July 27, 2008

Everything you ever needed to know about SEO

by Brian Turner

Whatever you read online relating to SEO, here are the only steps you need to take to learn about SEO:

  • 1. Build a few websites
  • 2. Read SEObook.com
  • 3. Read search engine patents
  • 4. Adjust sites accordingly
  • 5. Observe and adjust
  • 6. Rinse and repeat

Everything else is hubris.

SEO blogs and forums are not a place to learn about SEO:

- at best they are a proxy for relating the experiences the reader should already be developing,
- at worst they are worthless armchair opinions from self-appointed experts with no merit.

The trouble for anyone new to SEO is learning to make a value judgement on which are the voices relating to dedicated experience.

Without developing your own experience, there is little context to make that value judgement.

The result is that you could end up developing a knowledge base filled with misinformation, misconceptions, and overall, develop a very flawed overview of the industry – that could cost dearly if implementing a strategy based on this.

Setting up experience by which to make value judgements means that if you need to extend your SEO strategy, either in house or through out-sourcing, you at least have a good idea of real needs and how to achieve the ends of these.

Names such as Aaron Wall, Dave Naylor, Jim Boykin and Ammon Johns, immediately come to mind as SEO heavyweights who know exactly what they are talking about – every little tip they share is absolute gold.

But you can guarantee that should any of the above post in general SEO forums, they will always be armchair amateurs, who have no idea of the experience these names carry, willing to attack their comments.

Who are armchair amateurs? People with little if any real experience of SEO at a commercial level. Usually they have a single hobby site they run outside of their day job, but are not willing to put their opinion in context of those who run successful campaigns in very competitive markets for billion dollar corporations.

Unfortunately, armchair amateurs can freely blog about SEO, and through manipulation of social media, even position themselves as SEO experts.

Last year I had a small SEO consultancy client send me a report, written about Google Sandboxing by an out of work actor, telling me that I should read this to learn about Google Sandboxing.

I’d been writing about Google Sandboxing since it first appeared early in 2004, even though mainstream SEO refused to accept it existed for years.

I told the client in the politest but strongest terms that if he felt my opinion was not expert enough, then he would be welcome to get SEO consultancy work from out of work actors instead.

Some armchair amateurs even moderate major SEO forums.

A few years ago I was kicked out of a big webmaster forum because I posted on the SEO board that links were important to SEO. The SEO moderator – as many in SEO at the time – believed links only played a minimal role in SEO.

The point is, learning about SEO comes primarily from experience – your own experience – and where you need to learn beyond that experience you need to learn to recognise which opinions are based on experience far beyond your own.

The sad fact, though, is that most good commercial SEO’s do not have time to blog or post in forums about what they do – they are too busy. There are exceptions, of course, especially those who manage strong project teams.

Yet seeking the opinion of anybody on SEO is absolutely no substitution for doing a little hard work yourself.

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Story link: Everything you ever needed to know about SEO

 

6 Responses to “Everything you ever needed to know about SEO”

  1. Billy Deakin on July 28th, 2008 1:09 pm

    Thanks Brian – probably the most sensible thing I’ve ever read on the subject of SEO. I’ve been building sites and tweaking them for rankings since early 2002 and in that time I have read a lot in forums, blogs, articles and ebooks. Some of that content was great, but a lot of it was a waste of time and some actually damaging. These days I feel I have a fair amount of knowledge and experience on the subject but I’m always learning, although I know take most of what I read with a pinch of salt until I’ve been able to test myself.

  2. Brian Turner on July 28th, 2008 9:59 pm

    Absolutely agreed, Billy – some people pass me tips which I consider seriously because of the strength of the source.

    However, everything really needs testing for observation. I think that is so key, yet so overlooked. :)

  3. Old Welsh Guy on August 6th, 2008 3:19 pm

    Brian weas I a mod on that board or was it another? LOL. I remember that battle royal that Jon Scott and Jill had over links v content. (always said that the daft part is you need both) !

    Someone was shouting today that google had increased a certain part of the algorithm. My test sites show otherwise, they show me that google shifted weight on anchor text. The moment I posted this information, it went quiet.

    Jees how many times have we discussed things and shared findings, ACTUAL findings, not something that was read in a forum someplace :)

    This is a lot of the problem with SEo, Chinese Whisper syndrome.

  4. Brian Turner on August 8th, 2008 7:43 am

    “I remember that battle royal that Jon Scott and Jill had over links v content.”

    Heh, I remember – I was a mod at v7n until I made way for a young Aaron Wall. :)

    John’s thread attacking Jill was one of the only threads to ever be closed at the time, and I closed it because I didn’t like the personal nature of the attacks. Surprised JS didn’t kick me out for that, but he did later after I lambasted him for his violent attacks on Mike Grehan.

    Ah, the personalities of this industry… :)

  5. Tanner (does Utah marketing) on September 2nd, 2008 7:01 pm

    When I went into a job interview for an SEO position at a big firm, they asked me what I thought the best way to teach a client about SEO would be. My response was that the best way to learn SEO was to learn the basics then try it out, experiment in different techniques, for yourself.

    I didn’t get the job.

  6. Brian Turner on September 2nd, 2008 7:16 pm

    Ah, that’s the difference – a client isn’t interested in learning how to do all things SEO. They just need to know why what you tell them is important. :)

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