Being SEO consultants, Yasir and I have both come up with some basic rules that we simply insist on following and we thought we’d share those ideas with you, our readers. Here are 20 lessons that we’ve learned about how to do SEO the right way. Whether or not you work with us for your SEO needs, you’ll find that they will serve you quite well:
1. Don’t Be In a Hurry
We know – everyone wants to see instant results. That’s why instant lottery games are so popular these days. People have no patience. It’s a 24 hour news cycle and it’s a non stop world where we’re constantly in communication and we expect ever faster service on everything. Unfortunately, SEO simply doesn’t work that way.
You simply need to take the time to build your links slowly. If you suddenly show up with 100,000 links in a couple of days, Google is going to know something is up and that you are simply spamming the Internet with your links. There’s simply no possible way that you could have built backlinks which are white hat that fast. So take it easy and realize that you will get to your goals slowly but steadily.
2. Remember that All Sites are Not Created Equal
This is one of those things that ought to sound obvious but it just isn’t, especially to most inexperienced SEO experts. There are many different kinds of websites (and no, we’re not just talking about different niches). There are ecommerce sites and blogs and news sites and wiki sites and social media sites and well…you get the idea. The bottom line is there are a great many different kinds of sites on the web.
And every single one of those sites requires a different though similar method of doing SEO. I mean let’s face it – an ecommerce site is not going to have lots of long articles on most its pages. A social media site is mostly going to be user driven while an authority site will mostly have long articles. All these kinds of sites require different kinds of efforts to optimize them and that’s why you need an experienced SEO expert to do the job correctly.
3. SEO Doesn’t Matter If You Have Nothing to Offer
Look, we can do all the work you could possibly want as SEO experts. We can build the links and put up guest posts and optimize your website for the right keywords and all the other things that we do for our customers. However, no matter how much work we do for you, if you end up offering your customers a junky product, you will not succeed online.
Make sure that whatever it is that you have for sale is worth the money and ultimately, even without phenomenal SEO work, you will find that your site will be successful. Of course, if you happen to get great SEO services from a good SEO expert, you will find that you will not be just successful but wildly successful.
4. You Can Compete with the Big Boys
I know – it often seems impossible to compete with the big guys and in some ways, it is impossible to compete with them. If you are trying to rank for example for the keyword Microsoft Windows, then you are unlikely to beat out Microsoft for that keyword.
On the other hand, if you were trying to beat out someone like Microsoft for a keyword like “word processor,” it would take a lot of work, but it is possible to do. The question of course then becomes, do you want to beat out Microsoft for such a keyword since you’ll end up with lots of irrelevant searches.
5. Don’t Focus On One Kind of Link
This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re trying to do SEO work and it’s a mistake that a great many newly minted SEO “experts” (I use the term very loosely here) tend to make. They decide that there is some great new method for building links and they put all their efforts into that.
Especially in a post Penguin world, you need to ensure that you build lots of different kinds of links which actually have plenty of different kinds of anchor text. Google’s system is perfectly capable of noticing unusual numbers of links from one type of site and not another and as such, they’re more likely to drop you in the rankings if you focus on just one kind of link.
6. Scripting Actually Matters
For all that websites today are pretty much never built by hand (I last built a website by hand coding around 10 years ago), knowing the various scripting languages does matter. You can take a look at the different parts of your website and understand how they work together and see if there is something there which is dragging your site down in the rankings.
Not that you need to be an absolute expert on these things. You just need to know enough to be able to follow what’s going on so that you can see how it all hangs together.
7. Experience Matters
Yasir and I each have significant amounts of experience in doing SEO work. In my case, my experience is mostly on the writing side and in putting together content for websites which will both sell and get noticed by the various search engines. In Yasir’s case, he knows how to focus on the link building and background part of SEO and together, we have a great deal of experience in this.
Experience matters though because the guy who has done this for a while gets a certain feel for the “art” of doing SEO and no amount of reading will teach you how to do that “art.” Ultimately, it just starts to come naturally to people who have done the job for a while and that will make all the difference in the world for your own SEO efforts.
8. No, It’s Not “Dying.”
Every other day, we see another article asking if the world of SEO is “dying.” Heck, we’ve done several articles on the subject as well. However, the fact remains that for as long as the Internet still exists (and all indications are that even 100 years from now, the Internet is likely to still exist, though it may be piping out hologram versions of websites ala the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation), SEO will exist as well.
9. Don’t Waste Your Time Spinning Junk Articles
An awful lot of people tend to focus on trying to find some kind of a shortcut. They buy one program after another which will “spin” articles so that they will appear to be unique. I’ve got news for you – spun articles still read like spun articles. No algorithm has ever been created which will allow you to spin articles which sound good. Don’t waste your time.
Speaking of which, don’t bother hiring crappy writers from third world countries who barely speak English. There’s a reason that good writers cost real money. Not to toot my own horn, but we’re well worth it.
10.Start with the Keyword
Ultimately, if you don’t do the research on your keywords and figure out exactly which keywords are the ones which you want to focus on, you will never be successful. Take the time to do this correctly and to actually figure out what it is that you want to focus on and everything else is going to fall into place. Do the job incorrectly and you will find that you are wasting your time and money.
