I must have heard every conceivable piece of SEO advice imaginable by now. Much of it was fantastic, game-changing, even inspirational. Much more was outdated, exaggerated, and just downright wrong.
Free SEO advice is a dime a dozen; nearly every self-proclaimed SEO expert nowadays wants to convince you that they really know how to rank a site #1 in Google. Well, here’s the thing: no SEO in the world can guarantee a top ranking for competitive terms. If they could, then mega-corporations with deep pockets could effectively outrank every other competitor for every keyword they were targeting. But this never happens.
Keeping this in mind has helped me trust my own SEO instincts, which is extremely important if you plan to make any real progress in this game.
The Best SEO Advice I’ve Ever Learned
Then, although I can’t remember where, I read a piece of advice on SEO that I’ve held as my mantra:
It’s a simple idea: if a company really knew what worked and what didn’t, and was so confident of their knowledge that they’re giving away “free SEO advice”, why were they unable to rank their own site?
I don’t think I’m being unfair, either. Go test for yourself. Search for a phrase like “SEO Blog” and what kinds of sites will show up near the top? SEOmoz. SEOBook. Michael Gray. These are legit SEO experts and as of the date of writing this post, they rank near the top of Google for that phrase. Take a few minutes to read their advice on SEO and you’ll see why. Their blogs are filled with the best SEO advice on the web.
Quality over Quantity
In my first months as an SEO, I learned very quickly that the key to learning SEO was to focus on quality over quantity. It was better to know one fantastic piece of SEO advice than to know 100 mediocre ones. The reason is because the mediocre ones will usually be good but not quite good enough, and one or two of your competitors is bound to be following a more effective strategy.
Let’s think of an example:
Take a look at the statement above. A rookie reading this statement might say, “Hey, that sounds simple enough. I’m going to stick with that strategy and see how it goes.” And you know what, it’s not a terrible strategy. Building as many links as possible will probably get you a part of the way to your ultimate goal. But see, if you had just taken the time to read the SEOmoz blog, you’d know that the quantity of your links isn’t quite as important as the IP diversity of your links:
You could have skipped yourself days and maybe weeks of wasted effort if you had seen this video earlier. So now you’ll amend your strategy:
Ah, a lot better.
Do Your Due Diligence
Don’t rush your SEO research. Take time to figure out who backs up their statement with evidence and who just puts out content for the hell of it, without a concern for accuracy. Following just one false piece of SEO advice can cost you thousands of dollars and months of wasted effort. Better to take a week of solid research to discover those ethical SEO companies you know you can put your faith in.
Especially for beginners who are new to SEO, I advise you to learn how to filter out false information. The sooner you do, the cleaner your SEO knowledge will be and the less time you’ll need to take undoing the damage you’ve done by paying attention to false prophets instead of real SEOs. After a while in this game, you’ll realize that they become easier and easier to tell apart.