So SEO is a gigantic topic and we’re going to be doing a lot of trainings that dive deep into strategies and tactics. There’s a lot for you to learn. There’s a lot for you to think about. But I want this video. I want this training to kind of be the prerequisite to all of that because there’s a specific philosophy of SEO that I think is very helpful. And there’s a specific line of thinking for when you’re executing on all of these strategies and tactics. This philosophy, this way of thinking about SEO should govern all of that or it’s very, very easy to get lost in the weeds to get distracted to do the wrong things and pay attention to the wrong things. So we’re going to dive in to the top 10 things that I think you should know about SEO. And once you’ve watched this video, then you can feel free to start learning all of the fun stuff and the technical stuff related to SEO. But let this be the prerequisite. Let this be the thing that you watch before all of those other trainings and let this be the thing that really governs your path in the world of SEO. All right, the 10 most important things that you need to know about SEO. A little disclaimer before we begin, my thinking on these things has evolved over time. And I’m sure it will continue to evolve. So this is the 10 most important things as of right now. Now I am going to cover one thing and that’s that, you know, core principles don’t really change in SEO. But what I’m saying is, you know, if I were to make this list three years from now, it may look a little different than it looks right now. And that’s okay. These things are still extremely important for channeling your overall SEO philosophy as you approach clients. And I would highly recommend that you educate your clients on a lot of these things as well because many of them are counter intuitive and many of them are not often discussed. So this is going to be very, very valuable for you. First, let’s talk about what your job is as an SEO because we could list out 100 different duties as an SEO if we were doing a job application or something or an employment contract and saying these are your duties as an SEO. But really, the umbrella kind of description of your job as an SEO, I think is best defined as this. Your job is to learn why people search the way they do in a specific industry or market and figure out what they’re actually wanting to find based on that that kind of search experience and then build a great site that serves that to them. Very simple, you don’t have to make it any more complicated than that. Not your job. Your job is not to figure out all the ways to game Google or to break the rules without getting caught or to implement all the latest and greatest tactics.
All of these shiny things that you can do is to make sure that you’re not going to be able to do that. Not your job. Your job is not to figure out all the ways to game Google or to break the rules without getting caught or to implement all the latest and greatest tactics. All of these shiny objects that people are always dangling in front of you trying to get your attention with. Look over here. I’ve got the latest SEO strategy. We need to be focused on core principles. We need to be focused on this list of 10 things that you need to be keeping top of mind, educating your client on and really living by as an SEO. Let’s go ahead and dive into it. Principle number one, the intent of the search, the intent of the searcher is everything. Everything. I’m not like, let’s not mince words. It’s everything. Let’s take a look at this list. Let’s say you have an ice cream shop client and you have this term ice cream. That’s the overarching term in this market is ice cream. Can we rank for ice cream? The question is, do we want to rank for ice cream? Can we rank for ice cream? Obviously we’re going to be talking a lot about ice cream on the ice cream shop site. Is this even relevant to try to target as our primary term? Let’s take a look at all these related terms that people search for within this search of ice cream. What is ice cream? Ice cream places near me, rebel ice cream, ice cream delivery, ice cream cake, best ice cream machine, low carb ice cream, custard versus ice cream. Where can I buy green tea ice cream? The principle is this. You’re asking yourself the question, what does the person want? Why are they typing this phrase into search versus some other phrase? Do they want information? Do they want directions? Do they want a comparison or a review? Do they want a list of things? Do they want to transact? Do they want a completely unrelated thing? If you don’t perfectly match the intent, this is why I say intent is everything. If you don’t perfectly match the intent, you lose no matter what. You can do everything else correctly, all the other stuff that we’re going to talk about. You can do all of that perfect. If you fail to match the intent of the search or the intent of the searcher, you will lose. If we go back to this list, if they want information and you try to sell them something, you’re not going to rank. If they want directions and you don’t provide directions, you’re not going to rank.
