Video: SEO Myths Exposed. The Wrong SEO


Maile Ohye, a previous 'Developer Programs Tech Lead' at Google shows you the best ways to detect SEO myths and to stay away from bad SEO marketers.

Knowing what's needed for SEO will bring you some great results.

Protect your website, boost your SEO and invest your money into building a great search engine optimized website.


Hi, I'm Maile Ohye and I work with Google Search,

I like to share advice to help you hire a useful SEO and prevent hiring a bad SEO. One who you may pay a lot of money without positive results. Or even worst, one who implement shady practices on your website that result in a reduction in the search rankings.

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

To some, SEO seems like black magic. Having worked with Googe for over a decade, what I've learned is that first, it's not black magic and second, if you want long-term success, there aren't any quick magical tricks that SEO will provide so that your site ranks number 1.

It's important to note that SEO's potential is only as high as the quality of your business or your website. So, successful SEO, helps your website puts your best foot forward so that it ranks appropriately, in the spot where an unbiased potential customer would expect your site to be seen.

A successful SEO also looks to improve the entire search experience, from search results to clicking on your website and potentially converting.

A good SEO would recommend best practices for a search-friendly site. From basic things like descriptive page titled for a blog or a small business to more complex things like language markup for a multi-lingual global site.

SEO ensures that you are serving your online customers a good experience. Especially those coming from a search engine. And that your site is helpful whether you're using a desktop computer or mobile phone.

In most cases, the SEO will need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefits.

My strongest advice when working with an SEO is to request that they corroborate their recommendation with a documented statement from Google, either in helps article, video or Google response in a forum that supports both:
  1. The SEO's description of the issue that needs to be improved to help with ranking.
  2. The approach they prescribe to accomplishing this task.
Requesting these two bits of information will help prevent hiring a poor SEO who may otherwise convince you to do useless things like Add more words to the keyword meta tag or buy links; because if you search for Google advice on this topic, you will see blog posts and videos from us that clearly explain that adding keywords to the meta tag wouldn't help.

Furthermore, while Google uses links for page rank, our documentation highlight that we strongly advise against the approach of buying links for the purpose of increasing page rank.

One basic rule is that in the majority of cases, doing what's good for SEO is also doing what's good for your online customers. Things like having a mobile-friendly website, good navigation and building a great brand.

Additionally, if you are a more established brand with complicated legacy systems, then good search friendly best practices likely involve paying off some of your sites technical debt such as updating your infrastructures so that your website is agile and able to implement features faster in the long-term.

If you still believe you want to hire an SEO, here's a general process:
  1. Conduct a 2-way interview with you with your potential SEO. Check that they seem genuinely interested in you and your business.
  2. Check their references.
  3. Ask for (and you'll probably have to pay for) a technical and search audit.
  4. Decide if you want to hire.
Let's break this down and start with step 1.

Step 1: Conduct a 2-way interview

In the interview, here's something to look for: A good SEO doesn't focus only on search engine ranking, but how they can help your business. So they should ask the following questions:
  1. What makes your business, content, and/or service unique and therefore valuable to customers? They want to know this information to make sure it's highlighted on your website for your current and your potential new audience.
  2. What does your common customer look like? How do they currently find your website?
  3. How does your business make money? And how can Search help?
  4. What other channels are you using? Offline advertising? Social networks?
  5. Who are your competitors? What do they do well online (and potentially offline)?
If the SEO doesn't seem interested in learning about your business from a holistic standpoint, look elsewhere.

It's difficult to do good SEO without knowing about the business's goals, their customers, and other existing marketing efforts. SEO should complement your existing work.

The second step in hiring SEO

Step 2: Check References

If your potential SEO provides [prior clients?], be sure to check their references, you want to hear from past clients that the SEO was able to provide useful guidance and worked effectively with their developers, designers, UX researches and marketers.

A good SEO should feel like someone you can work with, learn from, experiment with and who generally cares about you and your business. Not just getting your site the highest rank.

As ultimately, those techniques rarely last long if they work at all.

