The Anatomy of SEO-Focused Content

Looking to enter the New Year with a firm advantage? Start with a solid understanding of what makes content perform in search.

Making a good first impression is vital for nearly everything. Marketing and search are no different. You need to make sure that any content you create is attention-grabbing and valuable while also avoiding the urge to stuff it with unnecessary keywords. 

Because while content may be king, it’s no longer enough to simply produce it. You need to get focused. You need to plan, optimize, and study.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is only part of the equation here. Proper keyword targeting, audience research, and content optimization are all critical, certainly. But there’s a bit more to it, as well. 

Content Structure

The more structured a piece is, the better. Both search engines and users alike enjoy structure. They like articles where it’s easy to scan for relevant information. 

Plan your content accordingly. Organize it into bite-sized, easily digestible segments, and ensure that it flows readily between your introduction, main points, and conclusion. Where relevant, break your content up with header tags and images and avoid long-winded tangents or unrelated anecdotes.

If someone is looking up a recipe or guide, for instance, they don’t want to hear about the history behind it. They don’t want a paragraphs-long story about your grandmother or brother. They want the information, period. 

Content Length

A generally-held belief is that short-form content is better for readability. However, that’s not exactly how it works. Your content should, in general, be exactly as long as it needs to be based on the topic and the depth to which you’re examining it.

There is not, for example, any reason to write a 2,800 word expose on harvesting a homemade vegetable garden. Similarly, a 400-word piece on the complexities of astrophysics will be just as far off the mark. You need to strike a balance. 

Closing Thoughts

Let’s tie things off with a few final pieces of advice.

  • Use bullet points where appropriate. This can greatly improve readability and overall engagement. Again, bite-sized chunks.
  • Preview your search listing. Consider using a tool such as to see how your site looks on the search engine results page. If you don’t like what you see there, Google has published details on how you can tweak your snippet in its developer guidelines knowledge base. 
  • Pay attention to your tone and wording. Consider your audience. Will they respond better to content that sounds knowledgeable and serious, or laid-back and humorous. The wrong tone at the wrong time can cause more harm than good.
  • Look at your metrics. Pay attention to how each piece of content is performing via the Google Search Console. There are also plenty of tools, both free and premium, to help you better optimize your website. 
  • Sprinkle keywords into your headers. Keep them relevant to the content. 

The 3 Rules of Image Optimization for the Web

Images are among the most important elements of your site. And you need to do everything in your power to make sure they’re properly optimized.

Especially with the rise in prominence of ecommerce, social media, and digital communication over the past year, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. However, a picture that’s overly large, slow to load, or poorly chosen will inevitably do more harm than good. In order to avoid alienating your audience and ensure you bring in as much traffic as possible, there are a few cardinal rules you should follow where image optimization is concerned. 


Whether you’re downloading a free image, purchasing a stock photo, or using one of your own photographs, there’s a good chance that the image is going to be absolutely massive. And that means it’s going to ruin load times.

Your first step, then, needs to be downsizing. Use an image editing program to cut down your image’s resolution. Generally, we’d recommend 1200×800 or 800×600, but this may vary depending on your website’s layout. 

We’d also recommend reducing image quality to about 80 percent. This will allow you to further cut down on file size without any noticeable drop in image parity. Anything lower than that, however, and you’ll start to notice a decline. 

Preview and Test

Careful consideration of layout and design is at the core of a positive user experience. You thus need to ensure that your layout works on both desktop and mobile and that your images properly align with your copy. We recommend using either or for this, as well as to test the load speed of your pages. 

Write Your Title and Alt Text With Care

Per Google’s own developer guidelines, its algorithms use this data to determine context and better understand the content. As such, the metadata associated with your image is of crucial importance when it comes to optimizing your images for search. When you look at an image, consider the following:

  • What ideas does the image convey? 
  • What are you using the image for? 
  • How would you describe the image in a few words?

