99% Of What's Taught In SEO Is BS.
Here's What Actually Matters.
When I talk to aspiring marketers who want to learn SEO, I often hear the same things. Ramblings about useless tools, shiny objects, and obsessions that will never get them anywhere. Why is this happening?
There's So Much Focus On The Wrong Stuff
The majority of what is covered on YouTube, podcasts, and articles online is fluff. Think about it for a moment. When was the last time you read an article that gave you real, practical steps to improve your SEO that worked?
Unfortunately, many of the so-called "SEO experts" don't teach any helpful information, whatsoever. It's all not related to your business, or it's all centered around tools.
Tools Don't Get You Traffic
I think SEOs like talking about tools because they are cool. It's fun to imagine there are these "shiny bullets" or "secret buttons" that will finally rank your website #1. But the real world doesn't work like that.
I know several SEOs (myself included) who have ranked many businesses in Google without ever using a keyword research tool. These tools don't solve any problems in the SEO process. (Hot take, I know)
Hear me out.
When it comes to keyword research tools because they are commonly taught by many SEO instructors they are useless. You, your competition, and every other business in your niche are using them. Because of that, you're all getting the same topic ideas and keywords!
Now imagine if your competition is trying to create content about the same topics yeah, you're going to have a bad time!
So what gets you results? And what should you do to come up with content topics instead? Well, I'll be getting to that in just a second. But first
You need to stop listening to the majority.
Podcasts Suck...For A Lot Of SEOs
When I ask business owners or marketers where they are learning SEO, I hear "podcasts" more often than I used to.
There are a lot of issues with trying to use podcasts to learn search engine optimization as a skill.
You'd be surprised how many SEO podcast websites I've visited where it's nearly impossible to find episode 1, or they don't even have it listed in their catalog of episodes. On top of this, though, podcasts aren't in any sort of logical order. Oftentimes it's just random topics depending on who a podcast host is interviewing any given week.
There isn't any rhyme or reason to what they are teaching, and this makes the process of learning SEO overwhelming, daunting, and more complicated than it needs to be.
Okay, but what about video?
YouTubers Need Content
Unfortunately, video isn't much better. Not only do you encounter the exact same issues that you would with podcasts, but YouTubers need content. That means they're going to try and talk about as many things as they can about SEO.
To illustrate this point, I did a search on YouTube for "SEO beginner guide". Here are the 3 results that pop up:
Clicking on the first result leads me to a video from Ahrefs. Thankfully, they have timestamps on their video so it's easy to skip around and see what they are talking about. This reveals an unfortunate truth: 99% of the video is not important and is a waste of your time!
They are teaching exactly what I mentioned earlier: using shiny objects (their keyword research tool.) In fact, the majority of the video takes place inside of their tool. Again, using a tool doesn't get results.
I will give credit where it's due. They do talk about a few valid things like guest post outreach and analyzing search intent. But these are two very short portions of their overall long video, clocking in at over an hour and 57 minutes.
You also have to be wary of channels that are trying to go out of their way to sell you on courses. They'll give you some information, but never the bigger picture without buying their "magic bullet" course that solves SEO once and for all for you. And when you do actually dish out a ridiculous amount of money to buy their product, it's a rehash of all the same information you've already heard before.
My Hot Take: Google Algorithm Updates Don't Matter
Nearly every SEO book, YouTuber, or podcast I've encountered talks in great length about algorithm updates. Most SEO instructors go deep into the history of SEO and how things used to be. But here's the thing: That's literally useless information. I know this is a "hot take", but I have a really big point to make.
Yes, the SEO space grows, changes, and evolves over time. Technology is a chaotic space in general, and search engine optimization falls under the tech sphere.
But what if I told you that not only is there only one thing you need to do with SEO, but that it hasn't changed since the 90s? Would you believe me?
Okay, So What Should I Actually Do?
Here's the truth:
99% of real SEO is content.
Yes, all you have to do is publish valuable content that answers searcher's questions.
This is literally all SEO is, and it hasn't changed since the inception of Google. Publishing 3-5 high quality, original blog posts per week gets you the results you want for your business or website. This is where the majority, if not all of your focus should be when it comes to search engine optimization.
Yes - You Need The Basics
Now make no mistake, you still need to have a strong foundation when it comes to your website. Having a secure, functional, and optimized website is key. You should have a sitemap, a SSL certificate, fast page speeds, and keywords specified for your content.
