#83: Thoughts on SEO

Fair warning: more rambling than usual. Listen to my thoughts about SEO. What I think I know is that SEO is a series of fairly obvious best practices. A SEO service that helps you with those things can be good, a SEO service that claims to do anything else seems shady. However, there are plenty of examples where seemingly doing everything right doesn't seem to work, and results that show up higher than your project look like pure garbage. SEO is, and may always be, quite mysterious.

Links from Video:


  1. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Nice, honest screencast Chris! Had a good laugh with your southern accent :)

    SEO is definitely a matter of common sense, and a mystery in itself. I always have a smirk across my face when I see websites of companies that offer “Trade secrets” on SEO or other crazy promises…

    I hope a lot of people see your screencast and learn more about SEO before throwing it around when they request a quote for a project…

    • User Avatar
      Permalink to comment#

      Really nice “Revelations” about this secret art of SEO ;-)

      I already signed a NDA to see one Secret stuff of SEO, but all the file was just few points of Google PDF ….

      Thanks for the screencast.

  2. User Avatar
    Slobodan Kustrimovic
    Permalink to comment#

    Awesome screencast. BTW on the index page it says New Screencast: CSS Image Switcher :)

    • User Avatar
      Permalink to comment#

      Yep, was about to comment on that ;)

    • User Avatar
      Slobodan Kustrimovic
      Permalink to comment#

      When i saw that “mistake” i first thought Chris is making some kind of a April fools screencast :)

  3. User Avatar
    Jan-Marten de Boer
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey Chris,
    The power-systems.com site had a PDF with a relevant title and probably a lot of relevant data which Google indexes as well and gives a higher grade for posting that amount of relevant data. This is something your page lacks. It’s probably not descriptive enough!

    • User Avatar
      Slobodan Kustrimovic
      Permalink to comment#

      The site actually lacks ugliness. All high ranked websites are ugly, maybe that’s how SEO works, you need an ugly website. Just kidding, but they really are ugly.

      PS Don’t forget about a lot of big blue color text that isn’t a link.

  4. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    I think you nailed it…. when you said “I don’t know” please don’t make a screencast about something you don’t know

    • User Avatar
      Chris Coyier
      Permalink to comment#

      The “I don’t know” part is the whole point. If you “do know”, enlighten us. If you don’t like this style of screencast, just unsubscribe, because that’s what I do.

  5. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve been having troubles with Google’s ranking for a while now. xHTML strict and semantic code, important keywords marked with the strong-tag and an alternating title/meta-description relevant to the content of the page. But still Google is rating other, badly written sites above me. Yahoo and Bing do rate my site first.

    Google Webmastertools is pretty flaky too. For some reason it keeps saying that I have “duplicate meta descriptions” while I’ve changed these months ago. They read it correctly for a short while, but fucked it up again after a while.

  6. User Avatar
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    I suspect that YOUR link to Madison Carpet Cleaning does more for that site’s SEO than all the supposed SEO he’s paid for. Because: a. it’s on a high-ranking page, b. the link says “Madison Carpet Cleaning”. You shoulda done the same thing for “Agility Ladders” while you were at it.

    I agree with all your points. I have yet to meet an “SEO consultant” who really knew what they were doing. Good web designers do it as part of their job. If the content is there and the designer/developer does a reasonable job, the site ranks well.

    Re: Agility Ladders: my question to clients like that is usually: “Are you sure your prospective client is searching for terms that are so specific? Do they know the term ‘agility ladder’ or should you be trying for broader search terms.”

    That is: the client is often fixated on THEIR terms and have no clue what prospective customers actually type in. The potential buyers MAY know and be searching for “agility ladders”; just don’t assume.

    Just off the top of my head (and not really knowing the field), I’d add: physical therapy, agility training, flexibility training, inexpensive training equipment. What else? AND throw ladder in there also.

    And what I always tell my clients is: I build sites for human beings while keeping search engines in mind. If I build too much for search engines, humans won’t like it. And then it’s only a matter of time before search engines catch on that the site is crap.

    I do have one criticism: even though you warned that it was rambling, I think it could have been better done as a written blog. I could have read it in 10 minutes, instead of listening (it was in the background while I worked) for 40 minutes. Though, yes, we’d have missed your southern accent on “I wanna be higher in The Google.”

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
      Permalink to comment#

      Although i was really excited about you having another screencast launched, i agree with Jim on this. The only thing that kept me from listening to it in the background was that is was on a break and wanted some distraction.