The answers to these questions will inform how you fill out your image’s title, alt text, and caption. The former should basically convey what the image is, leveraging a single keyword associated with the image. The alt text, meanwhile, should act as a brief description of the image, as it displays for people who are unable to see images on your pages.  

Optimize With Care

On the web, a picture is worth a thousand words, but only if it’s properly optimized. By following the three cardinal rules above, you can ensure that every image you use is. And you’ll be one step closer to ranking on the search engine results page because of it. 

3 Traditional Search Engine Optimization Tactics That Will Get You Penalized Today

Search engine optimization has changed a great deal over the past several years. Your tactics need to change too.

A lot of people don’t entirely understand what search engine optimization actually is, or what it means. It’s a little ironic, really. It’s right there in the name.

It’s about optimizing your website to perform well on search engines, which, in a modern context means putting content quality and the end-user above all else. That wasn’t always the case, though. Today, we’re going to take a look back at some old-school SEO tactics that you should avoid at all costs. 

They may have used to work, but they no longer do.

Duplicate or Thin Content

At one point in the past, thin content was a great way to game the system and get your website to the top of the search engine results page. Over the years, however, Google has released multiple algorithmic updates that harshly penalize this tactic. Content that’s deemed duplicate or thin by Google will directly hurt your ranking, meaning you’re losing out on potentially valuable traffic. 

Keyword Stuffing and Invisible Text

Keyword stuffing is another old-school technique that once went hand in hand with duplicate content. In the earliest days of search engines, websites filled with multiple, stuffed pages shot to the top. Again, however, Google’s algorithms are wise to this now.

Repeating the same phrases over and over indicates to the search engine that you’re attempting to manipulate the system and that you aren’t actually interested in providing quality or value. And even if your content is of decent quality, it’ll still get flagged if you insert invisible, repeating text keywords anywhere on the page.

Mention a few variants of your keywords throughout a page instead, making sure to stick to natural language. The better your content flows, the more your audience will engage with it. And the more your audience engages with it, the better you’ll do in the long run. 

Guest Post Spam and Link Farming

Guest posts are an excellent source of brand recognition and web traffic, particularly if you can place them on sites that are recognized as high-quality or authoritative by Google. It is, however, important to note that quality is what’s important here. If you publish the same low-grade guest post on multiple different sites with no rhyme or reason, that’s going to do you more harm than good.

Your guest posts need to be tailored to the sites on which they are placed. And they cannot be attention-grabbing clickbait or inaccurate, outdated filler content. The point of guest posting isn’t just to bring in more traffic, after all.

It’s to build a reputation. 

Similarly, link farms — websites that host backlinks for the express purpose of gaming the SERP — are explicitly prohibited by Google. You cannot buy traffic, and you cannot buy backlinks. If you aren’t growing your website organically, Google will be able to tell.

A Changing Landscape

We are nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, and the world is changing very rapidly. Both businesses and consumers today operate in a very different fashion from how they worked around this time last year. And by this time next year, things will change again.

That includes the search engine optimization space.  Particularly with Google’s plan to implement core web vitals into its algorithm as a ranking factor by May 2021, SEO is going to change in a very big way. Don’t worry too much about that, though.

Focus on creating quality content, and you’ll do just fine. 

Semantic Search: What Is It, And How Does It Apply To Your Website?

There’s a lot of talk about semantic search as it pertains to content marketing and SEO. We’re going to clear up some confusion you may have about it.

When people communicate, they do so with far more than words. There are myriad non-verbal cues, from facial expressions to vocal variants to tonality. Because it comes so naturally to us, we don’t really appreciate how difficult communication is without these contextual indicators. 

That’s where semantic search comes in. On a larger scale, semantic analysis is a process intended to make a topic or search result easier for artificial intelligence to process and understand certain concepts or ideas. In search, its applications are very similar.

Modern search engines are all about intent. They seek to understand not just the words a user has typed, but why they’ve typed them. But how exactly is this connected to semantics, and how can you apply that to your website.

