Here is my first real article on search engine optimization. I have done years of SEO for just one affiliate website (a longer story on that in my about-page).
To write this article I looked back to my years of optimization journey. So here are the results: My 6 Basic Principles to Search Engine Optimization. Let’s dig deeper!
1. Search engine optimization is a long time process
I think search engine optimization is definitely a long time process more than just one thing needed a quick fix.
Now and then I see ads like “Search Engine Optimized Websites for 499 €”. Or oversimplified guides can state that “Do this and this – And your website is optimized”.
These kinds of mental models on SEO have one fatal flaw. In my opinion SEO is not just one variable that is either optimized or not optimized.
I think search engine optimization is a constant work and is never ready. It’s really hard to determine if a website is “optimized” or not. I would see SEO as hundreds of things that can be done in many ways. Some kind of a combination will give better results that some other.
And even if you are on the first position of Google in many important keywords, you should still do constant analyzing, testing and improving your website. As competition is tough and staying on the top is hard as all your competitors keep improving in SEO all the time.
This is also a thing I love in SEO as it needs patience and hard work that needs committing.
2. Search engine optimization needs constant testing
If I get a difficult question about SEO, I’m probably not be able to answer right away. As most things in SEO are on the category “It depends”, “I need to test that” or “Let me think about that and search for more info”.
By this I mean that on many questions there is no clear best answer. For example should you use breadcrumbs in SEO? Usually my answer is yes, but there are many smaller websites that don’t necessarily benefit from breadcrumbs as they may clutter the website too much.
So a lot of things in SEO just depend on the situation.
I need to test that
Sometimes I don’t have a ready answer, but I need to test it first. For example should you put the CTA button here or here?
Sometimes there is a clear answer, but sometimes you just need to test which position performs better.
Let me think about that and search for more info
I have learned practically all things in SEO by reading guides and tweets from numerous sources. If I get a hard question, very often I have to search for more information on the subject.
Usually I will find an answer that is best to continue the testing with. By googling I can avoid the worst mistakes and start the testing process to the right direction.
This is one thing I also really like search engine optimization – It needs constant learning and you never know it all.
And in many ways SEO is like physics: Reading, learning, testing, analyzing and repeating the process all over again.
3. Search engine optimization changes all the time and never ends
The best practices and ways in SEO are on the constant change. Google develops its own algorithms and the visitors in your site may appreciate different things during years.
Of course, good content never gets old, but still some subtle changes may be good for the content to stay fresh.
Also your competitors are improving all the time, so you need to be on the move too.
So it is good to be able to shift the approach to SEO if one method does not work on some particular website. This keeps SEO also interesting as things are not static and one trick or approach that worked before may not work in the future.
4. Search engine optimization is a full scale project on every level
By a full scale project i mean that almost every part of the website can be used on your benefit in SEO.
This includes subjects like the speed of the website, menu structure, general usability, how easy the language is to understand, inner links, graphical outlook, conversion optimization and so on.
If you are not running your website alone, I think the best result in SEO can be achieved with a strong team work. When the whole team understands at least the basics from SEO, decision making is a lot easier in the process.
Search engine optimizing a website with no support from the whole website time is really hard and frustrating in my opinion.
Search engine optimization is team work. A single SEO can’t do it all.
5. Prioritizing in SEO – Content comes first
In SEO there are at least a million things to concentrate. Most often there is no time to do everything, so you need to prioritize.
This may be a no-brainer, but content comes first in my opinion.
I think great content will create also backlinks after time. So concentrating just on backlinks doesn’t make sense to me.
Also with a mediocre content is really hard to acquire backlinks even if you have favourable contacts to link sources. People usually want to link only to the highest quality content, so this also justifies to work on the great content first.
After content comes the smaller details like usability, readability, fonts, inner links and for example the menu structure.
I think it is best to build the most important parts first and go on from there. This is prioritizing in SEO which is really important.
6. SEO is no secret mystical knowledge that no one can learn
I think everyone can learn search engine optimization. When SEO is torn apart to little pieces, it starts to look quite logical I think.
The hardest part in SEO is that the changes happen really slow and it is hard to spot the causality in things.
Search engine optimization also needs a ton of patience.
On the other hand, while SEO is quite logical, there are no tricks that work 100% of the time. Like my previous principles, SEO needs constant testing, learning, changing, making mistakes and learning once again.
When I think of my website (what you are reading right now), I have no idea if it’s going to rank in Google or not. Even if I have succeeded in very hard keywords and ranking in TOP-3 in Google with another website, this is a different matter.
But maybe this is the reason I really love SEO.
It is slow paced.
It is hard.
Sometimes it is very logical. And very often in SEO, it just depends.
Final thoughts about my basic principles to SEO
Create unique and great content. Great content will also attract backlinks after time and this will improve the rankings in Google.
Do constant testing and analyzing. Be bold enough to change bigger or smaller things if you feel like it. Be patient and humble. Good results will come after time.
SEO is team work. Take everyone involved in your website with you to develop SEO. A single SEO can do many things by him/herself but, search engine optimization is also very much team work where almost everyone can contribute.
So this is the end of the article and my basic principles to SEO. As SEO changes all the, these principles may also change after time. So I will let you know if I have new principles formed or will alter the old ones after time.
If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to write a comment below or tweet me!