If they want a comparison or a review and you give them an article that’s just on one thing, you are not going to rank. If they want a list and you don’t provide a list, you’re not going to rank. If they want to transact, but you try to put information in front of them, you’re not going to rank. And you’re going to miss out on that potential transaction. If you do this idea, do they want to completely unrelated thing? Because as you do keyword research, you’re going to come across keywords where it seems like, wow, that is a really great keyword that nobody seems to have found. Look at the difficulty. The competition for this keyword is very, very low. Let’s go after that. But if you dig into the intent behind the search and the intent behind the searcher, you realize, oh, that’s actually not a good keyword at all. That is completely irrelevant to what we’re trying to accomplish here. You’re always asking the question, what do they want so that we can get, remember, what was your job as an SEL, figure out why they search the way they do, what they’re trying to find and put that in front of them. Google knows that. That is the number one principle of Google. So if you fail on that front, you will not rank. Everything that you do is wrong. So you can see we have this entire list here. Every single one of those, you could say, why is the person typing this in? What are they hoping to find? What are they expecting to see? I have to understand that 100% and then I can actually create that thing. And I can then I have a chance at ranking. That is fundamental. It is the number one principle. It is the most important thing to think about when you are doing SEO and keyword research and site mapping and so on and so forth. So that gives us a principle number two, which is very intimately connected to principle number one. Specificity is king. You’re going to hear people say content is king. You’re going to hear people say back links is king. This is king. That is king. Really at the end of the day, since intent is the number one thing that we have to get right. Specificity has to be king. So if we take a look at this list again, I’m kind of highlighting here. Number one, what you’re going to figure out is that the more specific a search is, the more I can identify the intent. So the less specific ice cream that’s as least specific as it can get, I have no idea what the intent is. But when it gets a little more specific, what is ice cream that I can see I know the intent very, very clearly ice cream places near me. I know the intent very, very clearly. But then these there’s these gray area terms like rebel ice cream ice cream delivery ice cream cake. I put these in blue because they’re actually in the middle. There’s some intent overlap here. There’s a lack of clarity here. If somebody types in rebel ice cream, maybe they want to buy rebel ice cream. In other words, they want to transact. Maybe they want to just know what rebel ice cream is like I heard a friend say talk about rebel ice cream. I don’t know what it is. I’m looking it up. Just give me information based on rebel ice cream. And there’s like three or four other intents that people might have when they type in that term. So it’s in a gray area where well, we know they’re interested in rebel ice cream.
But we don’t know why they’re interested in rebel ice cream or what they’re hoping to accomplish by typing this in to Google. There’s ice cream delivery. So am I wanting ice cream delivered? Am I doing research on on is ice cream even possible to deliver? I still a little bit unclear, even though it seems clear at first glance, you dive in a little bit deeper and you start to realize, oh, maybe I’m not actually crystal clear as to why somebody might be typing that in ice cream cake. I want to buy ice cream cake. Do I want to learn how to make an ice cream cake? Do I want ratings on where the best ice cream cakes are? I actually don’t know 100% why somebody is typing in the phrase ice cream cake, even though it’s more specific than ice cream. But I’m still a gray area. They’re still intent overlap best ice cream machine. Well, I’m pretty clear on why the person typing this in they they’re probably looking for they’re looking at buying an ice cream machine. But before they make a purchase, they want to know, wait, what are the best ice cream machines? Give me a list of all the best ice cream machines. Give me pros and cons. Give me your reviews of these ice cream machines. That’s pretty clear what they’re searching for there. Low carb ice cream. I don’t know my researching low carb ice cream. Do I want to buy low carb ice cream? There’s a bunch of different reasons why somebody might type in low carb ice cream. It’s specific, but it’s not specific enough custard versus ice cream. Very clear. I would like a comparison information article on custard versus ice cream. Teach me the differences between custard and ice cream. That’s very clear. Rebel ice cream. Where to buy. All right. Now we’ve taken that rebel ice cream term that was a little bit in the middle. There was a gray area there. And we’ve added more specificity to it. Rebel ice cream. Where to buy. I’m pretty sure that person is looking to buy transact ice cream with the rebel ice cream brand. I need to show them locations on where to buy this. They’re looking for directions most likely. They’re looking for the vendors of rebel ice cream. Very clear. So when in doubt. What is the underlying principle here? When in doubt. Find more specific keywords. If there’s intent overlap. If the intent is unclear, you can get better results by finding more specific keywords. Now one of the one of the caveats here is that as you get more specific. The volume of those the search volume surrounding that keyword is going to drop. And so the volume is going to be lower. And you might make the mistake of saying well there’s not as much volume there. So we’re going to go after this one instead. There’s this more specific keyword has less volume than this broader more generic keyword. Let’s go after the broader more generic keyword. And that would be a mistake. You want to go after the specificity because the money is in the specificity and the ability to rank is often in the specificity as well. So let’s go after the specificity. So let’s go after the specificity and the ability to rank is often in the specificity and the ability to rank is often in the specificity.