Semantic search represents these efforts, generating results by understanding intent, context, and connections. It can be broken down into two primary concepts — semantic mapping and semantic coding. We’ll provide an overview of each. 

Semantic Mapping

Semantic mapping involves visualization of the connections between words, phrases, concepts, and entities. This is best exemplified by Schema, a semantic markup system created via a collaboration between Google. Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex.  By analyzing the context of a search and how it may apply to different entities — something most of us largely do subconsciously — semantic mapping helps create richer, more relevant search results, especially where voice search is concerned.

Imagine, for instance, you’re searching for a mall. As a user, you’re likely looking for directions to the mall, or the hours/location of a particular mall within your city. A search engine will account for this, and deliver results based on your perceived intent. 

The search engine understands a few things in this regard. 

  • A mall is a place
  • You as a user are probably looking for a mall within your location. 
  • How your recent search history plays into what you’re currently looking for.
  • How certain qualifiers (near me, hours, size, etc.) influence intent. 

These are all contextual elements that we take for granted because we don’t really need to stop and think about them. Search engines do. AI isn’t as formidable as the media might have you believe and requires constant guidance, learning, and information in order to grow and improve. 

Semantic Coding

If semantic mapping is the foundation of semantic search, semantic coding is the application to a website. It explains to a search engine what entities, concepts, and information can be found on a particular page. This allows more efficient, effective indexing of the website, and helps a search engine better-determine if a website matches a user’s intent. 

With semantic coding, a search engine understands not only what a particular web page says, but also the meaning behind those words. 

Typically, semantic coding is applied via HTML. Don’t worry if you aren’t particularly experienced in that regard. Most content management systems like WordPress offer plugins that take care of the heavy lifting involved with Schema markup, and there are also professional solutions such as Schema App

Google also provides a structured data markup helper that basically provides you with a step-by-step process for adding semantic coding to your site, and a structured data testing tool to make sure you’ve added everything properly. 

The Power of Semantic Search

Can you still drive traffic to your website without using Schema? Certainly. But why would you? The easier you make your content for search engines to understand, the better that content will perform. 

And at the time of writing, remarkably few brands are leveraging semantic coding. This means that using it will likely give you a considerable advantage over your competitors. And the value of such an advantage cannot be understated.

Understanding Your Audience: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Customer-Focused SEO

Especially now, the customer is everything from a business perspective. Here’s how that impacts search engine optimization.

You’ve probably heard the term before. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. And you likely have at least somewhat of an inkling of what it is and how it works —that it involves keyword and topic research, content creation, and so on. 

Truth is, it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about knowing your audience. Who they are, what they’re looking for, and why they’d be interested in your business.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with a more thorough explanation of SEO before going further. 

What Is SEO? 

SEO is, as you might expect, the optimization of digital content so that it displays at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), or as near to it as possible. Although keywords still play an important role in this optimization, a great deal has changed over the past several years. SEO as an industry is surprisingly mercurial and fast-paced, owing to Google’s regular algorithm updates.

Even so, especially given the nature of 2020 thus far, mastery of SEO is imperative if you’re to succeed in the digital arena. If you don’t increase your brand’s visibility — if you don’t do everything you can to drive traffic to your website — you’re missing out on a ton of potential sales. And particularly if you’re a small business, those might not be sales you can afford to lose.

A flexible, workable SEO strategy requires more than slapdash content and keywords, however, and there’s much more to it than ranking and traffic. 

At any given moment, millions of people are searching for what they need online. Sometimes it’s information, sometimes it’s guidance, sometimes they’re looking to make a purchase — either way, these are specific, targeted queries. And with the advent of voice search and mobile functionality, these searches are increasingly conversational in nature. 

Where Does the Audience Fit in an SEO Strategy?

