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The Best SEO Tip In The World, For Free

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 | 15 Comments

Search Engine Optimization- it’s the art of making sure your blog or website’s content is displayed at or near the top of relevant phrases people type into search engines like Google and Yahoo. There are a lot of people selling SEO expertise.

And it’s a complete waste of money.


The SEO idea is simple- you can format your website and writings in a way that will take advantage of the methods search engines use to index your site.  In theory, it’s a great idea.  You can get your content to the top of search engines with a little creative hocus-pocus.

Here’s the problem.  Search engines don’t explain how their engines actually index sites.  The experts make an educated guess.  In most cases, they’re pretty good.

So what’s the problem with that?

Search engines change their formulas. 

If you design your site to rely on SEO, you’ll need to change every time the search engines change.  Which will require the experts.  Again.  You end up playing an endless game of playing catch-up, which can be costly.

The more significant problem– people that rely on SEO usually look at the actual content as secondary.  When the content is not your top priority, you’re probably producing crap content.  You’re short-changing the people that follow the search engine results to your site.

The Better Idea

Write awesome content that people want to read and share with their friends.

That’s it.  That’s the secret.

Every post should serve one of three purposes- inspire people, educate people, or entertain people.  If at least a few people are touched by the post, they will share the link with someone.  Some of those people will share it, too.  And so on.

Some of those people will become regular readers that will share new posts.  And so it grows.  This is the single best way to get your ideas out there.  I like to call it organic growth.  Your blog or website is growing because the ideas resonate with people.

I call SEO synthetic growth.  It’s a form of trickery that is often substituted for useful content.  Not surprisingly, the people that tend to rely on SEO are usually trying to maximize their traffic for monetary reasons, not write content that makes a difference.

It is possible to combine the two, but make sure the content always comes first.  Personally, I completely ignore SEO.  It forces me to make sure my content is the best possible content I can produce.  I know I can’t rely on shortcuts.

Like many things in life, it’s easy to get stuff once we stop seeking it out.  By ignoring SEO, my content tends to do pretty well in search result because I have to earn it.  Crappy content bombs, and I produce quite a few turds.  But it teaches me what content my community wants, which ultimately produces much better writing.

What are your thoughts?  Do you pay attention to SEO?  Do you PAY for SEO?  If so, do you think it affects your content?





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  1. Richard
    January 28, 2012

    I am not a blogger but a software developer. Giving something away for free(in my case software, for others free e-book, music etc.) helps increase traffic.

    youtube videos can be good for some to increase traffic.

    I don’t rely on search engines that much. I think submitting a sitemap is a good idea. I also use free seo tools, firefox and chrome have plugins for this.

  2. Graham Chapman
    January 27, 2012

    I think it’s worth keeping in mind what Google and other search engines are trying to do: connect people to the information they are looking for, and quality info at that. Tricks that attempt to bypass this might work for a short while, but they’ll break down eventually. Sure, there are some sensible guidelines to follow, but the saying ‘content is king’ has endured for good reason.

  3. Erik
    January 27, 2012

    You’re just lucky there aren’t more barefoot running universities out there.

  4. niki_in_france
    January 27, 2012

    I actually work for a company that sells a product for semantic search and we found out a lot of our customers had used the product to tweak their websites and improve ranking! Here’s my two cents…

    The whole thing is quite silly and vain for bloggers, no? I mean how many blogs did you discover by a search engine? For me its none. All the blogs I love I found through twitter or comments on blogs I love. So yes its organic, and a blog with bad content is not going anywhere.

    But being concerned with how search engines work and doing stuff to improve your ranking makes a lot of sense if you are a company. There are different levels of doing stuff; ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’. White hat is legitimate things to improve the ranking, making sure key words are correctly used etc, black hat is cheating types of stuff, buying back links and the like. I don’t think that cheating has much long term merits and of course those are the exact things the search engines catch onto, create algorithms to avoid and you have to repay the experts to come and think up new tricks. I agree with Jason, why not put that effort into content? The white stuff, well I think companies have to do that.