First of all, volume stats are not accurate. They never represent total volume because they don’t combine all related keyword possibilities. That’s one thing that you have to think about. So we have this term here best ice cream near me volume is 9.7000. That’s US by the way. There’s no way to access that data for that exact term in a specific location. So we have to know that if our person, our client is only serving a specific area, then that’s obviously not representative of the volume available to them. However, that 9.7000 doesn’t calculate all the other related terms that a page on best ice cream could rank for like a best local ice cream spots. Let’s say we’re going to have 10 of them, right? My rank for best ice cream spots near me best ice cream places near me best ice cream near me. There’s hundreds of variations that that same page could rank for, but that 9.7 volume metric is only related to this one instance of this specific keyword. It’s not related to the entire share of those keywords. It’s also not related to or it doesn’t correlate to the share of clicks you would get if you ranked for that term. So let’s say you ranked for best ice cream near me position number five. Well, you can’t use this metric kind of the bottom line here. You can’t use this metric to tell your client how much traffic they’re likely to get. You can’t say, well, we’re going to get 10,000 searches a month for this and we’re going to get or 10,000 clicks a month. It’s not correct because number one is the first three spots in the search engine results pages. That’s what serves stands for. Get like 70% of the clicks and then positions four through 10 split the other 30% all right and it varies. So that’s number one. So if you’re not in the top three, you’re going to miss out on 70% of the clicks. Then there’s map pack results that are going to take the lion share of the clicks. Then there’s ads that are going to get clicks and then there’s the fact that people search for things all the time and they don’t click on anything. All right. So you can see over here, there’s a clicks 4.3,000. If you look at that right box over there, says clicks 4.3,000. Well, the volume is 9.7,000, but the clicks are only 4.3,000 and you can see searches without clicks 60%. Paid clicks are 1% and then organic clicks get 40% and then of the 40% 70% of those go to the top three spots. So you can see that the volume stats aren’t really relevant in raw numbers. What they are relevant is to identify certain things like keywords related to other keywords. That’s a really good way to use that volume. So you’re trying to create a hierarchy of things to go after. And this is again, not the only thing you’re looking at, but it does give you an idea of popularity versus other keywords. So I don’t really care about the raw number. I care about is there relevant volume. And what does that volume look like in comparison to some of these other terms that I have the potential to go after. But the bottom line here is volume does not equal value volume does not equal value. It’s the second principle here beyond just volume doesn’t really matter that much. It definitely doesn’t equal value. The highest volume keywords are often the lowest value keywords grade keywords on relevance, not volume relevance, not volume. The next thing I’m going to say, which is counterintuitive, is that keyword difficulty, which is a third party metric on how difficult it is to rank for a keyword is hardly relevant. Now I’m not saying it’s completely irrelevant, but I’m saying it’s hardly relevant.
