Ryan Jones – SEO’s most eligible bachelor?
SEO – it’s a pain in the tuccus, and for most of us, it’s a really scary concept. So, I figured why not crack it open on one of the ‘scariest’ Friday’s of the year…Friday the 13th!
So, I bribed Ryan Jones, one of the amazing people I met at Pubcon last year, to let me virtually interview him and share some of his tips on SEO.
- What is the 140 character version of why SEO matters?
SEO matters because there’s people out there looking for you and you want to make sure that they find you. yeah it’s exactly 140 characters.
- How does Google (or any search engine) judge your content?
This is a great question and I’m actually doing a whole talk about it at SMX Toronto this month – so if you’re there please come say hi. Search engines are judging based on usefulness of the content from the user’s point of view. Sometimes we get so focused on our SEO lens that we forget SEO’s are only a fraction of one percent of all searchers. We’re not the ones that the engines are designed for. Typical users don’t know anything about paid links, cloaking, keyword density, or link wheels and they don’t need to. All they care about is whether or not the 10 blue links answered their query. That’s what Google and Bing are going for. I can get into all this quality rater stuff but won’t. We’ve covered that to death. When writing content, most people start with “ok how can I rank for this term?” They’re doing it wrong. They should be asking “when I search for this term, what would I expect to see?” and then writing that content.
- For people who have just started blogging…what 3 things can THEY do to help their SEO without any code knowledge?
Only 3? For starters make sure you pick a good platform. It seems like everybody’s on wordpress these days and that’s fine. The best way you can help without code knowledge is to slowly acquire that code knowledge without even knowing it. I’d advise anybody to host their own blog (it’s really easy to set up. You can basically do it with just a mouse) and go from there. By hosting your own you’ll slowly get acquainted with many areas of SEO throughout your day to day blogging. WordPress and the plugins solve a LOT of problems for you, so I’m not going to mention the things that can be easily fixed. Instead, make sure you put time and effort into your URL structure and title tags. The default URL structure of most blogging platforms is terrible. You’ll want to choose the one based on the date and post title if possible. Same goes for titles. You don’t want every page of your blog to start with “Ryan’s Blog about SEO”
- What is the best SEO plugin for wordpress?
Best plugin huh? I’d have to give mad props to Yoast’s plugin. (http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/) I’m also getting pretty fond of frameworks like Genesis and Thesis. (I use genesis on my blog at dotcult.com) WPtouch is another one I can’t live without. It automagically re formats your blog so it works nicely on mobile devices – and it does so in an SEO friendly manner.
- What is the worst piece of SEO advice most people think is true?
Wow, I could write several paragraphs on this one. Off the top of my head: we need to stop talking about keyword density. There’s no magic number and if there were it would change for every keyword based upon the the keyword density of every other result in the algorithm. Believe it or not there’s actually a huge amount of research about this in the information retrieval field, but luckily for us Google has evolved from counting occurrences of words into trying to figure out the relevance and importance of words on the page. Writers should just make content that sounds good and uses the proper keywords. That whole thing about once in a header, once at the top, once in the bottom, that’s all garbage too. Write for your readers and use the words they’re expecting. If it sounds easy and too simple it’s because it is – yet several of us still don’t do it well.
Another thing I heard just this week was something about having 100 links on a page and too many KB of source code. That’s all outdated information. There used to be a time when Google would only index so much of a page (hey, storage space was expensive in the 90’s and early 2000’s) but that’s just not true anymore. Unless you’re doing something crazy like trying to make a one page version of Wikipedia, you shouldn’t really worry about how long your pages are or how many links they contain. Just do what makes sense for the users.
- What is so special about Google that they get to make the rules?
Quite simply it’s Google’s house so if you want to stay you’ve got to obey their rules. Often times their rules aren’t made with regard to SEOs. They’re made in order to help provide quality search results to users. It goes back to those SEO glasses we all wear. If you look through the “searcher who’s never heard of SEO and doesn’t know how the web works” glasses you’ll realize that most of the rules make sense. I’m not saying you have to obey them all. Sometimes it’s best for your brand not to, but you can’t get upset if Google penalizes you for doing those things. They’re just trying to do what’s best for their brand (and customers) too.
- And one ‘just for fun question’… When will the world end?
Google’s search results say it’s going to end on December 21, 2012. If you believe that, I’ll give you $100 now if you post date a check for your life savings to 12-22-2012. Deal? Personally I think the Mayans couldn’t find a bigger stone and figured they’d worry about it later. (kind of like we did with the Y2k bug or the upcoming 2038 bug that we still haven’t fixed) Instead I’ll give a fun, philosophical answer and say that the world will most likely end when the observer at the end of time gets bored with watching us, turns off his TV, and goes outside.
You can also find Ryan on twitter @RyanJones. Ryan Jones is an SEO Idea Engineer and Internet slang expert living in Allen Park, MI. Ryan works at SapientNitro where he manages a team doing SEO for Fortune 500 clients. Ryan runs several websites and is a social media junkie. Oh, and I can vouch for the fact that he’s an awesome guy too!
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