As SEO professionals, both Yasir and I have learned quite a bit about how to get things done for our customers. Now while you can certainly use anyone at all to do your SEO work, there are certain things that I think both of us have learned from our time working in the world of SEO which are universal and which will help you to build your own website up. Here’s what you need to know:
SEO Is Like Doing the Laundry
I used this analogy a while back and it’s still very accurate. Most people have only a very vague idea of what it means to do SEO work. They think that you need to tweak some things on the website and then build some links and that you are then done. However, in the real world, we’ve both learned that things don’t work that way and never did.
Yes, when we get an initial client in, they may need a great deal of work. Their website may need some rewriting and it may also need to have additional links built to help it rank well in the search engines. Often, we find that customers have done little or no SEO work on their own or worse, they have done things incorrectly and have actually hurt their own efforts.
However, what many people don’t seem to realize is that doing SEO is never a one step or even multistep process. It is an ongoing process. You simply need to keep building up the material that you put out there or you will lose market share and rankings.
The analogy I like to use is that doing SEO is like doing laundry. Imagine you were a freshman home from college after a few months and you brought home all your smelly laundry for your mom to wash for you. Not only will you be repelling everyone in class (I mean seriously, how much clothing can you have that you get away without doing laundry for months?) but you will also get a scolding from your mom.
Your mom will first insist that you learn how to do the laundry and while she may assist you, she will ultimately expect you to do the job yourself. Since you have this massive mound of laundry to do, it’s going to be a big job to get it all done. You start out and eventually, after a few days of hard work and of overtaxing your mom’s washing machine, the job is done.
Guess what? You’re not done. You still need to wash clothing, including the clothes you’re wearing right now and that means that laundry doesn’t stop getting done until the day you die. By the way, for the record, I know some moms will go ahead and do the laundry for their kids, but many will act as above.
Anyway, one of the lessons we learned and that we try to drum into our customers is that SEO is just like the laundry – even when it’s “done,” meaning that your website has achieved the rankings you want it to achieve, it’s still not “done.” You must maintain or you will lose that ranking pretty quickly.
However, just like our proverbial college student, who hopefully has learned his or her lesson and will now do laundry regularly, the amount of work isn’t quite the same as was needed when you were trying to build yourself up to the top of the rankings.
Don’t Think about Google. Think about Your Customers
As a writer who specializes in doing SEO work, I’m often amazed at the ridiculous requirements people ask me to stick to when it comes to keyword density. I have seen people ask for as much as 8% keyword density and demands for 3-4% keyword density are not uncommon. To understand what this means, let’s look at a typical sentence.
Let’s say your plan is to target the keyword “dog food for diabetic dogs.” Now, imagine that you wanted 8% keyword density. It sounds reasonable, right? Just 8%, that’s not so much. However, because your keyword is 5 words long, this means that practically every other word of your text would need to be the keyword. It’s impossible to write a coherent sentence that way. For example:
Dog food for diabetic dogs can be hard to find since dog food for diabetic dogs is not the usual thing that pet stores have. In fact, ask for dog food for diabetic dogs and you’ll have people ask, dog food for diabetic dogs? I never heard of dog food for diabetic dogs. Maybe I can ask the boss if he has dog food for diabetic dogs.
However, even people who don’t try to use ridiculous keyword density rules often make a huge mistake when they insist on trying to write for a search bot instead of for human beings. This is one of those lessons that both Yasir and I have learned over the years and it’s an important one which we always try to impress our customers with.
The fact is that even if we could get Google to be fooled and to send people to your website, you’ll find that you’ll have a very high bounce rate (that means that people drop by and then quickly leave without making a purchase or doing anything else). That’s because human beings don’t respond well to machine optimized writing. They’ll spot it in a second and will simply walk away and decide to look elsewhere.
All this is to say nothing of the fact that Google actually has been working hard to find ways to detect “written for search bots” writing and they have been very good at weeding that kind of stuff out of the search engines. While they’re hardly perfect at it, they do tend to catch much of it and they also tend to deindex or punish the sites they find.
