As Tim Soulo of Ahrefs writes, Ranking #1 on Google is completely overrated.
Maybe even SEO is overrated as a whole. I truly believe that the unimaginable energy, focus, resources, and money businesses seem to put into SEO is a little too much.
Maybe it’s just me but all this effort to try to rank on the first page of Google is really taking your focus away from your actual business.
On top of that, you aren’t really doing as much as you should (at least the basics of digital marketing) when it comes down to it.
Focusing on On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, link building, link analysis, and everything else people do for SEO takes time.
Something that most small businesses owners don’t have. I certainly don’t.
I can curate content. I can create content. I can write blog posts up to 8000 words (although I don’t). I even pick a random keyword and try to create content for that keyword (but I don’t overdo it).
I can do all that, but I can’t actually sit here and pretend as if I am an SEO expert. I can’t put in the kind of work that Robbie Richards does or the folks at SEMrush or Ahrefs do.
This blog that you are reading is probably one of those blogs that’s never been optimized as if its pants were on fire (do blogs have pants? Never mind).
All I did was write. Sometimes, some of those blog posts I write have no meaning, purpose, or agenda. Sometimes, some blog posts are optimized for a particular keyword. Like,
Clickfunnels Review was optimized for “clickfunnels review”
Webflow review was optimized for “webflow review”
Optinmonster review was optimized for “Optinmonster Review”
Obvious enough, right?
Most of the blog posts (there are over 280 of them on this blog) are indeed optimized for a particular keyword only because the Yoast SEO plugin demands that I do. So, I do.
Does it get traffic to the blog? Yes.
Does it make any money? Yes.
Is SEO worth it? Yes.
Should you give up your life for it? No.
With all the hype on the Internet, it’s clear that SEO is overrated. Here’s what you should do instead:
There’s no SEO without Content. Get that.
There are shady agencies that promise you the moon but have nothing much to show for it. Did you know that some agencies and freelancers still do bat shit crazy stuff like adding your website to general directories, producing keyword stuffed 550-word blog posts and articles, submitting articles to article directories, and more?
None of that bat shit crazy stuff works. Just get over it.
There’s no SEO without being able to produce content that makes a difference to your readers. But if you thought you’d be fine with producing marginally good content, it won’t do.
You’d need to produce content that really makes a difference. Then, there’s all the new age stuff that’s happening with SEO, such as Google leaning more towards Machine Learning to change how search results show up with Google’s RankBrain, for instance.
Get Your Bearings Right
The first thing you’d really need to do with SEO is not exactly ‘SEO’.
It’s what is called a simple SEO Audit. You’d need a way to quickly get your bearings and see how your website stacks up on various parameters that’ll affect your efforts when it comes to SEO.
SEMrush allows you to quickly do an SEO audit for your site, all by yourself. This is your opportunity to look for structural SEO issues on your website such as broken links, missing Alt tags for images, missing h1 or h2 tags, duplicate content, broken links, and so much more.
What? You thought your site would have no issues? You’ll be shocked. SEMrush analyzed more than 100,000 websites using their SEO Audit tool and found the following:
More than 50% of websites analyzed had duplicate content issues (including mine, see below).
More than 45% of websites had images without alt tags (plus 10% of websites had broken internal images).
Out of the websites analyzed, there were several title tag issues:
- 35% of them had duplicate title tags
- 8% of them had missing title tags (applies to my site)
- 4% of websites didn’t have enough text within title tags, while
- 15% of the websites had too much text within title tags.
More than 30% of the websites had duplicate meta description issues and 25% of them had meta descriptions missing altogether.
As you can see from the image below, a whopping 35% of websites had broken internal links (leading to 4XX pages) and 25% had broken external links.
Dig deeper and you’ll see all sorts of problems with H1 tags alone. Among the websites analyzed,
- 20% didn’t even have H1 tags.
- 15% had duplicate content within H1 tags and titles
- 20% had multiple H1 tags.
- 28% had low text-to-HTML ratio on pages
- 18% had low word count within H1 tags
- 15% had too many on-page links, and
- 12% had missing language declaration.
Here’s a quick summary of the severity level of issues when it comes to on-page SEO for over 100,000 websites analyzed by SEMrush.
Convinced? See where you stand. Go ahead and do an SEO audit for free with SEMrush right now
Here’s what the SEMrush Audit Tool spun up for my website:
The SEMrush Audit report provides you with a quick view over several thematic metrics, issues, notices, warnings, and more, depending.
