SEO: Theory in Action

by Paul Carpenter
See Dave Speak SMX London

Last Friday, if you searched for ‘SEO‘ on Google.co.uk, you wouldn’t have find us anywhere in the top 30 – we were hovering just outside. But today, depending on what version of the index you’re seeing, you’ll see us somewhere at either #10 – #11 as a result of this post.

Now SEO is what we call a ‘vanity term.’ If you’re a massive company making big numbers pitches then being able to point to a first page ranking for that term is an immensely useful selling tool. The proof of the pudding, so to speak. It doesn’t really matter to us though – it would bring a string of meaningless traffic and enquiries into the site. However, as a term it is massively fought over for bragging rights alone. Consequently, whole companies dedicate their lives to achieving and protecting a ranking in this market to bring in business.

So how have we achieved this top 10 slot apparently overnight?

Summary: Years of Graft

Firstly, it’s the result of industry expertise and insight. Dave is one of the most experienced and insightful guys in this market and has written on the subject for yearsYou can’t buy that. I could have put this diagram on my own personal blog and no-one would even have noticed, much less reblogged it.

Secondly, because of the position Dave has within the industry, a lot of what he says gets picked up – and that means links.

Thirdly, social media and aggregators are having more influence in the SERPs. The piece I wrote was accompanied by a little diagram which apparently crystallised things for a lot of people. That touches on something I alluded to the other week: content isn’t necessarily text. A diagram is something you can take in a couple of seconds. It’s also easier to share with other people than some dense piece of technical explanation.

So last Friday, that diagram – the result of half an hour’s pre-breakfast thinking and about as much time again tinkering around with PhotoShop – made the front page of Tweetmeme, went hot for a while on Stumbleupon and so on. Google’s algorithm at the moment rewards recency and reach. Lots of people were talking about that post and it got a boost in the SERPs accordingly.

Fourthly, this probably isn’t a defensible ranking. Unless that post picks up some clean anchor text links from other authority domains as a result of it’s immediate popularity then it will start to slip into the background as its popularity wanes.

Taken in the round, what a site like this has is authority. It’s the holy grail of rankings. You can bitch and blather all you like about backlink profiles, comment spam, content pitches and anything else you care to name but ultimately, you either have it or you don’t. If you don’t, you should be making it your aim. If you do then knowing how to use it to your advantage is key if you want to rank in your target markets.

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