20 Things I Learned about SEO in 20 Years

20 Things I Learned about SEO in 20 Years
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1. Relationships are Important for Success

All the SEO knowledge in the world won’t help you if you cannot bring stakeholders on board with what needs to be done in order to succeed. From the CEO to the guys working at the backend of the website, you need people to believe in the process in order to get the best results.

2. The Right Tech Matters

SEO is predominantly occupied with keywords and the intent behind them. But the best SEOs need the right tools to be able to get on top of all that data and use it correctly.

3. It Pays to Be Well-Rounded

Outside of SEO, other skills like web design and engineering on the backend and frontend are not bad to have in your tool belt. You can also add knowledge on, project management, team management, usability, URL structure, marketing, and social media to the mix if you really want to have all bases covered.

4. Things Aren’t the Same Anymore

SEO keeps changing. Before all you had to do was get a few good keywords for your content and submit to search engines and directories and that would be all that was necessary to start seeing results. Today the competition is tougher and the algorithms smarter. An effective SEO has to have working knowledge of all sorts of stuff like personalization, localization, RankBrain, neural matching, machine learning, user experience, and E-A-T (expertise-authoritativeness-trustworthiness), among other things.

5. Let the Numbers and Results Do the Talking

Being an SEO entails making sure that precious time you could spend working isn’t spent chasing people to make the necessary changes instead. Usually the best way to go about this is by presenting the numbers and small wins to stakeholders in a way that is compelling.

6. You Need to Understand People

SEO does not cater only to machines. It caters to people and their needs as well. Without a proper understanding of what a user is searching for when typing in a keyword, your SEO results will always be lacking.

7. There’s No Set Formula

SEO cannot be reduced to an immutable set of rules to follow—although some general guidelines will always be helpful. Search optimization is often a nuanced craft that involves finding the right audience keywords and intent and spending the right time on the metrics that matter.

8. SEO Is Storytelling

That’s all there is to it really. SEO consists in telling the search engines the right stories about your website so the search engines can in turn know what to tell searchers. If search engines learn your website is about basketball, for example, you may want to add information about:

  • How to improve free throws
  • Best Basketball brands
  • Choosing the best sneakers to improve your vertical jump

And so on and so forth.

The better the story you tell, the better search engines understand your site and the better your SEO results would be.

9. Agencies and In-House SEOs Usually Have Different End Goals

SEOs who work in agencies are usually more concerned with keeping clients happy, and this could mean anything from communicating clearly and often to increasing website traffic. On the other hand, in-house SEOs tend to be predominantly preoccupied with increasing revenue with their craft.

10. Learn to Look Twice Before You Leap

Take the time to understand the data before making decisions on how to go about solving SEO problems. Sometimes, the metrics that drive results are not the ones that are front and center.

11. SEOs Hardly Agree with Each Other

SEOs hardly see eye to eye on how to go about solving an SEO problem. And that’s okay because it doesn’t mean one person is wrong; it simply means that creative thinking and imagination are very much allowed in the field.

12. There Is More than One Way of Doing Things

SEO is such an out-of-the-box type of discipline that there is seldom one way of doing things to get results. Imagine a house that is a maze where several different roads lead to the center—that’s SEO.

13.  Learn How to Blend

As an SEO, your job will require you to work with different sets of people: execs, engineers, content writers, designers, etc. Learn each group’s language and desired goals and see your job grow easier by the day.

14. Understand Company Processes and Leverage Them

If you happen to be an SEO working within an organization, learning to adapt accordingly to how they do things can make your job much easier. For example, let’s say you work with engineers dedicated to the DevOps methodology. Instead of trying to redirect their way of doing things, it would be more productive to get up to speed on what they do and simply ask them to weave in any changes you would want for SEO purposes.

15. Be Patient

In SEO, the patient dog wins—or at least doesn’t grow frustrated with how much time it takes to see results. It’s a slow moving world out there in the SEO landscape.

16. Your Years of Experience Truly Doesn’t Matter

Seriously, just because someone has been in the game for 20 years does not mean they are a better expert than someone with only 5 years of experience. SEO changes so much that we are all newbies in one way or the other.

17. Stay Up-to-Date

Google changes the way they assess your website on a near-monthly basis. What worked for you just a two or three years ago may get you nowhere today. SEO requires constant updating of knowledge in order to stay abreast of what works.

18. Do Quality Work

The world of SEO is like everywhere else: the cream eventually rise to the top. Resist the urge to cut corners and consistently put in your best in order to see the best results in the long run.

19. No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

You can always learn from those around you and those ahead of you. SEO is no longer a nascent field and there is a lot of time-tested wisdom to go around which you can benefit from.

20. Beware of Noisemakers Who Know Less than they Claim

The loudest SEOs are not necessarily the best SEOs. Choose your mentors wisely, making sure that they actually fit your level of expertise.


Because SEO is constantly changing, you can expect a different list 20 years from now. But you can take advantage of our expertise now. Do you need SEO help for your website? Reach out now and tell us about your website.