Good SEO is Simple. Really.

I remember sitting in Mr. Burgerwinner’s calculus class thinking, “Oh man, I am totally hosed.”

Maybe for you it was that time you brought your first child home from the hospital. No nurse, no buzzer, just you and … her.

What’s the common thread here? Frustration. Mystery. Terror.

A thick fog of FUD.

Sometimes, we simply have no clue how to proceed. Everybody is offering advice, and a part of us just wants to throw in the towel.

Working out a basic search engine optimization plan can seem like that. But it’s not like that. It’s actually a very simple thing to get your head around — once you know what you’re dealing with.

In the next twenty-six minutes, we’ll tell you how …

In this episode Brian and I discuss:

  • What SEO is, and why you’re in the game whether you like it or not
  • A way to think about Google that will make your SEO goals crystal clear
  • The three all-important ingredients of all good (and ethical) SEO
  • What your automatic SEO starting point has to be
  • The old-school, shoe leather way Brian attracted links when nobody knew who he was
  • The only digital social status that matters now

Hit the flash player below to listen now:

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About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.

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  1. I’m glad you guys covered the basics of SEO. It’s a topic I haven’t yet met in Copyblogger.

    I know you guys market WordPress themes. Without mentioning brands, there are good SEO WordPress themes (i.e. including the ones you market) and plug-ins out there.

    It’s good to emphasize white hat. I didn’t think you would emphasize black or gray hat.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. So many business owners are afraid of SEO, and they don’t have to be. Yes, it involves a lot but it shouldn’t be looked at as the online equivalent as a monster under the bed. I think the problem is that black hat SEO has given the industry a negative reputation, and business owners are worried about getting labeled as one of “those” companies.

  3. It’s great to see you covering ethical SEO methods. I can’t tell you how many times I get emails from people freaking out because they were de-indexed in Google. In almost all of the cases, they got greedy and tried to shortcut the system by basically building their SEO foundation on sand.

    • I’m with you on the ethical SEO methods. I’m surprised by how many link farms are still in existence and how some “SEO experts” dupe bloggers and website owners about being able to get their sites on the first page of search results within a matter of a few days.

  4. Yeah, you are very right at the point that there are thousands of people and websites offering tonnes of advices online on what not! Its important to understand the basics of core SEO before you learn about the top plugins or article submission directories list.


  5. I have found that the best way to build SEO is through guest posting. You get a link, credibility and of course give free content to the site owner.

  6. I’m all up in the SEO game.

    I think a podcast is perfect for SEO… such a big subject.

  7. Oh yes! I’ve been wondering about SEO lately. As soon as I get my pencils out and start drawing, I’ll hit the play button. Thanks Robert.

    So Brian. I’m putting this little post together. You mind sharing your average time spent writing a blog post?

    Oh, and I’ve already heard back from Seth Godin. You’ll have to subscribe to the Two Hour Blogger to find out his answer. :D

    Anyways, the point is you’ll be in good company if you join Godin and Brogan, etc. ;)

  8. It all comes down to creating stuff that Google wants to show people – if your people like it, then either Google will like it now, or they’re a couple of algorithm updates away from liking it in the near future.

  9. Hi Brian.

    Surprisingly, we are all going back to SEO strategies after the unstoppable rave about social networking.

    Great post!

  10. I wonder how long it will be before the sound of a typewriter is totally foreign to anyone that’s not pushing retirement age.

  11. I totally agree. I’ve been saying this for years. Thanks for reinforcing it.

  12. Another useful Podcast. IMO The best way to optimize your blog search engines starts with the content your write and publish at your blog, with building backlinks using useful methods like guest blogging and blog commenting.

  13. Great pod cast. Thanks for sharing

  14. “Spoon feeding the toddler” aha moment phrase for me thx.

    (I am loving Scribe BTW )

  15. We speak to so many business owners each day who don’t know the value/ROI of SEO.

  16. It was mentioned that genesis can provide one headline for readers, and an alternate headline “in the code” for search engines. I’ve got Genesis, and would love to try this out. Can anyone provide a little more information on how to do this?

    • Directly underneath the normal WordPress posting area (same for pages) you’ll see Genesis SEO Options and Settings. The first field is called Custom Document Title — enter your alternate title here that will be displayed in Google and other search engines. You can also provide a Meta Description, which only appears in your code and is the description people see for your content in search engines.

  17. Brian,

    A huge Thank You to you and the team for Scribe! This tool has helped me so much. Everything you point out in this show Scribe helps the writer to achieve, SEO-wise, the content is still my responsibility. : )

    I can’t wait to dig into Premise!