      Don’t get me wrong. I do love your screencasts and i’m glad i didn’t miss the great accent thingy, but i could’ve skip-read it in a few minutes with the same experience as you left me after 40 minutes.

      The cast was entertaining and informative. If you’d like to have a quick check up on your SEO, you could read this: Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. I read the dutch version myself (that just happens when you live in The Netherlands) and it set some things fairly straight for me. The English version looks fairly similar, so no worries there. It’ll take you 30 minutes to read (3/4 of your screencast) and understand. It’s written for people that want to be “higher in The Google.”

      I hope this helps out a lot. I’m actually implementing a lot in my Content management system.

      One thing is totally clear: “Write long and prosper” and don’t forget to add some relevant content.

    • User Avatar
      Permalink to comment#

      I am always being asked this question aswell and always try to do the things that Chris suggests and that you have mentioned here with regards to key phrases.

      I’m currently trying to boost a real estate agents website and I’m improving all of the tags, I’ve give the site a better description tag and I have included relevant key phrases in the title and keywords tags aswell as in the content of the site. Whilst they are starting to get more visitors, their google ranking has stayed the same when really they should be first for most of the targeted searches.

      Somebody mentioned Google’s Page Rank system to me a while ago and was suggesting that working on your page rank was another good way of boosting where a site would display in google searches. Does anyone have some tips on that?

      Also, Jan-Marten, thanks for that link, I’ll read through it now!

  7. User Avatar
    Catherine Azzarello
    Permalink to comment#

    Thank you! I tell clients much the same, but the ‘I don’t know’ part isn’t what a client wants to hear. ;-)

    Now I can send them to this video for an honest explanation and walk through with examples.

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
      Permalink to comment#

      I wish i could do the same. Too bad my clients are all dutch and most of them wouldn’t understand what Chris is saying or would take the time to listen wo Chris if they could.

      I guess patience has left the planet. It did leave us.

  8. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    SEO all seems like alchemy to me. I enjoyed listening to it.
    I would say that focusing on your audience is important – looking for places where they would go. So for the carpet cleaning, I would have the company post an ad on Craigslist, Angie’s List, Yelp, FB fan page, etc. Overall, its a subset of a larger marketing strategy.

  9. User Avatar
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    I had two sites on the same topic, built to the same standard and in the same way, on the go at the same time, with one ranked higher than the other. I then took the higher ranked site down for six months. During the period of time where that site did not exist, The Google still ranked it higher.

    I’d love to see a video-reply to this, by an SEO guy that knows his biscuits. You know, where he’d (she’d) go through the beacon site and say “well, do this here, and this there, and delete that, etc…” I think something like that would be pretty informative.

    For extra points, get someone from Alabama.

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
      Permalink to comment#

      Two simple questions. What were the differences on both the sites in the slightest and what were your search queries?

    • User Avatar
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      The only differences are the length of time they were online, and the size of the sites.

      The (still) higher ranked site has been around, in various forms, for a couple of years (barring the six month stint when I took it over) whereas the other has only been online for about a year – but carries a crap load more content and has good, steady readership.

      They are both sites for Connemara Pony Stud Farms (glamourous, I know – no photo’s, please!), so the common denominator search queries are ‘connemara pony’ and ‘connemara ponies’. Either query consistently lands the smaller/older site on page one, whereas the bigger/younger site hangs on street corners between page two and three, depending on god-knows-what.

      The younger site also has (literally) ten times the viewership of the older.

      Ok, so someone might say ‘Well, Google are rewarding sites (and their incoming links) for longevity, possibly equating that to relyability…’, but I say that’s a rubbish system without any reference to quality, popularity, or even existence!

  10. User Avatar
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    Truth is, unfortunately, Google ranking is based on inbound links and content. Objective parameters. When it comes to aesthetics, subjective and impossible to measure, Google can’t take appearance into consideration for ranking. Afterall, Google only looks through HTML, right? And we all know that the juicy design stuff should be hidden away in CSS files.

    • User Avatar
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      In terms of design, actually there are some measurable aspects. For example site speed and crawlability. If the site has un-optimized and heavy images, it will take too long for a page to load which is bad for design. In addition, search engines want users to easily find what they look for. Navigation within the site must be easy for a visitor and easy for the search engine bot.

  11. User Avatar
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    I think seo is just luck I ranked good in Google for Jon Mackay but for “Cadillac Michigan web design” I was number four a few weeks now I’m like page four and i don’t know what to do.