And one of the things that you’re going to hear a lot in SEO, maybe even from your own brain, if you make this mistake, which is why I’m communicating this principle to you, is we’ll never rank for that. So you identify a very important keyword, but the difficulty metric is right in your face. And it says, this is super hard to rank for. This is probably out of your reach. And you come to the conclusion that, well, we’re never going to rank for that. So why would we spend the money, spend the time, spend the effort, creating a page, targeting that term. Well, first things first, SEO is not the entire game. If it is an important keyword, then you need to target it. So the content is there when visitors arrive, because they’re going to arrive from other places. SEO is not the entire game. They might arrive from social media, they might arrive from an offline promotion. There’s many places they could arrive from. If this is important content to what the business does, it needs to be on the website. You also have to think about creating topical authority for Google. Even though you may not rank for this content, Google is going to crawl the content. Google is going to associate the content with your domain. And if it is a very important keyword and a very important content, it needs to be there so that Google can see that you are publishing the content it expects to see on sites like this. So if all your competitors have this kind of content on their site, even if they’re not ranking, Google expects it to be on your site as well. After all, if you’re really an expert and an authority and we’re going to rank you at some point in the future, we need to know that you’re actually covering these really important aspects of the overall topic or the overall market. So it has to be there for topical authority. And this topical authority, by the way, extends to all the other things that you’re trying to rank for. So when Google sees you as a topical authority, while you may not rank for this term because it’s super high competitive, there’s this other term that’s not nearly as competitive, that’s within that same topical authority umbrella, you have a better chance at ranking for that term if this other stuff has been published that’s not necessarily ranking. So hopefully I explain that clearly, but you need to be thinking of topical authority related to the domain in general, not just page by page rankings. It’s also important to understand that keyword difficulty is a faulty third party metric. It’s almost purely based on one thing, backlinks, and it doesn’t take into account the entire picture. So you need to do a manual analysis of the top 10 ranking pages to see, okay, well, yeah, maybe they have a lot of backlinks, but do they have a lot of topical authority? Do they have a lot of brand authority? Do they have these other signals? Is the content high quality? Maybe they have a lot of topical authority, but this specific page and a lot of backlinks and backlinks typically follow high authority sites, but maybe that one page that they published is actually low quality. It’s actually thin content and we could beat it by publishing really, really highly, highly valuable deep content on this topic. They’re only, basically they’re only in that spot because of their reputation. They’re not in their spot because that specific page is very high quality. Google will put a very high quality page from a lower quality domain above low quality content from a high quality domain when it makes sense to do so.
So you have to look at the entire picture and you have to look at it manually. What I general rule of thumb for me and keyword difficulty is I use it to prioritize my targeting. So and it’s I use it partially, I should say to prioritize my targeting. So let’s say we’re going to be publishing four articles a month over the next 12 months, or we’re going to be publishing 24 service pages with subservice pages and so on over the next 12 months. Well, I look at factors like, okay, well, how relevant is this? What is the volume and then what is the difficulty? What is the likelihood of actually ranking for this? And if I have two similar pages where the relevance is similar, the volume is similar, but the difficulty is skewed. So one is easier to rank for than the other. I’m definitely going to make the easier one to rank for first. Okay. So you can see how I partially use it to prioritize targeting. Principle number five, brand power is the biggest social signal. There’s the biggest SEO signal and really because it’s the biggest social signal. But Google cares most about brand authority. And I’m not talking about fake authority. I’m talking about legitimate authority. And this is offline authority. Like this is another one of those things that’s counterintuitive where we’re always talking about digital. We’re always talking about backlinks. We’re always talking about online authority. But if you have a brand that is extremely powerful offline, Google is going to prioritize you online. Even if your SEO is not perfect, even if you now as soon as you get online with a powerful brand that’s powerful offline, you’re naturally going to acquire tons of backlinks, tons of attention. Like your your online authority is going to grow very quickly, but it’s because the root of it is because your brand is an authoritative brand. And this doesn’t necessarily mean nationally. So you could be very authoritative in a local market. So very localized, but you’re still the go to brand in that market. Everybody knows that. You’re automatically going to be preferred online. And Google can tell this brand authority from numerous social signals that it tracks. But we can show that Google cares most about brand authority by going to Google and typing in something like hamburger near me. And what you’re going to see, I can’t tell you how many restaurants are in the vicinity that have way better reviews than checkers McDonald’s and Burger King. Way better hamburgers than checkers McDonald’s and Burger King, but what they don’t have is the brand authority of checkers McDonald’s and Burger King. And what Google knows is that a relatively safe bet.
