Myths, Misconceptions, and Mistakes: How to Avoid the Most Common SEO Pitfalls with Kyle Roof [EP.51]
How important is SEO to your business?
Great SEO is a primary factor in many online businesses’ success. But approaching it for the first time can feel like a minefield. Between out-of-date information and seemingly constant changes to Google’s algorithm, you may think SEO is an impossible game to win.
But Kyle Roof knows it’s far from that. In fact, the SEO guru has obtained a US patent proving exactly how you can manipulate SEO to rank on search engines.
Kyle is the lead SEO at High Voltage SEO, Founder of PageOptimizer Pro, Co-founder & SEO Instructor at Internet Marketing Gold (IMG), speaker, trainer, and all-around hub of SEO knowledge. He joined The Opportunity Podcast to dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions about SEO practices and the Google algorithm, and reveals what site owners should be doing to improve their SEO and outperform their competition.
Listen to The Opportunity Podcast Episode #51
Topics Discussed in this episode:
- The biggest SEO misconceptions and mistakes to avoid
- How to get started with SEO
- How to get your site to rank
- What to do when there’s a search engine algorithm update and how to protect your site against it
- Kyle’s advice for more advanced SEO practitioners
- Why testing is key to developing your SEO skills
- What the future of SEO looks like
The Biggest SEO Misconception
Kyle says that the most common misconception, and arguably, biggest mistake people make when they first encounter SEO is thinking that search engines make value judgements.
By this, Kyle means that people may expect search engines to evaluate sites based on whether a company has the best product, service, or written content. For example, people may think that because Google is showing a certain business as the number one ranked result, it must be the best. But that’s not how Google (or any search engine) works.
Kyle says that search engines can’t make these value judgments because it’s not real people checking these sites and evaluating which is best – search engines are just mathematical algorithms.
So how does it work?
In simple terms, Kyle says that you have to “give that algorithm the math it wants”. This is the tricky part to wrap your head around. It’s not the best content or product or service that wins, it’s the page that gives the algorithm what it needs. Kyle says:
“If you haven’t given the algorithm what it needs so that it can understand what this page is about and understand what your product is about, It won’t matter how good your product is, or your services are. You’re simply not going to rank.”
To craft a page that wins in SEO terms, Kyle advises thinking carefully about combining content with the winning “math”
How to Get Started with SEO
If you’re brand new to SEO, Kyle suggests looking towards the big players in the space such as Moz and Ahrefs and checking out their beginner guides. But to really get your teeth into practical SEO, Kyle advises setting up your own site to play with.
Learning frameworks is one thing, but putting your knowledge into practice is another. Kyle says that trialling concepts, ideas, and techniques is the best way for beginners to learn how to optimize webpages. So set up a website and start experimenting.
He cautions that your first SEO site is more of a playground than a financial venture – so don’t expect to turn it into a money-maker. This is where you’ll try things out and learn, so he also advises picking a topic to write about that you enjoy (so you don’t end up resenting the work).
When to Move from Play to Pay
Once you start to see some proven results with your SEO site, you can start to think about moving from experiments to actual SEO work.
Kyle says that if you’re seeing just a 50% success rate in your experiments, you’re probably not quite ready to put your SEO practices where your mouth is…but once you get up to the 60-70% range (aka, winning more times than you’re failing) then you’re in a much better position to leverage your SEO knowledge.
If you’re seeing even better results (70-80% success rate), Kyle dubs you an SEO expert. At this point, Kyle says you should feel comfortable moving away from your SEO hobby site, and onto paid projects.
The Beginner SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Before you can climb the SEO ranks, you’ve got to start somewhere. Kyle notes that there are two big mistakes many beginner SEOs continue to make. The first is doing too much – without fully committing at all.
“[Beginner SEOs] see some sort of specialized technique, or advanced technique, and they jump right into that without doing the foundational aspects of things and then […] they don’t complete the technique.”