That won't educate you and your stuff on how the search engine work, so that SEO becomes part of your general business operations.

Step 3: Request a Technical And Search Audit

If you trust your SEO candidate, give them restricted view, not full or right access to your Google Search Console data and even your analytics data.

Before they actually modify anything on your website, have them conduct a technical and search audit to give a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO.

If you are larger business, you can hire multiple SEOs to run audits and prioritize improvements. See what each has to say and then determine who you can work with the best.

In the audit, the SEO should prioritize improvements with a structure like:
  1. The issue
  2. The suggested improvement
  3. An estimate of the overall investment. In other words, the time, energy or money it will take for your developers to implement the improvement and for Google search as well as researchers and customers to recognize the improvement. The SEO will need to talk with your developers to better understand what technical constraints may exist.
  4. Estimated positive business impact. The impact might be a ranking improvement that will lead to more visitors and conversions or perhaps the positive impact comes from a backend change that cleans up your site and helps your brand to be more agile in the future.
  5. A plan of how to iterate and improve on the implementation or perhaps how to experiment and fail fast should results not meet expectations.
That covers the structures of the technical and search audit.

Now, let's talk about each of these audits individually.

Technical Audit

Your SEO should be able to review your site for issues related to
  1. Internal Linking
  2. Crawlability
  3. URL parameters
  4. Server connectivity
  5. Response codes
If they mention that your site has duplicate content problems that need to be corrected, make sure they show you the specific URLs that are competing for the same query. 

Or that they explain, it should be clear for the long-term site health, not initial growth. I mention this because lots of duplicate content exists on websites and often it's not a pressing problem.

Search Audit

In the search audit, your potential SEO will likely to break down your search queries into categories like:
  1. Branded (example: Gmail)
  2. Unbranded (example: email)
Branded terms are those with your business or website's name like a search for "Gmail", is a branded term while a search for "email" is unbranded or a general keyword.

An SEO should make sure that for branded queries such as Gmail, your website is providing a great experience that allows customers who know your brand or website to easily find exactly what they need and potentially convert.

They may recommend improvement that helps the entire searcher experience from what the searcher sees in the search results to when they click on the result and use your website.

For unbranded queries, an SEO can help you better make sense of the online competitive landscape. They can tell you things like Here are the types of queries it would make sense for your business to rank, but here's where the competition is done and why I think they rank when they do. 

For instance, perhaps your competition has great reviews, really shareable content or they are on a highly reputable site.

An SEO will provide recommendations for how to improve ranking for these queries and the entire searching experience.

They introduce ideas like:
  1. Update obsolete content. They might say, your site is suffering because of some of your well-ranking content is obsolete, has poor navigation, a useless page title or isn't mobile friendly. Let's improve these pages and see if more website visitors convert and purchase, or if they micro convert, meaning that perhaps they subscribe or share content.
  2. Improve internal linking. Your SEO might say, your site is suffering because some of your best articles are too far from the homepage and users would have a hard time finding it. We can better internally link to your content to feature it more prominently.
  3. Generate Buzz. The SEO might say, you have great content but not enough people know, we can try to get more user interaction and generate buzz, perhaps through social media or business relationships. This will help us attract more potential customers and perhaps get more natural links to your website.
  4. Learn from the competition. Your SEO might explain, here's where your competitors do well. Can you reach parity with this and potentially surpass them in utility? or can you better show your customers your business's unique value?
Again, a good SEO will try to prioritize what ideas can bring your business the most improvements for the least investment and what improvement may take more time, but help growth in the long-term.

Once they talk with you and other members of your team such as developers or marketers, they'll help your business forge a path ahead.

The last thing I want to mention is that when I talk with SEOs, one of the biggest holdups to improving a website isn't their recommendations, but it's the business making time to implement their ideas.

If you're not ready to commit to making SEO improvements while getting an SEO audit may be helpful, make sure that your entire organization is on board. Else, your SEO improvements may not be existent regardless of who you hire. So that wraps it up.

Thanks for watching, and best of luck to you and your business.

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