Five Basic SEO Principles – Keep It Simple Five Basic SEO Principles – Keep It Simple

By Paul Hickey on February 18, 2014

Recently, I heard the quote – “if you don’t like change, you’ll like being irrelevant even less.” Sorry, I can’t remember who’s quote that is – if you know – tweet at me @cabedge please.

While I can’t take credit for the awesome words of wisdom, I can assure you’re they’re extremely applicable to whatever your business is trying to accomplish. Keeping it really simple: it’s easy to want to ignore SEO and the basic Organic and Paid Search principles that go into building and managing every successful website.

Reasons why…

1. There is constant change. (Panda, Penguin and now Hummingbird), and constant rumors of even more changes on the horizon, and work you did yesterday won’t be relevant tomorrow, yadda, yadda, yadda. Bottom line, when most people sniff change-a-comin’ they bury their heads.

2. We can’t control anyone’s actions but our own. Another great quote I heard recently, from former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George, is that he tells his son every day that he can only control his own actions – not the actions of others. Take Google for example. None of us are Google except Google. Boom- there it is, we can’t control what Google displays. Sorry, or the Bing/Yahoo network. 🙂 Keep in mind, I always say “Google” because it still represents more than 80% of organic keyword referral traffic on all sites we analyze, while Yahoo and Bing only get around 9% each.

3. Real ROI. Is there a real return on investment? Letting the data speak for itself, less than 5% of websites that I’ve analyzed Google Analytics for over the last decade-ish feel like they’ve achieved the level of business they want out of their website. This makes it hard. Sort of like the chicken and the egg – you can’t have one without the other. The answer is simple, the pattern is clear. The sites that invest the proper time in a solid, relevant Organic and Paid Search strategy, do absolutely take major steps towards achieving their business goals and monetizing their online presence. Let me be clear – 100% of the businesses that do this, see a return on investment. Those that half-you-know-what-it – don’t really.

To that end, though, it’s not hard to fully commit. Here are the five basic SEO principles I implore you to implement in 2014.

1. Still conduct keyword research, but keep the user’s intent in mind. Let’s not get analysis paralysis and question things too much here. Yes, Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird happened, and yes they all worked to change the game, but people are still typing various phrases into the Google search bar and clicking “return” or “search” and generally using phrases relevant to what they expect to find. So doing a preliminary keyword analysis is still extremely relevant, but now in a more meaningful way. Wordtracker’s Mal Darwin does a great job here of explaining how to speak to the user in their language.

2. Know your audience, please. There’s a difference between knowing the intent behind a search, and knowing actually who is searching. If you’re reading this, there’s a solid chance you know better than anyone who your ideal clients are, but you may not know if they’re the ones actually visiting your website. To that end, it’s important to create or invest in creating user personas for your business. This will help your website blossom, trust me. It can get intense, and it definitely doesn’t need to be this heavy, but this article breaks down about everything you need to know about getting buy-in internally for user personas. They can be pretty inexpensive though, when done efficiently, and serve a phenomenal purpose.

A less heavy commitment than user personas, is just thinking through building pages that serve the user, rather than the keyword, which is important.

3. Implement Structured Data Using the Google HTML Mark-up Helper. You may hear this referred to as “keyword tagging.” To keep this super easy on you and me both, I’ve totally spelled out everything you need to know about this wonderful tool on our Cabedge blog – Structure Your Data.

4. For the love of Nancy, please embrace social media. I’ll be more specific – post relevant links back to your website on social media. Seriously. I’ve said this for years, and now there’s more proof than ever to back it up. I’m not saying be obnoxious, but don’t give everyone else all the credit. Here’s what I mean – if there’s a blog post you enjoyed reading, don’t just social out that link. Take five minutes to make a blog post on your site, giving rave reviews to the original author, with screenshots and links back to their content. Then, post the link from your site onto social media. Here’s why – Google is crawling social media not for likes and follow totals, but rather for the amount of times a link has been posted to a specific root domain (URL – web address) – and how many times that particular link has been engaged with (specifically, Google plus-1’d, liked, commented on or retweeted). Moz, an unquestioned industry leader in rocket-scientist level organic search geekdom, uses the below social media metrics to rank sites in their “open site explorer” tool. Not only does this alone more than validate the importance of these social metrics, but taking it a step further, only paid subscribers get access to the social media metrics portion of the open site explorer tool, seen below…


open-site-page-social-metrics-facebook-sharesopen-site-page-social-metrics-twitteropen-site-social-metrics-facebook-likes  open-site-page-social-metrics-google-plus

5. Take the time to properly write your meta descriptions. You’ve seen my tirade on meta data still being relevant, haven’t you? Well, here it is, in all it’s glory. Seriously though, we learn by experiencing, and unsolicitedly, our friends at Raven Tools recently posted a great blog on properly writing meta descriptions, specifically. The meta descriptions are what Google SERPs pull in and display to the user after the user has searched. So in other words, the meta description on all of your website’s pages, plays a key role whether or not the user engages with you, after you appear on page 1 (we hope). 🙂


Paul Hickey is the managing director of Cabedge Design, LLC – an Atiba Company – and chief marketing geek for the Atiba Family. He specializes in strategic web design, organic and paid search, brand creation and helping clients and partners accomplish business goals. Paul loves writing and communicating, and helping drive relevant traffic to websites.


TAGS: Business StrategyMarketingSmall Business SEO Series

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