Your audience is at the core of everything. Familiarize yourself with their behaviors, habits, wants, and needs. Study your competition, and stay abreast of emerging trends, both within your own industry and within the SEO field. 

As for how you can get to know your intended audience, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. 

  • What content do they want or need? While both IT administrators and general hobbyists might be interested in tech articles, they likely have a different level of knowledge and require a different approach. 
  • What search engine are they likeliest to use? Google may be the reigning titan of search, but there are other search engines out there. 
  • Who is my audience? Demographic information such as region, income level, gender, etc. 
  • What does my audience value, what do they enjoy, and what are they interested in? You’ll want to align your brand with these interests, if possible.
  • How does my audience use social media? Look carefully at what kind of language your audience uses, ideally by studying the Facebook communities of your competitors. 
  • What does my storefront tell me? Some demographic details may be collected at the point of purchase, and you can use these (with consent) to inform your marketing decisions. 
  • What search terms do they typically use to find my website? Use Google AdWords. This can provide you with a general starting point for your content, though you’ll want to branch out and brainstorm further. 

How Do SEO and Content Slot Together? 

Armed with a better understanding of your target audience and with your keyword research in hand, it’s time to start writing. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about what you’d want to see on your website if you were them, and how you’d want it structured and phrased.

And remember that high-quality content is everything. Write what you know, and focus on your passions. Assuming you’ve done your research and applied it properly, you’ll do just fine. 

3 Things To Understand About Holiday SEO

This will be an unprecedented holiday season. Ecommerce is going to matter more than ever. Here’s what you need to know about SEO.

This Christmas is going to be a little unprecedented. We all know that already. Although there’s still snow on the ground, festivity in the air, and plenty of Christmas cheer, there’s also COVID to worry about. 

Even so, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your while to plan out some holiday-focused search engine optimization. It is, after all, an incredibly busy time of year, especially for consumer-focused retailers. Playing your cards right means you’re potentially looking at an enormous increase in qualified leads.

Ignoring the holiday rush, on the other hand, means missing out on a ton of sales. While it won’t necessarily kill your business, it’s also not something you want to miss out on. With that in mind, here are three of the most important things to understand about holiday SEO. 

Timeliness Is Key

First thing’s first, if you haven’t already started planning out your holiday content, you need to do so. Immediately. There’s a reason most brands start pumping up their holiday marketing campaigns in November — or even immediately after Halloween. 

Start by understanding and analyzing your audience, focusing on a few core areas. 

  • What gifts are especially popular in your industry at the moment, and which are realistic for you to carry? If you’re an electronics retailer, for instance, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are incredibly hot-ticket items, but you aren’t likely going to be able to stock them. 
  • How are current market trends impacting consumer search and purchase patterns? Many consumers are likely looking to spend a bit less this holiday season due to COVID, so you’ll need to be cognizant of that. 
  • What are people discussing on social media? How does your audience feel about the holiday season? How do they feel about your brand? 

There are a few places you can search out this information. First, examine keyword data from Google Trends. Look at both your social feeds and those of your competitors. And finally, see if there are any industry-specific analysts that you can tap for additional knowledge about your market.

Armed with this information, you can begin creating your content and figuring out your keywords (but more on that in a moment).

Focus On Performance

No, we aren’t talking about performance metrics. We’re talking about website performance. About the end-user experience — ensuring your site is quick to load, easily navigable, and usable on mobile devices.

See, people are already stressed enough as it is. Holiday shopping is just one more set of stressors atop everything else. This means, in no uncertain terms, that the people visiting your site aren’t going to want to deal with performance issues like long load times or poor navigability.

They’ll simply go elsewhere. 

Performance is important for reasons beyond it just being the holiday season. As you’ve likely already heard, Google plans to fully integrate its Core Web Vitals, metrics that directly measure the user experience of a web page, into its ranking signals by May 2021

It’s better for you to get on top of this sooner rather than later. 