11.Watch Your Bounce Rate and Other Details
If nobody is sticking around when they get to your website, you are making a huge mistake somewhere and you are unlikely to make any money from having put in all the effort to do the SEO work on your site. After all, just getting people to your site doesn’t mean that you make money. You also need them to spend time and click ads and place orders.
So look at the bounce rate, at how long they spend on your site, at how many pages they visit and even look into getting some of the software which can track what people do when they visit your website so that you will be able to find out which parts of your site are doing well and which ones need to be improved in order to keep them coming back.
12.SEO Is at Least In Part an Art Form
As I noted above, there are a great many things that can be done with SEO work. There are lots of different kinds of links and lots of different ways to build a website which is optimized for SEO. However, ultimately, if you are determined to do this work, it really is at least in part an art form.
I have found that when I do SEO work (in my case, I do the writing side of things as I’ve noted), it’s in part a mystery how I manage to write stuff which both works for Google and which works well for my readers. However, somehow, some way I manage to do it and I do it with relative ease. Yasir manages to get people’s websites well ranked and he also does it with relative ease because he simply has a feel for it.
It’s all about the fact that SEO ultimately is a kind of an art form as much as it is also a science.
13.Get a Good Webhost
You’d be surprised at how people spend a fortune to design their websites and then they hire us to all kinds of work on the SEO side of things but then they try to skimp on the cost of a decent webhost. I know that everyone wants to save money, but seriously – you really do get what you pay for when you go with cheap webhosts.
So what’s the problem with them? Cheaper web hosts generally will not have good up times meaning that your site may not get properly indexed. They also are often rather slow in loading up your website to both customers and the search engines, meaning that you may not get indexed and even if you do get indexed, your customers will click away to something else.
14.Don’t Overdo the Flash and Java
I know that flash and java look cool. However, these things can very easily be overdone. It’s possible to make a website which looks downright awful with those kinds of features and that will be a huge turn off to your customers. They’ll simply click away. I also find that even when these kinds of things are interesting to look at, they get annoying when you see them constantly.
In addition to this, Java and Flash cannot be indexed by Google and that means that parts of your website will not be indexed. Not to mention that these things will make your website load more slowly for Google’s search spider, which will be bad for your SEO efforts. A little of these things is fine though. Ditto for HTML5 by the way.
15.Don’t Bother with Negative SEO
I know it’s incredibly tempting to try using negative SEO. This refers to creating junk links to your competitors or creating fake bad reviews for your competitors on sites like Yelp. These practices are not only illegal in many cases (slander can land you in court), but they also often don’t work. People and Google are both capable of figuring out what you did.
Here at Quantum SEO Labs, we don’t do this and we actively encourage our customers not to try. Ultimately, these sorts of tactics will end up coming back to bite you, especially if you engage in illegal activities like slander. Don’t forget that IP addresses can be traced back to you and you can end up being sued or even arrested for engaging in such tactics (in some cases, there are criminal statutes in play).
16.Pay Attention to the Competition
While it’s important not to try to use negative SEO against your competitors, it’s also important to pay close attention to what they do happen to be doing. Your competitors may be trying something new which will flop in a big way or they may also have some good ideas which you can steal (as long as it’s not patented – remember what happened to Samsung).
It’s also helpful to watch what your competitors are doing because it allows you to know how you can differentiate yourself from them. Maybe they don’t offer a particular feature while you do –that’s a perfect thing to use for advertising and an advantage that you should not ignore.
17.Don’t Be Afraid to Get or Be a Mentor
It is possible to land a mentor by using a service from Score. I highly recommend that if you are new in your particular business that you look into getting yourself one. This will allow you to have someone to bounce ideas off of and it will allow you to actually learn more about your niche. You can also ask for advice about the SEO needs of your particular industry.
If you are experienced, look into becoming a mentor yourself. You’ll find that by teaching others, you often come up with new ideas which you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of for your business. Either way, the experience is extraordinarily rewarding and will mean that you can actually get a tremendous amount out of it.
18.Pay Close Attention to Your Copywriting
No, I don’t mean that you need to send in copies of your writing to the United States Copyright office. Instead, what you actually need to do is to pay attention to copywriting. This is the art of using words to sell your product. If you play close attention to copywriting, you will be able to get your products sold that much faster and you’ll be able to make that many more sales.
Look as well for inspiration in different places. For example, check out billboards and ads on buses and trains. Look as well at newspaper ads. We tend to know how to ignore these things and so the ones which catch your eye are the ones which may be useful to you as inspiration for your own writing. Of course, hiring a professional copywriter can help as well.
19.Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Risk takers are the people who actually make money online. They are more likely to be able to make the decisions which need to be made when they need to be made. Those who are cautious and overly analytical tend to waste time thinking and deciding. This doesn’t work well when you’re on the Internet because things can change so quickly.
By the way, speaking of taking risks, if something is clearly not working which you took a risk on, then you need to be able to move on and decide to try out something else.
20.Participate in Conferences and Forums
I know that sites like Warrior Forum can be a huge time sucker. However, they also can provide invaluable joint venture partners as well as extremely helpful information. Take the time to participate in these kinds of sites.
You should also spend the time to go to conferences, including ones in your industry (Yasir and I try to do the ones which are for SEO professionals) since that can help you to learn more about what you need to do to make your site a success.