The Truth About The SEO Industry

Legitimate SEO began with Google in 1999, The Year of The Matrix.

Google Matrix Image

Before & shortly after Google, site optimization consisted of loading massive amounts of keywords in and on a page, hiding text, and juvenile link exchanges between sites.

Dirty tricks prevailed, diabolical strategies were invented, and as a result, good sites didn’t rank well.

In 2001, I was assigned a website project overhaul. The site did not have any Meta Tag information at all.

The previous webmaster loaded the site with risqué keywords trying to catch as many “hits” as possible. The Board of Directors found out and banned meta information. Seriously.

If you wanted a webpage to rank for a keyword phrase, you had to put it into the page and in the meta-information.

seo graphic of old school techniques

That was the state of SEO in the late 90s and early 2000s.

It took awhile, but Google changed everything.

That doesn’t mean short-sighted strategies didn’t continue, they just became more sophisticated.

Boiler Room Sales Offices Masquerading as SEO Companies

SEO sales companies
Glengarry Glen Ross – Great Movie!

SEO companies talked a great game.

These boiler room sales offices used compelling sales language to articulate masterful cons on small businesses including Attorneys, Dentists, Doctors, Local Retail Brick & Mortars and every other business with less than $10M in annual sales.

They did little to no optimization at all.

After a 12 month contract was signed, the only time that small businesses would hear from them again was to renew their agreement.

Small business owners became frustrated and collectively determined that SEO was a scam.

This was troublesome for legit SEO companies.

Typically introverted, there’s no way that a legitimate SEO could compete with an outgoing and extroverted silver tongue professional sales person.

Once, I conducted a pre-audit check on an attorney’s site, which landed on Google’s 6th page. The site had zero optimization done – it was obvious.

I called the attorney.

After offering every possible no-risk guarantee I could, he told me he had just spent $12,000 in SEO services, but his website had not moved one spot. “So thanks but no thanks,” he said.

He paid $12,000 in SEO and there was NOTHING done on his site. Can you blame him?

How Long Does It Take To See Results?

One of the ways that the boiler room sales companies kept their clients at bay was to say “it often takes 2-3 months to see SEO results.”

The problem with this is that it is TRUE.

Why does it take several months for a company to see ranking progress?

Small businesses only invest the equivalent of 7 hours of work per month into their organic search strategy.

Certainly 1 day of work per month is not adequate to make significant gains in visibility, ranking, and CTR, right?

When discussing progress with a prospective client, both the true SEOs and frauds spoke the same language.

Small business owners became confused so they went with the more professional sounding salesman… and they got ripped off.

What is the Least Amount I Need To Do In Order To Get Results?

Many people think that there are four elements that create an optimized page. I call these “The 4-Pack.”

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • H1 Tags
  • Caption / Description

Many blog posts list these elements as THE requirement for an optimized page.

There are more than 2 dozen elements that are important for on-page SEO. Four just won’t get the job done anymore.

The Truth: The extent of optimization work required is directly proportionate to the online competition for those keyword phrases.

welchs meat market
I used to work here. Small town butcher shop.

If you have a service-oriented site in a small town or community, there is not a lot of effort required to rank in the top 3 results for geographical location + service name (e.g. Hobart butcher shop).

On the contrary, in a major city for a service-oriented website, the competitive landscape may be 10 times more difficult to break through to the first page, let alone the top 3 results.

Example of SEO City Competition

Optimization Inflation

optimization inflation brooks hadlin

To compete with a national company selling t-shirts, puts the amount of effort and resources required to rank well, in a completely different category than ranking for a butcher shop in a small town.

If everyone has “The 4-Pack,” mentioned early, it will require a bit more effort and resources to be ranked in the top 3 spots on Google SERPS.

Page Speed
It is easy to see that page speed has resulted in faster sites, but there are sites on the 6th and 7th page of Google that have speed and efficiency in the high 80’s and low 90s.

In one research study of criminal attorney sites in Chicago, I noted several sites with slower speeds ranked on the first page, where law firm sites on page 6 were in the fastest recorded; The low and mid 90s.

gtmetrix site speed

One would expect with some exception, sites further from the first page would consistently decrease in page speed, but not only is this NOT TRUE, there seems to be no relation to page speed and rank, despite Google’s claim.

I’m quite sure if all things being equal, the faster site will out rank the slower site, but few sites are equal.

Page speed is not a major factor in site ranking.

SSL Certificates
Secured sites (https://) are “required” now.