Instead, we tell our customers that writing should sound natural. And guess what? When you write stuff that sounds natural, your keywords almost inevitably show up and there is no need to manually insert them into your writing. However, if there is a need for that, once you have something that sounds natural, it’s actually easier to fix it up and add in the keywords after the fact.
Now, on top of all that, we have also learned of late that Google has been hard at work on new algorithms which don’t really rely that heavily on specific keywords. You can see an example of this when you search for a keyword and you find that Google actually brings up results with synonyms of your chosen word.
So, the bottom line is, lesson 2: write for people, not for machines.
You Need Frequent Updates
Keep your website updates regularly and Google will give you lots of love. Neglect it and let it sit, static for months and all the links we build for you will not matter because Google will tend to rank you poorly. This is the next lesson that we picked up through the years and it’s an important one because most people don’t understand it.
Google tends to look for fresh content to serve up to their customers. They are not interested in trying to serve them something from two years ago. Now mind you, that two year old article may be exactly what the person who is doing a search is looking for. However, the general assumption is that people want fresh content.
This means that an important part of doing SEO and one that many of our customers don’t really understand so well is that simply must keep up regular updates to their websites. Add a blog and update it on a regular basis and you’ll see that Google will give you love simply because you have more material to offer them to show to their readers.
Of course, just because you have that blog doesn’t necessarily mean that Google will give you the love you crave. You see, if you really want to get that love, you also need to create what is known as an authority site. Authority sites share a number of important characteristics:
First, they almost always get ranked very well in Google searches. Wikipedia for example is an authority site, even if some people do say that it is not entirely accurate. However, the fact that it has so much to offer on well, just about everything, means that it will come up in searches much more frequently than many other websites.
Second, authority sites have well, authority. They have many, many articles with lots of good, useful information and they attract links from other websites, including other authority websites. Remember that if you put up good, solid information, people will link back to what you wrote and they will in fact start to notice you and you will become an authority site.
Finally, getting back to the original point I was making, authority sites are updated regularly so that people know that the breadth of knowledge available at these sites is constantly expanding and is constantly being made available to an ever larger audience. This means again, that if you want to get some serious Google love, you need frequent updates.
Don’t Focus On the Now. Focus on the Future.
Finally, probably the single most important lesson that both of us have learned in the SEO business is to have patience. SEO is not an instant thing and nobody ever ranked well for a popular keyword overnight, no matter who they are. It takes time to build yourself up and it takes time to maintain yourself.
You have to remember that there are quite literally billions upon billions of websites on the web today. Nobody knows for certain exactly how many there are, but I’ve seen estimates as high as 100 billion and as low as about 3 billion. This means that for any given keyword, there is an awful lot of competition out there.
Those who focus on the now and insist that they need to be ranked highly for a popular keyword within 48 hours will inevitably be disappointed because they will simply find that it’s impossible to do, no matter how much money you have to throw at the problem (and we find that those who make those demands often are the ones who don’t want to spend much money either).
Smart internet professionals and smart SEO professionals though know that SEO work is a long term project and that it simply takes a very long time to build things up. No, that doesn’t mean it will take you years to get to the top of the rankings for a good keyword (though if you are targeting some like “make money online,” you will have a tough time with any amount of time). However, it does mean it could take months.
This is a lesson we both learned and which we try to share with our customers because they need to understand that we’ll be there to work with you for the long term and are not interested in creating a short term relationship which involves simply building your website up and then walking away.
Look, we know there are many, many other SEO companies out there. However, what I think we’ve learned is that it takes more than just buying a license for SENuke X to actually build up a quality SEO business. It also takes knowledge and it takes the ability to see things through all the way to the end.
No matter whom you work with for SEO work, we recommend that you look for someone who will see it through to the end and who knows about these four very basic principles of doing SEO work. Otherwise, you may as well take your money and toss it into the fireplace – it’s likely to be a better use of the stuff than paying some charlatan.