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Seven SEO secrets that work

May as well dive in, are you ready?

1. You can't beat Google

I've not seen one of those "this SEO trick will get you on page one of Google today!" ads for a while. Google moved against the SEO spammers, and rightly so.

I'm not religious myself, but the way to think about Google is: they are God.

They see what you are doing.

With advancing AI, they know your intent ..

.. and if you try to scam them, there will be a day of reckoning. The morning when you discover you've dropped out of search completely and there's no-one to talk to.

All Google Search wants is to deliver the best results for people. If you help them with that, they're happy. So be genuine, be honest, and you'll enjoy what's rightfully yours.

2. People search for you using search phrases you haven't thought of yet

Put your key search phrase into Google's Keyword Planner or Answer The Public. Unless you've done this before, you'll be amazed at what people type in to Google when they want what you sell.

Add that to Google's judgment about what you are doing, and realise that it's really not about aiming for the single hot search phrase that's in your head, it's about taking an active part in your industry, helping people out, talking about the things that concern them, dealing with queries and being more rounded.

It's an SEO secret because most people don't accept it. They go with their hunch. Everyone's different. People search differently.

3. The search engines aren't the only search engines

YouTube is said to be the world's second largest search engine, processing more than 3 billion searches a month. And yes, it's owned by Google.

I know how you're all hating Facebook right now, but the latest stats I can find show it was processing 2 billion searches per day in 2017.

If you want to find a professional, do you search on LinkedIn? I do, and instead of waiting for Google to think about making changes, the last time I adjusted my profile the search improvements in LinkedIn were immediate.

So SEO isn't just about Google's search results, it's wider than that. How about doing videos about your content?

4. SEO is a race

It's fine if you want to be on page one for "{your town} optician" and you're the only optician in town, but if you want to rank for "car insurance" you're going to have to put serious effort into your SEO campaign.

Google won search by realising that a link from one web page to another web page was the first page voting in favour of the second page. Getting web pages to link to your page, then, is one of the SEO skills you have to get good at if you want to get onto page one of Google for a competitive search phrase.

How good will you have to be?

All pages are 'ranked' by Google. A link from a highly ranked page is worth a lot more than one from a low rank page. If you want a link from Apple's home page you're going to have to be good, but .. let's start where we are.

Choose a competitor or two who are on page one for your target search term. Use the Moz link explorer to check how many inbound links they have. For one I've just checked, they have 37 linking domains (like, for instance, Pinterest) (up from 19 a year ago), and 9,200 inbound links. Looking at the web history archive, it looks like my chosen competitor's website has been up and running since about 2014.

Most of those 9,200 inbound links, by the way, are coming from a connection with an ecommerce site that displays all their products automatically, so we could set up something similar, perhaps with a competitor or with the same company, and if we are not familiar with the competing companies in the space we could run a Twitter Growbot search on that ecommerce site.

Anyway, so 9,200 links in 4 years is 2,300 per year or 6.3 every day. Domains are slightly different as we can easily get links from Pinterest just by setting up an account if we haven't already, but the competitor is clearly growing by 18 per year.

Here's the thing. If we build a system to gain 18 domain links in the coming year, it's not enough to catch that competitor. They will likely get even more. We will be working hard, but falling backwards.

To catch a competitor, our SEO system, particularly our system for getting inbound links, has to be .. well, rule of thumb, twice as good as our competitor. In a competitive market (ie a profitable one) that effort is very real indeed.

5. SEO is not free traffic

SEO takes effort. Presumably you don't value your time at zilch. So even if you do it all yourself it costs you.

Consider the opportunity cost of doing your own SEO. If you decide to do SEO yourself to save money and you end up spending on average an hour a day writing articles and chasing inbound links, what else could you be doing with that time to further your business?

Perry Marshall, and here's me linking as an example to his worthwhile article on personal productivity, has a thing about $1,000 per hour work. He reckons $10/hr work is .. doing stuff. $100/hr work is managing other people to do stuff. $1,000/hr work is strategy.

I'm not saying SEO marketing is $10/hr work, you have to pay for good people, but if you can at least get to $100/hr work by outsourcing your SEO, that's good.

That's before we start talking about the efficiency of using skilled and practiced people versus trying to be a jack of all trades.

6. SEO is more about sales than you probably think

Sales, and SEO, are both about understanding the person's problem, their pain, and organising to solve it profitably.

If you manage to get on to page 1 of Google .. you're there among 10 others. Which will the searcher click?

Maybe the top one.

Maybe the one with the most compelling copy that really speaks to the problem and its solution.

And when the searcher clicks, what's their first impression of the landing page that starts to load. Does it look like it's going to provide a solution?

When the searcher scans the page, do they see enough to motivate them to read the whole thing and engage?

And if they do read the whole thing, does the copy really speak to them, in their language? Does it show real understanding of their pain, and is it convincing about having a solution?

If you fail any of those tests, the searcher will click back to Google to check out the next search result. Google sees that. Too much 'no', and Google will move you down the rankings.

SEO is sales.

7. No SEO tech trick wins more than being fabulous

You can analyse all you like. Maybe page speed is the thing. Today. Perhaps it's keyword density in your photograph alt tags.

Google balances its ranking factors all day every day, it's always changing.

But what will never change is .. if you are fabulous, Google won't ignore you.

That means all the things we wish it didn't mean. All the hard work on building a great business gets you great SEO. No short cuts.

So do it. If you want to be top of Google, be the best. Be genuinely the best, and that includes doing great SEO. Google will bring you all the traffic you can handle if you do it right.

A really good SEO service (mine, for instance) will help you be fabulous, because an imaginative, awake SEO expert gains a deep understanding of your customers and your market. We spend our days in the forums your customers hang around in, we watch Google Trends to see what's rising, we run Google Alerts to catch today's news in your space and we jump on where we can.

A great SEO expert partner can really make fabulous happen.

I'm ready if you are ..

This has been fun, but here's a link if you want to get more of a grounding in SEO.