I’m going to tell you how to rank higher than your competitors in almost every case.
No, this isn’t a joke.
We call these steps the “5 Cs” and every SEO process our agency does is bucketed under one of these five headings.
I will personally guarantee that if you do five things better than your competitor for any given keyword, you will rank higher than them.
So is this the magic bullet you’ve been looking for?
You’ll have to read further to find out.
Yes, You Can Do SEO Yourself
SEO is not rocket science.
SEO is more akin to plumbing.
Anyone can learn how to fix a sink by watching a bunch of YouTube videos.
But you better be sure that you have the time and patience to learn how to fix that sink correctly, or you are likely going to have to fix it again or call someone who knows how to fix it.
And there’s always the very strong possibility, no matter how many YouTube videos you watch, that you’ll make a mistake and end up with a flood that Noah would be proud of.
SEO is the same way.
You can learn how to do it yourself.
There are plenty of great resources for learning SEO.
But here’s the rub.
If your time is worth anything, and you don’t want to risk the proverbial water damage that your site might endure, hiring a competent SEO professional is probably worth the money.
The 5 SEO ‘Magic Bullets’
Over the years, I’ve worked hard to try and explain the complex dance we call SEO in simplified terms.
It’s not an easy task.
In working to explain SEO in a simple form, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are five things, that if done better than any other site, will almost guarantee ranking above the competition.
Having good underlying code won’t get you rankings.
But not having good underlying code will keep you from ranking.
The forward-facing code on your site is what the major search engine crawlers look at.
Your focus should be on making your forward-facing code as frictionless as possible for the crawlers.
I’m not going to go into how to do this.
Frankly, I don’t have the time nor the vast amount of pixels that would be required to tell you how to fix your site’s code.
There are tons of resources, including Youtube videos, out there that will provide you with information on how to provide proper code that works well with the major search engines.
In my opinion, for most companies, technical SEO is a fundamental basic.
And for most legitimate SEO professionals, it isn’t a problem.
Being able to fix the code on a website is, unfortunately, what the general public thinks is the whole SEO game.
The problem is, fixing the code on a site is the most basic step to getting into the game.
Good SEO pros can make a difference with technical SEO and changing code.
But it’s only one aspect of what makes a great SEO.
Search Engine Algorithms still read words.
Consumers still read words.
Words mean things.
The words on your site must be read by people and robots.
But it’s more than just words.
Content is an unpredictable king.
Benevolent one minute, wrathful the next; and mostly ineffective if not continually shaped and molded.
Your content has to communicate your company’s unique selling proposition using the words that people who are looking for your goods and services are most likely to type into a search engine.
And this isn’t 2003.
Stuffing keywords into your content like the proverbial round peg into a square hole is not only ineffective, it’s counterproductive.
Yet I still see folks relying on things like “keyword density” or “latent semantic indexing” – looking for a mythical formula that never really existed in the first place.
Yes, you need to use your keywords in your content.
If you ask me how many times you need to use a keyword, you’re missing the point.
It’s about making content that resonates first with the end user – then massaging that content to make it effective for the search engines as well.
Test your copy.
Running a few dollars through a Google Ads account or Facebook campaign can give you a good idea if the gist of the content is working for your audience.
Once it’s working with people, tweak it to be more robot friendly.
And it’s not just about the content on your own page.
It’s about the content that others write about you.
If you can’t get others to write about you, you are yelling into a wall, most likely alone.
That’s a good segue into the next “bullet”.
Google was founded on the principle that links to a website are the best indicator of a site’s relevance to a specific query.
The algorithm has changed a lot over the years, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a legitimate SEO that doesn’t think links still matter.
I’ve written in the past why I think public relations professionals make great SEOs.
And I’m a firm believer in the fact that link building is best focused on quality rather than quantity.
Unless something just absolutely goes legitimately viral, I get suspicious when a non-enterprise level site gains thousands of links in a month.
Huge quantities of links without a lucky viral hit are almost always the flag of spammy tactics.
Building links is about building connections.
It’s much harder to identify influencers and cultivate an authentic relationship than it is to spam 10,000 folks from a bought list, hoping for a few suckers that will grant you a link.
Connections are what separate good SEO from great SEO.
But it’s not enough to just do media relations.
Everyone, no matter what the budget, has limited resources.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you spend your time and effort cultivating relationships with the right people, rather than the ones who will give you a link that isn’t worth the effort.
In order to identify the right influencers, you must understand the basics of how a link is valued by the search engine – and the relevance of each potential link to your web property.
I wrote about how we value links here.
Let’s get something straight.
Social media will not provide you with direct SEO benefits.
But social media is extremely important to the success of any SEO program.
We talked about connections, and how building relationships is the ideal way to build links.
But how do we cultivate those relationships?
Currently, the best way to cultivate relationships with the right influencers is by communicating and interacting on social media.
Plus, having a robust and effective social media presence helps with a brand’s recognition.
Brand recognition helps site’s get clicks in search engine results.
For instance, if there are three sites that show up at the top for a specific query, my bet is on the one with the highest name recognition getting the click, regardless of position.
Brand recognition can make a #3 listing as effective as a #1 listing.
Most SEO pros don’t get involved in social media strategy, and that is a mistake,
Social media is the single greatest tool for cultivating relationships and communicating value to influencers.
Relationships and relevance to influencers garner quality links.
Quality links make effective SEO.
Effective SEO does not live in a vacuum.
Frequently, clients want to appear high for a specific keyword because, intuitively, they feel being rankings for that keyword will make all of their dreams come true.
Frequently, these clients are wrong.
In many cases, it’s difficult to completely understand the intent of a searcher intuitively.
Many broad keywords are at the top of buying funnel.
In order to understand if a top-of-the-funnel keyword is effective, you must look beyond the last click of a conversion.
This is just one example of how data from your website needs to be used to guide your ongoing SEO strategy.
Without data, an SEO is going by gut instinct.
That may have worked in 2003, but today it’s going to results in a half-baked SEO program that never lives up to its potential.
It’s why I require every person at my agency who even remotely touches a client’s campaign be Google Analytics Certified.
Data won’t make you rank.
But data will guide your understanding of what’s going on with your SEO and where it needs to go.
Are These the Magic Bullets You Are Looking For?
Google says you should avoid anyone who offers guarantees about SEO.
After all, SEO professionals don’t control Google – we just work to give Google what it wants.
But I will guarantee that if you do the items discussed in this article better than the competition, you will rank above them, every time.
But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that this isn’t a simple checklist of to-dos.
It’s up to you to decide if this article outlines an SEO magic bullet.
To me, it’s more of an outline of how to work hard and grind out great SEO results.
I promise it works.
But if you are looking for the easy way out, I don’t recommend following these steps.
It’s not easy, but it works.
And at the end of the day, the results are worth the effort.
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Featured Image: Created by author, June 2019