You’ve heard about the infamous “5 Stages.” It’s applied to just about anything difficult or frustrating in life.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

We’ve heard a lot of our clients apply these life stages to SEO:

  1. “I’m doing perfectly fine without this SEO stuff. It’s all a bunch of hype marketers push on me because it’s complex and I don’t understand it all that well.
  2. “I’m really sick and tired of being hit up by all these so-called ‘experts’ who tell me my business would do better if I improved my SEO.”
  3. “Okay, so maybe there is a big advantage to optimizing my online presence so it performs better in searches.”
  4. “Good grief. This SEO stuff is a lot of work! I’m doomed.”
  5. “It’s all clear to me now. Maybe not the details and processes – but I need to kick SEO into high gear if I want to stand out from my competitors online.”

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the 5 stages of SEO Denial. Now what?

A quick search online will reward you with plenty of answers. We plugged the word “SEO” into Google. It returned 519 million results in about .61 seconds.

Lets say you have a great Internet connection and you could hit each of these resources in a second or two. It turns out you’re a speed reader, too, so you can consume each article in about a minute.

You’d have them all read in about 987 years.

Unrealistic math, you say? Most of the information is just going to be a rehash of the basic stuff. Okay, let’s assume only about 5% has any value to helping you improve your knowledge of SEO.

That’s only about 49 years worth of reading.

We’re done with scary math – but hopefully, you start to see that turning yourself into an SEO expert can be a costly time investment. We believe our clients should have a basic understanding of the principles of Search Engine Optimization because we don’t want them to think it’s some kind of online voodoo. It’s our job to keep up with the latest best practices, and we’d like to share with you what we – and the rest of the industry – know is no longer effective.

Stop treating your mobile site as an afterthought

SEO practices revolve around what Google decides is important to rank. Earlier this year, they announced that, “Pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”

SEO isn’t just about keywords and indexing, and Google wants people to understand this. They recently released statistics showing that 48% of all searches start on a mobile device. Consumers also want to end up on a website that performs well on their smartphone or tablet.

  • What makes for a mobile site that Google will decide to favor with a high rank? Check out their guide to mobile friendly sites for more information.

Ditch the interstitials – especially for your mobile visitors

Google makes the rules for searching. You have to follow them if you want good rankings. Part of that scrutiny is judging your website – and keep in mind that they favor mobile sites over a desktop version – based on what they call “intrusive interstitials.”

For the average user, this is anything that makes the content on your website less accessible. If you’re on a mobile device, just about any kind of pop-up does this.

It’s wise to give up the practice of pop ups.

Google understands about interstitials, though. Laws or industry regulations may require you to put up an interstitial to present a disclaimer or for age verification, for example. They’re not going to punish you with a lower rank for doing what you’re required to do – only for what you shouldn’t do because it’s frustrating to users.

Enough with the keyword stuffing, already

Less is more.

As a business, you’ve already figured out you need to be known for what differentiates you from competitors. Google wants you to apply that to content you create for users, too.

The value of your content is diluted when you try to snag more search results by loading up on keywords. You actually present yourself with an opportunity if you find there are a bunch of appropriate keywords for your content. Convert the article into multiple pieces of content.

  • You’ll get better rankings when you use only one or two keywords, of a single short phrase.

Daily posts aren’t necessary

Let’s be specific here. We’re not talking about your social media content. Google doesn’t totally ignore Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks. The search engine giant doesn’t necessarily give social activity the same ranking value, however, as it does for a credible backlink in an article or blog post.

But, here’s why a post – or even multiple posts – every day isn’t such a great SEO practice. It’s along the lines of multiple keyword cramming. Sometimes, less is more.

You’ll need a small army of employees solely focused on content creation if you want daily, high-quality posts. And that might be overkill. Your customers aren’t as excited about quantity as they are about quality.

– Cut back. Go for less, and make it more valuable.

Search engine submissions are a thing of the past

Yes, you can still do this if you want – but there are much more effective things you can do with this time and effort. Nobody has needed to do this since about 2001, anyway. Google and other search engines have crawlers who do this for you.

Is there ever a reason why you would want to undertake this outdated effort? Say you’ve just completed a huge website renovation project. Not only does it look better, but improvements mean that users have a much better experience. By all means, you can re-submit your website. You want Google to know about this!

Pro tip:  Better than re-submitting your website, add a new link to your updated website from a domain with high authority online. This allows Google and the other search engines to “find” your site organically, vs being told about it. Google loves to find fresh, new content organically vs. being told to go look for it, and your site will see faster improvements in rankings as a result.

Ignore Google’s competitors at your own peril

Google, Google, Google! It sure does seem like much of this article is all about how to make the search engine giant happy.

Google is the de facto search engine, and no one should argue that point. The most current statistics indicate that Google has about a 93% share of the market.

You definitely want to show up in a Google search. Smart businesses put their SEO emphasis there, but they also see an opportunity. It’s much easier to rank high in results on the search engines who claim the 7% market share Google doesn’t own.

  • Alternative search engines such as Bing and Yahoo can help you be where your competitors are not.

Less about voodoo, more about common sense

It used to be that SEO was mostly about going into the HTML code on your web pages and tweaking stuff like metadata. Hmmmm…is it the H1 or the H2 that should contain the keyword? It’s not so important anymore.

Google’s crawlers have gotten pretty smart about being able to detect natural language in your content, as well as discovering and rewarding engagement by your website visitors. On the flip side, Google has also gotten very good at sniffing out unnatural keyword placement and purchased backlinks. You’ll get a big black eye if you practice that kind of voodoo.

Things have become a bit less geeky and technical, but effective SEO still requires your constant attention. And, as you’ve read so far, much of SEO today is less about keywords and website performance than it is about just giving users value in exchange for seeking you out online.

It usually comes down to one thing for many businesses: Do you have the time to keep up with and actually administer the best practices for SEO for your business?

If not, we do!  Contact us – we’d love to connect to show you how we help businesses like yours implement effective SEO strategies that get results.