Simple SEO Plan Of Action. A SEO Strategy For Beginners.

I was with a client yesterday and I pointed out:

  1. As the site had NEVER been promoted online, even though they are a global brand who supply to blue chip companies, Google hadn’t picked up any decent hints what the site was about (keywords in anchor text links to their site) what I call the Primary Link Profile, their inbound link profile.
  2. Onsite navigation consisted of “home, about us, location, product info, company info….” – not one mention of their keywords in their internal link profile – or the secondary link profile, as I think of it.
  3. Each page of the site had the same page title “company name”, which meant, Google couldn’t even look at the tertiary link profile (this is how I think of page titles) to find keywords to rank the site for.

Google is also looking at page content on some level too, but I think it’s ranking those pages by looking in those link profiles above (and looking for trusted citations in that primary profile).

The type of website above is often what I am presented with (by even good web designers) who have little experience what Google is looking for or understand how Google goes about identifying relevant content and reward it with rankings – ie, by examining links, primarily. Then again, that’s not really the web designers remit is it, it should be the client.

Google can’t determine what a page of good content is ON ITS OWN, so just having a good copy writer do articles for you and hope it’s good enough to get picked up on social networks is simply not an economically viable solution for brands who aren’t famous online, or do not have famous product champions.

This is where Google’s algorithms are trying to help your content, but you got to give it some simple hints!

Google seems to be looking for keyword hints in (primarily) the above zones (add a bit of keyword rich / keyword diverse / related key term content to the page for good measure), and Google, once it knows about your site, will rank your pages better than those who haven’t bothered, and will rank your page against others based on the amount of trust Google has in your site and page overall / and or how much domain authority your site has as a result of this.

I like to address all of the above, and I am careful not to OVERDO it in any specific area, then I go and get decent links from real sites to my client sites. That’s because it’s my job to get websites relevant traffic from Google. I’m not manipulating things. I don’t obsess too much over no1 rankings or ranking reports but the simple fact is Google will give you tons of free traffic if you do certain things right over a certain period of time. Now, I never think this should be a replacement for a good product or a good service.

I am just trying to figure out why Google is rewarding some sites with top ten rankings, and try to emulate that for the sites I work on. It’s all there to research and work out.

I don’t see search engine optimization as a replacement for good design, good content or good marketing either – I don’t think designers should carry the can on their own for bad SEO or SEO carry the can for crap content (unless it’s keyword stuffed!).

Where To Begin?

If you are just starting out with SEO, I’d consider:

  1. Keyword Research – Identify the top, (e.g.) 50 terms driving traffic using Google keyword tool as a start point, and also look at the traffic you are already getting to your website
  2. Create (e.g.) 50 page titles for Google (70 characters or less) based on these 50 key terms – now you have a plan of the content you need to go in your pages
  3. Create (e.g.) 50 pages of content, each page focused on the keyword phrases in it’s page title you are looking to rank for (I use about 300 words per page to make sure I’m using synonyms / related terms for good measure but there is no limit to the amount of text on a page you need for Google – it depends on your domain authority/competition for the term how little original content you can get away with – try to make your pages AS RELEVANT AS POSSIBLE TO YOUR PAGE TITLE, because that’s what you will be ranking for! I like to ensure my CMS is plugged into Google, too.
  4. You already have your keyword list and content with good page titles, so just link them in your internal navigation with the narrow keyword terms you are looking to rank for. I shy away from large navigation systems and prefer to interlink my text in content.
  5. Take that keyword list again – those keywords can be used as links in articles point to your site using various linkbuilding methods (e.g. article submission and social media sites) – how many you need is dependant upon how much the competition is pumping out.
  6. Now get the marketing team involved to get some quality links from real sites Google trusts (newspapers (!), libraries, universities and partners/suppliers/clients websites – even url links (like will do from REAL quality sites as this is where you are mining for domain authority and trust…

…. and that’s about it for a lot of sites in especially less competitive verticals.