Most companies added SSL to their sites, which means the optimization inflation has increased again. There really is no competitive advantage to having a secure site nowadays. An SSL is now table stakes.

ssl certicates trust badges

Schema
Schema is now required for many sites since so many sites benefit from Rich Snippets for good click-through rate.

If not Rich Snippets, how about schema data identifying geo-location and associating all social media profiles with the website?

This must be done through Schema to have a full and powerful knowledge graph.

what do rich snippets look like
schema optimization

Is Content Still King?

  • A 250-word blog post used to be the standard.
  • Then Google changed the threshold to 500 words.
  • Today, the average content piece has about 1,500 words + images or videos.

Is Old Content Still Good?
Google tells us to update old content, to write new content. Never stop.

New, Big, Useful, Always Updated & Fresh Content…. forever.

seo optimization inflation

Google Has Turned You Into a Slave

  • Always producing, analyzing, improving
  • Always writing, editing, updating
  • Always creating new content

Google Lies

John Mueller stated specifically in a Google Hangout in 2017 that if a site did not have Title Tags or Meta Descriptions, Google’s algorithm would figure it out and sometimes it was better that way.

John mentioned “A popular Q&A site” opted to let Google figure it out and “they are doing great in the SERPS.”

John Mueller’s Answer Gets Tested

I tested this over a period of about 3 months.

title tag testing on bulletin board

The section of the site had 28,000 pages.

  • Conducted Analytics on stats back to 26 months.
  • Deleted all Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
  • I waited 2 weeks for Google to re-spider the site
  • Logged, analyzed and compared statistics for the next 30 days.

I compared those statistics with the two previous years and found the following:

Decrease in visibility and usage by 25% across the board

  • Sessions decreased
  • Unique users decreased
  • New users decreased
  • CTR remained
  • Bounce rate increased (that’s bad)
  • E-commerce conversion decreased
  • Revenue decreased
seo visibility

*** 6 Weeks Later ***
I reverted Title Tags and Meta Descriptions back to the original text on every page and waited another 2 weeks for Google to re-spider the site.

All Stats returned to their original numbers – Increase of 25%

Experienced and professional SEOs know that Google lies all the time.

What Does Google Do?

  • Protects Their Intellectual Property
  • Make Mistakes
  • Exaggerates
  • Disseminates Disinformation
  • Outright Lie

Most Marketers Can’t Even Spell SEO

Most marketing professionals do not know the first thing about Google algorithms, ranking, visibility, or popularity.

Ask any Director of Digital Marketing to explain the difference between the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird Algorithms…SEOs can explain them in detail.

What would you think of a President, Senator, or Congress Person that could not explain the difference between the 3 branches of government?

Sadly, this is the case with search engine optimization. There are so-called marketing professionals that cannot tell you, even the basics of SEO even though 80-90% of all required information is freely available on the internet.

The analogy that I use often is this:

“Marketing professionals know as much about SEO as a medical doctor knows about nutrition – zero.”

They only know what they have heard.

The Future of SEO

In the next five years, people will settle in equilibrium with the real-world demand for online services and business presence.

The law of diminishing returns dictates that people will soon stop running on the SEO mouse wheel.

Google has created standards that are so stringent, only well-established businesses can continue to invest in optimization.

Small business owners are not seeing an adequate return on investment in SEO, so they are returning to traditional marketing.

——–

I will be happy to post any additional thoughts that you might have. You can send me an email at Lou@storiale.com.

Title Tag Slide Presentation: How To Create Advanced Title Tags

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Template for Writing Captions to Help Your Website Reach Google’s First Page

Here are the basics of the video written out with most of the slides.
caption template writing website contentThis lesson is called Captions. Captions are a short description at the top of a page that describes the service or product. This is a short description that really is an introduction to what the page is about. This section should also contain internal linking and text-decoration to help a person decide that THIS is the correct page that will give me all the information that I want and need.

The content in the caption will ALWAYS be “above the fold” that is, viewable without having to scroll down the page. Often, Google looks at the content above the fold first and makes determinations as to the subject matter.

Never make a visitor take action to ensure they have arrived on the correct page. Without scrolling or clicking, they should be able to scan the content quickly to determine that THIS is the best, most congruent page available.
pyramid of basic seo title tags meta descriptions h1 tagsA solid foundation of structural SEO begins with a few basics:

- Title Tags – invisible when you look at a page, but it is embedded in the code of a page
- Meta Descriptions (Meta means information or information about something)
Title and Meta Descriptions are both Meta Tags – it tells Google and other search engines and directories what the page is about

- H1 Tags – an HTML element that acts like the Title of the page – it is viewable to the page viewer
- Captions – This is an OP term that basically means it is a description of the page content usually 150-500 words. Located at the top of a page
what are caption and how do they helpWhat Are Captions? Think of Captions as an on-page glorified Meta Description. They are used for people and search engines alike.