Choose the Right Keywords (and Content) 

Last but certainly not least, tweak your website to tap into the holiday trends and habits you’ve researched. Use your keyword and sentiment research to inform your content marketing efforts, working to create specialized, themed blog posts around the season. Make sure these are geared specifically towards your audience and their interests and do what you can to tie in any holiday promotions you’re currently running.  

Given the current climate, however, you’re going to want to ensure a few things.

  • Don’t push anything too sales-y on your audience. The last thing people want right now is to be aggressively sold to.
  • Your content marketing efforts are integrated with your other marketing channels, including email and social media. Coherence and consistency are key.
  • Keep things specific. For your calls to action, focus on a single product or grouping of products. 
  • Keep your buyer personas in mind with everything you write. 

‘Tis The Season

The holidays are nearly upon us. It’s the perfect time of year to take a focused approach with your marketing and SEO effort. By understanding current events, your audience, and your brand, you can help ensure that your business has a very merry Christmas, marked by improved traffic and better revenue.

Why Algorithm Changes Should No Longer Be A Significant Issue For SEO

Everyone who’s spent even a little bit of time studying search engine optimization (SEO) knows about the dreaded algorithm update. We’ve all heard the horror stories. Tales of how Google’s Penguin and Panda updates destroyed traffic numbers for countless websites.

In one piece published by UK News agency The Telegraph, the author explains how Google Penguin almost killed their business

Because of stories like these, Google’s constant efforts to tweak and update its algorithm have come to be a source of dread for many. And maybe, at one point in the past, that dread was founded. However, in the modern-day, if you’re doing things properly, algorithm updates should have little effect on your traffic. 

The reason for this is simple and tied largely to how search has changed in recent years. Today, Google’s focus is no longer on keyword matching or website metrics. Certainly, these still play some role in the company’s mysterious, arcane algorithms.

But more and more, Google’s focus is on one singular factor — the end user.

Google now cares less about what a searcher is typing so much as it’s focused on why they’re typing it. It wants to deliver the best, most accurate, and most valuable content to the people using its search engine. The idea is that the first page a user clicks on should be the only one they need, and should provide them with exactly what they were looking for.

You see where we’re going with this, right? Just as Google’s algorithms are focused on user intent, so too should the content you create for your website. As such, you will at minimum need to know the answer to the following questions.

  • Who is your audience? 
  • What does your audience value? 
  • What is your audience interested in? 
  • Why is your audience interested in your brand? 
  • Why would your audience look for this specific page on your website? 

Beyond that, the search engine marketing publication Search Engine Journal recommends a content-focused strategy with the following pillars to serve as guidance.

First, that you focus on Google’s E-A-T Standards. What this means is that you need to create deep, original content that’s presented in such a way that it’s easy to read and digest. Cover each topic with as much depth and expertise as possible, and do so in a way that’s both entertaining and engaging. 

Second, you need to consider, at all times, what a user’s intent might be, and keep all content relevant to that. Consider why someone might be searching for your brand. Maybe they want to learn how to use your products. Maybe they’re interested in making a purchase.

Or maybe they’re simply doing research. 

Regardless, you need to be keyed-in to both what they think and what they want. And as long as you are, as long as you create content with intent in mind, algorithm updates should present no problem for you. They’ll simply provide new opportunities for optimization, new avenues through which you can bring in leads. 

Avoiding The Biggest Mistake Most Businesses Make With Social Media

The value of social media as a marketing tool has already been well-documented. Everyone knows by now that any brand worth its salt needs to at least have a presence on Facebook. What people aren’t clear on, however, is what exactly that presence entails.

The issue, as it were, is that businesses don’t take the time to learn what makes social networks unique. They treat Facebook as just another advertising platform, Twitter as a tool for rapid-fire sales, and Instagram as a product showcase. 

And that’s a problem. Not just because that’s not what social media is meant to be used for, but because audience attitudes towards sales-focused content have shifted.


Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to. They don’t want to be bombarded with marketing pitches, harassed with product information, and flooded with cold calls. Many of them have spent their entire lives dealing with that kind of thing — and at this point, it’s little more than digital white noise.

Consider, for instance, that as reported by online publication The Drum, a recent study by consulting firm Kantar found that just 14 percent of people trust advertisers. The Spring update to the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer, which measures consumer trust in business and government, meanwhile, found that only 32 percent of people believe businesses are putting people before profits. Taken together, these two studies paint a very clear picture.

People do not trust any business they view as overly profit-driven. And that means that if you use social media as little more than an additional sales platform, your audience is just going to lump you in with every other brand they dislike and don’t trust. So what’s the alternative? 

Instead of focusing on your business’s bottom line and trying to drive sales, focus on your brand’s relationship with its audience. Instead of spending all your time talking about your products, think about what your audience might actually be interested in seeing. In short, instead of using your social channels as ad platforms, leverage them for engagement.

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • What content do my followers typically engage with the most? What sort of stuff do they share?  
  • Why do people follow my brand on social media? 
  • How are my competitors using social media? 
  • What sort of personality do I want my brand to present to its audience? What sort of content would best present that personality? 
  • What type of content can I produce in-house? 
  • What kind of third-party content do I want to share? 
  • How frequently should I post, and at what time of day? 
  • Does my audience differ at all across my social channels? 

In short, the most important thing to remember when establishing your business on social media is that at the end of the day, it’s not really about you. It’s about your customers, and how they relate to your brand. Focus on them —their interests, their needs, and their values — and you have an excellent starting point. 

5 Ways To Greatly Improve Your Website’s Performance

Quick question. If you navigate to a website and it takes forever to load, what’s your first instinct? Do you stomach the painstakingly-long wait, or do you go back and try to find an alternative.

Chances are good that unless we’re talking about a major social network like Facebook, you’re going with option B. 

There are few things more infuriating than a slow website. And Google recognizes that, too. It’s been a ranking factor on desktop devices since 2010, and on mobile devices since 2018. 

So that means that if you’ve got a slow website, you aren’t just alienating your audience. You’re hurting your position on the search engine results page (SERP). Let’s discuss a few steps you can take to prevent that from happening.

Here are five simple ways to significantly improve your website’s performance.

Avoid Overusing Plugins

One of the biggest advantages of using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is access to a vast, diverse library of plugins. There’s a plugin for just about everything, from simple forms and surveys to image galleries to community-driven content. You need to be careful here, though.

It’s very easy to go overboard and install a ton of plugins and utilities that you simply don’t need. Each plugin you add is another layer of complexity, another thing that can go wrong with your site, another potential drain on your resources. Think very carefully before installing anything new, and ask yourself if you absolutely cannot live without it. 

Leverage a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

It’s easy to forget that the Internet is not an abstract concept. It’s grounded in physical infrastructure, web servers, and networking hardware all over the world. When someone tries to access web content, greater physical distance means more latency.

Slower load times, in other words.

Depending on where you’re situated in relation to your web host (and where you both are in relation to your target audience), you may want to consider leveraging a CDN. With a CDN, your website’s content is cached across a large geographical area, on multiple web-servers. When someone connects to your site, the CDN connects them to the nearest possible server, cutting load times considerably.  

Reduce Rich Media

You might be tempted to add a bunch of fancy bells and whistles to your website. Javascript menus. Video banners and animated images. This is ill-advised.

The problem is that rich media assets tend to be incredibly resource-intensive. That means that the more of them you use, the more you’re adding to the load time for each user that visits your site. And in a worst-case scenario, they might not even be able to browse at all.

One more thing — do not, under any circumstances, allow advertisements that use animations, Javascript, or auto-playing video. Not only will they alienate your audience, but they’ll also kill performance.  