Good SEO is about giving Google what it wants – not spamming – I think social media should be the responsibility of the marketing department, and the designer can get on with making a good design, now the navigation and content has been laid out by the SEO.

This is not rocket science, is it. If you follow the recommendations above you don’t NEED to know that Pagerank decays or any other nonsense.

Some might claim a secret sauce to seo but a seo focused content strategy like the above will probably slap those seo in the rankings given time – seo who claim to have a secret sauce are talking bollocks…. and it’s totally white hat, with NO MANIPULATION OF GOOGLE INVOLVED, in fact you are giving Google exactly what it wants in 2010 – and a lot of the competition are still not doing it.

A Non-Technical Google SEO Strategy

Feb 25, 2010 – I actually hate talking to customers about technical SEO. It’s fairly simple stuff but I always feel as if the technical bits get in the way sometimes. How would I explain seo to dummies beginnners?

I wanted to share some thoughts about SEO and how I think about it. A lot of it comes down to trust in my book.

  • Use common sense – Google is a search engine – it is looking for pages to give searchers results, 90% of its users are looking for information. Google itself WANTS the organic results full of information. Almost all websites will link to relevant information content so content rich websites get a lot of links – especially quality links. Google ranks websites with a lot of links (especially quality links) at he top of its search engines so the obvious thing you need to do is ADD A LOT INFORMATIVE CONTENT TO YOUR WEBSITE.
  • I think ranking in organic listings is a lot about trusted links making trusted pages rank, making trusted links making trusted pages rank ad nauseam for various keywords. Some pages can pass trust to another site, some pages cannot. Some links can. Some cannot. Some links are trusted to pass ranking ability to another page. Some are not. YOU NEED LINKS FROM TRUSTED PAGES IF YOU WANT TO RANK AND AVOID PENALTIES & FILTERS.
  • Google engineers are building an AI – but i’s all based on simple human desires to make something happen or indeed to prevent something. You can work with Google engineers or against them. They need to make money for Google but unfortunately for them they need to make the best search engine in the world for us humans as part of the deal. Build a site that takes advantage of this. What is a Google engineer trying to do with an algorithm? I always remember it was an idea first. What was that idea? Think like a Google engineers and give Google what it wants. What is Google trying to give its users? Align with that. What does Google not want to give its users? Don’t look anything like thatTHINK LIKE A GOOGLE ENGINEER & BUILD A SITE THEY WANT TO GIVE TOP RANKINGS.
  • Google is a links based search engine. Google doesn’t need content to rank pages but it needs content to give to users. Google needs to find content and it finds content by following links just like you do when clicking on a link. So you need to first make sure you tell the world about your site so other sites link to yours. Don’t worry about reciprocating to more powerful sites or even real sites – I think this adds to your domain authority – which is actually better to have than ranking for just a few narrow key terms.
  • Everything has limits. Google has limits. What are they? How would you go about observing them or even testing, breaking them or benefiting from them or being penalised by them? It’s not a lab setting – you can’t test much, if anything, 100% accurately, but you can hypothesise based on the sensible approach bearing in mind what a Google engineer would do, and what you would do if Google was yours.
  • The best way for Google to keep rankings secret ultimately is to have a randomness to it while keeping somethings stable – surely the easiest way for it to prevent a seo finding out how it works. Well I think that anyway. And I think this randomness manifests itself in many ways. What will work for some sites might not necessarily work for your sites – not exactly the same anyway. Perhaps no two sites are the same (the conditions are different for a start for any two sites) and I’m actually thinking about how to test this for a bit of fun.
  • Google may play dice with the Google multi-verse so be ware of that. It uses multiple results and rotates them and serves different results to different machines and browsers even on the same computer. Google results are constantly shifting – some pages rank at the top constantly because they are giving Google what it wants in a number of areas or they might just have a greater number and diversity of more trusted links than your do.
  • Google has a long memory when it comes to links and pages and associations for you site – perhaps an infinite memory profile of your site. Perhaps it can forgive but never forget. Perhaps it can forget too, just like us, and so previous penalties or bans can be lifted. I think (depending on the site because Google can work out if you have a blog or a e-commerce site) Google probably also looks at different history versions of particular pages even on single sites WHAT RELATIONSHIP DO YOU WANT TO HAVE WITH GOOGLE? Onsite, don’t try to fool Google – we’re not smart enough. Be squeaky clean on-site and make Google think twice about bumping you for discrepancies in your link profile.
  • Earn Google’s trust. Most of our more lucrative accounts come from referrals from clients who trust us. Before clients told them of us, they didn’t know about us. ok, they might have heard about us from people in turn they didn’t trust that much. Upon the clients testimonial, the referral now trusts us a lot more. These referrals automatically trusts us to some extent. That trust grows when we deliver. The referral now trusts us very much. But it’s un uphill struggle from that point on to continue to deliver that trust and earn even more trust because you don’t want to dip in trust – it’s nice to get even more and more trusted. Google works the exactly the same way as this human emotion, and search engines have tried for years to deliver a trusted set sites based on human desire and need. MAKE FRIENDS WITH GOOGLE
  • Don’t break Google’s trust – if you’re friend betrays you, depending on what they’ve done, they’ve lost trust. sometimes that trust has been lost altogether. If you do something Google doesn’t like manipulate it in a way it doesn’t want, you will lose trust, and in come cases, lose all trust (in some areas). For instance, your pages might be able to rank, but your links might not be trusted enough to vouch for another site. DON’T FALL OUT WITH GOOGLE OVER SOMETHING STUPID
  • When Google trusts you its because you’ve earned it’s trust to help it carry out what it needs to carry out in the quickest and most profitable way. You’ve helped Google achieve it’s goals. It trusts you and it will reward you by listing your contribution in order of the sites it trusts the most. It will list friends it trusts the most who it knows to be educated in a particular area at the top of these areas. IF GOOGLE TRUSTS YOU IT WILL LET YOUR PAGES RANK AND IN TURN VOUCH FOR OTHER FRIENDS GOOGLE MIGHT WANT INFORMATION ON.
  • Google is fooled and manipulated just like you can but it will probably kick you in the gonads if you break its trust – as I probably would. Treat Google as you would have it treat you. REMEMBER IT TAKES TIME TO BUILD TRUST

