There’s a lot of wisdom in the SEO world. Whether it’s tweets from Google’s search liaisons or tidbits of advice from the best SEOs in the business, there’s no shortage of other people’s opinions to inspire you, motivate you, and maybe give you a laugh.
We were tired of the same old quotes, so we did some digging for some better quotes and fresh takes to entertain you — but also to jumpstart your next SEO project. Read on for quotes from the experts on every aspect of SEO strategy, plus some actionable tips you can implement today.
On SEO Strategy
There’s a lot of detail in SEO, but you also need to take a step back and look at the big picture. These quotes remind us of the broader goals of SEO — we’ll get to the nitty-gritty later on.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” — Wendy Piersall
This gets right to the heart of SEO: The user must come first! Many SEOs will get caught up in meeting all of Google’s guidelines, but you can cut out the middleman and simply understand and cater to your user. Googlebot will reward that understanding.
Here are three things you can do to better understand your user:
- Do market research by reading forums, social media, and other online exchanges where your users hang out.
- Add click tracking, scroll tracking, or heat mapping to your site to better understand user behavior.
- Ask visitors to provide feedback on your site in the form of a survey.
“It is not the job of Search Engine Optimization to make a pig fly. It is the job of the SEO to genetically re-engineer the website so that it becomes an eagle.” — Bruce Clay
SEO isn’t just made of cosmetic changes or one-off strategies to provide short-term gains. Your entire website — and your entire marketing strategy — must work as a cohesive unit to create a majestic, powerful organism. For older sites that are just embarking on an SEO journey, this might mean a huge overhaul of how the site and the marketing team run.
But exactly how do you start re-engineering your site? Here are some ideas:
- Conduct a comprehensive site audit to examine every aspect of your site.
- Invest in technical SEO and website development to ensure that the framework of your site provides the best user experience.
- Ruthlessly eliminate anything that doesn’t serve your users.
“If you’re going to build a website, make sure to have a website that Google would be embarrassed not to rank for its main keywords.” — Barry Schwartz
SEO strategy means always striving to be the best: You can’t just match your competitors, you need to outdo them. It needs to be so obvious that your site matches the intent of a query and meets the user’s needs so well that Google just can’t help but award you a top spot.
Wondering how to always ensure that you’re the best? Here are a few ideas:
- Regularly conduct a deep competitor analysis. Look at every element of a competitor’s site and ask yourself how you could make it better.
- Keep your finger on the pulse of what your target audience wants or needs. Join their communities via social media, forums, or other paths and truly engage with them there. That way, you’ll always know what they need before your competitors do.
On Algorithm Updates
News of a core algorithm update strikes fear into the heart of many an SEO — even if you breathe a sigh of relief when you realize the update hasn’t impacted your site negatively. But if you find yourself staring at plummeting rankings and traffic in the wake of one of these updates, it can be a confusing and frustrating process to sort out what to do next. These quotes shed some light on your next steps.
“If you have ever wondered what it is that Google considers ‘high quality,’ the QRG [Quality Rater’s Guidelines] are actually a textbook that explains this in great detail!” — Marie Haynes
Some SEOs complain that Google is a mysterious force, assigning rankings with no real insight into how these are determined. And while this is true to some extent, such as in nailing down what exactly is and isn’t a ranking factor, Google actually provides quite a bit of information about how they want the algorithm to function in the Quality Rater’s Guidelines.
This document outlines specific criteria for what makes a page high-quality — and what makes a page low-quality. It includes real examples and demonstrates how factors like authority, intent, and even titles impact rankings.
Every SEO should be familiar with the QRG: If someone gave you cheat codes and instruction manuals for a highly competitive game, why wouldn’t you read it? In addition to providing a good baseline for everything your SEO strategy entails, the QRG is particularly useful for understanding the impact of core algorithm updates. That advice is straight from Google itself.
“There’s never one smoking gun, there’s typically a battery of them.” — Glenn Gabe
When the worst happens, everyone wants a scapegoat: What’s the one thing we can blame this on, and then fix to see an immediate reversal of this misfortune?
Sadly, it doesn’t really work like that. Since Google rankings consider dozens of factors, it’s usually the cumulative effect of several less-than-stellar site elements that culminate in a negative ranking impact. Often, the individual elements themselves aren’t necessarily bad; they’re just not as good as those on some other sites that now rank more highly.
Here are some ways to start breaking down ranking declines, particularly when they’re related to an algorithm update:
- Examine every element of your site to find places for improvement. Be critical, and hold yourself to extremely high standards.
- Look at which sites “won” the algorithm update. What have they done that’s better than what you have? Use your site analysis to create a detailed comparison.
- Understand that recovery is a long process. You’ll have to make consistent quality updates over a long period of time, and always be thinking about how you can outdo your competitors.