Let’s show them the brands with the highest authority. And this is actually going to get more relevant as we get into things like voice search SEO. Because if you say Siri, I need a hamburger, right, what is she going to do? Okay, I’m going to show you the brands with the most authority because that’s the safest bet right there. You know, I don’t know what kind of hamburger you want, but I know these brands have them and everybody. They like it’s not five star rating, obviously, they have their haters, but it’s a very safe bet to give you. And this is all driven by brand authority. And this makes sense because you know, think of like Elon Musk and SpaceX and all of this, you know, if you go in and you’re looking for stuff around those topics, even if SpaceX doesn’t have like the, an SEO person doing expert SEO and creating all these optimized pages for all these like basically Google knows like, hey, somebody looking for like space exploration, which probably show them SpaceX, like they’re, they’re at the top in the, in the discussion. In the discussions in the news and the press and everywhere right now. So let’s show them that that’s an example of brand authority being more important than almost all other things. So these things, even though it’s counterintuitive are SEO tactics, I guarantee that if you’re working with a client who has billboards, who’s getting press coverage, even if that coverage doesn’t have links, who’s, you know, doing influencer campaigns, even if they’re not getting backlinks from those. They’re, they’re on social media, like high engagement on social media, they’ve got really solid word of mouth in their, in their market. They do direct mail, maybe they’re on the radio, maybe they’re running TV ads, it’s going to be way easier to do SEO for a client like that than a client that’s doing none of these things and is relatively unknown, even if they’ve got a lot of money to throw it on page optimization and backlink acquisition and all this other stuff, they just don’t have the brand power to make it easy for you as an SEO. So when a client is thinking about well, how do we accelerate our SEO results? How about we build a better brand? Let’s stop thinking about SEO tactics and let’s start thinking about building a better brand, a more notable brand, a brand that more people are aware of, right? All of these things that make your brand more aware and increase brand recall and brand dominance, that’s an SEO tactic and that’s really going to move the needle forward. So you want to think bigger, think beyond SEO tactics and strategies, unless you’re already thinking at this level that these things are SEO tactics and SEO strategies. Principle number six, UX, UI, products market fit, offered design and the list really goes on. All these things are SEO. Google cares about the entire user experience. Search results, let’s think about the business model of Google. Search results are their product, they’re a search engine.
So the results that they give you, that’s their product, if they give you bad results, they have a bad product. Well, they know this. So you are involved in that, right? You are their product because they’re serving you to their customers. So if your product, which is really the page you’re sending someone to on any given search, but also your business in general, if your product is bad, Google is going to take you off the shelf. Google is not going to offer you to their customers anymore. So all of these things are also SEO tactics. You invest in professional user experience design so that when customers arrive on a website, they have a fantastic user experience. That’s an SEO tactic. When you invest in professional UI design. So when people arrive, you look the part, your site looks professional. It’s pleasing. They want to interact with it. That’s an SEO tactic. Pro sales copywriting, when somebody arrives, they start reading and they become captivated by the copy. The copy speaks exactly to them. That’s an SEO tactic. Product improvements. You make your product better, you make your product more remarkable. You make people want to talk about your product and share your product and you increase your conversion rate by having a better product. That’s an SEO tactic. Improving your product. Like how many businesses do you think of this? Think about improving their product as an SEO tactic. Well, as an SEO, that needs to be part of the discussion. You’re not asking a more enticing offer. You can have a great product and a bad offer. You put a great product on a page with a bad offer. You get a high bounce rate. You get a lot of people saying no. You got a lot less people telling others to come by this thing. Right. So crafting a more enticing offer that increases the conversion rate. That gets people to want to buy and engage with the page. That’s an SEO tactic. Contextually better images. I’m not talking about image speed and all these technical SEO things. If you get rid of all the stock, the generic stock photography and you replace it with professional organic photography that really captivates the visitor more and does a better job at communicating the narrative and does a better job of at the end of the day of converting people. That’s an SEO tactic. Captivating explainer videos work in the exact same way. That’s an SEO tactic. It’s also a sales tactic. It’s a marketing tactic. But at the end of the day, it’s also an SEO tactic. It helps with SEO tremendously.
