The first rule when doing SEO: Don’t

And this is the only rule you need to worry about

Don’t do SEO.  Seriously, stop reading.  Don’t do it.

Google is completely explicit about this.  They’re on record saying: “don’t dance for us, just get on with being the best you can be in your business for your customers”.

googleInstead they’re actively trying to reward businesses that give a good result to customers.  And that makes total sense.  Google see their product experience as the sum combination of their search box, their results listing pages, AND the results websites that they send their customers out to – i.e. your site.  If they constantly give good end content that their visitors enjoy, then they’ve given those visitors a “good experience using Google”, and those visitors will more than likely come back to Google next time around.

Worse, they are now applying stick as well as carrot.  If they catch you buying links they will punish you in the rankings.  Or if you have too much duplicate content supplied to you by too good to be true suppliers of newsletter filler content that’s been used again and again on the web, they’ll dampen your site in the results.  If your site is too slow (a low quality experience for your users) they’ll downrank you too.

All this means is that they are looking for QUALITY end destination sites.  They don’t want to be tricked, or gamed, or SEO’d.  They want to find sites that are high quality, relevant, enjoyable experiences for their searchers.  And this basic ethos sits behind nearly all the major updates to the ranking algorithm that they have released over the last 5 years.

The defining characteristic that Google are looking for can be summed up in the word “Quality” (their word, not ours).  And we’ll come back to this very important concept time and again.

The implications of this point are wide ranging.

First the “do nots”:

Do NOT engage the services of anybody who claims they can “SEO your site” if they claim anything that sounds like a ploy to manipulate the system and beat Google.  If an SEO company talks to you about systematically buying links, or supplying farmed streams of content in newsletters, or magic fixes through buying domains, or worse, mysterious methods they won’t quite disclose, it’s likely these tricks are what the industry calls “Black Hat” methods.  Indeed they may not intentionally be using black hat methods.  They may just be out of date with their advice and not even realising it.  Yesterday’s good advice, have quickly become today’s black hat techniques.  A good guideline, is if you don’t understand the advice they are recommending, and if it doesn’t sound plain old common sense good news for your end customers, don’t trust it until you do understand it, and it does sound good for your end users.  Period.

Now the “dos”:

Do invest in a good quality site for your visitors.  Do test, and worry about your site speed. Do write original, interesting content on your site that visitors will read and learn from.  Do invest in making your site usable and encourage “one more click” at all points.  Good, fast sites, with great content, and sticky usability, appeal to humans, and hence are preferred by the Quality algorithms.  We look at this in more depth when we examine the concept of “Quality” in our Advanced SEO guide.

That’s it, you can stop reading now!  No need to worry about SEO anymore!  Just build a great website for your applicants, and especially for your vendors and landlords.

So, what next?

You may want to start back at our introduction to search engines, or read more about the Basics of SEO.

If you’ve done that, you might want to understand why Homeflow sites are a better foundation for your SEO.  And if you’re looking for detailed advice and ideas, there’s no better place to start than our SEO benchmarking or advanced guide.  You’ll also find lots more in our resources library.

And if you just want to talk to one of our team, or you want a copy of our full report, or a free audit of your current sites’ SEO performance, please give us a shout.