I of course might be reading far too much into Google and trust….consider trust to be a psychological emotion Google is trying to emulate using algorithms based on human ideas. If you do all the above, you’ll get more and more traffic from Google over time.

If you want to rank for specific keywords in very competitive niches, you’ll need to be a big brand, be picked out by big brands (and linked to), or buy links to fake that trust, or get spammy with it in an intelligent way you won’t get caught.

I suppose Google is open to the con just as any human is, if it’s based on human traits….

Beware Short Term Gain – Long Term Risky SEO Strategies


Nov 5, 2010 – Sisyphus, with a name that sounds a bit like a sexual disease, was a King in Greek mythology who used roll a big rock up a hill, only for it roll down every time he got to the top, so he would need to do it again, over and over again. Ad nauseam!

Actually, it’s a bit like working nightshift in Tesco too, but I have always had this in the back of my mind when it comes to ranking for big seo terms like “SEO”.

The word “sisyphean” means “endless and unavailing, as labour or a task”

Everybody wants to rank no1 for their main keyword, but to do so, you’ve got to work INCREDIBLY hard, show everybody you’re full hand when linkbuilding, show your competitors your linkbuilding sources and tactics, and indeed show others how to do it themselves, and more importantly, for their clients who you might be competing with!

The competition is fierce for generic terms, and you’re in a constant struggle to maintain positions.

Why bother in such a competitive vertical?

The highest I ranked for SEO in Google (UK) was no3 (the spike below indicates the time) and the quality of leads I got wasn’t that great.

