SEO Development Cycle: Iterations Aren’t Just For PPC

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about how people learn SEO. It never really begins with SEO…

I’ve never been talking to some guy online and shooting the breeze about where our pasts were from and how we came to be talking about SEO to begin with and I’ve never heard (or saw) someone say…

“Yeah, I was hanging out at my friend’s house for the Superbowl and during half time someone started talking about SEO and I was just hooked…”

Nope… That just isn’t how it goes. Normally, it’s a much less classy affair….

“I heard you can make a lot of money online and I knew I needed to get me some of that….”

Come on, you know it’s true.

I don’t care if you are completely new to the industry or if you have been in it for years – you’ve met plenty of guys that started by wanting to make money online.

Sure, there’s some guys that were web developers, or wanted to package SEO as a service they could offer – but most of the time it’s internet and affiliate marketers pounding away at it trying to earn that quick buck.

And hey, I don’t blame them. I learned that there was good money in it and I went after it as well…

The Right Now Mindset

Because of where most people who are now working in SEO begin – that is the immediate need to make fast cash as they are often told they will – you begin to understand some of the culture on various forums and perspective that a lot of “SEO’s” or SEO advocates are working from.

They want results and they want them right now. Everything has to be right now, because a sale today is better than a sale tomorrow.

It’s about the immediate payoff. The need to get what they want at a moments notice. The fast payoff….

I think this has created a disservice to the greater SEO community. Let me explain that by first taking a step back to talk about what it is that we really do here…

Iterations in Digital Marketing (outside of SEO)

No matter what people do in marketing, they will almost always begin with the first draft, the first effort, the first site or the first landing page.

They are all firsts because and almost exclusively because there is always a second… a third… a fourth.

Digital marketing by it’s very nature is evolutionary…

In the PPC word, creating and tracking iterations of ADS is CRUCIAL to their success and profitability. Sure, every now and then they will knock one out of the park – by 99.9% of that industry revolves around adjusting copy (or if display) colors, fonts, images, borders, etc.

The exact same thing goes for email marketing. You test landers all the time and against all sorts of traffic. SOLO Ads, PPC, POPS, Display, etc… you track it all. And you test iterations of each ad against them all to get the highest opt-in rate possible. (In most cases anyways.)

The Smart Marketer (outside of SEO)

You see, digital marketing – all of digital marketing – is really simple.

Once you’ve learned some of the basis, digital marketing comes down to split testing, experience and evolution of thoughts, ideas, concepts and combinations.

The smart marketer is the one that collects this information and though as if by an act of pure mental magic they will coalesce that information into a final product with the judicious application of their unique intuition and creativity.

Mind you, I said judicious. Neither intuition nor creativity are given too much freedom; these two must work together and they are bonded by the information learned from split testing.

So, what happened to “SEO’s?” Did we all ride the short bus?

SEO Iterations for Performance Driven Search Visibility

Back to those internet marketers who want to make a fast buck.

These guys are typically hungry. They might not be the brightest, and they might not have the most knowledge – but what they lack in those areas they will make up for in work tenacity.

That’s pretty much why I’m sitting here. I wanted to market a small business. My money was offline…

I learned SEO that way. THEN I heard about how you could potentially make money online based on skills that I was already applying to the real world business… Then I became a bit of an idiot for while because I simply worked hard, grinding out posts and articles (which was the thing at the time in 2007, 2008?). I blame affiliate marketing for that – it’s easier than saying I made a mistake after all.

I made a few bucks pretty quickly, but then realized that I wasn’t actually learning anything. I was just throwing shit at a wall and not even watching it to see what stuck….

I’d build links and then forget about it what I created, what I wrote. It simply became a old, vague post on my site that was used primarily to host an advertisement of some sort.

I wasn’t sitting down to test things and watch what was really working and then repeat that and reverify it.

But I was An Idiot…

If you are into performance driven results – that is to say results that you can repeat with an expected level of performance… then you need to be testing, recording, iteration and verifying.

When I read forums these days, I often find myself separated – separated from all camps.

White hats – they can be good guys, I like a lot of their thoughts and strategies. But when they start talking about anything outside of white hat, I want to pull my eyes out because it quickly becomes clear that they don’t have the experience that years of doing it will teach you.

Grey hats – this is where I see most conversations, and this is where most affiliate and internet marketers live. This is the area of conversation where I’ve been so fixated lately as I’ve been on my own little assessment on what happened to me and why so few participants can discuss these topics on any real mature or knowledgable level.

Black hats – Hey, love you guys (fist bump), but I mean, really …. some times it’s pretentious. And sometimes it’s equally ignorant as the pure white hat forums. Typically though, it’s not even worth entering into a discussion at this point. The AGRO factor is just too high…

So if someone wanted to avoid these camps – and I mean all of them – and just get to the basic works of SEO, I’d say to start iterating.

Basically, figure out some basic link building strategies and then test things on the page and see what happens….

Iteration Development Cycle Suggestions

Since we are really only going to be talking about on page things, I thought I should at least mention the areas that I would look at.

Title

As far as I’m concerned, everything starts and end with the title element. (Ahh, ahh, not title tag – it’s not a tag, it’s an element… [this is an inside joke.])

Anyways, Google weighs titles pretty heavily, even if people say they don’t – they do.

Hummingbird created all sort of confusion in SEO land. Because it has a separate ‘engine’ to find synonyms of words and phrases in titles, sometimes Google doesn’t display the exact keyword in the title of various search results.

So… what’s the answer. If you write a post with your main keyword in it and you’ve got good links to that page, with a domain of somewhat equal internal linking structure (strength) to the competition and you aren’t ranking – but you see others with what might appear to be ‘Synonymized’ title results, then start iterating your title.

Go ahead, play with it, see what happens. Hey, if you aren’t ranking as well as you might link and you’ve got the link juice going to the page – mix things up with the title and see what happens.

Reword your initial title into something very similar, but yet different.

Images

First of all, I highly suggest using image the image title element, alt tag, and description to your maximum benefit.

That having been said, all of these things can be manipulated and keep your primary keyword in mind… just mix this up.

If for instance the title of your post or article was to be an answer to a question, as is so popular these days (hummm, wonder why?)…. MOBILE, not me. Gezzzz, I’m not that arrogant….  Anyways, change the text in these areas of the images up to almost give an answer to the question if the answer was to be purely based on the images elements themselves.

I know, it might sound crazy, but give it a shot. If nothing else – these are things that are a factor in the SERPS, there’s no question. Why would you not iterate this?

Subheadings

Look, I’m a big fan of them. I get it, people might not think it means much…. but I do.

In fact, I consider not using subheadings just stupid. It improves the readability of your content if nothing else… But yes, I also think subheadings (or enlarged text) has a role in SEO.

So again, keep Hummingbird in mind and create more of a logical thought using these.

Change, wait, record, change, wait, record….

What I Don’t Suggest Your Iterate

For the love of god, unless you are going to make one big change and stick with it – don’t iterate your internal linking structure.

In my opinion, once that is set, it is set. You could risk ‘crashing’ the site if you do something ridiculous or change things too frequently. I’ve seen it happen all the time. In fact, when people move sites, crashing the internal link structure is often the number one reason that sites flop post-move.

It’s the big fear with WordPress themes as well. Well, that’s assuming the theme isn’t doing anything odd… like not include a title element or something.

That’s all….

I don’t know what to tell you. That’s what I got for you tonight. That’s my thought….

So, what’s up with you? “You come here often?”