In my case, I scored 72% with more than 100 crawled pages.
Most of the duplicate content issues came up because of the subdomain https://academy.fetchprofits.com. But you can see how quickly you can get a bird’s eye view of how well your website is optimized for search.
The audit report isn’t cast on a boulder. This report is for you to get your bearings and make improvements, one issue at a time.
You need to keep making changes (as recommended by SEMrush) and then keep checking on this report regularly — like a pilot checks his airplane before flying and like a good driver always checks his car before heading out to the road.
While you are at it, you can also quickly use On-page SEO checker, link building tool, content ideas tool, and more.
Start with the right SEO tools (Free or Paid, doesn’t matter)
There are several SEO tools in the market. For the last 3 years, there are only two or three tools that I ever used.
- Google Keyword Planner (for basic Keyword research and to get an idea for keyword volume). It’s free to use if you have a Google Ads account
- SEMrush (for regular SEO audits, competitive analysis, backlink audits, keyword position tracking, and several other use cases). Get a free trial and see for yourself
- Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest (for quick checks on volume and keyword difficulty). Free to use
Of course, if you want to dig deep. There are even more tools than you know what to do with.
If you ask me, using too many tools is an overkill. You might even delude yourself thinking that you are investing when you are actually overinvesting in your marketing stack.
Integrate SEO into your content marketing workflow
It’s a fancy way of saying that you should put all your efforts into actually “creating content” and then try to optimize each piece of content for SEO.
Just the basics.
Like, if you are using WordPress as your CMS, just use Yoast SEO plugin, pick one keyword that you think your blog post does justice to (don’t overdo it, don’t stuff keywords, and don’t bother with Keyword density).
Follow all those tips that Yoast SEO plugin will instantly present to you while you are publishing your blog post.
In the end, be sure to get that little green button glowing.
That’s it. For most purposes and given that we all have constraints, that’s all the SEO you ever need to do.
Build links Yourself & always Ask for links
Here’s what my site’s backlink profile looked like when I used SEMrush’s backlink audit tool.
Least to say, it was scary. So, I had to clean that up. Read more about how I used the SEMrush Backlink audit tool to improve my backlink profile, remove toxic links and brought down my overall toxic score.
The best kind of link building or backlinking you can do is when you go out there and hustle.
- Start writing guest posts (but remember that not everyone gets the best out of this strategy. Depending on your case, guest posting might not be the best fit for your business).
- Go out there and hustle with cold outreach emails. Just be sure to do it right and don’t be greedy, selfish, self-centered, and act bratty. Even if your company name is Apply, Facebook, or Microsoft, I’d never take shit from you.
- Use SEMrush and deploy their Link building tool to quickly look for opportunities to start building backlinks.
If you get decent traffic to your blog, a few things will start to happen.
- Bloggers, writers, and others will start linking to your content. This is healthy link building, and it’s old school. Truly, this is what you should be hoping for.
- All kinds of marketers, outreach managers, SEO agencies, and everyone else will start sending you email requesting you to link to their content, to mention their marketing tools, or to mention their brands. This is good too, except that you need to think about whether or not you want to link.
The second point here is important: Should you link to other companies, brands, blogs, and other content because you’ve been asked to?
You may. You may not.
Depends on what you do.
What I’ve noticed over the years is that the world is selfish. Outreach managers, SEO agencies, freelancers who do SEO, or brands want you to add links but they usually don’t reciprocate (they don’t mention).
Like selfish, self-centered brats, they just ask you to link (and they say that it’ll add value to your readers).
Stop doing favours for them. They aren’t asking you for links because they love your content.
When you are requested to add links, assuming you get a reasonable request for linking to good brands or content do this:
- If you are a blogger, the minimum you need is to have them link back to some of your older content. Or you can monetize the opportunity and ask them to pay you XXX for the favor.
- If you are a brand or a business, check to see if the link request isn’t from your competition. If the link belongs to your competition, just say no. If not, either link back assuming the deed is reciprocated or get paid for the link.
There will be negotiations. Some people might never get back to you again. But that’s alright. Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short.
SEO might be overrated but that doesn’t mean you should just forget about SEO. I am lazy and I don’t care about SEO at all. Yet, 79% of all my traffic comes from Google and that’s when I am the last person who’s even interested in using SEO at all.
Imagine what you could do if you were slightly more interested? Go ahead, pick out all your tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and SEMrush and start doing what you need to do now.