I dropped back to page 3 or something after a month of being no3.

I could have chosen to go for it again, but I had an inkling I was penalised on that term.

I could have chosen to throw everything at it and chances are I would be in a better position than I am today (who knows I don’t track it).

To be honest, to compete for such a key phrase I’d probably need to get spammy, go to conferences to pick up links, or spend a lot of time promoting my business in traditional news channels:

In The Press

…which I just don’t have time for usually – I am a front-line seo that’s what I love playing with – and in all honesty I have no idea if I would have the time or skill available to compete against sites who had 50,000 links head start on me anyways and a competent seo at the helm.

Anyway it’s not as if my life depended on it…..

Instead, I decided to target the long tail of search by just adding more and more content to my site:

Result? I got nearly 6,000 seo-related visits to the website this month from over 2000 keywords from Google alone, all targeting seo related key terms through a content based seo strategy that is more valuable, more defensible, more stable and more reliable in the long run – more than enough leads for this small company.

The end result of a content based strategy is  your business doesn’t die if Google takes that number one away from you, and a nice side effect is you build an online brand for your company. You are also a LOT more likely to pick up lots of natural links JUST by publishing content on your site AD NAUSEAM.

You can always focus your efforts on ranking for key terms you have a better chance of converting too:

If Google chooses to rank my site higher for such a generic key term like SEO, fine.

If it doesn’t, I don’t care. I won’t be spending time working on something like that. I don’t get paid to rank no1 for seo, I get paid to get more traffic to clients sites. I wouldn’t work for a year on something that a search engine can take away from me at the flick of a switch.

2011 is coming, and it’s all about CONTENT & BRAND AWARENESS (OK, you still need to back this up with some quality links) and if you want MORE TRAFFIC from Google, and any other source, that won’t disappear overnight, you better be thinking about how to add more content to your site, believe me.

7 Quick Tips To Promote Your New Business Online

Keeping up with all your competitors on the internet today can be very, very expensive. Websites can be expensive. Search Engine Optimisation is time consuming so expensive (ineffective seo is even more expensive!). Google Adwords is expensive when you don’t know what you’re doing.

But you know, it’s never been CHEAPER to market your business worldwide.

If you run a business you’re smart enough to learn any of the following internet marketing tips that will enable you to begin to market online effectively.

1. You Should Have An Open Source Website Content Management System

Basically, open source is free stuff. A content management system is simply a means by which non technical people can edit website content and even change your website design. If your website has a CMS, it will mean YOU can edit the content yourself, dialing out the web design company and so saving your business money. In years gone-by a good CMS costed THOUSANDS OF POUNDS. Now, you can get excellent content management systems for FREE.

There are a lot of Open Source CMS on the market today. Usually they are simple to set up (although you might need a bit of technical know-how) and easy to configure. A lot of them come with many kinds of templates that let you change the design of your site easily.

To add to that, you can easily add what are called extensions to your new cms that will add functionality to your site (like a forum, booking system or a poll).

To compete in Google today you need to be regularly adding good content to your site to attract visitors. A content managed website makes this easy and enjoyable and ultimately puts you back in control.

  • CMS – Try out: Joomla / Drupal / WordPress

Hobo offers an open source cms configuration and set-up service called Arachnid (which you’ll need if your not willing to spend the weeks learning how to do it properly).

2. Google Local Business Centre

Yes! You can get to the top of Google – guaranteed! And for FREE (albeit in the Glasgow area and based on the number of competitors already featured). You can also get free directions to your business. It only takes about 24 hours to get listed above that pesky competitor who’s been there for the last 7 years! Try it out at Google Local Business Center before they do!

3. Google Analytics

Track your visitors for free. Find out where they come from and where on your site they go. You can even find out which exact keyword combination visitors typed into Google that lead you to get an email from your website. For most this is the only website statistics program you will ever need. And yes! It tracks everything, including visitors from Yahoo and MSN and other websites. Sometimes you get what what you pay for, and on some occasions, you actually get a lot more. Try Google Analytics FREE for yourself.

