SEO experts will try convincing you to obey many SEO rules so as to rank #1 on Google. But is it really the case and are they always right? It’s time for some more SEO myth busting!
In the first part of the SEO ranking series (in case you missed it, read first the How to rank #1 in Google – against SEO), I discussed the first 12 SEO rules you are most likely to encounter once you set off to a website maintenance journey. While writing it, I realised there were many more I would like to tackle upon, but since the article was already quite lengthy, I decided to run a sequel to it. And here it is!
How to defy all SEO rules and still rank on first page – sequel
Choose your keywords wisely
SEO is all about keywords. Before you even hire an SEO expert, you should at least know what keywords you want to rank for. Wait, you still don’t know what keywords are? Oh, my, you’ve got some serious problems here. Please close this page and go google keywords to learn what you have missed. Then come back here and – un-learn it all!
Back to some serious business now. Keywords are your guidelines to Google on where to rank you and why, and their usage is meant to help Google understand better what is it that you actually talk about in your website. Think of them as pinpoints in your content, the most important signposts of each text, the sine qua non, the soul and essence of your writings.
When creating an SEO strategy to rank better, keywords are what the analysis is based on, and, compared to how your competition ranks for keywords you want to also rank for, they can be modified so as to fit your needs and to differentiate you from the others.
When talking about this article, my most important keywords would be “SEO,” “ranking,” “Wordpress” and “Google,” with many other variants of these three, and with several more tags.
SEO rules also say there should be no keyword stuffing, as you do not want to bombard your audience with too many. Also, “keyword” does not necessarily refer to single words, as phrases (a.k.a. long-tail keywords) also do the job, and are even more desirable.
When I started blogging on the website I launched 3 years ago, I simply had no idea about keywords. I had no keywords for the blog, no keywords for the articles, nothing. It now seems to me Google somehow managed to find them out without my help.
Two categories max per article
Where to even start the story of categories?
Depending on the niche you are writing about, you should not mix more than two, max three, categories per article, as it is not advisable to do so. It simply isn’t.
Let’s just go back to my previous article, How to lose weight without actually losing weight. Categories to fit it into could just as well be “health,” “weight loss,” “sports,” “karate,” “diet,” and “food,” but I classified the article under “sports” category only and went for tagging it for more specific terms. That way I avoid the foggy distinction between categories and enable easier browsing through articles and categories once I have several dozens of articles on this blog.
When it comes to this article at the moment, the only one category I will mark it with will be “IT, SEO, SMM, SEM, etc.”
But, while I was starting the other, sports, blog, without even knowing I broke this rule, I used to categorise my articles into as much categories as possible. And I still do it, regardless of what Google says. My rationale is the following: if my article is about a game which took place at a certain venue, with a victory for my team, including the result throughout the game, the categories to mark the article for are the place and the venue, the opposing team, the victory, results, rank (as the rank of teams changes after almost every game), and my blog, to name just a few.
Three tags max per piece of writing
As I said earlier, tags are more specific keywords which are article-specific and are subordinate to both keywords and categories. While at the topic of superordinates, it could also be said the website keywords are the highest in hierarchy, with categories as subordinate to them, and with tags as subordinates to categories.
But, there’s just another mistake I made with my sports blog, and also one I still make because it is needed. Why? If there are 6 players on the field, and six more waiting to replace them, and if only 6 of them made significant passes or jumps or whatever, with just as much of the opposing team, then they all deserve to be mentioned. Then, if we add at least one coach, the venue, and several other tags that we consider important for the article, it adds up to 20 tags per article. Quite the opposite of the “three tags per piece” rule.
But, hey, disobeying this rule worked quite well for me. I don’t necessarily have to be right!
Never forget to Facebook debug
If you are using the free WordPress domain, this is one of the things you will never learn about, as you will never encounter it.
If on a paid domain, not every SEO pack will offer this debug option. I have Yoast on one of my websites, but it does not have it. We use All in one SEO pack in numerous other websites, and it does offer Facebook debugging option.
The point is to debug your post once it goes online, i.e. after you publish it, so you could know if it loads all Facebook data properly. Those data include Facebook app id, featured image being the most important feature of it.
But, what is this debugging about? To be honest, not 100% sure yet. I know it does fetch a bunch of data from the code of your published article, to make sure Facebook users could see it the way Facebook demands, but that’s it.
From what I have seen so far, sometimes it does show problems with loading your article, and is particularly useful when you have issues with your server. But, if you don’t know how to fix any of these conundrums, you may just as well be better off without even knowing about them.
Google speed test
Google speed test is a simple tool which gives you an insight into how mobile-friendly your website is, i.e. if a mobile user will experience any problems visiting your website, such as disproportion of images, rasterised pictures, bad position of images, broken links, and what not. It all matters to Google so they could know where to rank you, and it is particularly important right now, as mobile searches have outnumbered desktop searches and have a potential to keep growing.
