The Complete Idiot’s Introduction to SEO (FAQ)

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Many people out there consider themselves complete idiots when it comes to SEO while they assume the discipline to be full of riddles and black magic.

Enough! Here are the answers to the most urgent questions.

  1. Is SEO a sexually transmitted disease?
  2. Is SEO spam?
  3. Is SEO dead?
  4. Does Google hate SEO?
  5. How long does SEO take?
  6. Does buying Adwords influence organic rankings?
  7. How can I protect myself from "unnatural links"?

And some more! Even the completely idiotic ones. In other words it's an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

 

There are no dumb people just dumb questions

Yes, some of the dumbest questions are asked frequently. It's not that most people are so dumb to ask such questions. It's a a bunch of people or organizations interested in spreading rumors, myths and disinformation. They make a living by doing so. They spread lies to get attention on the Web.

The more outrageous the "news" the faster it spreads no matter whether it's a hoax or not.

That's the reality of the Web. It's much harder to spread the boring truth. This is an attempt to combine both. Here we spread the truth without letting it sound boring. At the end of the day it's no wonder that you have no clue what SEO is about because all the mainstream publications shout insults while only often small industry blogs like this one disclose the truth.

 

Is SEO a sexually transmitted disease?

Does this question sound idiotic? It's a real one from a survey made in the US roughly a year ago. The actual question was a multiple choice one on the meaning of the acronym HTML (the coding language behind websites).

One of the possible answers was that HTML is a sexually transmitted disease. 11% of surveyed Americans assumed that one was right.

The same survey asked for the meaning of SEO and almost 3/4 of all respondents failed to identify the correct answer even though it was one of the three options to choose from. They could have asked whether SEO was a disease and probably even more people would have thought so. Here's the good news: SEO is not infectious or contagious!

 

Is SEO spam?

According to Wikipedia (the perhaps most authoritative site in the world according to Google) "Spam is a brand of canned precooked meat products made by Hormel Foods Corporation". SEO is 100% vegan! No animal products get used in Search Engine Optimization.

Other than that there is only low quality and high quality SEO. High quality SEO is invisible. People only find what they were searching for and assume it was all thanks to Google magic. Low quality often automated SEO sometimes propels the wrong sites to the top and thus people may consider them to be spam.

 

Is SEO dead?

To be honest SEO has never been alive strictly speaking. Yeah, I know, SEO looks like the Korean name Seo. It's a discipline, not a person though. So everybody who says that SEO is dead is right. That does not prevent us from practicing SEO.

Also historically the acronym SEO has been coined in 1997. In the same year the first article appeared claiming that it's dead. It actually said "search is dead" and with it the need to optimize for it. The author didn't even know the acronym by then.

 

Does Google hate SEO?

Did you know? Google is a humongous multinational corporation. It has no feelings! So it can't hate SEO. It can't love SEO either. Even in case Seo would be a cute Korean. Google competes with SEO. They don't earn a Cent from SEO but they make 90%+ of their money by selling ads to people. Thus they are not primarily interested in your SEO success. They understand though that without SEO many of their results would suck. Thus they help webmasters with SEO basics (PDF). See also "Do SEOs work for Google?" below.

 

How long does SEO take?

I know it's impolite to answer a question with another question but ask yourself: how long will it take your business to succeed without SEO? SEO might take a day, a week or a month to show the first effects but it will take forever to get found on Google without SEO. Ideally you plan a SEO campaign for at least 6 months.

 

Does buying Adwords influence organic rankings?

Yes! The more Adwords (Google Ads) you buy the more you push (your) organic results down in search. The ads are on top and people have to scroll to even see the real results left below. Most people do not even understand the difference and click the ads assuming they are the results. Many people and companies compete with themselves that way. They buy ads to be on top and pay for each click while they rank organically on Google as well below.

 

How can I protect myself from "unnatural links"?

Have you heard the rumors? So called "unnatural links" are appearing seemingly everywhere these days! It's true! The Internet is not only full of unnatural links it downright consists of unnatural that is technical links. These so called hyperlinks are highly dangerous! Any website can link to you! Use tools like Ahrefs, OSE or Majestic to find and chase the culprits! Ideally you take down your website though. Then nobody can link to you anymore.

 

What’s the difference between a CEO and an SEO? (contributed by Yang Meyer)

The CEO has the money but no idea how to get found on Google. The SEO does the groundwork when it comes to Google optimization so that the CEO can make the money. Once the SEO makes the website of the company rank in Google the CEO can make money to pay the SEO. Thus the "C" stands for "clueless". Also the SEO is not an "officer" and is way down the hierarchy.

 

You do Google SEO? Can you help me with Adwords and Google Docs? (contributed by David Iwanow)

You drive a car? Can you give me a ride to the airport and fix my bike? SEO is like a driving school while PPC (buying AdWords) is like paying for a taxi/cab. I'd even argue that

it's a conflict of interest when the same person or agency offers both SEO and AdWords.

I'd rather buy ads from an agency specialized in them or do it yourself with PPC software. Why would an SEO optimize for you effectively when they get paid for placing the ads over and over?

 

Do I need to be Roman Catholic to use the canonical tag? (inspired by Boyan Sabev)

Nope, you don't need the pope. Even Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Protestants can use the canonical tag. BTW. the canonical tag does more harm than good in many cases. Use it only when there is no other choice and you know someone who is an SEO expert to implement it correctly.

 

Is SEO negative?

SEO is negative just like ice is hot or water is dry. Can you negatively optimize things? Can you improve something negatively? Those who use terms like "negative SEO" without questioning them do not understand what SEO means in the first place. SEO is positive by its nature. It's about fixing and improving websites, search engine results and the Web as a whole. That's why SEOs engage in link building. The Web consists of links. The more links the better.

 

Do SEOs work for Google? (also contributed by David Iwanow)

Yes. All Search Engine Optimization practitioners are working for Google. After all they optimize search engines. The only problem is that Google doesn't pay them. Google has an imperfect algorithm full of holes that's not really able to find the most relevant sites. It needs SEO specialists to make websites "Google friendly" so that the Google bot can spider them and the algo can assess their importance correctly.

 

Do you have to wear a hat for SEO?

Sometimes it might appear that SEO is all about fashion statements. It's white hat or black hat or who knows what color. This is just a ploy by some fashion industry execs keen on promoting a fashion item nobody wears for like decades. BTW.: ethics have nothing to do with hats. Some people claim to be "white hat" while they would optimize gambling, porn or generic drug sites. They would even sell weaponry.

 

Do I need to optimize alt tags?

No, you do not have to optimize alt tags contrary to myths spread by many publications. Why? Alt tags do not exist! They would probably look something like this: <alt>SEO</alt>. Insetad you can optimize alt attributes for blind users for example: <img src="car.jpg" alt="blue car on busy street"> who can't see images. Newbie SEOs tend to stuff them with keywords. Don't do it.

 

Do I need to submit to search engines?

The only search engine you have to submit to is Google. Google loves submissive webmasters and hates website owners who think on their own and prefer to build sites for themselves and other people not Google. Google not only wants you to submit but also to repent your sins too. After all

Google is everywhere and knows everything just like God.

Other than that search engines find your site without any submission rituals. Just get some incoming links pointing at it so that the site actually becomes part of the Web. The search engine spiders can find it then.

 

* Creative Commons image by Daniela Vladimirova

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