1. Do It For SEO and…

I get asked all of the time… “should I do this SEO tactic, or that SEO tactic, or this trick or that trick?”.

There’s a simple rule we use to decide if a certain tactic should be pursued.

Does it possibly help SEO and…. [something else you would do anyway – for any reason other than ‘rankings’]

Here. This venn diagram should help you out:

venn decision framework for seo tactics

We ONLY pursue and recommend tactics and strategies that are “SEO and…”.

2. View Everything Through An 80/20 Lens

If you’re not familiar with the 80/20 Principle, or not excited by it – that’s because it’s often misunderstood. It’s NOT simply “do 80% of this thing and 20% of that thing”.

Rather it’s asking – what are the small number of inputs causing the majority of positive results or outputs?”

simple 80 20 analysis

I talk about 80/20 SEO in-depth in this 2013 article.

3. SEO Is Really Search ‘Ecosystem’ Optimization

“Engine” is really a terrible, small and incomplete word to describe the “thing” that SEO fits into.

How you think about “SEO” determines how you strategize and execute on it. Therefore, I choose to think of it as Search ‘Ecosystem’ Optimization. I plan on doing a complete article on this soon, but in short:

  1. There’s the real world
  2. There’s the “digital world” – a digital copy of the real world, if you will.
  3. There are search engines whose job is to bridge the gap between the real and digital world.

The ultimate core skill-set of an SEO is to understand as much as possible about how search engines work – but also the entire ecosystem a real+digital+search world creates.

It might all seem like philosophical fluff, but in a future article, I’ll show how it translates into strategies, tactics, and results.

4. NEVER Sacrifice Brand or Marketing For SEO

In fact, the best SEO aligns with branding, brand voice, sound marketing, product, vision.

One of the biggest fears I hear is “does our SEO/content need to drift away from the brand voice, or be not related at all to our other marketing goals”?

Definitely not!

Every single strategy, tactic, keyword, link, article, technical adjustment we recommend – will always be in the spirit of aligning with the brand – not against it.

5. Take Action > Too Much Overthinking

As they say. Ideas are meaningless – execution is everything.

Well, we LOVE ideas, and the idea IS important. One thing we’ve learned throughout the years? Execution is the real engine driving the results.

Therefore, when working with clients, we’re as concerned with cracking the execution code as coming up with ideas.

6. It’s Not “SEO Content” It’s “Content For a Search Audience

I remember clear as day.

I was giving an SEO/content session to a few people at Harvard Business Publishing (in-house, pre covid)


I was trying to get them bought into the idea of creating some articles “for SEO”. You know, “SEO Content”.

It was a real struggle because they have very high editorial standards and for them, it’s all about the audience. So mid-session, I spontaneously came up with “content for a search audience” as a way to describe “SEO content” in a way that’s human-focused.

And this IS indeed how I actually view the entire mindset for creating content for search traffic. It’s a subtle language change but it informs and positions my entire mindset around content and search traffic.

7. Follow The ROI

One huge SEO challenge is idea overload. There are thousands of articles, posts and case studies written every year. They are filled with endless tactics you could apply to almost any situation?

So should you do all of them?

No! Of course not.

So how do you determine the tactics that are best for your situation?

We have a simple rule: follow the ROI.

Here’s one example. You take any key ‘dimension’ in Google Analytics and sort by conversion rate:

We try to find dimensions that have outsized ROI in certain areas – and then double/triple down on those.

8. SEO Is A Tool Used For A Variety Of Goals

There is another problem with SEO. Everyone’s goals and intentions are assumed by oftentimes different.

Meaning, here’s just an off the cuff sample of what some clients want as SEO goals:

  • Increased Rankings
  • More links
  • Organic Traffic
  • Increases Revenue From Search
  • Traffic Recovery
  • Just to ‘feel good’ about checking the SEO boxes
  • Brand Reputation Management In Search Results
  • Get more content indexed

And actually … none of those are wrong!

What’s wrong, would be to go into any SEO situation without determining and aligning on goals from the beginning.

Now, yes, in many cases, organic traffic is the common goal.

SEO the way we do SEO, it’s looked at as a tool, with many possible tactics and strategies, that can be custom-tailored to achieve specific goals.