  12. User Avatar
    Old Guy
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve long since given up on worrying about SEO. I still practice common sense techniques but other than that, I just design a good looking site with quality content and let google figure out how to place me.
    I’m more worried about delivery speed which I tend to overlook a lot.

  13. User Avatar
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    SEO is like the stock market. It’s full of complicated algorithms, weird terminology, and elitist jerks who don’t want to share information. And in the end, all of those things don’t make even one percent of what common sense fixes.

  14. User Avatar
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    lmao, paris hilton boobs.

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
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      You’re “trying to increase page value” over here? ><

  15. User Avatar
    Bonnie Gomes
    Permalink to comment#

    Check out Market Samurai. Watching their videos increased my SEO knowledge tenfold. They’ve taken a lot of the guess work out of. (Till Google updates their algorithm).

  16. User Avatar
    Visual Rhythm
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    Fantastic post Chis. As we say in Oakland, “I hella relate”. Your imitation of a S.E.O dreaming client is priceless.

  17. User Avatar
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    I applied a simple list of SEO suggestions, I got for free from my host, and at first my client said “..I think for the SEO it’s great that you put the basics in, and I def need to go in and really get into depth on the product. But thanks for putting in the basics! You rock.”

    Thankfully she didn’t go “into depth” because that meant going back to the old school way of bloating the product pages with extra/irrelevant words.

    Well seems less is more. Bunch of extra/irrelevant words on your pages will get you penalized because search engines will always favor a more organized/easy to index site. Well in about 6 weeks my client tells me she is higher on Google since we simplified the SEO.

  18. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Excellent screencast. The ‘number one on the google’ customer sounded awkwardly familiar. I heavily agree on Boag’s ‘passive marketing’-complaint. It’s like sometimes people forget that, instead of relying on some search engine, they have to get out there and make a name for themselves and just.. be great! Google did too :P (Didn’t they?)

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
      Permalink to comment#

      The problem with it sounding familiar is the accent entirely. All those people sound the same to me :P

  19. User Avatar
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    Great screencast…

  20. User Avatar
    Tom Walters
    Permalink to comment#

    Great screencast! Really interesting insight to the keywords that lead to CSS Tricks. I noticed you talked about people just searching the site’s name to find it, but I think it might be something different.

    Personally I found the site just after I got into doing CSS, and I searched Google for “CSS tricks” to find out if there were any cool things I could do with CSS, so maybe a good percentage of people getting to the site via that search-term are in fact just looking for cool things to do with CSS!

    Also on a side note, the thing with the client from Chatman design, I think could be down to the search terms. As you said that it was a product created by them and pretty new, would people really be searching Google for “Agility Ladder”? I think not, unless they had already heard of it. So maybe they should look into key-word optimization, and look into getting inside the mind of potential customers. So if the Agility Ladder helps them with their agility (I assume it would) then why not look into optimizing for “how to improve my agility”.

    I think the way to look at it is to get those search terms that others don’t have, that way you’re sure to have good SEO, the only other way round it is to have good content.

    Some interesting ideas though!

    • User Avatar
      Jan-Marten de Boer
      Permalink to comment#

      I actually came to learn of css-tricks by watching a screencast of Chris while trying out the then new Miro TV. That’s the same place where i first saw hak5. I didn’t feel like watching a screencast about css. “What’s there to make a whole video about CSS?” Good old days :-p

      Chris, you did a great job then and you do a great job now. Keep up the good work!

  21. User Avatar
    Ken Lasher
    Permalink to comment#


    Great job on the SEO screencast.

    I have a hard time with SEO. I have created a lot of sites and the search results aren’t very impressive. It is hard to tell a client “I tried my best” and have them feel that you did.

    I had one client pay for one month on google. That seemed to work because his site showed up near the top for about a year.

    If there is someone that really understands SEO, please let the rest of us know.

  22. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    FYI, Beacon Athletics’ site search sucks: http://tinyurl.com/yzkxhon

  23. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Chris, one of the things I like about you is your honestly and how you are so down to earth. It is nice to hear someone say, “I don’t know” instead of making up something.

    One of the things I did not read or see in your screen cast was the idea of competition. I had a client the other day ask me why their site was not number one for “boating”. I laughed and then explained to them that they have 30 million other sites competing for that term…. People think for some reason that once they have a site up that they should get millions of visits because they typed in a word that they thought they should be ranked high for. The truth is that the only true way to control how the search engines work is to own the search engines…

  24. User Avatar
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    Chris, I wouldn’t consider myself a SEO specialist at all but it is an interesting topic and I writing my CS thesis on SEO and SMM.

