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Is there a definitive guide to SEO?

     
7:17 pm on Jul 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Whenever I try to learn SEO I end up going down the rabbit hole to so many different seo guides that I get overwhelmed and confused. You have big guys like moz and semrush that cost a lot, then a bunch of 'seo experts' send dm's guaranteeing first page or money back (sure), or a countless supply of free sites that give mixed messages with each other.

So, my question is this..

Has anyone here followed one guide exclusively, did most of what they said, and actually improved listings? If so, what guide did you have success with?

While I'd appreciate specifics, even being vague is better than nothing. Vague being "dude, just sign up to webmasterworld premium. The info inside the seo section is legit and vetted by pros. I jumped up to top 3 after reading a bunch of threads in there". Or something like "the best thing you can do is get the highest score possible with the audit on semrush as that has been the best success for me" etc etc

Sorry if this post is a rambling mess but it's so hard to ask for seo advice and get accurate answers for obvious reasons. Thanks for anyone who replies
9:14 pm on July 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is no single definitive guide to SEO because SEO is too wide ranging and particular to your own unique situation. Blindly following advice rarely has the best results. There are just too many different types of sites (local vs international, e-commerce vs info, old vs new, text vs image/videos) for a single guide to be widely relevant.

Even if your situation was exactly the same as mine there are just too many moving pieces that are constantly being updated/adjusted. By the time I finished writing up and explaining in detail the top 100+ SEO factors, some of it would be out of date. Even if I froze time and gave you my secret recipe before anything was out of date, you & I wouldn't have the same results because only 1 site can rank #1. Either you would outrank me or I would outrank you.

I think the most valuable SEO advice is to understand the fundamentals and how they fit into the big picture that Google wants. right now from my POV that means provide a significant & unique value to users, make it super easy for Google to discover & understand your content, while providing a super fast & reliable experience to desktop & mobile users so that your site becomes popular on its own merit and not from Google rankings.
1:08 am on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As Goodroi ponts out, what constitutes best practice is continually evolving, and with the range of sites that exist (even when looking at quite a small niche) there couln't possibly be a one-size-fits-all solution.

Apart from anything else, Google doesn't always get it right (they wouldn't keep making algorithm changes if they thought so, never mind whether the rest of us do), so shaping your site to satisfy Google wouldn't necessarily improve it.

If you focus on customer/user requirements and making your content accessible you won't go far wrong. Ask yourself who will want to find your product or content, why they will want to find it, and how well your site answers that need. Bear in mind that they need to find it, and that search-engines are not a free signpost to it, particularly if a human visitor on your Home page can't locate it quickly and easily: your site needs to be navigable.

Backlinks are still important (although that too may change), so try to produce content that others will want to link to.

When it was written, Brett Tabke's guide ([webmasterworld.com ]) would probably have been the answer to your question, and although some of it is now out of date much of it is good advice, and it is still worth reading.
7:20 am on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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In addition to the previous comments I'd like to add that IMHO going through Google's general guidelines at least once could be useful - [static.googleusercontent.com...]
7:41 am on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is no magic bullet, but there is the old reliable hard work and paying attention to results and making adjustments from there to get to a higher level.

If there WAS such a guide out there, and it actually worked, that creator of same could charge a zillion dollars per to share it. Obviously, few can afford a zillion dollars. :)
12:09 pm on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just like investments there is no magic bullet.

I do understand what vanillaice is asking though. I for one have to say hanging out on Webmasterworld is a good start. There are a lot of knowledgably people on here. I have never become a WebmasterWorld Pro member as I always thought it was a little expensive, maybe I am wrong... is it a good investment for someone who has had an online business since 2003?

It would be nice for some sort of wiki like page of SEO do's and don'ts for everything from the structure of a page, menu, etc.. to page speed and how important is it really (IMO not as much as everyone says, at least currently), to back links, and content. This would be very hard to put together as pointed out above for a one-size-fits-all solution.
4:24 pm on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys!

I have always had good rankings with one of my sites but it has dropped to around 7-9 rather than the 2-4 its been. I produce quality content and have even been backlinked by the nypost but still can't seem to jump back up to where I was.

Someone suggested that the other guys are just probably focusing more on seo which is what prompted me to post this. I was always just under the impression that if you make good content, good will find you. I learned that back when adwords introduced quality score and it was basically "make good content".

I have another site that I can't rank at all but I just assumed it was because it's still relatively new and small. Zero backlinks and no name brand so it's very hard to compete
5:51 pm on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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By any chance has this site been added to the Mobile First Index? If it has, you will receive an email from Google telling you that it is in their mobile index. If that is what happened you may not be able to SEO your way out of the change. With new sites being added every day, it will be a long time before previous rankings begin to settle and work back near where they were.

