I have totally lost count of how many SEO articles I’ve seen. How many people promising to get you to the top of Google search results, blah, blah, blah…
I quit my job relatively recently (7 months ago) and become a self-employed web developer offering all types of web services. Since then, every time I speak to a prospective client or contact at a networking event, or someone online, always the question “do you do SEO? Can you do my keywords?”.
It’s taken me a while to work out how to answer this question. I started with “no”, then I moved to “no, do you?”, then, begrudgingly, I started saying “yes”. I’ve even updated my website to say that I’ve started “doing SEO”. Urgh, I feel so dirty!
And why is that? I’ll tell you why, I’ve also spoken to countless people who say “I pay my web guy £60 / month to do my SEO.” Do your SEO? Do they write content for you? No? Do they continuously check and update the content on your website? No? What are they doing? Nothing, I’m afraid is likely to be the answer.
But now I’ve joined the game. But with an attempt to cut the crap. I’m looking to give people advice and provide a service where I, or they, actually do something, that helps their business in a positive way.
People have totally lost the plot with SEO
So what is the deal here? Why am I so annoyed about this?
I feel like a lot people in the industry have managed to turn SEO into this mysterious beast, where to tame it you need to be really technical and have an in-depth knowledge of Google’s search algorithms so that you can put these magical things into your website that mean that when someone searches you can be sure your website is found.
Let’s just hold up a second. Are Google’s algorithms that important?Why do they have them? What are they for?
These are easy questions. To answer them, imagine that you are Google, or maybe the person at Google who is responsible for search, it’s your product, it’s your baby. What would you want it to be, or do?
When I imagine this, I imagine that I’d want people to come and use my product and have a good experience using it.
Yeah but, what is a good experience using Google Search?
Well, presumably, people come to use my product for a reason, that reason is they want to find something, or they want to answer a question.
OK, so I guess I should make my product do that job as best as I can. I will make my product find the best answers to your question, or the best information related to the topic you are looking for.
Next, let me look at what indications I’ve got that tell me when you’ve found what you are looking for. Let’s consider two scenarios
- You searched, I gave you a link, you clicked it, I can see that you spent 15 seconds or so on the page and then you left.
- You searched, I gave you a link, you clicked it, I can see that you spent almost 3 minutes on the page, then it looks like you clicked on a few links on that site and had a look around.
Now, which one of these sounds like my product user had a better experience? Obviously number 2, and why? Because the content on the site was what the user was looking for. It answered their question. And not only that, they were offered more content and information on the site that tickled their fancy.
Right, have I over-simplified this? Of course I have. But the message you should be taking away here is one of mindset. Stop thinking about how you can get to the top of the search engine results, or trick Google into putting you there, and start thinking about who your target audience is, what they are looking for, what questions they have and then give them what they want.
Then, promote the life out of it! Getting people to your site yourself is the next big step in getting Google to think you’re worth directing THEIR users to when they’re searching.
So, you can just stop doing all that other stuff?
No that’s not quite what I’m saying. Here’s some “do’s”:
Do keep researching “keywords”, or “what people are already searching for” in English, and then producing content about it, making sure those words are mentioned in the relevant places is still important, but do it for the right reasons with the right mindset.
Do pay attention to your titles, page descriptions and featured images. These are what people see in search results, or when you share a link on Facebook, so is only going to help encourage people to click.
Do write amazing content that answers the questions your target audience are looking for.
Do make sure your website loads quickly, no one likes a slow site.
Do encourage other sites to link to your content, it will only get more people to your site, but do it in a positive, constructive way, not a spammy way.
Do measure what users do on your site and A/B test to find the best experience.
Do use SSL, if you can. It can’t be a bad thing, and those nice folks over at Letsencrypt are making it very affordable, and when I say affordable, I mean free.
OK so what next?
How can you do all of these good things I hear you ask? Well I am of course aiming to do the same thing that all of your are – build an audience. I’ve produced a 10 step guide, witch actual tasks you can sit down and do to help with SEO. The great thing about them is once they’re done you can see the improvement and benefit. I do, of course ask you to join my mailing list to get a copy. But I promise I’ll only send you good useful stuff, that you’re already looking for 😉