If you are anything like me and read a lot of different SEO articles about the upcoming Google updates you might be getting sick of reading these blog posts. Although sometimes they are really informative, I have to admit, I have read almost identical articles posted on different websites and it is becoming a drag. Also, a lot of it is all very technical (things like code re-writes/render blocking etc…). It is all very handy if you already have a good understanding of SEO but if you just want to learn the basic best practice, it is easy to get lost.
Things change all the time in SEO and the trick is to get your head out of the books, understand what Google, your client and the customer is looking for, and combine the theory with your experience.
SEO is not Theory-Based.
This is sometimes the problem when it comes to a lot of SEO’s because their knowledge is theory-based rather than through experience. For example- I heard a story of an interview where a prospective employee (who, on paper, had some good experience) was asked ‘How would you improve our website’. This individual replied: ‘Add more links”.
In theory, yes. It works. More links mean a better, stronger search result. What this person was missing, however, is the big picture. Their answer is right but there were more very obvious issues that needed to be addressed. What it showed was lack of experience considering that the website already had some very good quality links.
This is an issue when you are learning SEO from these articles because they almost assume you already know the big picture. To be fair, MOZ is very good at teaching advanced SEO for newcomers.
SEO is, in theory, about getting on top of the Google search pages but it isn’t exclusive to that. If you are top of the results there will be loads of people clicking but what if the page was a nightmare to use? As a digital marketer, you cannot simply focus on the technical’s and ignore ‘real world’ issues like aesthetics, broken links or poorly written content. This is exactly why things like UX (user experience) has been popping up all over the shop.
If you really want to learn, build yourself a domain, build yourself a website (WordPress is best) and experiment.
Know Your Audience.
If you have read one article about 2018, you’ve read them all when it comes to being mobile ready. It is true. Google is taking a stand on what it thinks is the way forward. To be honest, in theory, there are more views on mobiles but I was recently corrected by a client who said that their customers are using desktops to search for their business (they didn’t have access to analytics- it was a judgement through pure experience). It is true. Over 70% of the traffic is coming from desktops. This is important because it makes us think about who is viewing the website. What is the point in appeasing Google and making the website look great for mobile users when most of the viewers are on desktops!?
Google is becoming better at ‘understanding’ the ‘query’ that we put into its system. This is so that Google can find you what you are looking, for rather than a website that has the exact word, for word match. So if the viewers simply ‘ bounce’ or don’t’convert’, Google will see this and replace your website, with a better performing one. What I am saying is, sometimes it is better to cater to the audience/the customer rather than following the law set down by Google to the very letter.
Avoid Toxic Backlinks.
This gets my goat. Loads of companies are still paying for links or buying web domains to create reciprocal link farms. What is worse, is knowing this has been a huge ‘no no’ since the beginning. It is lazy and cowboy behaviour. Even since the early 2000s Google has told us that we shouldn’t be using these techniques to get links. And now, Google is so much better at catching websites out. Even if there is a bad link from years, and years ago it can be detrimental to your website.
Understand, that sometimes no links is better than 10 bad links. Think of building links as a natural process that happens organically through your real word efforts. We often write relevant and informative content and ask other websites to feature these in links in their own content. Not just any website, but websites who have covered similar topics and have high authority. Otherwise, if you are featured in the local news, ask for a link on the website. It is about finding those gaps so you can showcase your worth. Getting links also isn’t guaranteed, so if you are ever offered a ‘package’ of say 5 links, leave the office. It is simply not how link building works unless you are using PBNs, Link farms or buying links.
It is hard work, takes hours and has a very low success rate, but if it isn’t hard to get, what is it worth?!
SEO is Changing.
Yes, SEO is changing but some things remain the same. Often, it is easy to get caught up in the new technical details that you forget about what is important. The Customer. To really achieve results you have to think about the big picture and combine your real-world marketing experience with the theory you learn from ‘How to…’ articles. This way, you will develop your own theories and strategies and will be able to identify issues in a multitude of different situations.
I say that because each client is different. That is why it is so important to sit down with them and understand their goals and personality so you can showcase that online successfully in order to cater to their customers. Although, SEO is online it is important to understand the real world too. Customers like quality, and value for money and that is exactly what you need to be able to provide.