Moz blog offers splendid advice on how to fix all possible bugs and achieve the highest 100%. I would just like to see a website with the famous 100%. The point of fixing all the bugs is to hire someone who knows how to do it. Trust me, that’s all there is to it.
When I last used this tool, it showed me both my websites were about 41% optimised, which is a bad result. Some other websites I work on stat much better, about 60% or 80%, and I know for sure there are dozens of people working on them. However, if 60% is all they can achieve, with complying with ALL SEO rules, with optimising images, proper link building, with more than regular posting, with doing regular social media marketing, then my 40% is not that bad, having in mind how many rules I broke.
Anchor words must equal the link
When linking content, whether internal or external, anchor text is the phrase you mark to link, and it should match the content you are linking to. Say I want to link here to my first post on Montenegrins. The good idea would be to tell you to click on the link if you want to learn some random facts about Montenegro, but not to tell you to still click on the link if you want to read my first post, which is, accidentally, about Montenegro.
Do you see any difference? In both cases, I link to one and the same article, yet I use different anchor text. As it is familiar to those who read my previous post on ranking #1 on Google against SEO, I rarely link(ed), and when I do or did link, there is or was a complete anchor text and the linked content mismatch.
It does not make much sense what your anchor text is. What matters is if the linked content has to do with what you write about, and that’s all there should be to it.
Implement a sitemap
A sitemap is a useful tool to kind of trick Google into indexing your website faster than if you just launch it and wait for the providence and Google bots, whenever they find the time to crawl your website. It is a great way for the impatient ones to suggest Google to index you sooner rather than later.
If you know how to create a sitemap and implement it into your website, good for you! Do it as soon as you can, as it will be useful not only to Google but to your visitors as well, as it will show them how to browse your website more efficiently and find the data they need.
As for the rest of us who are not in the know, we can just keep living in oblivion and wait for whenever it’s convenient to Google bots to come to us and index us. It’s not like we’re in a hurry, so why even bother speeding up the process…
Do not write for yourself
After all these sort of technical conundrums, it’s time we go back to the content creation itself, as it is one of the rules all SEO experts will tell you is a crucial one when creating content.
What they will tell you is you should never ever write for yourself, as you are not the client. You should visualise your perfect client instead, analyse his needs, his interests, his background, familiarise yourself with what brought him to you, what can you offer him to turn him into a buyer, etc.
But all that is a huge fail at first place. If you start with yourself, there is actually a fat chance you will turn a complete stranger into an aficionado of whatever it is that you are trying to sell (be it knowledge, furniture, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, or luxury resorts) if there is no spark in him already.
Hence, you should look for those who already share your passions rather than trying to attract complete outsiders. When writing to yourself, with slightly paying attention to explaining what might be tricky or blurry to those who accidentally stumbled upon you but have bitten the bullet and stayed, it is easier as you do not have to invent the perfect client – you already have him – it is you yourself. You already know what rocks your boat, what are your interests, what are your needs, what keywords you Googled but failed to find, which eventually led you into starting your website or your company. When speaking to yourself, you are more prone to fully invest yourself into the piece you are working on, and the similar audience will surely be able to spot it and appreciate it about you.
So do write for yourself, as you are the perfect client you yearn for. That is, at least I believe so, the key factor which had the crucial impact on ranking us on first page on Google.
Once again, a disclaimer in place of a conclusion
All opinions presented above are the result of my own experience in running a free WordPress blog on a local sports club topic. I do not talk about business websites nor blogs, and will talk about them in more detail in due time.
I did not have any knowledge, nor formal education nor contact with SEO, copywriting, content writing, programming, front end, back end, graphic or web design, or anything of the like, for the first three years of running that website.
All SEO rules presented here are the result of the knowledge I gained after I started working as a copywriter and content writer in a privately owned small-size company.
All data presented are the result of my newly gained knowledge and interest in analysing what brought us to the first page of Google search based on three keywords only.
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There are many other SEO rules to go with when running a website. After I have explained the 20 most salient ones, or the ones you are more likely to learn as soon as you get in touch with SEO, optimisation and ranking, I believe it will take me a while now before I collect enough material for a new article.
However, since SEO is such a hot topic for quite a while now, I believe I will have no problems writing more on the SEO rules and debunking them. Stay tuned, more reading material is on its way!
In case you missed the first and the last article on the SEO ranking series, here’s a brief overview of what was and will be covered by those.
#1: Use heading 1, heading 2, heading 3… tags
#2: Write for people rather than Google
#3: Always link
#4: Optimise photos
#5: Add featured image and ogp
#6: Write meta descriptions of… Well, everything
#7: Post regularly
#8: Use analytics
#9: Paid domain vs. free domain
#10: Present unique content
#11: Write long posts
#21: Facebook OGP
#22: Twitter card
#23: Split blocks of text with images
#24: No automatic sharing on social networks
#26: Same rank website linking
#27: No links in first paragraph
#28: No space after paragraphs
#29: Keywords in article titles
#30: Keywords in URLs