I’ve been offering SEO workshops in Boston for several years now. While I know that eight hours isn’t enough time for someone to learn all there is to know about SEO (I’ve been in this industry for 13 years and I’m still learning!), I try to give as complete an overview as I can so at least everyone walks out of the workshop with a good grasp of the basics.
And while it’s a lot of information to process, there are four key points that I really try to hammer home and keep coming back to throughout the day. These four things aren’t technically action items but more of a mentality a new site owner needs to have when they are ready to start their own SEO campaign.
1. SEO is Long Term
If you need to drive 1,000 visitors to your site right now, then you are going to be sorely disappointed in SEO. SEO is a long term process that builds on itself and gains momentum with time—and time isn’t something you can force along, no matter how much on or offsite SEO work you do.
What you do today might not have a real tangible impact on your website for a few months, but chances are if you did it right you’ll be benefiting from that SEO action item for years down the road.
For instance, part of any good SEO campaign is content marketing and blogging. I’ve been writing in my company blog for over a year, along with a variety of other SEO sites including Search Engine Journal. My company blog publishes at least two posts a day Monday to Friday—that’s a lot of content!
Plenty of these posts get some social love, while others barely make a blip, but each one of those posts contributes to the overall impact of my SEO campaign. Just recently, I noticed that one of those blogs had been cited in a New York Times article; talk about a great link! I know that a year ago I never would have been found by a New York Times blogger, but because I embraced the fact that SEO is long term and that it requires patience, consistency, and dedication, my efforts paid off!
I know that most new site owners don’t want to wait six months or a year to see the value of their SEO campaign, but if you want to do SEO right, it’s going to take time.
2. Always Put Your Visitors Before the Search Engines
I feel like a lot fewer sites would get in trouble with search engine algorithm updates if they stopped worrying so much about the search engine algorithm. I realize that sounds kind of backwards, but in my experience, as long as you put your human visitors first in everything that you do for SEO, chances are it’s the kind of things the search engines are looking for.
Is that piece of content designed to actually inform and educate your readers or are you just looking to rank? Will this link send a few targeted visitors your way or just add one more link to your backlink portfolio? Stop chasing the algorithm and focus on doing things that will help you connect with your target audience!
When you put the search engines before your visitors that’s usually when sites start investing in techniques that are more likely to get them in trouble down the road.
3. There is No Secret to SEO Success
You want to know what the secret to SEO success is? Just doing it and making sure you do it right. There is no “trick” to catapult your website to the top (and actually stay there long term), and any SEO firm or consultant that tries to sell you otherwise is not the kind of SEO firm you want to trust your website to.
A few months ago several of my SEO clients got the same email from another SEO consultant named “Bob” that looked something like this:
Did you know your website isn’t ranking in the top ten for any of your keywords? And you only have 72 back links? With my help I can get your website to the front page of Google in only 2 months time! I’ve worked out the secret to SEO success and want to help your site.
First off, how does “Bob” know what keywords my clients are targeting as part of their SEO? (And plenty of them were in the top 10 for the record!) And secondly, where is Bob pulling is data about my client’s link profile? I’m fairly sure he doesn’t have access to their Google Webmaster Tools Account which tells me my clients actually have closer to 7,000 backlinks … but many new site owners that doesn’t understand or don’t know this information about their own site might fall for such a line simply because they don’t know.
4. Link Building is Forever
New site owners often ask me question like “Well, how long should I do link building?” or “How many links will I take to get where I want my SEO to be?”. There is no definite answer to either of those questions. Link building is forever. You might hit a certain benchmark that you set to measure your own SEO success but that doesn’t mean you get to ride off into the sunset on the back of your previous activities.
Every day you don’t bother with link building is another day your competition does and they get one step closer to unseating you. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of websites competing for the top spot in the SERPs—just because you reach it that doesn’t mean it’s yours forever. I’ve seen too many sites pull way back on their link building when they thought they had a ranking on lock down and their site just dropped through the SERPs over time.
Like I mentioned before, these aren’t really action items that you can take and implement today—but they are four critical ways of looking at and thinking about SEO that I feel more new site owners need to understand. If you can better wrap your head around what SEO really is, what it really