    Thank you – Theresa

  18. Well after listening to this session I must say SEO is starting to sound more like marketing to me, with more networking and clever writing than the usual link building campaigns through means of directory submissions and bookmarking.

    I frankly don’t know what to say about this though. SEO is less of a sure thing nowadays if you’re relying on making friends in the industry or writing a certain way. I might as well be in marketing business if I was forced to do this to be on top of Google for a certain phrase.

  19. SEO is not at all simple. Be it in any form (offsite / onsite).

    • Simple is not the same as easy. SEO powered by quality content is actually quite simple, just not always easy. That’s why we created Scribe, to make it easier.

  20. Man,

    The “I’m totally Hosed” just caused some Merlot to “almost” fly out of my nose. Sitting here, kicking back, blog hopping…run across copy blogger, and bam….you hit me with that one and thoughts of my 7th grade came flying into full focus.

    SEO…is good and all, but when you provide excellent quality content…like here at copyblogger…ehhhh…your monetary mechanisms will stay work.


  21. I love SEO, it’s a fascinating subject. You mention ‘white hat’ but what other colours of hat are there and why didn’t they get a mention?

    BTW the headlines video/screencast you referenced was great and helped me a lot. Thanks.

    • So-called “black hat” and “gray hat” techniques are those that attempt to trick Google into ranking content higher than it otherwise would.

      We don’t talk about them because they tend to a) too often result in content that doesn’t work for the end user (thus they’re actually not all that useful, since if your content doesn’t work for humans it doesn’t really get you anything), and b) get blacklisted by Google as Google’s algorithms get smarter.

  22. Guys, great podcast. I have now listened to it three times and posted a link to it on my website.

    SEO is always a hot potato, the basics are essential. Well covered.

  23. Loved this one, yes it’s nice to ‘jam’ on some of the bigger issues and concepts around content marketing, but for business owners, the nitty gritty of how to get people to our sites is really critical.

    Thanks :)


  24. Nice idea but I think SEO is something vague that I never understand how to master it even I read a hund of SEO guide ebooks!

  25. It would be really nice if you had a transcript posted for those of your readers who happen to be deaf or hard of hearing. There are millions of us just in the US you know. If I overlooked it somehow please send me a link. Thanks, Elle

  26. The greatest nugget of info Brian delivered, which I never really considered much before, is that people like to share quality content and be “the curator” of quality content. For some reason I never thought about that, but it makes sense.

    When you create quality content, it intuitively gives an incentive to readers to share content. It’s on par with the reptilian mind approach to selling. People will take a particular action when they have an incentive to do so … and they will not be able to explain why they took a particular action. It’s the reptilian or subconscious mind. If you want people to share your content, then rather than hoping they do it as a favor to you, create content that people want to share because they wish to bolster their reputation as a curator of quality.

    Great stuff.

  27. Good SEO is easy after you understand it and when you have been blogging for a couple of years. Having said that thinking back to the early days when I first started I didn’t have a breeze and had no idea where to start! I find the best strategy is to just write amazing content and have good basic SEO and the rest will look after itself pretty much!

  28. Everything depends on what you want to rank for. If it’s a term like “copywriting” or “SEO copywriting” you’re going to need some serious authority on your site. But for something like “Santa Fe copywriter” and “Santa Fe SEO copywriter,” it can be done surprisingly quickly.

    It just depends on how many savvy people are fighting you for one of those 10 first page positions.

  29. Re: SEOmoz’s article, “Google’s Farmer/Panda Update: Analysis of Winners vs. Losers,” that you reference…

    I saw Etsy is a “Winner,” having increased in results-standing by 17%.

    Not sure exactly how this impacts my “BackyardBrand” store on Etsy ( redirects there) but I’ll by looking at GA to see a bump. (I want to rank higher for the word, “harmonica.”)

    I can say this… In just the past week there’s been a significant increase in blog posts about my patented FlashHarp® USB. Maybe the algorithm tweak is why (that, and the fact the FlashHarp just makes so much more sense today than harmonicas that just make music!)

  30. I find it amazing how basic SEO can quickly improve the bottom line. The key part of every digital marketing plan should be not to confuse Google. People still to do anyway.


  31. Great podcast, guys! Always a worthwhile topic – confusion around SEO is pervasive – even among many of the so-called “ninjas”.

    I wrote a blog post a little while ago using the Google-as-digital-librarian metaphor which seemed to resonate w/many of my colleagues:

    Thank you for all of the great info you provide – keep it coming!