But this is only 1% of the battle.
Content Is The Only Thing That Ultimately Matters
Even if you mess up everything else, having content still gets you results. Content gets you traffic from Google, which gets you conversions (or people doing what you want them to.) Good content answers questions consumers have in your niche or industry.
The internet is made up of content, and if you want results from Google you have to create it, too. I think people get intimidated by the idea of creating content, but it's actually quite easy to do. All you need is 30 minutes and Google Docs, and you can effortlessly write up an excellent piece.
Most of us are in business because we are passionate about what we do. We already ramble to our relatives and friends about it, so why not write about it too? When you provide value to searchers in your niche, you quickly build trust and authority with not only search engines - but real humans too.
I know a lot of marketers and business owners dread the "C word", but it really shouldn't be that way.
Why Content Should Excite You
Again, I know producing content can look daunting. But instead of associating negative feelings with it, you should associate positive ones instead. After all, once you see the bigger picture content becomes incredibly exciting!
First of all, content does many things simultaneously. As a new SEO, you don't necessarily see these things from the outside looking in. But content does all of these things:
- It brings people into your website (this happens 24/7, 365 on complete autopilot)
- It automatically builds trust, authority, and credibility with prospects (turning them into paying customers for you!)
- It shortens your sales process and saves you time in your business (customers will already know the answer because of your content)
- It is an asset that becomes more valuable over time for your business
- It can automatically move prospects along in your sales funnel
But besides all this, there is another reason that content is epic.
The Content Compounding Effect
This is a term I coined over at Local Rank Ninja called the "content compounding effect." Not enough people talk about this in the SEO space online. But content does something incredible.
To explain this, I'm going to illustrate an example.
Let's say I just started a new website, and I have 10 pieces of content published.
Now let's pretend that each piece of content brings in 10 visitors per month.
Well, that's easy mathright?
- x 100 = 100 visitors a month.
Not very impressive, sure.
But now let's pretend I publish 100 posts in total.
Naturally, we'd follow the same formula.
So 100 x 10 = 1,000 visitors per month.Except that we're actually wrong!
Because something happens when you consistently publish content over a period of time.
Because you've done so, now you are an authority in the eyes of Google's almighty algorithm.
Instead of each post bringing in 10 visitors a month, let's say each post is now bringing in 25 visitors a month.
Well, that means you now have 2,500 visitors a month coming into your website!
And again, keep in mind that this is happening 24/7, 365 on autopilot - without you paying a dime.This is the power of the content compounding effect.
Except it doesn't stop there.
As your domain ages, and more people online link to your content it builds up even more authority. So a year from now, these same 100 posts may now be bringing in 5,000 visitors a month instead of 2,500. Not to mention we've assumedly published more blog posts since then.
That is why content is the ultimate tool for any marketer - let alone SEOs!
Yes, You Need To Have A Blog
When I explain this to business owners, a lot of them are on board until they hear the word "blog" and then they seem to become disconnected. But it's important again to understand the *why* here. You see, a blog is just a page on your website.
Blog posts are much like web pages, except that they're time sensitive or related to a date. All a blog page is is a list of curated pieces of content. Your website automatically updates this page.
It seems like many business owners and marketers believe a blog isn't relevant to their business, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Back in 2016 I ran a computer repair business. I was 19 at the time, and trying to outrank all of the competitors in my city. The way I did this and jumped to the #1 spot was by having a blog and publishing helpful articles.
I still remember one of my best posts was "How to troubleshoot your laptop's WiFi adapter". That post brought in 100s of prospects to my website a month, and gave me the authority I needed to outrank established businesses that had been #1 for over a decade.
You see, it doesn't matter if you're a pizzeria, an ecommerce store, or a different type of business altogether. A blog can 100% be relevant to your business. It's about demonstrating your authority and showcasing you know what you're talking about.
None of This Matters If
Now I am going to throw a caveat in here. Content is 90% of the battle, but there's still 10% you need. A perfect SEO painting consists of three colors.
The Three Cs
You need to have all three of these things in place to rank #1.
We just covered this in-depth, but content really is the bread and butter of our SEO process. Without it, we're failing our attempt to build authority with search engines and humans. Answer questions consumers have in your niche consistently over time.
