Clients regularly come to us asking questions about SEO. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there about what best practice is and also what to avoid doing so as not to be penalized by search engines. Information can be conflicting, outdated, incorrect or  promoting a paid product or service.

On one hand, in its highly practical SEO guide, Google encourages a very simple ethos: “offer quality content and service” and “create content primarily for your users, not search engines”. On the other hand, website owners have a fascination or even obsession to try any sort of trick to boost their site’s ranking. The magician’s tricks continually evolve and are often highly guarded from their competitors. Well-meaning business owners paid what they thought were SEO professionals (how does one truly know an SEO professional from a trickster?) to improve their sites, only to find that when Google clamped down on bad practices, their sites were penalized, then traffic and often revenue dramatically dropped.

This never-ending game of flocking to magicians for the secret tricks, the reveal, then a correction and resulting punishment is stressful and exhausting.

Clients often worry about the negative impact of a website redesign. By following the basic rules in Google’s SEO guide, along with keeping up to date with their webmaster announcements and comprehensive resources, SEO doesn’t need to be a mysterious art form. Aside from Google’s resources, we recommend the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast along with their blog posts on SEO. Other fantastic resources are MOZ SEO and SearchEngineLand.

There are plenty of paid (and expensive!) SEO tools out there, but in all my reading and experience I’ve only found that these can save some research time, but the same good SEO results can be achieved without using these tools.

At the end of the day, if you’re not too sure what your SEO tools or paid experts are doing behind the scenes for you, be wary. There are plenty of people out there preying on fear of having bad SEO. MOZ offers some tips for how to find a good SEO expert – the comments section is well-worth skimming too.

SEO is not magic tricks. It’s work. It’s persistent useful content creation and careful attention to details. SEO is simple but out of a sense of fear and anxiety, we make it so complex.

I’m reminded of Warren Buffet’s quote on success:

The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.”

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