Getting “better SEO” isn’t enchantment

It’s creativity, science, and some people skills

SEO is often seen as a mystical art, where practitioners wield secret techniques to magically boost a website’s visibility. Sometimes it feels like algorithms bow to our expertise, as if we whispered secrets of discoverability, ensuring publishers’ content waltzed into the spotlight.

In reality, experts don’t possess some “algo” dark magic (but some of us like to dance!) Think of us as data nerds really good at spreadsheets, cautious to not move too quick unless there’s a reason to shuffle. And anyone who’s ever worked in or around SEO should tell you it’s a combination of creativity and science.

If you can reliably trust your instincts (that are informed by said data, documentation, and analysis) then you can apply the creative strategies that bring about automation and site-wide (or platform-wide) improvements. But don’t start shooting for the moon unless you can run really well on the ground, and don’t start practice your sprints unless you’re sure you can walk in a stable fashion.

And the analysis will yield results beyond just SEO. Some interesting examples include:

  • Be careful about pushing code that will affect your whole site’s frontend code—changing 10 pages doesn’t shake up search results listings, but unapplying a category tag that makes Google think you republished 200,000 articles might trigger some oddities.
  • Or understand the effect of changing product listings if your heavily depend on Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) traffic. If it works, should you really re-optimize?
  • You might want to consider delaying when you push code live if, actually, at 2am your REAL purchase flows actually happen. Or even better, can you automate so that code changes can happen when developers don’t need to watch? Building out reliable CI/CD pipelines should be informed by some of this because changes might impact in ways you had no idea.

This approach has proven to be successful on sites ranging from 1 to 50 million Monthly Unique visitors. Not magic, just a deep understanding of the web, the basics of search engine algorithms, and the creativity to leverage that knowledge effectively.

There’s also a LOT that search engine providers—be it Google, Bing, Youtube, Yandex or otherwise—have provided to people. Reviewing this alongside your business model (be it local, e-commerce, news, or otherwise) is critical. Show up to online chats and in-person events.

Learn what’s consistent, and experiment. Triple check that your tags work the way they should, and see what everyone else is doing.

If you can do all that, I think you’ll have a real pulse on how you’re doing with your audience development.