  5. Vanessa
    January 27, 2012

    I was actually lucky enough to be trained in SEO Optimization when I started working at It was a lot of really easy-to-follow tips and when I applied them to my own blog, they made a huge difference.

    I feel that when your content IS good, it’s a great idea to implement some really easy tricks to make sure it gets found. What’s the point of having amazing, mind-blowing content if nobody reads it? I think both are important. That said, if your content sucks, SEO isn’t going to help you.

    This is a great topic. I think I’ll post soon on what I learned about SEO and how I applied it to my blog (free of course)!

  6. Terral Fox
    January 27, 2012

    I’ve always thought that SEO is overrated. As a business owner it gets pushed down your throat every day! I have found that just being “active” onlin and interacting with my customers has made the biggest difference.

  7. Dave
    January 27, 2012

    I completely agree about content coming first. Organic growth has much more staying power in the long term. This is especially true now, after Google’s integration of social and search. Facebook and others will either jump on board or build internal options soon. As the world becomes accustomed to searching this way, a sites social reputation will more frequently trump SEO.

    I actually sell SEO, but even more I sell results. For the local service providing businesses that I work with integrating the two is more important – they aren’t content producers at their core. With content sites though, actual SEO is, as you say, a costly game of cat and mouse.

  8. briderdt
    January 27, 2012

    “The more significant problem- people that rely on SEO usually look at the actual content as secondary. When the content is not your top priority, you’re probably producing crap content. You’re short-changing the people that follow the search engine results to your site.”

    This is the sell-out that I find so distasteful in the SEO-oriented world. And also why I’ve kept comments to my blog moderated — I get SO many spam comments trying to sell SEO it’s amazing.

  9. Tyler Hurst
    January 27, 2012

    I always write my articles first, then run them through Scribe from Copyblogger. This way I can change a few keywords to make them match up better and be reminded to insert more links (mostly internal).

    I tried writing to keywords (the opposite approach) and it sucked.

    Lesson? Write good, focused content.

  10. Jeff Gallup
    January 27, 2012

    I have no clue what I’m doing! But, my little blog is growing slowly. I started it primarily as an online journal of sorts just for myself, but have come to enjoy writing about things I find interesting, and hoping others enjoy it too. I’m all about organic, so I like your description of organic growth. Thanks for running a great blog.. 🙂


  11. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    January 27, 2012

    My SEO tip. Put the word “Minimus” in the first sentence of every blog post. A vast majority of my search engine traffic comes from my NB Minimus reviews.

    Make it a game to word the word into a sentence so that it actually makes sense.

    • Tyler Hurst
      January 27, 2012

      Ugh. That’s really annoying.

    • niki_in_france
      January 27, 2012

      oh I love that idea!!! 🙂 Plus because of it I just discovered your blog!

  12. Rob Savarese
    January 27, 2012

    I agree completely Jason. A site that ranks high in a search might get a lot of click-throughs but I’m off that site in a heartbeat if the content is poor. I focus on the content and just use a free SEO plugin from Yoast for my WordPress blog. It’s free and allows me to tweak a few things and put my content in the best position in a search rank.

  13. Zak
    January 27, 2012

    Great post. The only SEO stuff I pay any attention to is making sure that when I refer to something I may have already talked about, or when I want to try and bring my reader some more information that I have squirreled away elsewhere on my site, that I provide a hyperlink. That doesn’t need to change or anything and I never go back and edit my content or really alter content to try and get search results. I will say the “barefoot shoes” debate has shed a lot of light on this issue for me, though. The terms “barefoot running” and “barefoot shoes” are what people are looking for, so I started mentioning them, as well as “natural” and “minimal.” Not so much because I want to beg for readers, but because I genuinely want those potential readers to find my content that I hope will help. Your approach to all of this is actually really informative and very much inline with what I believe, just reading your posts.