25 Things I’ve Learned After 25 Years In SEO

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25 Things I’ve Learned After 25 Years In SEO

25 things ive learned after 25 years in seo

Wow, Google turned 25 last month.

Thinking about this made me wax nostalgic for the good ol’ days, filled with Google Dances, amazing conferences, and super-smart people who built digital marketing as we know it today.

I’ve learned a lot over 25 years. Here are my top 25 tips:

  1. SEO content doesn’t have to be stuffy or formal. You can let your freak flag fly and be yourself. You’ll probably see better results if you do.
  2. Yes, ChatGPT has changed the writing game. But you have something ChatGPT doesn’t — expertise and experience. Google wants that — and more importantly, so do your readers. Don’t sell yourself short, and figure a robot can do better.
  3. Feeling invisible is a choice. You can build your brand and share your brilliance — but it means busting out of your comfort zone.
  4. Not every word you write has to be “for Google.” It’s okay to shake it up and write about topics you feel passionate about. But…
  5. You need to know the SEO content rules to break the rules. Otherwise, you’ll create a bunch of content with zero return.
  6. It’s okay to have a slow, sustainable, baby-step content strategy. You don’t have to write thousands of words and publish multiple times a week. Along with that…
  7. Google doesn’t care about word count. Google does care about content quality and ensuring the answer answers the searcher’s question.
  8. Cheap content is expensive and rarely gives you the return you want. It’s better to save up and do it right than to waste your money on filler content that doesn’t vibe with your readers.
  9. Make a regular appointment to untangle your brain. No matter how brilliant you are, it helps to have an outside perspective and sounding board. A one-hour conversation can change your life and business plan.
  10. If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t need permission to price your services a certain way, to have the work/life balance you want, or to reject work that doesn’t fill your soul. You do you. Otherwise, you’ll trap yourself in a business hell of your own making.
  11. Often, it makes sense to zig when everyone else is zagging. Are your competitors on Instagram? Try LinkedIn. Are you tired of blogging? Why not focus on reports and guides?
  12. The only SEO constant is change.
  13. The smartest SEO expert is usually not the one with the biggest social following.
  14. Speaking of experts — don’t take anything they say at face value. What works for one brand (or site) may not work for you. Question everything and everyone.
  15. Additionally, use reliable SEO tools — but you don’t have to do everything they recommend — especially ChatGPT.
  16. The only thing standing in the way of your success (and charging higher fees, and working with better clients, and taking more time off) is you.
  17. Gaming Google only works short-term, and only if you know what you’re doing. It’s not worth it.
  18. Keeping up with the latest SEO changes is crucial. If you’re optimizing sites like it’s 2019, you’re doing yourself (and your clients) a disservice. Especially with the “new Google.” I’m constantly updating my SEO Copywriting Certification training because things keep changing.
  19. Pay extra attention to your page Titles/headlines. They matter.
  20. If you’re writing content “for Google,” stop it. Your content is for readers, not algorithms.
  21. You *can* learn SEO by yourself — but it will save you time, money, and brain cells if you hire someone to help.
  22. Not every “SEO trick” you read about works in every situation. YMMV
  23. Social platforms go in and out of style. Remember MySpace? Or Friendster? Or Vine? Leverage them while they’re hot (assuming your target market lives there,) but know that your audience will eventually move on.
  24. “Writing naturally” and ignoring keyphrase research will hurt you. Even if you’re a big brand. Even if you “know how people search.” Put in the time and do the keyphrase research. It’s worth it.
  25. Google giveth, and Google taketh away. Authorship. Google Reader. Google+. Orkut. Decent keyword data. All gone. Poof. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because Google gave us something free (in exchange for our data, of course).

Oh, and this photo was taken during one of the early Search Engine Strategies conferences.

Photo of Jill Whalen, Chris Sherman, Heather Lloyd-Martin, and others

Early SEO expert conference dinner, circa 1999.

Yes! I was blonde back then! You’ll see Chris Sherman, Jill Whalen, and other OG SEO experts.

It was an amazing time, and I’m so grateful I got to enjoy it.

🤯 What do you think?

Which tip was your favorite? Comment and let me know!

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