I usually commemorate special numeric milestones when writing these Daily Golden Nugget. Most notably are the Google Maps updates every 100th Nugget, but there have been fun ones like 404 and 410 too.
This is Daily Golden Nugget Number 1234, and it's also #ThrowbackThursday. In honor of both, I'm going to give you the 1... 2... 3... 4... point you should know about SEO in general. I wrote about them way back in Nugget 112 on December 28, 2010.
SEO Point No. 1
There's no magic. There's no silver bullet. You can't buy your way to the top of organic ranking for Google or Bing.
Although some SEO wizards have figured out how to exploit certain ranking methods, Google always figures out how to nullify those methods and penalize everyone who tried it. Thin content, link wheels, and feeder sites are just three examples of exploited tactics that a few sleazy SEO agencies make a lot of money selling, ultimately leading to the ranking decimation of their clients.
The only good SEO ranking methods are those that follow Google's SEO Starter Guide.
That brings us to ...
SEO Point No. 2
Google's guidelines are presented in very vague terms because they don't want to give away their secret ranking recipe; because of this, many SEO professionals will focus their field of expertise on one topic and test it constantly. Just one evening of SEO research and you'll find many blogs explaining what SEO techniques work best based on their tested, and proven, techniques. In fact, some publish my own findings in my jWAG.biz website.
All of those SEO professionals (including myself) are making educated guesses for good techniques based on what we have measured for our own clients. Before you hire an SEO agency, you should find out what SEO techniques they are using and if they can back up the claims of their techniques with real data.
SEO Point No. 3
On the other hand, if you don't want to hire an SEO agency to help with your website, you could try to learn everything about SEO on your own. Although you can learn the basics, like how to write page titles, headlines, keyword analysis, and meta descriptions, you can't learn it all unless you want to give up your day job. What's worse is that these techniques change very fast.
SEO Point No. 4
A quick browse through Google's own Webmaster Tools Blog and you find references to their ranking algorithm a lot. They say that there are "more than 200 different signals" used to rank every web page.
Actually, they've been claiming 200+ signals for many years and I have to assume there are hundreds of additional signals by now. The value of each signal is unknown, but speculation has led to interesting guidelines like The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors shown below:
(The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, used with permission)
With a quick review of these four SEO points, I'm hoping you can understand that SEO can't be used to get rich quick. If anything, it takes a while to work. You should hire an SEO agency to help you understand how to correct SEO issues on your website and to work with you to improve them.
You can learn to manage SEO on your own, but you really should find a good SEO consultant or coach to help you cut through the online chatter of techniques.