This one is important, and not talked about enough. You can have educational content, but it definitely shouldn't be dry. Having the ability to explain things in a simple, easy to understand way is everything.
Additionally, you should be able to separate your content from everyone else's. Design a featured image. Lay your content in a format that is easy to digest. Separating yourself from your competitor's content is important if you want to stand out.
Ah yes, this is a perfect example of a feedback loop. While you *will* get this over time from publishing content alone, we want to go out of our way to establish this as early on as possible. You need your name out there in your niche or industry.
Doing things like going on podcasts, guest posting to other websites, and creating YouTube videos are all perfect examples of generating clout around your brand and business. Having mentions of your name and website across the web build E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, and Trust.) Google wants to see this if their algorithm is to consider you an authority in your space.
Notice by the way as a side note, that all three of the methods I just mentioned still involve creating content!
An Important Question To Ask Yourself
Stop reading for a moment and have a serious discussion with yourself. Do you have all three of these things in place? If not, that should be your next step with your SEO. Before you do anything else, having the three Cs builds authority.
Remember: The average time marketers agree it takes to see results with SEO is between 6 months to a year. So the sooner you do this, the sooner it's done and you can shift your focus to content publication.
If you have these three things in place, you can easily achieve your business goals.
Content Solves The Link Problem
"But wait, Gabriel" I hear you saying. "I need backlinks to increase my website authority, or search engines aren't going to give me a chance!" Well, Google actually likes guest posting, since you're still answering searcher's questions with high quality content.
It's a win-win. Website owners get free content and you get some mentions or links back to your website. Again, we're still working with content here.
If all you do is spend time writing - that's time well spent! I know sometimes it can feel like you're not achieving anything since SEO takes some time. But keep at it and remember that this is proven to work.
You Need To Start Writing
Okay, hopefully I've motivated you to get writing. I have a couple suggestions for making the content creation process easier. These are things that will save you from headache and frustration later on.
Write Your Content In Google Docs
I learned early on the hard way what happens if your connection gets interrupted from the WordPress dashboard. Always write your content in Google Docs. It's free, and all you need is a Gmail account.
Google Docs automatically saves your work as you go, so you don't have to worry about losing your blog post halfway through. It also has a share option, so you can easily collaborate with your team or employees and get content done quickly. For guest posting, this is especially useful because you can share the post you are asking them to publish. Site owners like looking over the content before making a decision.
Include Images Every 3-5 Paragraphs
Nobody wants to look at a wall of text! Seriously. Your goal should be to make the content non-intimidating from a glance. Images not only add personality and expression to your content, but they make your content easier to skim.
You can take images yourself, or use stock photos. Pixabay is a great website that gives you free stock photos you can use. Additionally, you can always pay for these but they do get expensive the more you have.
Cite Your Sources
Are you mentioning a statistic in your industry? Or perhaps you are making an argument. Either way, you will want to make sure you state your sources - just like how you were taught in high school. By doing this your content is higher quality and it shows you've done your research.
Good content often has outbound links (or links pointing to other websites) so you need to make sure you include these. This brings me to my next point.
Interlink Your Content Together
Remember: You want your website to be *the* "go to" place for this topic. As you publish more and more articles, you will start to be able to cite yourself. I know that sounds funny, but it's important. Your goal is to ultimately build an educational resource that informs prospects and searchers as best as you can.
Pro Tip: Include An Author Box
An author box, or author bio is a tiny box at the top or bottom of your content. Typically it has the article writer's name, photo, and a brief segment about them. Not only does having an author box build E.A.T., but it also makes you more personal to readers.
They get to see who you are and a little bit about you. This is another one of those things that build trust and authority with both humans and search engines. You can add this for free inside WordPress with the
The majority of what is taught to beginners is fundamentally flawed in the SEO industry. So-called "SEO gurus" are more interested in fueling their wallets than teaching you what actually works. By focusing on content creation, you can grow your business without having to feel overwhelmed or intimidated.
Content moves the needle the most and 90% of your time should be spent on it as a bare minimum. Content is exciting, and when you understand the bigger picture it becomes easier to push yourself to publish blog posts, even if you don't see results in the beginning.
Want To Be A SEO Ninja?
If you want to discover powerful, proven, and effective SEO strategies check out my new book theRank Now Blueprint
In it I teach what real SEO actually is, and how to spend your time doing the things that move the needle the most for your business or website.