There was a time when you could hire an “SEO” (search engine optimization) consultant who would promise to get you first page rankings for choice keywords. Those days are long, long gone.

The idea of SEO as the practice of improving search rankings is a myth. In some cases it is a flat out lie used by scammers to get paid. I don’t want you to get scammed. So here’s everything you need to know about what SEO is in the year 2017.

SEO is the bare minimum you do to set yourself up for success. It consists of two and only two components:

  1. In-page optimization: Proper code structure, use of meta data to relay information to search crawlers (notably titles and descriptions), utilizing the words you want people to search for on your page in a natural way and having a fast-loading and responsive website.

    We leverage tools that crawl your site and help identify potential problems including both search and site performance. Many of these optimizations also benefit end users because search engines reward sites that provide good user experiences.

  2. Keyword research: Using research tools to review the search volume specific keywords get to help inform and focus your efforts. At the intersection of solid search volume and realistic chance to compete is where your target keyword list comes from. And from that target list you can create content pieces.

    This is typically part of a long-tail keyword strategy, targeting numerous lower volume keywords where you have a chance at getting first page rankings. We use this research to help develop a content strategy.

And that’s it.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve officially “optimized” your search ranking efforts. There’s nothing more you can do. No tricks, no hacks, no secrets. It’s simple.

Google has the smartest engineers on the planet developing and evolving their search algorithm with the help of natural language analysis and machine learning. That SEO guy from Connecticut who talks a big game has no chance of succeeding against that. And even the “black hat” players who run massive link rings to boost sites have been rendered ineffective in recent years. Again, this is Google. You aren’t going to beat Google. Or Bing. Or anyone.

Only good, relevant and timely content succeeds. Thus, an SEO expert is a content strategist. You can’t divorce the roles, they are one in the same.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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