The challenge between Zack and me to grow blog traffic from 0 to 1000 has been officially started and I know I need to very quickly begin catching up on modern SEO practices. Zack has a huge headstart here.
For those who missed the first post, I outlined the stakes of our challenge, briefly discussed what will make this hard for me, and then gave a quick outline of my plan of attack, I will sum up the first step.
I need to catch up on modern SEO.
It has been approximately 10 years since I put any effort into learning about SEO, and much of what I did in the past would be considered black hat techniques. It became apparent very quickly that I would want to steer clear of that whole world as things have changed so much and I want my traffic to be organic and meaningful and most importantly find what I am doing interesting.
What Hasn't Changed
Keywords, keywords, keywords. Everything is keywords. Always has been. Underneath all the layers it is still computers trying to make sense of all the content out there. The most logical way to do that is by leveraging keywords and building intelligence around them. This means, that as a content creator, I need to be mindful of keywords. I find this kind of unfortunate, as I find writing content based around a keyword to be stifling. I will have to make this a priority to improve!
Backlinks are king. There is quite a bit of evidence showing that the big search engines, such as Google, rely very heavily (50+%) on backlinks to identify the 'value' of a site. The thing that makes this difficult is that their algorithms are a black box!
Most SEO experts and marketers are just making educated guesses on the value of backlinks. How do they differentiate the value of a single link? How do you weigh quality vs quantity? There is a lot to consider and the crazy thing is that this algorithm changes all the time as google is forever in an 'arms race' trying to identify good content versus spam.
As you can see starting from nothing is a daunting task compared to large websites that can post content quickly and get immediate attention from search engines. Backlinks drive a ton of this value.
What Has Changed
The tools have definitely changed. There is so much to sift through now. So many people trying to sell you things and explain why you need something one way or another. I hope to cut through this noise as quickly as possible and share the actual simple, working approaches with everyone here. I am testing out several keyword tools, site inspecting tools, and more. I am already seeing clear divides, user experience-wise, with the big bulky tools that do a lot and the much more specific tools.
Alongside the more traditionally structured tools, AI is really starting to play a big part. While iterating on one of my current SaaS products, https://tactycs.io/, it became very apparent that AI writing is filling up the internet. There are pros and cons to this, which is a discussion all on its own, but it's something I will be paying close attention to moving forward.
If I were to sum all of this up; There is a ton of noise and catching up on modern SEO is going to take a bit of time and be a never-ending battle. Regardless, my instinct is that people just want real, down-to-earth, insightful content, and that's my main focus here.