Make Sure Your Images Are Optimized

One of the most common mistakes we see made by newer webmasters is that they download a stock photo at its largest size and simply upload that to their website. Thing is, even if you resize that image for a web page, your visitors are going to be loading the original with every single visit. In other words, your site’s going to take a considerable performance hit. 

Use a tool like GIMP 2 to reduce the dimensions of each image you want to use. Generally, 1200×800 is a good resolution to go for, but you may want to go even smaller (or keep the dimensions the same if you’re not uploading landscape photos). Additionally, we’d advise reducing image quality down to about 80 percent, as you can generally do so without any noticeable impact on anything but file size. 

Design For Mobile First

Last but certainly not least, we’d strongly advise reading up on responsive design. It may be somewhat dated by now, but web design publication Smashing Magazine has published an excellent guidebook to help you learn the basics. Familiarize yourself with the advice there, and then use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see what changes you need to make to your current website. 

Think Fast

Ensuring your website loads quickly and performs well is absolutely critical. Your audience isn’t going to wait around if things load at a snail’s pace. And Google’s not going to be tolerant of that, either.

Follow the advice here, and do everything in your power to optimize.

3 Ways to Tell an SEO “Expert” Doesn’t Know Their Stuff

They’ve gone by many names over the years. Charlatans. Snake oil salesmen. Politicians.

The one thing they all have in common is that they’re scam artists. They’re looking to pull the wool over your eyes and get something out of you with minimal effort. And like it or not, the search engine optimization (SEO) space is lousy with them. 

The problem is twofold. First, there’s how jealously Google guards its algorithms. Everything we know about how the search engine functions is based largely on observational guesswork — the only people who can say with certainty what the algorithm is and does are the company’s own engineers.

Second is the fact that, at least on the surface, SEO seems almost overwhelmingly complex. To a layperson, it seems like a highly technical field, one that requires years of expertise to grasp. This means that when someone comes along who claims to know what they’re doing, it’s easy to fall into their trap.

Here are a few things you can look for to help you tell the difference between a fraud and a genuine article.

They Offer Guaranteed Results

One of the first things you learn about SEO is that nothing is guaranteed. While it would certainly be nice if you could secure the highest spot on the search engine results page (SERP), that isn’t what SEO is about at its core. It’s right there in the name.


It’s about making your website better. About improving it so it plays nice with Google’s algorithms, and creating better, more valuable content for your audience. The real experts understand this, so they’re not going to promise you the sun and stars.

The “experts,” on the other hand, are likely to make sweeping claims and concrete guarantees, a sure sign they’re either clueless or scam artists. 

They Claim To Possess Insider Knowledge

Remember when we said the only people who actually know how Google’s algorithms function are its own engineers? While per The Search Engine Journal, a court case from earlier this year may require the company to publicly disclose its algorithms, for the moment, the inner workings of the world’s largest search engine are functionally a mystery. And anyone who claims to know those inner workings is full of it.

Everyone who works with Google’s search engine signs a comprehensive non-disclosure agreement (NDA). And anyone violating that NDA could easily find themselves on the wrong end of Google’s entire legal department. As such, if someone comes to you claiming they have insider knowledge from Google, disregard them.

They don’t. 

They Act Like Technical SEO Is All That Matters

There was a time when technical SEO was the be-all and end-all of search. When keywords and backlinks were all your page needed to perform well. But that time is well behind us. 

Savvy SEO professionals understand that. while technical optimization still plays an important role, a page’s content is infinitely more important. If your content doesn’t provide value to its audience, then it doesn’t matter how much technical work you do — you aren’t likely to perform. 

A scam artist, meanwhile, may try to downplay the importance of content creation and content marketing. They may try to talk about buying and selling backlinks or confuse you with technical jargon. Again, don’t listen.

Seek The Right Expertise

There’s no shortage of snake oil salesmen in the SEO space. Learning how to recognize them is the first step to guarding yourself against them. We’d also advise teaching yourself some of the basics of SEO, as well —all the better to recognize when someone is trying to fleece you.