4. Get a Blog!

You’re website needs a blog! Yes, you might not know what this is – but everyone’s doing it (at least everyone who is generating lots of visitors to their site!). A blog is ideal for your news section in 2009 and lets anyone in your organisation easily add content to your site if necessary through a simple online interface. As mentioned, we use it for our news section and basically it lets you add fresh news content easily without any website expertise and to boot it allows you to, via blog techy stuff, instantly promote whatever article you’ve written worldwide to blog search engines everywhere.

We use WordPress. It’s free, too, and probably the best! It takes minutes to install on your site and can be configured in about 4 hours to look and operate like the rest of your site (like ours). Download a copy at WordPress for your site.

What? You don’t have a website? Then you can set up a free blog on or Blogger (not ideal – but using this method you actually don’t need anything apart from an email address).

5. Organise Your Own Domains

Domains can be confusing. My advice? Set up an account with and manage all your domains here. Just the domains, mind. Get the hosting elsewhere. Open an account for free and start adding domains (web addresses) you want to own (domains cost about £10 for 2 years depending on whether it is a .com or etc. Then, organise hosting, but not through 123. Why not try out…..

6. Organise Your Own Hosting

Through a reliable host, you can organise your domain/s through a plethora of packages. There are a bazillion hosts out there, a lot of them good. At the time of writing however I believe Rochen do not support .asp, which might be a problem for some.

However if you are following any (or all) of the advice on this page (ie open source CMS or blog using PHP/MySQL) make sure your host supports these platforms.

Basically if you organise your own hosting and domains it really puts you in control. If you’re in control you call the shots with your web development company. It’s not a hard thing to learn how to do, either.

7. You don’t have to pay to get into or (free traffic from) Google. All you need is a link from a site already in the index (ie already in the Google results pages). Get a link from a good site, though, and your site could be completely spidered in a week. Then you too could enjoy more free stuff from Google – traffic!

Don’t Tell The World You’re Doing SEO

There is a reason I don’t have clients I work for plastered all over my site, or home page, even though it would probably help us make new sales.

There’s a reason I don’t take linkbacks from SEO clients from their site to boost my own sites ranking in Google even though I’m missing a big trick SEO companies use to rank their own sites. We only take linkbacks from web design clients and even then sometimes I nofollow it and usually today we use Hobo or Hobo-web as the linkback (purely because that direct link can mean sales if people like that site).There’s a reason we only host clients we design and build (or maintain) websites for, not linkbuild to, on our servers today.

There’s a reason you should never ever talk in public or private forums about getting SEO done on your site (unless it’s just that, onsite search engine optimisation).

That reason is Google. Google doesn’t owe you, or us as a bona-fide seo, anything. If Google decides you’re doing something that makes Google look stupid, you might be in trouble.

I can go on record as saying I have never bought a paid link in 3+ years for a client as Hobo (apart from Yahoo). I can consider myself white hat even if I don’t put much faith in ‘hats’, I don’t spam people’s sites, I don’t use any black hat techniques as it’s too risky for my clients. 99% of the time I think I stick to Google’s guidelines (maybe it’s actually a 100% for clients). I don’t make silly claims like guaranteed first page rankings although I usually get them with a lot of work and say it’ll take me a year. I’m not secretive which SEO techniques I use. It makes for some boring sales copy and crappy rankings for our own Hobo site sometimes let me tell you.

Why tell Google you are trying to manipulate their results, even if it is to make their index better (in your opinion lol)? Do you really want your logo on the site of a SEO company that Google identifies as breaking it’s terms and conditions (which change quite a lot these days)?

Don’t ever tell anyone you have a SEO on boardDon’t ever let a SEO company say they are fondling your results either. Ask your seo company why your seo company has a link‚  at the bottom of your pages, and determine for yourself the risks.

