My husband and I are big fans of Jim Gaffigan and The Jim Gaffigan Show. As a pale, food-loving, Catholic parent, I just relate to him.
So what the heck does that have to do with SEO? Well, not too long ago, I stumbled upon an article “Everything You Need to Know About Parenting in 12 Jim Gaffigan Quotes.” And just as parents can learn a lot (or at least get a good laugh) from the wisdom of a man raising five children, we can learn about SEO by those who have been in the trenches for awhile, particularly our own Stoney deGeyter. While these quotes won’t be as funny (at least intentionally) as Mr. Gaffigan’s, I think they drive home a lot of the main points that web marketing professionals need to keep in mind as they navigate the complicated and ever-changing SEO landscape.
So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about SEO in 12 quotes from Stoney:
1. “Your face will freeze like that.”
Ooops, my bad. That’s a classic parenting quote. Let’s try this again.
1. “You can’t just ‘SEO’ your website and be done. It’s a forever moving goal post.”
Sure, there are “one and done” aspects of SEO, things like fixing broken links or improving your site’s navigation. But in general, SEO is a process, not a project that will be completed by a certain date. If you hit an SEO goal, you should create a new one. If nothing else, there are always more keywords you can optimize content for. As Stoney also often says, “ROI growth only stops when you do.”
2. “There is a great amount of value in SEO, but online success cannot rely on SEO alone.”
Simply doing the traditional, technical SEO “stuff,” may give you a small lift in search engine rankings, but true success only comes by optimizing your entire web presence. That includes content, social, web design, conversion optimization, etc. Heck, even offline factors can impact your success online! Marketing in general encompasses every interaction, online and off, that you have with your audience. And yes, those offline interactions CAN have an impact on SEO. If you have built a positive reputation (online and off), you’ll be more likely to get clicks when you show up in search results, which can then result in higher rankings, which then gives you the opportunity to make a good impression and further improve your reputation.
3. “SEO without content is like an ice cream cone without the ice cream.”
If Jim Gaffigan and Stoney have anything in common (besides each having their own army of kids), it’s their love of food. And what food lover would be content with an ice cream-less ice cream cone? The ice cream is the whole point! And so it is with content and SEO. Not only is content a part of SEO, there is NO SEO without content. Sure, in the past, maybe content didn’t matter so much. As long as you repeated the keyword phrase enough times and optimized the meta tags, you were good to go. Those days are over. Without valuable, authoritative content, nothing else you do will matter.
4. “A good SEO always tries to say one step ahead of Google.”
They say that the only thing you can count on in life is change (well, and taxes, but that hardly applies here). That could not be more true than it is with SEO. Search engines (particularly the mack daddy, Google) are constantly tweaking their algorithms to provide better results to their searchers. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve survived Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Meerkat. Oh wait, that last one isn’t an algorithm change. But you get the idea. There will be more algorithm changes and potentially more animal names to go with them. A good SEO will always be one step ahead of the search engines, understanding what they want and changing their tactics before the algorithms change. Which leads us to our next quote.
5. “If you’re not meeting your visitors’ needs, it doesn’t matter how ‘optimized’ your site is.”
What the search engines want is to be the engine of choice for searchers. In other words, search engines want to deliver what searchers want. Therefore, if you are doing what is right for the visitor, you’ll be ahead of the algorithms. For instance, we shouldn’t need the algorithms to tell us to write quality content or to be mobile-friendly. Those are just common sense things we should already be doing. Sure, there are some technical SEO things that we have to do that visitors may never even notice, but those things should never trump user experience.
6. “Search engine rankings aren’t the goal. They are a trophy of a job well done.”
We’ve said it time and again. Achieving the #1 Google ranking is not the holy grail. But yet there are many people who just will not rest until they are in the #1 spot. They tend to forget why they are doing this whole SEO thing in the first place. Ultimately, you are doing it to get more customers and make more money, to grow your business. To do that, you need to create a website experience that matches and exceeds visitors’ expectations. Since that is also what the search engines are trying to do through their algorithms, you may move up in the search engine rankings in the process. But that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. If you do get the #1 spot, awesome. But if you achieve business growth, well that’s the real reason to celebrate.
7. “If your website isn’t doing a good job of selling the visitors you do get, getting more traffic is pointless.”
If there is anything businesses get hung up on more than rankings, it’s website traffic. But much like rankings, traffic is not the be-all, end-all of SEO metrics, and more traffic does not automatically mean more business. Rather than trying to pull in more eyeballs, you may be better off getting the visitors who are already drawn to your site to take action. That action doesn’t have to be a purchase. It could be a download or signing up for your blog. Regardless, you are better having only 1,000 visitors if the majority of them are engaging with your site than you are to have 10,000 visitors who just come and go without any conversion.
8. “Any kind of manipulation solely designed to get rankings tends to stink up the web.”
With all the algorithm changes, links, guest posting and even keywords have been said to be dead. But they are all still alive. What is dead is the use of these to manipulate search engine results. Google is getting better and better at sniffing out these manipulations and doling out penalties accordingly. Link building is still important, but it depends on real relationship building. Guest posting can still be valuable, but only if you are providing stellar content and not just doing it to get links. Keywords are still relevant, but they require real, authoritative content. Keep it real, folks.
9. “Meta tag optimization isn’t SEO any more than movie posters are the movie . . . It’s there to generate interest to the real show, but it isn’t the show itself.”
Once the bread and butter of SEO, meta tag optimization just isn’t what it used to be. Just like link building and keyword research, you should still do it, but it’s important to understand its place in the whole SEO picture. Truth be told, meta tags actually don’t impact rankings directly. In fact, the keyword meta tag is all but useless. Meta descriptions, however, are important because they are generally what appears below your title in search results. Therefore, writing a compelling meta description can help entice clicks.
10. “The title tag is the single most important piece of SEO real estate on your site.”
The title tag is one thing that definitely DOES still matter for SEO. In fact, Stoney says if you can only make one change (besides shoring up your site architecture), optimizing title tags would be it. Why? Well, for starters, it’s a bonafide search engine ranking factor. In fact, adding or moving keywords in the tittle tag can make a difference in where your page is ranked. And because it is usually what the search engines use as the clickable link in their search engine results, it has a huge influence on whether someone is going to click on your result.
11. “As important as best practices are, they are still only a baseline for good usability. They are really no more than a starting point.”
Best practices are valuable. They are born out of years and years of other SEOs’ experience, so there is a great likelihood that they will work for your site. But every site is different, so you won’t know what works for your site until you test it. Don’t blindly follow ANY website best practice. Test every change you make on your site.
12. “The road to SEO success is paved with patience.”
It’s no secret we are an instant gratification society. We want our food fast and our websites faster. We want to lose weight yesterday and be CEO tomorrow. Unfortunately, SEO is not the place to look for your quick fix. Sure, there are quick wins that can be achieved through certain techniques, but to truly get the benefit of SEO and web marketing in general, you have to dig deeper.
Bonus Quote: “SEO (and web marketing) will NEVER die as long as there is an Internet and search engines to help us find what we are looking for.”
Will Smith, Willie Nelson and Miley Cyrus are still alive and kicking, despite reports to the contrary. And so is SEO. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so can we just stop with the “SEO is dead” articles already?
So there you have it. Twelve little sound bites to guide your journey through this wild world of SEO. For more SEO quotes and web marketing fun and information, follow us on Pinterest.