Captions provide all the useful information a person and any search engine needs to ensure this content is useful + adding internal linking and text-decoration also helps.

Captions should be placed at the top of a page, above the fold.
caption template writing website contentIn this template, you have a minimum of 6 sentences.

Let’s break it down into 6 separate sections and then put it together at the end.

- 1 Creative Introductory Sentence

- 1 Sentence Summarizing the Service 

- 1 Umbrella Sentence About the Company or Owner
- 2 Detailed Sentences about the industry and specific information to that service including incentives, benefits, personas, geolocation, and more

- 1 Conclusion Sentence that reinforces this is what the visitor wants and maybe a call to action
caption 1 example writing page contentWrite a creative introductory sentence to ensure a human being and a bot can tell that this page content is not created by a machine and is not generic in nature. It can be any type of creative sentence that discusses the service or product.

"A professional teeth cleaning, besides daily brushing and flossing, is one of the best things a person can do to keep healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Dr. Acula likes to see his patients twice per year to ensure there are no early signs of gum disease, foreign objects stuck in the crevices and to apply a protective coating of fluoride, which reduces cavities by 18% (1). "
summarize services or productsThe second sentence summarizes the service.

Repeat the service name and boldface it.

The link will lead to a page that discusses plaque and the best ways to combat it.
captions seo discuss business owner or businessThis section should be easy, it is a sentence about the business or the business owner. You can include "save the cat" type information, list awards the person has won, sponsorships for local kids teams, philanthropy work and include social proof information.

Dr. Acula was the first Dentist in St. John to accept all forms of insurance and offer a discount on services when clients paid cash. Today, we have served over 8,500 customers including 2,300 families since 1984. <-- that's great social proof, credibility and a bit "save the cat."
incentives benefits seo contentThis is an opportunity to write about the industry and to include incentives, benefits and the like.


"If you schedule recurring teeth cleanings there is always a 15% discount plus a FREE GIFT of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to ensure you are ready and motivated to maintain your teeth and gums. "
caption phone number linkThe final section and a call to action. Link the telephone number no matter what page it is and always provide the visitor with some idea of when they can make an appointment. Give convenience information.
manual captions exampleThis slide represents all the information together. This entire section took only 10-12 minutes to write because of the template.

There is nothing worse than a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen. Use the template to help begin the process of creating great content.

A professional teeth cleaning, besides daily brushing and flossing, is one of the best things a person can do to keep healthy teeth for a lifetime. Dr. Acula likes to see his patients twice per year to ensure there are no early signs of gum disease, foreign objects stuck in the crevices and to apply a protective coating of fluoride, which reduces cavities by 18% (1).

A professional teeth cleaning usually includes an initial set of x-rays to ensure there are no cavities. This is assessed by the dentist and is with modern technology, only takes 5 minutes. Next is an examination of the teeth and gums followed by very light cleaning and flushing of plaque between the tooth and gums. We finish up with flossing, rinsing and fluoride treatment.

Dr. Acula was the first Dentist in St. John (get directions here) to accept all forms of insurance and offer a discount on services when clients paid cash. Today, we have served over 8,500 customers including 2,300 families since 1984.

If you schedule recurring teeth cleanings there is always a 15% discount plus a FREE GIFT of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to ensure you are ready and motivated to maintain your teeth and gums. A beautiful smile is always free.

Call Today to schedule your appointment for a teeth cleaning at (312) 555-1212 or via our online schedule. We are open from 10am until 6pm Monday – Thursday.
google comments on panda algorithmThis is directly from Google about having little or no original content. This template can help you create original content.

Take note when creating content. Make your content as unique as possible. Even when using a template, unique pages could seem too similar, so review your content every 5-7 pages to ensure your content is always unique.

manual captions slide 21 Creative Introductory Sentence

1 Sentence Summarizing the Service 

1 Umbrella Sentence About the Company or Owner

2 Detailed Sentences about the industry and specific information to that service including incentives, benefits, personas, geolocation, and more

1 Conclusion Sentence that reinforces this is what the visitor wants and maybe a call to action

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