The SEO Conundrum for Freelancers

Describing how search works is hard.  There is a pretty good reason for this. Its not the technical aspects or even the basic principles of how search engines work. Its Googles fault.

Everyone at some stage of their working week who has access to a computer uses Google.

  • Not sure of the date of birth of Rod Stewart – Google It
  • Want a recipe for chocolate cake – Google It
  • Looking for a plumber in Columbus, Ohio Google It

OK, you get the picture.  We are all slaves to search. As a result people believe that it is easy to show up for search results. It isn’t.

Of course Google makes it really simple to use search and presents credible results to you that you believe.  You trust these results and make decisions based on them (not just what is Rod’s birthday).

Being the number one search engine means that Google have a lot of responsibility on their hands.  The onus on them is to present what they believe are the most relevant results to you when you search.

So they constantly work to ensure that happens.  The Google algorithm is a jealously guarded secret but SEOs have worked out the following points (and many many more) over the years of Googles dominance as to what influences ranking

  • Sites that have great content rank better than well sites with crap content.  Sites with amazing content do better than great.
  • Authority is the number one signal really to Google that you should rank in the top results.  Authority is given simply (more on that some other time) by authoritative links. If you are the plumber in Ohio above and have a link from the American Society of Plumbing Engineers  then this gives your site authority.  A link from a spammy link listing in India doesn’t cut the mustard though.  So links rock.
  • Sites with depth of content (that word again) also rank better.
  • There are lots of on page factors that a good site should have which also take up a nice slice of the pie

The chart below from Moz shows results from their 2013 ranking factors survey.

None The Wiser

Explaining the above points to a novice or even a freelancer who has read about this topic induces nods of agreement. But it iis a complex topic under the hood.

Invariably what I have found is that three things happen after conversations like this

  • They do nothing – the site never ranks as a result.  They have
  • They start off enthusiastically week one and create a few pages or posts do some social and stop and then do nothing
  • Play with different tools that they think will help and then do nothing

This happens a lot as the problem I have found that this is a space in which there is tons of information but little that gives you a practical roadmap to get the first fundamentals in place.

I Am Busy

The mani reason is that people are busy. Emails, projects, ringing phones, Twitter, Facebook, lunch, TV, children, relationships. OK you get the picture.  We are all busy.

But having a solid position in search engine rankings will make you more money.  The work will pay off.  But without a plan or roadmap we often get distracted.  Hell I checked Twitter 3 times while writing this.  I help customers a lot with SEO and they pay me which is great for me and ultimately great for them.  But let me give you a personal case study about content and SEO making me money personally.

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Case Study – Sort of

I lie and work in Ireland and run two businesses Grange Web Design which is still my main baby and Stone Circle Digital which is and agency that is more focused on the entire digital package.  About 4-5 years ago I wrote a pretty long piece of content on a niche subject while watching the West Wing.  It was about Joomla (A CMS) support and development.  I wrote it over 2 nights, posted it and forgot about it.  Since publishing it I have gotten about 8 projects directly as a result of that page alone.


I rank number one in the whole of Ireland for the topic.

OK before you think I am a millionaire as a result the nature of the project is about $400-500 a pop.  But simply put that page has made me $8K in 4 years from about 2-3 horus of content creation and one small bit of link building.

But this one piece of attention to content has been of benefit.  For my own sites and for customers I do the same.

The Secret of SEO

The secret of SEO is that there really is no secret.  It is a simple equation of

Knowledge + Effort = Results

The effort is the hard part.  You can talk endlessly about SEO to people but the successful practitioners are those who dedicate time to it.  with the effort the knowledge actually comes as well as you see what works for different niches and what doesn’t.  And guess what you focus on what works