Foto: Shutterstock

The World’s Shortest (and Probably Most Controversial) Guide to SEO

Are you ready for it? It’s so simple that you may have been overlooking it for a long time. (I know I was.)

That doesn’t make it any less powerful.

Ok, here it is…


Memorize it. Live it. You’ll see dividends beyond your wildest dreams.

(Here’s a larger desktop version.)


The Reasoning Behind the “Guide”

SEO is a hot topic these days. It’s such a loaded term that I’m almost hesitant to write about it. (Quick: What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you see the word “SEO”? I see a cheesy car salesman.) For those unfamiliar with SEO (“What’s ‘eh-see-oh?’”), wikipedia is usually a good place to start.

SEO is mostly, if anything, misunderstood. The things that are really important–like creating powerful content–are often overlooked. Meanwhile the things that are trivial in the grand scheme of things–keyword density, for example–are hotly debated.

(By the way: I’m fully expecting some hot discussion below. This post may ruffle some feathers.)

What Makes SEO So Complex?

SEO is comprised of multiple factors. There’s on-page factors like heading tags, title tags, content, and how you link to your own internal pages. There’s also off-page factors like incoming links (who’s linking to your stuff), social graph (who’s tweeted your links), and other things like click-through ratios in search results.

And I’m just naming a few of the major ones. (Here’s a list of a lot more ranking factors for those with plenty of free time.)

I used to worry about these above factors a lot. I’d tweak my copy for keyword usage, agonize over the perfect page title, think about relevant keywords, and plenty of other things. So much so that I’d spend as much time tweaking what I’d created than the actual time it took to create it. Pretty messed up, huh?

Choosing Your Battles

The perfectionist inside of me wants to do everything perfectly. Unfortunately, that’s a pipe dream. There are only 1,440 minutes in every day, and you have to decide where you’re going to put your resources. (We have a newborn in the house, so 1,440 is really like 37 for me right now.)

You have to chose your battles carefully.

So you can spend your time tweaking copy, sending countless emails begging for links, analyzing and agonizing over how everything is structured on the page.

Or you can just create.

The beauty of just creating is that when you build something really, really good, the links will flow to your site. And incoming links are what makes the web go around. There is no better way to rank highly than getting a bunch of links pointing at your stellar content.

But this can only happen when your content is fantastic.


Oh, I should add: LifeDev pulls in 50% of its traffic from search engines. I’m a firm believer in the power of good rankings in searches. The high rankings aren’t from hours of optimizing and tweaking. (In fact, there are many things wrong with this site through the lens of SEO.) It’s from years of creating content that I’m (mostly) proud of.

Sure, optimizing page titles and header tags within posts can help your chances of ranking highly. But the biggest boost that you’ll get comes from getting links.

Now–more than ever–content is king. If you take care of the content, the search engines will take care of you.