Sometimes it makes those top ten results seem a bit less, well, natural, doesn’t it (?), when someone else is telling Google they got you to number 1 for *whatever* :)

I may as well go on record as saying some White Hat Shock troops who say to this post “you must have something to hide” are frankly, Naive to think Google (indeed anybody) is looking after their interests – if I did have something to hide i wouldn’t post this tosh.

Contact Us Today

Consider giving us a call on 0845 094 0839 or contact us today and we’ll organise all this for you.

Our website is visited by over 85,000 visitors every month and we’ve NEVER paid a penny in advertising since we started Hobo – we actually share with others how to promote their site online too on our SEO Blog.

We don’t rely on your ignorance of internet marketing. We rely on our expertise.

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20 Responses

  1. David says:

    Search engines are good but not great, if you dont help them figure out where to list your site you’ll never get any decent traffic.

  2. Joseph says:

    I have noticed the above fact regarding titles in the majority of websites. They are either Welcome to company name on all pages OR something like this company name | Home company name | Contact company name | Profile etc. As far as titles are concerned, I have noticed up to 74 Characters being displayed in search results (about 10 words)

  3. SEO Manchester says:

    Shaun, this is one of the best explanations of why SEO is required that I’ve read. I will take your main points and use it as an explanation guide when talking to potential clients if that’s ok? Regards Mark

  4. Kieron Hughes says:

    Good post Shaun. I haven’t seen 74 characters being displayed at all either.

  5. John Soares says:

    I’m a relative newbie at SEO, but, like you, I focus on what a search engine wants to do, and then I do everything I can with my site content and external links to make that happen.

  6. Brett Pringle says:

    Funny how people tend to think “manipulate” when in fact we would be addressing issues that simply help search engines understand websites a hell of alot easier. Character limits within the title can be “manipulated” to a degree. Just because it cuts off at +-70, depending on where the 70 cut off appears, mid word for example. The title is still crawlable even after truncation. Just a tid bit of a hint to think on and test out :)

  7. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    Oh I know Google can read a lot more keywords in the title than 70, I’m talking about what it displays :)

  8. Alok says:

    I have never seen a simpler explanation of how to do white-hat seo. Thanks Shaun.

  9. George Manlangit says:

    So far, I keep title length to around 64 chars. I haven’t seen anything pushing it more than 64 lately. I think 50 pages can be overwhelming depending on the client. I know it helps to rank the site better. Don’t forget the sitemaps.

  10. Conor Darcy says:

    ‘Try to make your pages AS RELEVANT AS POSSIBLE TO YOUR PAGE TITLE’. Would it not be better to make your page titles relative to the content on the pages? Focus on your content first & work your SEO around that?

  11. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    George – look at this page with a 70 character title, and this page with a 71 character :) You will clearly see Google displays 70 characters and then chooses the NEXT AVAILABLE Header Tag as the page title if the original is over 70 characters….. :)

  12. Gaz says:

    good article Shaun, the amount of people thinking seo is some technical wazzardry amazes me at times. Picking up on your “real sites” comment, maybe a nice idea for an article would be how you can spot when your SEO company is just throwing them up on crap filled pages? I see it everyday!

  13. Dena says:

    Nice post Shaun. I see a lot of globally, well-know company sites, not ranking for any of their keywords because of this. For example, a great hosting company that i know, has a pr of 7 and alexa rank around 100k. Yet, they dont rank anywhere because the word “hosting” is not mentioned at all. Not in any of the pages…

  14. Chuck Points says:

    I read this post a few days ago and, decided to try your tip of putting keyword static links on all my pages to all my other pages on my site. And with out having done any kind of promotion or gained any backlinks. I jumped an entire page on Google within a few days. So, Thank You Very Much For that tip! You definitely have a new fan of your blog.

  15. diane says:

    Think i am finally starting to understand this. Why does everyone have to put it into wizardry! Thank you so much Sean

  16. Business Logos says:

    The good news is that this site has no where to go but up in the search results!

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