    I just wanted to give you some information on the meta description tag you mention in the video. Apparently, today this tag is no longer considered for SEO. It still helps to get a good description on a SERP but the majority of people I talked with think this is no longer a factor in the search engines algorithms.

    Also on the Beacon Athletics site. If I display the “View Page Info” with Firefox there are no Keywords and Description information available.

    Specifically on the ABC Agility Ladder. I could very well be as you mentioned in the video that this is a super competitive keyword.

    Loved all your thoughts and will give you a mention in my thesis.

    • User Avatar

      Nicolas, if you read “Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” which was written by a google insider, it tells you to include the meta description and keywords … i tend to believe a google insider before i believe “what they say”

  25. User Avatar
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    Hi Chris, Love your pod cast by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if these black hat SEO companies have an army of spammers at their disposal.

    I work in the Philippines and a chunk of web work is sent here either from the US or UK. I have a friend lured by the dark side giving up honest design work for “SEO”.

    One day I noticed she’s been sending weird links through FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. I thought it’s good to ask if her workstation has been compromised or infected by a virus.

    There I learned that she’s actually “working”.

    Google and most probably other search engines too counts links from other sites as votes. Clicking the search result in Google is also a vote. The higher the vote the higher you rank in the result pages.

    You’ll see people here working for companies that sends the following tasks.

    1. Log in to FaceBook, write anything, and oh, include this link “http://site1.com/product1”.

    2. Log in to Twitter, say hi to your friends, and oh, include this link “http://site1.com/product1”.

    3. You have you’re own website? Good! Write something and include this link “http://site1.com/product1”.

    4. Search “keyword1” in Google. You’ll probably see “http://site1.com/product1” in page 30. Click the link on the result page. Do this again in a few hours until the link is in page 1.

    5. Search using other search engine and do the same thing.

    Now imagine 100 or so seats doing a similar thing and to even attract more workers they offer part time and work-at-home jobs.

    Try to compete with that using best practices.

  26. User Avatar
    Bradley Gauthier
    Permalink to comment#

    Chris, I like the screencast! I did some digging on the agility ladders. And found some possible reasons for the weak search results…

    The majority of the search ranking pie is having high-trust links pointing to the site and the agility ladder page is clearly lacking on that front.

    On Yahoo Siteexplorer there are only two inlinks from outside domains for the agility ladder page. And Google only has a pagerank of 2 on the page. While the coding, meta/keyword stuff is pretty good (except the description is horrible) the links will be the biggest catalyst for change in ranking.

    I like your idea of sending the ladders to bloggers who would review them… great way to build links for them.

    All in all, great questions raised with your video, thanks!!

  27. User Avatar
    Kam Cheng
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve had these same thoughts on SEO. Nice to be confirmed by Chris.

  28. User Avatar
    Trey Durden
    Permalink to comment#

    As much as I enjoyed your examination of multiple sites and sharing with us on the “WHY NOT’S” I am was looking for an education on what we can do as site owners to do in the background of our sites.

    We as site owners probably have no choice but to trust someone to screw us!

    What would you do to you site that would improve site listing rankings from the background!

  29. User Avatar
    Andrew White
    Permalink to comment#

    Hi Chris, really enjoyed the rant on this – I totally agree, especially about avoiding the “I WANT TO BE NUMBER 1 ON THE GOOGLE” guys!

    I actually found this after the results for web design cardiff changed at least 5 times over night!!! I have absolutely no idea why that’s happening, someone suggested it might be a Google major update?! Have you heard any rumors about Google updates creating really weird SEO results?

    It’s all a mystery to me, I’m sticking to good development and crossing my fingers!!

    Cheers Chris!

  30. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Great screencast!!!

    Thanks alot Chris

  31. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Chris –
    Maybe try adding the meta keywords tag? I know most people don’t use it anymore and most search engines supposedly ignore the meta tags but it couldn’t hurt. Also in the description tag for each page maybe include the product’s name at the beginning. Like: “Beacon ABC Agility Ladders give you many great drill options. About Video Advantages Options Quickness, balance, coordination…” Except, I don’t understand the ‘About ‘part. But for a product page I would definately try to keep my main keywords, (ie. Product name), at the beginning of the title. I had read in an SEO book at B.A.M. that you can get higher ranking by using header tags to include your keywords. And again in this since the product name.

