SEO is the worst. Seriously. The. Fucking. Worst. Everyone and their intern’s corgi thinks they “know SEO” because they read some blog post or attended some break-out session with some thought-leader at some unconference.
The result is that there’s a bunch of nincompoops running around out there making business decisions based on little more than a few cocksure assumptions, and then fucking everything up — rankings, traffic, revenue. And worse, still, some of those nincompoops are consultants or agency hacks who get paid to gamble with other people’s money and fuck other people’s shit up.
It’s a case of stoopid leading the blind. They give competent SEOs a bad rep as blackhats, spammers, and snake oil salesmen. They also generally discredit the entire channel as just too hard, expensive, competitive, or just plain bullshit smoke-and-mirrors.
Some Truths About SEO
The truth about SEO, though, is that it’s not rocket science. Most people just happen to not know what they’re doing — kinda like with big data and teenage sex. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Taxes aren’t rocket science, either, but the last time I filed my own, my accountant had me tarred and feathered, and then sent me to my room without dinner.
The thing about SEO is that it’s one of the most targeted and qualified sources of traffic online. Tapping into it, though, requires a deep theoretical and practical understanding that usually takes years to develop, and many more to perfect. Like any other field, you need to be able to anticipate trends and exigencies, stay ahead of them, and have a badass Plan-B-exit-strategy in case what you’re doing doesn’t work or blows up in your face.
That being said, short of putting in the 10,000 hours you need to really know what the fuck you’re doing, there are a few SEO myths you should probably learn how to call bullshit on the next time you’re working with an SEO — or getting swindled by one who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
[bctt tweet=”Tapping into #SEO requires a deep theoretical and practical understanding that usually takes years to develop, and many more to perfect.” username=”gypsybandito”]
1. Fuck Monitoring Rankings
When people think SEO, they think rankings. And that makes sense. After all, SEO is all about improving your rankings on relevant searches by targeted users so you can get more targeted traffic. Where a lot of people go wrong is when they fixate on or obsess over their rankings on any given (group of) keyword(s).
Essentially, there are (potentially) an infinite number of keyword combinations for any given keyword vertical you can rank on, and how you rank for any given user (in any given location, at any given moment) can vary wildly according to so many extraneous variables such as personalized search, fleeting trends, and Google just basically being a Skynet’s remake of Inception. Instead, you’ll be a lot better off focusing on substantive data such as how your investment in SEO in a given vertical leads to quantitative and qualitative traffic fluctuations to pages targeting that vertical.
In other words, when you’re trying to measure the impact and ROI of your SEO efforts, you should be looking at traffic, what pages that traffic is going to (i.e. whether or not they’re the ones your SEO efforts are focused on), and how that traffic is converting. No other metrics really matter.
2. Fuck Deep Reporting
Another misstep people make with SEO (whether they’re fixating on rankings or not) is mining the fuck out of their SEO data. And I get it: there are always those anomalous long-tail keywords with a 3,582% conversion rate (CVR) that no one else seems to be targeting, so it seems to make sense to data mine the shit out of your keyword traffic to find those keywords and optimize for them.
Here’s the catch: you’re only going to find these keywords in the first place because they’re anomalous long-tail keywords that you’re already ranking on (at least for some users), and by optimizing for them, you’re only going to distract yourself from the bigger picture of semantic keyword groups, and miss out on greater traffic opportunities.
Basically, trying to drill-down and analyze every Organic Visit, its source, and its potential relevance for your overarching SEO strategy will leave you buried in data. It’ll be paralysis by analysis, and you’ll be much better off focusing your resources on implementing Best Practices, developing content that doesn’t suck, and building/baiting backlinks.
3. Fuck Cheaping Out on Content
Now, SEO has a whole bunch of technical shit to it (much of which is probably over your head if you’re not an SEO), but a big part of it has to do with content. After all, if there is no content on a page, there’s nowhere for keywords to appear and there’s nothing for Google (or those other guys) to crawl and index.
But content is like tattoos: good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.
So if you really buy into the whole content is king thing, and if you believe enough in content to invest in it, then invest in it properly. Stop recruiting writers off of Craigslist and Fiverr, and invest in a content strategy with a, well, strategy and long-term vision behind it.
Google (and other search engines) wants to refer its users to the most relevant (i.e. useful) content available. If you have content that doesn’t suck (meaning content that users actually engage with and share), that could be you.
But you don’t get that kind of content from interns, English Lit students, or freelance bloggers. You get it from people who not only understand your brand, your vision, and your users, but also know what the fuck they’re doing. And that kind of understanding and talent doesn’t come cheap.
4. Fuck Lazy Developers
As I was saying, though, SEO has a whole bunch of technical shit to it. And if you’re running any kind of e-commerce, video streaming, or other sizeable site, there are a whole bunch of technical SEO Best Practices you’re going to have to adhere to if you want to make sure that search engines can properly crawl and index your site for the most relevant/targeted keywords.
Now, if you’re working with an SEO who doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’re probably going to miss a lot of these. But if you’re working with one who does, they’re probably going to flag a whole bunch of technical issues with your site that are going to give your developers a rage aneurism or persecution complex. And when they do, your developers might (understandably) circle wagons and provide any number of reasons why these changes should be delayed or ignored altogether.
But it doesn’t matter how good your product is if you can’t take it to market. Some of these technical SEO Best Practices might be complicated or expensive to implement, some might require a complete rewrite of some legacy code, and it might even be cheaper to rebuild the site than to retroactively implement them. But you kinda gotta do them because if no one can find your product, no one can buy it.
Now, maybe your developers are all really qualified and experienced. Maybe they’re even Mr. Robot. But just because they built out a backend/database infrastructure that bends the fabric of space and time, it doesn’t mean they should be dictating your business requirements. Their job is to build something that meets your business needs — not the other way around. So no matter how smoothly a site runs, if it’s not marketable, it’s not doing its job (i.e. making money).
5. Fuck Fucking Linkbuilding
All this technical and onsite SEO stuff aside, offsite SEO still represents the lion’s share of ranking factors. And by offsite SEO, I mean that dirty, nasty word: linkbuilding.
Now, I know you’ve probably read something about how linkbuilding is black hat or how guest posting doesn’t work anymore. Well, that’s fine and stuff, but let’s see how you feel about it when you’re still watching the competition rank in the Top 5 while you’re still on the 3rd page of SERPs.
But seriously, if you know how to build links properly (i.e. in a value-added, non-spammy way) or how to read what Matt Cutts actually meant when he said that guest posting was dead, you’ll realize just how far behind you are in terms of building up a quality backlink profile by developing content-that-doesn’t-suck and contributing to communities in your industry.
So get over your anxiety or trepidation around linkbuilding, and accept it as an integral part of any robust and competitive SEO strategy. The sooner you do, the sooner you can move on with your inbound marketing efforts, and actually start ranking on keywords that drive traffic that converts. Just don’t fuck it up, ‘cause if you do, Google is gonna bitch slap you down to page 78 of the SERPs.
The Fucking Conclusion
Mother fucking, cock sucking SEO… It’s fucking hard, but it’s not fucking rocket science either. That’s basically what I’m fucking saying, here, in about 1,500 words, give or take. Long fucking winded, I know, but fuck it feels good to say it.
The big question, though, is what the fuck are you going to do about it?