But the right side is going to rank way faster where we have one core topic and then we went really deep on that topic. And we’re demonstrating mass authority on that topic and expertise on that topic, whereas on the left hand side, everything is touched on at a very, very surface level. There really isn’t any depth there. So the client wants what the left hand side represents, Google wants what the right hand side represents, and it is an all fairness to the client. You can’t just not represent all these things that they do on their site. We just have to be in the mindset of, okay, but with doesn’t rank with isn’t going to get us to where we want to go. We can represent with, but as soon as absolutely possible, we have to start going very deep on some of these things and we have to prioritize which ones we’re going to go deep on first because very rarely are going to run into a client with an unlimited budget that says do everything at once, hire a bunch of people to get it done in the same time frame. Normally would just do one thing and so on and so forth. Right. So there’s a play of all right, we’ve got to have wide representation, but we also need to go deep, which things are we going to go deep on first and we’re going to build a campaign around this like 12, 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, what does this actually look like? And you also need to be thinking about focusing on depth in all ways, not just with the site architecture, but every single page, even if it’s you’re covering a topic at the surface level, you still need a deeper page than other people have. So include all relevant page sections, cover all relevant subtopics when possible, cover all relevant context, use more media, use more internal links, use more external links and go well beyond surface level with content. So let’s just highlight one of these using more external links. I think internal links is something that a lot of people, well, I allow people to understand the total value of internal links so they don’t use them enough. But when it comes to external links, oftentimes you’ll see people say, well, we don’t want to link externally because we don’t want to send people away from our site. The problem is Google wants you to link externally. So you have you have a battle there, right? And by linking externally, what you’re doing is you are effectively creating more depth without you have to create without you having to create more depth by creating more sub pages. So that external link Google does relate that external link back to you. So that effectively adds depth to the topic that you are covering, but a lot of people avoid external linking, which means they’re avoiding the depth that Google is looking for. So that’s one example of not focusing on depth in all ways when you should be. Principle number nine, algorithms change constantly, but core principles don’t. You can sleep well at night when you do SEO the right way. And that’s why I’m laying out these 10 principles because I feel like this is SEO the right way. And I sleep like a baby at night because I’m not worried about algorithm changes. The algorithm can change all at once. Google’s principle of serving the most relevant result with the best user experience is never going to change. I don’t see why that would ever change. Right. That’s their product at the end of the day. We already talked about that.
So if what you’re trying to achieve is in perfect alignment with that, then you’re always going to win. We want to be the most relevant result and we want to have the best user experience. And Google wants that for the searchers. So we’re in perfect alignment. I don’t care what they do with the algorithm. All right. We are going to match their core principle. So don’t chase tactics. Right 90% of the sites you’re going to work on don’t have a solid foundation. So focus on the foundation first all these nifty little tactics here and there. Yeah, they come in handy. Maybe the last 10% optimization. There’s some things you can do. Right. Or if you’re in very tight competition with somebody, there’s some things you can do. Right. But these are not the starting point. These should not be the primary focus. These should not be the things you’re dangling in front of clients. I’ve got this latest and greatest thing. Like no foundational SEO 90% of your focus foundational SEO. Principle number 10 traffic backlinks and number one rankings do not mean you’re winning. Another very counterintuitive thing to say in an SEO discussion. But it’s 100% true traffic backlinks number one rankings do not mean you’re winning. Most of most metrics, including those three are vanity metrics because businesses at the end of the day, they cannot pay their bills with traffic. They cannot pay their rent with number one rankings. They cannot pay their employees with backlinks. Every ounce of your SEO effort should be dedicated to increasing revenue or relevance or whatever. But all of that ties back to revenue. Right. So you think about this. You can add 50,000 visitors a month to a website. Tons of number one rankings, tons of backlinks and not increase the revenue by a single dollar. Now is that likely? No, it’s not likely if you’re doing your job the right way. But it is possible, which proves that these things are vanity metrics. There is lots of cases where traffic increases number one rankings increase, but conversions do not increase revenue does not increase. That does not do the client any good. So your number one metric that you live and die by in SEO is did you increase revenue or did you not increase revenue. If I invest $10,000, how much of that $10,000 did I get back and did I make a profit? That’s what the business ultimately wants to know. You can bring all the traffic reports you want all the number one rankings reports you want all the backlinks reports you want if they don’t see an increase in revenue. You are going to get fired at some point. So this is your number one live and die by metric. Now you know the top 10 most important things in SEO. And so now you are free to start learning and applying the foundational skills and tactics and strategies, which I’m going to cover with plenty more of these training videos. So stick around if you have any questions. Post them below.