    I hope this helps. Good luck. Also despite the hit your uncle’s site may take at first you should advise him to go to someone else to design it for him. I think he is being scammed.

  32. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    loved the accent :)

    IMO I don’t think its helpful when guys like powazek & boagworld completely dis SEO, while best practices and good content might be obvious to them it’s not to everyone. And whatever one’s thoughts on the topic, SEO is not going to go away, things are only going to get more competitive.

    I wouldn’t call myself an expert but think inbound links would seriously help the above cases, that’s links from good sites with desired keywords in the anchor text of the link.

    Jim makes a good point about what the client thinks are good keywords. A good SEO will do proper keyword research on this.

    A good list of ranking factors from SEOs http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#ranking-factors

  33. User Avatar
    Dominic Scimeca
    Permalink to comment#

    First post : So I have to say : love your site, your information, and screencasts. I check in ever couple of days and recommend you whenever I can.

    I thought I would just jump in and note that while the agility ladder did not rank for “Agility Ladder” It does rank quite high for “ABC Agility Ladder” (The second website actually).

    I have always thought that SEO is about good practices, good linking, but also marketing (which includes targeting your market, identifying your uniqueness, and being specific.)
    One of the easiest and most useful specificity just being location-specific (Like say “Madison”, I would go as far to say there is no way that site could get anywhere near the search “Carpet Cleaning”).

    So as far as the ladder : there are many agility ladders but why does this one stand out from the pack maybe “titanium agility ladder” (if you get my drift).

    Also, sites are evaluated as a whole, as well as their parts, so one particular page cannot necessarily pull a whole website out of obscurity.

  34. User Avatar
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    Well I don’t have any problems with this SEO thing, if you use WordPress try using SEO plugins let me tell you they help a lot!

  35. User Avatar
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    Hereby join you on the verbal assault to companies who upsell based largely on the smoke in mirrors principle.

    Whilst value added is something to be factored to a price, it’s not something that can continue to drive pricing up and up and up.

    If only we lived in the big rock candy mountain…

    • User Avatar
      Permalink to comment#

      Always forget to say things here…

      SEO is not a myth, i had been told by a dude charging crazy monies for SEO to not even tackle large terms for the area as it wouldn’t happen. Not even a listing. Can honestly say with some hard work, and fairly frequent content. With solid link backs my site has been climbing slowly but surely since being indexed for the terms 2 months ago.

  36. User Avatar
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    Google has eliminated meta tags and has focused rankings based on activity of site relating to keywords that are linked throughout this matrix. Bing and Yahoo are more stricter and give site age influence.

    To rank high on Google, simply add all your social networks and keep the content related on each one. Google will rank twitter & facebook quickly and a unique brand name will make the rankings within 2 days.

    To be the king of the keyword “auto” or similar ‘in general’ terms, there is alot of hardwork in competing, similar to business in today’s world, such as giving relevant info that will be beneficial to the customer. Most the time, the best biz wins, that is informative and ‘heavy’ on the web. Backlinks and Unique Visits help as well.

    SEO will change every 3 months and most are aiming for businesses to be a great supplier of info, in their field.

    Elucid Marketing

  37. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    I like the discussion screencast in your style. But one thing I want to suggest to you is that pls make your screen more active. I’ll be back for your every screencast and check out it~

  38. User Avatar
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    Very interesting topic. I am just learning about SEO, and have more of a general business/marketing orientation (rather than design, or SEO ranking).

    It seems to me that the old “80/20” rule would be my approach to this, in two ways:

    1. Exactly (not guessing, not “my friend told me”) what single element of the “SEO factors” carries the most weight? It looks to me like “Linking” is far weightier than anything else. But I don’t actually know this. Is there a definitive answer? And just how much weightier is the “most important factor” compared to the second-most important factor?

    If a single factor is “60% important”, then that factor is where most/all of the SEO money ought to go, if SEO ranking is the goal.

    2. The other 80/20 question: How important (how “weighty”) is one’s SEO ranking among all the marketing factors that relate to one’s business? (This is the Backwoods Client “I want to be high in the Google” issue)

    If one’s product/business really depends on “cold searches” (ie, I sit down and just type in something), then SEO ranking is critically important. But- if “word of mouth”, or “professional associations”, or “lowest price, period” is the key factor, then:

    put the marketing money where it does the most good. And that may be SEO ranking assistance, or it may be a totally non-SEO related expenditure.

