Monday, April 12, 2010

Effective SEO: The ONLY 5 Things That Matter

Buring Money
Image by purpleslog via Flickr
Don't run away just yet. I promise not to turn this blog into one more place where some SEO1 expert moron spews out stuff they know nothing about. In fact, this will probably be one of the few times I talk about SEO. I promise.

But it's an important topic: The SEO "industry" has convinced everyone that this stuff is hard. Sorry, but it's not. I'm a firm believer that the most effective approach is to teach your designers and developers the basic and fundamental concepts behind good website design, architecture and implementation. Done properly, your web pages will get the rank they deserve. And you can worry about running your business instead of wasting money trying to find ways to subvert Google. Because you're never going to win that game.

Below is a talk I gave at Social Media Club Phoenix last week. I typically lead a "social media 101" discussion prior to the meeting. My class was about double the size from months prior. I have to assume that at least some of it was the topic: Dispelling SEO Myths -- something you wouldn't typically hear spoken about at Social Media Club. And because of that swell in attendance, I decided to post it here. Seems like lots of businesses are struggling with this. As usual, I have a simpler way to handle it.

Yes, just those five things. No, I'm not kidding. You could go deeper, but you're wasting your time if you haven't done those five things. You're also wasting your time if you can't do those things so are considering hiring an outside firm to do something else for you. That's wasting your money, because "something else" won't work. Do the things I tell you. If you can't, spend your money trying to get that changed so that you can do those things. Or if you want, give half of that money to me. I'll at least be upfront with you and tell you nothing will happen. Your expectations will be properly set and you'll know you're wasting money, rather than finding out what a waste it was six months from now. I'm kidding, obviously. Save your money until you can spend it on something that will work.

Preemptive strike for you SEO-types -- Don't bother. You may have examples upon examples of how your trick or technique works. I don't care. You and I both know the tricks you try have limited chances of working and only work for a limited time. You and I also know that every time it doesn't work, you blame it on the client's inability to implement your plan. I get that. See above. I'm trying to fix that. But no, I don't think you should be able to charge stupid amounts of money each and every month to unsuspecting clients who haven't the foggiest how your efforts actually help them sell more stuff. Because they probably don't. You can't argue me out of my position. I can't argue you out of yours. Let's just agree to disagree on this, OK?

Preemptive strike for those who want to hire me for SEO work -- If you want me to help you come up with a strategy to dump your outsourced SEO firm and bring it in-house, I can help. But if you're looking for someone to "just do the work", that's not me. I know plenty of very nice, very smart and very fair people who do SEO work and am happy to make a referral. That is, if any of them are still talking to me after reading this post.

1 - Search Engine Optimization. I hate the term and much prefer "SEF", or making your pages Search Engine Friendly.

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  1. Evo,

    Excellent article and presentation. We talked about this at the last East Valley Friday Nights and I agree that SEO shouldn't be made out to be voodoo. I tell my clients that my team can teach them SEO and the big time suck of link building.

    After the strategy has been developed, SEO is basically manual labor. Where it works best is when SEO is integrated into online PR and social media to leverage the company's efforts.

    The biggest factor in ranking, and the hardest, is being exceptional. Exceptional content, conversations and community-building will drive traffic to your site. The search engines rank sites that real people think are exceptional.

    Then you'll need one more 'C'--exceptional Conversion systems.

    See you around town,

  2. Great information.

    It has been a couple of years since you first personally tutored me on the essence of "SEF"... and since we first sat down for my tutoring, I have found what you already knew -- that you were pretty much right when you said that these 5 things are essentially all that matters when it comes to SEO.


  3. [...] Evo Terra kicked off the evening with an in-depth presentation, Dispelling SEO Myths, focusing on the fundamental concepts of great web design, content creation and effective implementation that will get your site noticed. You can find more information and view the presentation on his site A Simpler Way. [...]

  4. Anyone who has practised SEO for many years will tell you need quality content on your pages to get Google rankings. Also you need many backlinks from many different sources. Links are like money - the more you have the better.

    (Evo's note: I left this up -- edited -- as an example of what not to do. Slava here is attempting to boost her own rankings by placing a link back to her (I guess "her"... could be a guy...) website with some desirable anchor text "best seo practice" in the name. That's not a natural backlink. That's a placed backlink, a spammy and blackhat technique, IMHO. She'll disagree, saying that the tactic is effective. And I won't care. It's not nice. It's easily exploited and is a clear attempt to manipulate rankings. She'll next argue that all SEO attempts to manipulate rankings. I still won't care, pointing out that all of my practices above simply better describe content to make it easier for Google to index and organize properly. So don't do this. Ever. Please?

    I toyed with the idea of pulling down the link, but thought it better to leave the link and just edit the Name field to something much more accurate. Evil? Maybe a little. But then again, she started it. Oh, and my statement is accurate as I'm stating my opinion.)

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