On Content and Keywords
We all know and agree that “Content is king,” but there’s much more confusion about, well, everything else about content. And although keywords are the bread and butter of any SEO campaign, there’s still a lot to learn about targeting the best ones. These insights keep us on track with what’s really important about content and keywords.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.” — Lee Odden
There’s no chicken-or-egg paradox when it comes to SEO. It’s a clear cause and effect: People created content, and Google created a way to find it. Content is the cornerstone of everything search-related, and focusing on making good content that truly benefits users must be at the center of every SEO strategy. Don’t make content just to attract links, or to stuff it with keywords: make content to add something of value to the World Wide Web.
Here are three ways to prioritize good content:
- Focus on quality over quantity. One amazing blog post that thoroughly answers an important query is worth far more than 20 okay blog posts that halfheartedly provide information.
- Invest in the best content writers. Build lasting relationships with writers who can provide top-notch work.
- Ask your visitors what they want. Use blog comments, social media, or other platforms to find the questions your real visitors — not your hypothetical ones — are asking.
“Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns: They tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.” — Brian Dean
There’s a reason keyword research is a cornerstone of SEO strategies. It forms the road map for your navigation, page titles, content, and even links. Keywords provide both the direction and the benchmarks, and can adapt and change as your website needs do.
Use these tips to level up your keyword research:
- Go beyond search volume in choosing target keywords. Consider competition and long-tail keywords to increase your chances of ranking.
- Use a keyword tracking tool to sort and categorize your keywords as specifically as possible. This granular tracking can help you learn exactly what works and what doesn’t.
- Analyze paid search data, if you have it, to find out what keywords convert best on your site, and apply them to your SEO strategy, too.
On Technical SEO
You either love or hate technical SEO, but one thing is for sure: It’s essential, even if long lists of site-speed fixes or URL redirects drive you a little crazy. These quotes reaffirm the importance of technical SEO, always.
“No website can stand without a strong backbone. And that backbone is technical SEO.”
Technical site elements aren’t seen by users, so it can be easy to put those fixes on the back burner when thinking about SEO from a user-first perspective. But they do impact users: Load speeds, site structure, and more are all part of a user’s experience on your site. It all forms the framework on which your content and links will flourish.
Keep these things in mind to ensure that your technical SEO is always up to par:
- Run regular technical checks and audits to catch any issues before Google does.
- When building new pages or site sections, flesh out the technical structure before overlaying content.
“Research what matters for your industry.” — Britney Muller
OK, this one could apply to any section, but the context of Britney’s quote sheds particular light on the importance of this advice in the technical space. She uses page speed as an example: This might be broadly important for SEO in 2020, but how important is it for your specific niche?
Understanding the particular needs of your industry gives you a closer look at personalization and knowing your users — even when it comes to the technical stuff. Here’s how you can undertake some of this research:
- Conduct a technical competitive analysis. Compare page speed, schema markup implementation, site structure, and more. What do the sites outranking yours have that you can implement?
- Read algorithm update analyses that focus on specific industries. People like Barry Schwartz, Glenn Gabe, and Marie Haynes may offer these breakdowns that look at groups of sites in specific niches.
On Backlinks and Authority
If SEOs aren’t clamoring for more content, they’re probably clamoring for links. They’re critical to the success of any website, probably more so than a lot of SEOs realize. But not all links are created equal, and these quotes help us sort out the good from the bad.
“Don’t build links. Build relationships.” — Rand Fishkin
Anyone who has run a link building campaign knows most website builders can smell a link building scheme a mile away. That’s why you can’t just throw your link building tactics at the wall and see what sticks: Every link must be carefully vetted and cultivated to provide the best value not just for your own site, but also the site that’s giving you the backlink.
Here are some ways to cultivate relationships:
- Invest time and resources into guest posting. These sites need high-quality content just as much as your own site does, so provide excellent-quality content to make it worth their while. (Plus, strong content can make your links more powerful.)
- Don’t enter into conversations with the sole goal of getting a link. Find broader reasons why you might want to cultivate relationships with site owners — even if it’s just to exchange ideas and broaden your network.
“For people to discover your website, you need to build pathways and big, flashing signs that lead them there. In digital marketing terms, this means you need links, links and more links.” — Luisito Batongbakal
People — and Google — won’t just find your website because it’s there. If your website is a city, links are the roads, waterways, and flight paths that bring people to it. You have to create those with just as much care as you put into building the city itself.
To make it as easy as possible for people to visit you, the paths (links) to your website should be diverse, clearly marked, and trustworthy. There’s no time for bumpy, unpaved roads here.
These strategies can help you build a diverse set of links to guide people to your content:
- Think about anchor text. If links are the roads, anchor text are the signs, telling people what they can expect ahead. While there can (and should) certainly be some variation in anchor text, all of it should provide clear direction for those web travelers.
- Make sure links are contextually relevant. A user’s journey through the web should flow logically, not jump from place to place with no clear connection. Placing contextual links helps ensure that users understand where they came from, where they are, and where they’ll go next.
There’s a lot to learn and remember in SEO, and luckily, there’s no shortage of expert advice and wisdom we can learn from. Try implementing some of these tips in your current SEO strategies and follow these experts to continue to learn more.