    –I will read the articles, and follow this discussion.

  39. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    I have worked with SEO professionals before and tried some of my own techniques with SEO. I feel alot of it comes down to getting qualified traffic and inbound links. I know this does not explain some of these terribly coded sites getting higher placement in the SERPs and that I have never been able to truly figure out. I think Ron made a good point on how some of these companies are making these sites rank high. The site that I found to have the most honest and relevant information seems to be http://seomoz.org and I plan to sign up and try to learn more about this as just about every client inquires about it.

    I also would love to see a true SEO professional explain how these sites are ranking. Some of these things just truly boggle my mind.

    Great screencast Chris!

  40. User Avatar
    Jeremy Blanchard
    Permalink to comment#

    Oh my god, that accent was hilarious made me laugh so hard! Great screen cast as always :)


  41. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Lets not forget about listings on the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and the Yahoo directory. Being in these has helped me alot.

  42. User Avatar
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    Great screencast. Umm… SEO, complicated…

    The main things that your “agility ladder” page is lacking is “keyword density”. I had a quick look at your page and then a quick look at the other search results, they repeat the keyword more often than you do. Spread it around a bit, get the odd <strong> tag around the odd one, maybe a PDF document about it.

    Quantity of content can easy reduce keyword density and the age of the URL is also an important factor.

    I agree, and highly recommend, on the complementry action you suggested. They should send out samples to specialized magazines and fitness clubs asking for: write -ups, more incomming quality links (from related content), and alternative advertising done by traditional word of mouth.

    SEO can be a very frustraiting process. Do not let it get you down.

    As always keep up the good work and take care.

  43. User Avatar
    Parag Nair

    Chris, I saw your screencast pretty late but one thing i noticed about your Agility Ladder page was the Page titles were not h1 anywhere instead you have the h1 for the text “Training & Conditioning”. I know for the fact that google looks for similarity between the page name and the h1 tag on the page. I don’t really know anything more about it. Maybe this suggession has already made it to the comments list, if not, give it a try and maybe that should help a bit.

  44. User Avatar

    Great screencast. There is so much information around about SEO. Its difficult to know which is the correct information. Everyone has there own opinion.

  45. User Avatar

    The way to get a good rank on the map listing is to optimize your Google Local Business page.

    One of my clients is #1 on the map for ‘houston sprinkler’ and ‘houston backflow’.

    You do the same SEO practices on your GLB page. Make sure your business keywords are on the page.

    One thing I like about the GLB map is that those results are above the other results. As you said, you have to use Adwords to get to the actual top of the page, but then the map is right there. And if you’re looking for a local business, are you more enticed to use the map to find something near you? I also like how they list the number of reviews a business has. And of course they list the phone number next to your map listing.

    Another thing that Google loves is fresh content. If you find a copywriter and have 50 articles written up for a new site, don’t publish them all at once. Publish a mix of about 10 articles, then drip the content 2-3x a week. And of course you’ll get more subscribers that way. Subscribers are awesome, because a list of emails targeted for a specific market is potential gold.

    Chris, I’m sure you’re aware of this with your Digging Into WordPress release. You already had a huge list of people interested in CSS, WordPress, and associated subjects. Then it was quite easy to just send out an email or write up a new article here about the book release.

    When I think about SEO, it isn’t just onpage techniques. You have offpage stuff, SEM, article marketing, etc., that all lead to the same desired result of getting more people to view your ads.

    Because that’s basically the end goal when you boil it down. You want to either have people view your ads or purchase your product/service.

    By the way, you could dissect my #1 Google result for some ideas. I’m not really sure what factors worked, but search for ‘add font wordpress’ and my article is the top listing.

    Great screencast as always.

  46. User Avatar
    Jeremy Hawes


    Totally agree, most SEO stuff out there is garbage. Personally I offer an SEO service, but it is as you worded an “SEO Best Practices” service. I don’t promise some magical results that could potentially hurt the client as Google continues to thwart dishonest SEO attempts.

    Near the end you mentioned items about the site involved with Agility ladder. I would comment that there are several items I saw, though not as good as I would like so forgive me if I missed any fine print on the page, that I would improve.

    I would make one or several H1 or other header tags mentioned the keyword phrase “Agility Ladder,” mention it in the content (I assume it is rather frequently anyway), add the category to any blog like system on the site, and definitely find ways of Backlinking and register the site on some business directories.