Kyle says that he often sees people getting frustrated that their SEO isn’t working, when the issue is that they haven’t gone all in. They’ve tried 20% of one new technique, then hopped to another, then another. By not building a strong foundation and not completing the technique, of course they’re not seeing results.
The second common mistake beginner SEOs make is focusing too intently on benchmarking keywords, rather than looking at the bigger picture.
Kyle recommends looking at page level and how pages perform over tracking where you rank for certain keywords. KPIs such as impressions, clicks, and conversions are more important in the long-term, and will give you better insights than more short-sighted data like single keyword performance.
How to Get Your Site to Rank
The “dirty little secret of SEO”, according to Kyle is that the most foundational SEO work is the part that does the most heavy lifting. In fact, Kyle says that just getting your keywords in the right place does about 60% of the SEO work.
He advises thinking carefully about your target keywords (these are what you expect your ideal client to type into Google). Then the next step is to put your keywords in all the right places on your page, so that Google can find them. These include:
- Page URL
- Title tag – often referred to as a meta title
- The H1 – the heading title that users read first
- And your paragraph text
These are all vital places for your keyword and will help you rank much faster.
However, Kyle does add one caveat. If you’re optimizing your SEO on an already well-established page that’s ranking well do not change your URL. Even if your target keyword isn’t in there. If you change your page URL, Google will think this is a new page, and it could harm your rankings. But, if you’re dealing with a new page or one that isn’t ranking, then Kyle says go ahead and change it!
What to Do When There’s a Search Engine Algorithm Update
One of the biggest fears an SEO-focused site owner might have is an update to the Google algorithm. But Kyle suggests they’re often not as damaging as you might think.
The first thing anyone concerned with SEO should do is read Google’s developer’s guide, says Kyle. This can give you plenty of insights into what is and isn’t worth doing to keep the algorithm happy.
Next, if you think your site has been impacted by an update, take a look at what individual pages have been affected. Head to your Search Console, sort by pages, and then compare their performance before and after the update. From here you can clearly see what effect this might have on your business.
In a lot of cases, the pages impacted won’t be important for conversions, so it’s good to take a step back and evaluate what, if any work needs doing. However, if a page that is a high converter isn’t performing as well, you could see if there’s an opportunity to create a new page for that keyword or consider how you can rewrite the page – such as adding in new subheadings (H2s) or paragraphs to get more of your target keyword in there.
How to Protect Your Site from an Algorithm Update
Prevention is better than cure, so to help protect your site from potentially harmful updates, Kyle shared this top tip: make it plainly obvious that your site is a real business.
To do this, you should show:
- Real addresses
- Local phone numbers
- Contact forms and real email addresses
- Privacy and returns policies
- Terms of Service pages
- About us/team pages – showing real people who work at your company
Remember, these have to be clearly written so that a bot can understand your site is the face of a very real organization.
Kyle notes that as Google gets smarter and makes more updates, it becomes increasingly hostile to affiliate sites. This can be a real problem if you host an affiliate site and are a “real” company, but perhaps struggle to prove it in ways that Google understands.
Search engines are more focused than ever on credibility, so they’re programmed to ensure they direct people to content that real people are responsible for – aka there’s redress if something goes wrong. If search engines can’t work out if your site hosts a “proper” business, it will penalize you.
Kyle’s SEO Must-Dos
To recap, here are Kyle’s top suggestions for improving your SEO:
- Set up a dummy site to work on your skills
- Make sure your keywords are in all the critical spots
- Test everything
- Benchmark your performance – check how your keywords help you rank against competitors
- Make sure you clearly show your site belongs to a real business
- Don’t be afraid to write content for zero search term phrases (it could pay off in the long run!)
Discover more SEO insights and find out how to apply them to your site by listening to the full interview with Kyle. Hit play on the player at the top of this page to listen to the full podcast episode or check it out on your favorite podcast app. The Opportunity Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
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