Before we get into the actionable strategies and tactics, what I'd like to do is paint a picture of concepts around how I think about SEO.
Don't just get traffic
First, what you should know is that the overall goal of SEO shouldn't be to just get traffic. Not all traffic is the same.
Your goal should be to get your target users visiting your website and interacting with your website in a meaningful way for your business.
In a bootstrapped founder's case, the goal is getting users who ideally turn into customers.
You can apply this thinking to any type of website. For example, a blog could have the goal of getting readers (users) that subscribe to their newsletter (who could become customers).
An Automated Research Team Of One
Second, once your website is known by the search engines, treat is as an automated research team of 1.
Your marketing website is the most important asset you have at your disposal: it will be collecting first-party data, namely user search keywords, that you can use to fuel your future growth. In Chapter 5: Growth + Compounding, you'll learn just that.
Think of SEO as a campfire
And finally, my favourite way of looking at SEO: as a campfire.
Here's how I build campfires — maybe it's similar to how you do it as well.
First, I find the pit or place to build the fire. Then, I properly place large logs into the center of it.
Next, I gather small branches and dried leaves nearby which I place underneath and around the logs. Dried pinecones work really well too, with the added benefit that they smell great once they burn! (Shoutout to Justin of CrowdParty for this one!)
After I've gathered enough smaller, dried items, I get a lighter, light up a small branch or get some paper and use that to catch fire from the lighter then place it where the small branches, leaves, and pinecones are so that they catch fire.
If the large logs don't catch fire after lighting the small branches and dried leaves, I find more small branches and dried leaves to place underneath to try and catch fire again.
I repeat this until the large logs have successfully caught fire! 🔥
What does this have to do with SEO?
Think of the large logs as analogous to your website.
It's important how those logs were placed so they can get as much exposure to the initial fire to catch, similar to how it's important that a website has proper structure. (Covered in Chapter 2)
The better the website structure, the better chance the pages getting crawled by search engine bots, pages getting ranked and starts getting organic traffic.
Next, think of gathering the small branches, dried leaves, and dried pinecones and lighting them on fire as the work you will put in to getting organic traffic started. By this I mean content creation, media creation, distributing your content and more. (Covered in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4)
Eventually, with enough effort in the right direction, the logs will catch fire and keep on burning!
the same way that...
With enough effort in the right direction, you will attract the right users to your website and keep doing so!
Hopefully this paints a decent picture of what it looks like to venture off into SEO.
The Algorithm is a Big Mystery
Before we actually venture off into the course, there's an important point I'd like to make. It's that...
No one knows exactly how the search algorithms work
All the tactics that you come across — even the ones in this course — are at best, best guesses for what the algorithm will surface.
This might sound worrying but it's actually very liberating.
No one knows the exact inputs you need to be able to rank well in the search engines.
But, as I mentioned before, one thing's for certain:
Give users what they are looking for and you'll go a long way
Search engines are working hard for the end users just as much as it's working hard for those providing for those end users.
Search engines are working hard to surface your helpful content to help their users.
If you build within the parameters of the needs of the search engine and their end users — you'll do great.
Now the big question is: "How do I do this?"
The same way you're focussed on building your product based on customer feedback, you must apply this same product-minded thinking to your approach in SEO:
You must build and iterate towards the best content for what the user is looking for, using the tools, data, and mental models around SEO that's available to you.
And that's what I hope to center your attention and efforts towards in this course!
With that said, let's dive into the first piece of the puzzle that will lead you to finding out what your users are looking for.