    It’s already got a great pagerank, SEO is more about improvement. If a client’s site sucks and their product sucks there is nothing I can do to help (or at least I don’t chose to learn how). Best practices wise, I just make sure they’re saying the “Keywords” about their product or service that people look for in the right places of their site.

    Great video too – I loved every minute of it and am sick of all the scams out there too!

  47. User Avatar
    TechStudio SEO
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve been offering SEO as a service in addition to web design for a couple of years now. I really subscribed to this idea that really relevant content was the best practice right from the beginning. As the last couple of years have gone by, Google seems to be continually rewarding relevant content and coming up with new and innovative ways to reward sites that provide it.

    My dream for SEO is for it to be a service based entirely on best practices and truly relevant content from the human perspective. So Chris, preach it brother. ;)

  48. User Avatar
    Joao Lopes
    Permalink to comment#

    About the abc agility ladders.
    Try to create the version without ajax, google bot can’t see javascript.
    Well, they can with #handles, still you need to specify.
    Anyway, try to drop the ajax, because probably the bot can’t read the advantages.

    The best way to do this is to create a simple php page, and then go to the javascripted one.

    Try me know what you think.

    Remember flash? Well same problem here i suppose ;)

  49. User Avatar
    Mauro Torres
    Permalink to comment#

    Thank you for taking the time to make this video. I enjoyed it and found it very useful. I’m surprised at the comments from people complaining about the length of the video. I read a couple of comments from people who said it should have been in written form. I would disagree strongly with them. It was really easy for me to listen along and do work and then glance back when i need to see the sites or code you was demonstrating. Also for the people who complain about the length I dont understand why they complain. No one is forcing them to watch the whole thing. Even if the video was 20 hours long they can exit out whenever they want to. I just relay these thoughts so that you dont make the mistake that other lecturers and teachers do which is to hurry and talk fast. I say talk as much as you want, explain whatever you want. If I run out of time to watch then I’ll watch the video over the course of several days. Ok I’m beating a dead horse but thanks and please keep the videos coming. I’ve watched most of them.

  50. User Avatar
    Muhammad touseef
    Permalink to comment#

    SEOs are not Innocent and you are thats why your site is not rankin..

    I read more than 10,000 pages.. and visited SERPs more than … I dont know how many times.. to figure out SEO… One thing i am damn Sure

    No. 1 Ranking Factor at Google is Incoming Links with keywords in anchor text.. they Call it VOICE OF WEB. 99% ranking depend on that.

    Remaining 199 factors? they may be playing 1% Role. but i have observed some pages rank well which are 100% depending on voice of WEB. and not even have a single keyword anywhere on the page from title tag to copyright.

  51. User Avatar
    Mike Korn
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey Chris,

    This was a great article. Regardless of weather it solves the problem or not, it gave me great reassurance to know that sometimes you just can’t get a site on the first page of google. A lot of the time it depends on more than just your abilities.

  52. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    New web dev learning from css-tricks = free
    Better understanding of SEO and how to incorporate it = free
    ‘I wanna be number one on the google’…. Priceless

    Good video Chris and i loved your representation of “the people off the street”…lol

  53. User Avatar

    I just checked “garlic” on Google and saw Wikipedia on no:1. I also checked “madison carpet cleaning” and it was no:1 as well :)
    SEO might work I assume if you know what you do.

  54. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    I don’t mean to sound rude, but most of these comments show just how little people truly know about SEO.

    For starters, Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest all look at your website just as a screen reader would… text only. So aesthetics has nothing to do with ranking. Also, there are a ton of factors that go into ranking well and it goes so far beyond “Good Content” and “Inbound Links”. Inbound links do nothing for you if they are from poor pageranked websites. Actually, it has been stated that just spamming your links anywhere and everywhere can HURT your pagerank.

    Lastly, some people don’t understand SEO is an ongoing process that never ends. One day you can be #1 in a SERP and the next day you can be on page 10. You have to try and keep up with your competitors by adding fresh, new, relevant content as much as possible, track your analytics to find weak areas, improve those areas, always improve your keywords to match relevant content on the page, etc. Using the same keywords on every page will not help you… you need to modify keywords and optimize them for each page. Little tip: Don’t ever use “About Us” as a keyword… no person in the world searches “About Us” in google.

