After being involved in SEO for many years, not a whole lot shocks me anymore.
People will do and say absolutely anything to rank in Google.
Nothing in this list should be a secret to anyone, but it is, and the reason why is simple: People have a tendency to believe that there’s always some kind of loophole, and for the most part, there isn’t.
#1 SEO Gurus That Have Popular Blogs Don’t Write the Content
It should be common knowledge that the CEO’s of marketing companies and SEO agencies are not going to be writing much of the content for their blogs.
I’m not going to name names here, but I’ve been around long enough to know that the people making $500+ an hour ($1,000,000+ a year) are spending their time doing tasks like planning and managing the production of their content, not writing it.
They do not have the time to be pumping out the millions of words worth of content published to their websites.
It likely takes a team of dozens of ghostwriters and editors to produce the content.
In many cases, the writers have never done SEO or online marketing, but are giving advice on those topics.
So you need to be careful about the advice you take on these topics as most likely, the context was lost in an attempt to make it “sound good.”
I’ve read a ton of content where I’ve thought things like “Well, that might work for a national scale non-profit, but it’s clearly not going to work for a small business, and they never mentioned that fact.”
You shouldn’t be upset about this because it’s pretty challenging to manage a team of writers in a way that generates enough revenue to pay their salaries. So don’t think that I’m suggesting that their salaries are not justified.
#2 SEO is Mostly Just Common Sense Improvements
SEOs are basically just marketers that make changes to their documents in an attempt to get more organic traffic.
In the vast majority of cases, SEOs generally assume that improvements to their site and their content will lead to those improvements.
The truth is: Common sense improvements do improve Google rankings in many cases.
In theory, whatever is good for your users should also be good for Google.
When it becomes difficult to determine what users feel is better, then a test can be conducted to attempt to figure that out.
Usually, those tests involve split testing by using some kind of analytics and potentially heat maps. Everyone does this stuff a little bit differently, though.
#3 What Google is Trying to Achieve Isn’t Complicated
Google is trying to predict which page of content will be the most popular with users who type in specific search queries.
That’s why a website’s popularity is a big factor in the amount of traffic that a website receives from Google.
The logic is simple: There’s a reason the site is popular, and if it’s a popular website, then it will likely be popular as a search result as long as the content is on the correct topic.
The exact metrics that Google uses to determine the popularity of a website or a page of content may change over time, but it’s unlikely that the concept will.
As long as your actions always aim to improve your website’s popularity, then your rankings should go up.
#4 SEO is Extremely Slow and Difficult
The timescale for effective SEO is measured in months and years, although it’s true that some sites can get minor wins or minor ranking improvements quickly.
After years of looking at rank trackers for different websites, it appears that if your content is definitely the best for that search query and it has enough authority to rank well, it’s visibility will start at zero on day one and increase a tiny amount every day.
The amount of time it takes for that content to reach the #1 position (assuming it deserves that position) takes somewhere between 30 days and years.
The reason for this is because when the page of content is new, Google has collected zero data about it, so the page will usually perform worse than sites that are clearly pure spam or garbage.
Over time, Google will collect more and more data about that piece of content, and it will very slowly increase its rankings as long as that data is good.
The thing is, Google is also collecting data about the content on other websites. Since those pages have more visibility, it’s easier for that content to maintain their positions compared to your content improving.
SEO is difficult because of that problem; its trying to solve the chicken and the egg problem since the popularity of the content will largely be determined by the ranking in Google.
So Google ranks content well because of it’s popularity, even though its popularity usually comes from Google.
#5 Google’s Rep Have No Idea How Google Works
Google utilizes machine learning to understand content, automatically classify things like images, and likely many other tasks that would take large teams of people to accomplish.
Now to be very clear, I’m not suggesting that Google’s reps don’t know what I just said because I assure you that they do.
They don’t know what’s going on in the sense that the way machine learning works, it is so complicated that it prevents the possibility of understanding why the algorithm is making a specific decision. It’s only possible to observe that it made a decision.
When the algorithm is trained, enormous sets of incredibly vast data are fed into an extremely complex algorithm, which then mines that data for knowledge.
For a human being to be able to explain exactly why a piece of content is ranking in a specific position would require:
- That person to have memorized millions of pages of source material.
- That person to fully understand how an extremely complex algorithm interacts with that material.
- Exactly how that data is applied to that specific ranking.
All of that is completely impossible for a single human being, and the only thing that Google’s reps can really do is give you their best guess as to why something their technology is doing something.
In many cases, something occurrs as a result of a quirk in the algorithm, and there is no good explanation as to why it is occurring.
You have to accept the reality that this technology satisfies its users in the vast majority of cases and SEO is more about improving organic traffic across all of a site’s content rather than a single page.
#6 SEO Is Basically Just Effective Marketing Tactics and Analyzing Data
Because popularity is such a big component of Google’s algorithm, and it’s constantly learning from new data that it is collecting, the more effective a marketing tactic is, the more it will influence Google rankings.
It’s incredibly important to utilize marketing strategies that generate revenue as their primary goal, but produces rankings improvements as a by-product.
Since the benefit to your rankings is largely unknown and totally unpredictable (as Google may decide to completely ignore any results that your campaign produced), it’s really difficult to gauge investments into SEO.
The unpredictability is exactly why you should invest in marketing tactics instead.
It’s 2020, so SEOs should be starting to move beyond the idea that backlinks are the primary signal that Google uses to assess website popularity and be thinking about popularity more generally.
Many sites that don’t have many backlinks or aren’t going to get many are already ranking relatively well, so it’s apparent that other data is already incorporated into the algorithm.
Focus on tactics that generate traffic to a website will work to improve it’s popularity and will cause it to naturally earn backlinks slowly over time.
#7 There Aren’t Any Real SEO Secrets
It’s only a secret if you don’t know about it.
You can probably find out by searching for it, which is difficult if you don’t know what to search for or don’t know that it even exists.
Sorry, there are no “secrets,” but good advice is definitely hard to come by.