” you want people linking to you with “foobar” being the text. Even if people link back with different text, it will at least increase your PageRank.

If you just follow those tips you’re already well on your way to getting on the first page of Google.

“But wait a minute! How the hell do I get linkbacks?”

That is where the real SEO magic comes from. You actually need good content that people will link to. Who woulda’ thought?

I can give you every SEO tip under the sun, but without the right content it won’t do much good. I suppose the best case scenario would be that the SEO tricks worked and a user landed on your page. However that user would probably be upset with your site/brand that it didn’t match what they expected. When was the last time you purchased something from a brand you didn’t like?

When you make a good product, people will talk about it, link to it, and bring its PageRank up over time. In fact, the more weight your page has the easier it is to bring up its rank for all sorts of keywords. On top of that, if the linkbacks you receive are from highly ranked sites, they will have more weight on you. If you want to talk non-Google terms, the same applies to MozRank.

Stop investing any of your money into SEO and start investing in your editors, writers, product developers and any other aspect of your business that improves its quality. A famous movie once said “If you build it, he will come.” ( I’m disappointed because I always thought it was “they will come” )

A great amount of traffic goes to Behance from search engines, and most of it comes from random searches ( names, products, etc ). Yes we target certain keywords, but no matter what we do about those keywords, more searches will be from random content. Without the great content we have, it wouldn’t matter.

“But I’m an electronics store – not a social network! What is special about my store for a piece of hardware every shop has?!”

Make a blog like everyone else does, but actually put effort into it. When SEO is brought up, it’s just a hop away from “make a blog,” “make a Twitter account,” “make a Facebook page.” Making those things are worthless without effort. How many brands have you seen following a thousand people with one follower back? Your brand can follow ten thousand people but it won’t be worth a cent if there’s nothing for people to be interested in. Make a destination for people to go, with relevant, current information. The rest will follow.

So like I said before, there are no tricks. Stop paying for advice you can get for free. And maybe if I’m lucky, we can work together to stop being followed by people claiming to be SEO experts hoping you will inquire within.

4 comments

  1. — May 1, 2012 8:22 pm

    “When you make a good product, people will talk about it.” – I couldn’t agree more!

  2. — May 7, 2012 8:57 am

    Totally agree with you Jen. If you gotta unique product, it will get people to talk about themselves. Good product never needs no marketing.

  3. — September 21, 2012 9:01 am

    I completely agree that many people ignore crucial aspects of product marketing and think a single channel such as SEO or Facebook will make their fortune. Also that people should be investing in writing, brand, product development etc.

    Google’s algorithms have reached a point of sophistication where there are no “magic beans”. Sure, some things work better than others and having that knowledge is vital or you can spend a lot of effort to little or no effect.

    Ranking is about hard work over time, and it’s something that a lot of people choose to outsource because they either don’t have the skills or the knowledge to do it properly. Hard work, experience and knowledge built over time.

    Good products DO need good marketing. I see great products all the time where the business owner fails to communicate the real value of what they do and sadly get less business as a result. An expert marketer in my eyes is one who excels in communicating the true value of a product to a target audience, no matter what the channel.

    Unfortunately there are many individuals claiming to be experts who identify lone marketing channels and shout “this is the answer to all your problems!” I do SEO myself, but first and foremost I always see myself as a copywriter and marketer – the channels themselves are simply a variety of tools available to me.

    I think people who do SEO can get a bit of a bashing sometimes, implying that anyone can do it. Well, anyone can do anything – whether it’s cutting hair, plumbing or building a house – if they invest time in learning about it and building experience and skills in it.

    Whilst the principles you mention are many of the principles we use, a bullet point summary can be misleading by over-simplifying it, and also understating the amount of hard work over time involved in producing good and sustainable SEO.

    Great article. Thank you.

  4. — September 26, 2012 8:29 pm

    Thanks for the the valuable suggestions…keep writing on this topic. You put a nice twist to it. Another good post Dave.

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