    Sorry for the long reply, but if SEO was so easy and was just left to chance, companies wouldn’t make the big bucks for doing it… SEOmoz, SearchEngineLand, etc. I usually enjoy your stuff Chris, and I know this is an old video, but this is genuinely misleading.

  55. User Avatar
    e okul
    Permalink to comment#

    SEO is good when it used for good content promotion or for visitor satisfaction. But apparently some people only think bots to be able to rank high on Google, therefore they create just garbage. Garbage is something Google does not want too. So they are working hard to eliminate these stuff from ranking high. In the long run, good content will win I am sure.

  56. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey Chris, any chance you could do a little update on this topic? I’m curious to see if you’ve learned anything since this screencast was done.

    There are so many companies that continue to spend thousands per months on SEO… hire contractors full-time, etc. What do they do 40 hrs a week???

  57. User Avatar
    e okul veli bilgilendirme sistemi
    Permalink to comment#

    The best way to do this is to create a simple php page, and then go to the javascripted one.

    Try me know what you think.

    Remember flash? Well same problem here i suppose ;)

  58. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    You lost me when you said “Google is smart enough…”

    I’m always amazed when people think Google is some kind of all-seeing god-like piece of software that somehow has the capacity to be sentient. It’s almost as if people believe that Artificial intelligence has actually been created.

    Let me ask you a question… if the whole world was your client base and everyone had a website, how would you answer your telephone (a billion phone calls a week)? How would you answer emails (a trillion emails a week)? How would you be able to interact with your client base in any way? How would you separate the Multiple keywords stuffed at the bottom of a page from the same number of keywords stuffed into a legitimate article? Is your algorithm sentient? Can it really think like a live human being? ..or is it just like every other computer on the face of the planet. Which is to say, “Sht in sht out.” In other words if this then that…

    There is no artificial intelligence. All Google can do is attempt to predict what you are going to do to a web page and then create a specific filter to apply to that page. Once that filter is applied, if it triggers something bad, then this will occur. The closest Google can come to artificial intelligence is ,”if the page contains x number of occurrences of this keyword compared to another website that has less occurrences, then the first page must be more relevant to the searcher.” Obviously, this is just one filter of many that must be applied. For example there must be a filter for too many occurrences, and perhaps number of inbound links plus most keyword usages is the sweet spot. What I’m trying to say is Google is just a set of instructions of if this then that. There is no guy looking over your shoulder because the size of the client base makes that impossible. That client base is so big that AUTOMATION is the only possible answer. And automation can be GAMED. Just like you with your WordPress website can be GAMED. If Google knows what the underlying code is as soon as you put your website on the Internet, then it has the “if this” part of the formula and it can start applying its filters. Google loves WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Typepad, or any kind of pre-written CMS (content management system) because it can immediately feed that known code straight into its filter system and send that site to page 200. Why do you think there are so many people screaming for SEO help for their wordpress sites? It’s because you are dead in the water the minute you chose that platform. Matt Cutts loves to talk about how much Google loves WordPress. Its almost comical looking at people taking advice from him when he’s the guy running the filters.

    He admits to the audience that I bet your number one question is how do I rank in Google (roflmao). His answer about flashdrives is so ludicrous I almost busted a gut laughing.

    Just remember, Google is an algorithm (computer program) with an impossible job due to the size of its client base. The only way it can possibly approach artificial intelligence is to solicit the people of the Internet to turn in websites that they think are cheating. Kind of like the kids in Nazi Germany that turned in their parents. That is the only sentient attribute that Google has. If you understand everything I have written then I have opened your eyes to the potential of real SEO. Yes, the first page can be yours, and NO… Google can’t stop you. It’s just a “dumb” algorithm that acts in pre-determined ways that SEOs create in custom hand-written code. Code that goes far beyond the constantly regurgitated “title tags”, “meta tags”, H1 tags, etc. etc. and instead deals with “if this” is applied to the algo “then this” will occur. ;-) Simple computer logic.

  59. User Avatar
    Gordon White
    Permalink to comment#

    Great article Chris,

    It’s really not easy to get on the first page of Google but with informative artles such as this one it should’nt be such a difficult task. Hopefully I will be able to get my website on the first page of Google for the desired keywords.

    Thanks again for the article.


  60. User Avatar
    Permalink to comment#

    Great video Chris,

    SEO is becoming more and more important and this is a great list I reference all the time. I found another small list for those who are interested as well http://codecrater.com/blog/7-common-seo-mistakes-avoid/ Its short but very useful SEO advice.


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