One of mine was hit with this sudden drop. It has links from LATimes, SFGate, NYTimes. It's been first page since 2011. It's on page 7 now. I'm just waiting and making sure that mobile visitors have a good experience although I've never seen many mobile visitors there, and far fewer productive visits via mobile. It is what it is.
6:28 pm on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't think so, or at least I haven't heard anything from google. I'll do a search through my email, is there a specific keyword I can use for a better search?
7:17 pm on July 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The email is addressed to your GCS registered email, it is from: "Google Search Console Team" with the subject of "Mobile-first indexing enabled for https://www.example.com/" - showing the domain name.

I should mention that the email was received a few weeks after I noted the drop, as though it goes through some process before they send the official notification.
1:00 am on July 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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not2easy, what you are saying is very interesting to me. I had a big drop between March and May, but was not mobile friendly at all until early June when I pulled the switch. Now according to google all of my pages are mobile friendly, but I have not recovered yet. Have not gotten an email that Mobile first is enabled either.

Do you think my drop could have been a demotion because of the mobile friendly index? I still rank #1 for some keywords, but overall have lost 50% of traffic since late March. I am still hoping for a recovery now that I am mobile friendly. After all there was some penalty before I got hit for being mobile unfriendly.
5:32 am on July 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The time frame you mention is before there was a Mobile First index move going on so it would seem unrelated. Also note that the new index does not mean all sites will be demoted. Obviously some are moving up when others move down.

I wouldn't be quick to blame the new indexing for drops unless you do receive the notification email, then you can see what's changed in the new version of GSC. I am seeing new numbers in there every time I look. I can only think that each new site added to the Mobile First index jiggles the numbers for someone somewhere.
10:17 pm on July 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not2easy, how long do you think it takes for google to reward you for being mobile friendly once you switch over. I did it in Early June, but have not seen any boost in mobile or desktop. Also I had heard that desktop listings would be getting effected by not being mobile friendly. So of course I was hoping that some of my drop had to do with this. Its very frustrating being a webmaster today!
10:31 pm on July 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The "reward" would have been switching to responsive/mobile a few years back when g started pushing RWD. A year back they announced the mobile index and again urged folks to get moving. Six months (or so) back they turned on the mobile index and said (paraphrased) "we'll show the mobile sites first, then desktop if there is no content in mobile that matches the user query".

It could very well be that others simply got "mobile" before you and it will take time for your stuff to re-assert itself.
10:44 pm on July 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is no reward for being mobile friendly other than not being left out of the Mobile First index. Since the existing index will be replaced at some with the Mobile First index, being mobile friendly will assure you a spot in that index. They aren't going to have a separate index for sites that aren't mobile friendly. Since all the sites in that index have been evaluated as being mobile friendly there is no great advantage beyond being in the new index and not left out of the SERPs.
2:13 am on July 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Read what I said, not what is thought I said. :)

Johnny-Come-Lately will probably start at the bottom ... and that makes logical sense as what we are seeing for some folks who are just now making the change are wondering where their ranking went. Those who shifted 2-3 years back chug along just fine.

G is already running the mobile index, what has not YET happened is desktop being demoted ... when will that occur?

HTTP/HTTPS is also in the mix.

Not to mention BRAND and UNIQUE.

What I DO see somewhere down the line will be a RICH MEDIA version (requires desktop or smart tv real estate) coming to address all that mobile small screen stuff. When? Don't know, but pretty sure ti will happen. Why? Human nature to have something the majority does NOT have. :)
4:47 am on July 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sorry if you thought my post was in response to yours tangor. It is a response to vphoner's question just before your post. I had not even seen your post when I posted that.
5:07 am on July 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Argh! Know that feeling all too well ... fast as the net is it is always SLOWER than we expect. I wasn't miffed, @not2easy. Was another opportunity for me to spout off like a lunatic to fine tune all that other stuff.

Mobile index is what it is. Those who came late (as in not making the effort until Armageddon loomed) will have to work extra hard to get back what they once had. Horses and blinders and all that ... while the horseless carriage passes them by.

And at NO TIME has there been a contract to pay them for anything. Sadly, all too many think they are owed an income just for putting up a website.
12:22 pm on July 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I recommend to purchase a professional course at Udemy
8:14 pm on July 30, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies. I guess I will just have to wait till google puts me on par with other mobile friendly sites. The main reason I delayed going mobile was technical, and had to actually re-write a non mobile friendly wordpress theme to be mobile, as certain formatting properties would not work with other themes. Wish I had thought of that earlier, but its now completed and I have a much better understanding of CSS and mobile issues. It now appears something non-mobile affected me in the March-May period and I have no idea if whatever it is can be fixed. The first step would be to know what caused it. Strange thing is I posted some new posts and some of them ranked highly on the 1st page, so no idea what is affecting my old pages.