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A Comprehensive Post on SEO

This guest posst is by Kole McRae of Office Buddha.

I’m a blogger now but in a former life I did SEO professionally. As a part of the industry I’ve seen first hand the insane amount of misleading information available. Even so-called “professionals” have been known to give out absolutely terrible advice.

That’s why I’m writing this article. I want to finally teach you bloggers the truth behind SEO and how to rank well in Google. Some of the following information might be obvious and some of it might seem strange, but stick with me. If you follow my advice you’ll be ranking number one in no time.

The information I’m going to give is specific to Google, but the same tips will also help you rank in Bing and all other search engines.

Meta tags

Meta tags are a part of the HTML of your page that appear in the header. There are hundreds to choose from but only two matter when it comes to HTML: the Title tag and the Description tag.

Some people talk about the Keywords meta tag but Google has made it clear that they completely ignore it. It doesn’t hurt to have a keywords tag, but don’t assume it will help you rank in Google.

The Description tag

This is what Google (sometimes) uses to describe your site in the search results. It’s shown in the screenshot below.

A Comprehensive Post on SEO

This does not effect your rankings, but it can be used to help entice people to click on your link in the search results. Make sure it is relevant to your site, and describes what people will find when they click your link.

As you can see in the screenshot, the term that was searched for will show up in bold in the results. You can use this to help get more clicks—but don’t abuse it.

The Title tag

The Title tag is (sometimes) used by Google as the main text of your link within the search results, as seen in the screenshot below:

A Comprehensive Post on SEO

The words used here have been proven to help with rankings. Basically, the closer the keywords are to the left edge of the link, the better the result will rank for those keywords. For example, Geek Juice: Canadian Tech News won’t rank as well as Canadian Tech News by Geek Juice for the term “Canadian Tech News.”


In both instances I said that Google sometimes uses these tags. This is because they sometimes use other sources. Google may display content from your site instead of your chosen description or title tag if Google’s algorithm believes it is more relevant. Google may also use content from DMOZ (the open directory project.)


The tips I’ve seen online for on page SEO range from ill-conceived to downright frightening. People tout keyword densities and other strange points of data as the be-all and end-all of SEO. In reality Google hasn’t used keyword density in years. Stuffing a million keywords at the bottom of your page won’t help; some believe Google actually penalizes sites for this.

As long as you mention a chosen keyword once or twice within a blog post, you’ll be fine. The important thing is that the rest of the post is about that keyword. Google has figured out a lot of very complex ways to make sure your post is about the keyword you’ve chosen. For example if you’re talking about the keyword “Toronto Raptors” you’ll probably mention basketball and scores and various other basketball related information.

The best thing you can do when it comes to keywords is simply talk about the things you love.

Building links

Google first built its search engine on the idea of page rank: a page was probably relevant if a lot of people linked to that page. The more links to that page, the better. Early in Google’s life this approach was easily spammed, and to this day people continue to try and gain PageRank.

You’ve probably heard advice such as putting your link into blog comments and forums, and within your profile on social networking sites. The problem is that these days these links are all marked as “no follow” links. “No follow” tells Google not to use this link within its determination of the site’s ranking. So in the end, these links count for very little.

The only real way to build links is to create great content that sites want to naturally link to. The issue is that if you are a new blogger, your chances of getting a link are slim to none. There are ways to build them though…

Guest posts

Guest posts (such as this one) will almost always produce a really high-quality link to your site. Don’t guest post just anywhere, though. Google likes it when sites that are similar to yours links to you. So guest post on blogs that have similar themes.


Running a contest where you give something away is a great way to naturally product lots of links.

Viral content

If a single post or image of yours somehow gets to the first page of Reddit or Digg, you are guaranteed to get tons of links pointing to your site.

Social signals

Both Google and Bing have admitted to using social signals within search results. This is getting more and more prevalent.

However, it’s still a brand new part of SEO, and it hasn’t been thoroughly studied yet. What I can suggest, though, is that you make sure you have a Twitter and Facebook account and that you interact with your followers regularly.

Ultimately, all this advice amounts to one tip for achieving good search rank: create great, high-quality posts and interact with your readers regularly.

Are you doing this already? How’s your search rank looking?

Kole McRae started Office Buddha, a resource for those working 9-5 jobs that want to reduce stress, get more done, find more time for the things they love, and all around become happier.

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  1. So basically you’re telling us to ignore SEO tricks and to write about what we love? I like that :D

    • I think that’s the way to do it, Maaike. You may not get those few extra readers, but if you’re writing from your passion, the readers you do get will stick around!

    • I agree! This is it! Great stuff, I will continue to write about what I love.

    • Google uses several different factors for ranking your content. Some have more waitage than the others, but some SEO pros go overboard with link building, and keyword stuffing and things like that, which is nothing but a complete waste of time. You energy is better spent on things like building quality content.

      Great article BTW

    • Nice one! Thanks for that!

  2. Really helpful, thank you so much for the insights! Best wishes, clea

  3. This article is underestimating the power of SEO. anyone who reads this article needs to be extremely wary of simply “writing great content.” You need to do both, and you need to work on getting links to your page. Yes, the ways mentioned are great, but you need to do article spinning and social bookmarking at the very minimum.

    I would recommend not following this article’s advice and instead head over to Yoast.com for a better example of what to do for SEO…

    • I totaly agree. Seo is very powerful tool, but you also have to have something in the website that attracts users and keeps them coming back.

    • Yoast indeed offers some great advice, but I think the point behind this post is slightly different. It’s not targeted towards experts, but more towards new bloggers who are stepping into SEO

  4. Sadly, that’s nowhere near “comprehensive,” which I knew it wouldn’t be as soon as I read the title. I don’t normally link-drop here, but I wrote a longer post just on on-page optimization a couple years ago…


    There are a lot more factors that go into SEO than even a good post could summarize, which is why there are entire blogs on the topic. The article isn’t terrible, but the title is.

    • I agree with you, Doug. From the title I was looking for a little more “How-to”. I still have no idea how to implement meta-tags, etc.

    • I have to agree as well. As much as I hate to put in a non-positive comment, I’ve come to expect more from Problogger than this. For example, “Viral Content” gets one sentence that essentially is a logical no-brainer in producing results, but offers absolutely no suggestion on how to achieve this.

      Agreed – not terrible, but certainly did not live up to the title.

  5. Paul B says: 06/17/2011 at 7:03 am

    How do you spell linkbait?

    Oh, and wise man say no learn SEO from man who not know how to rank for own business.

  6. I’ve noticed that I get more traffic from google on days when I post a new article, but also when there’s a surge in traffic from elsewhere.

    One of the best ways I’ve found to driving traffic is making connections with other bloggers. They’ll spread your work if it’s good, even if you don’t ask them to.

    Also, publishing articles in the mainstream media (i.e. print) has fantastic results.

    • James i too notice everytime i update my blog i get better ranking, can you explain what you mean by “publishing articles in the mainstream media (i.e. print) has fantastic results”

      Im a big article fan, and some little tips would be great.


    • You have a good point there.. even I have experimented with networking and always works for the best

  7. In the end it all seems tO come down to great content -which is true – but SEO definitely doesn’t hurt

  8. Comprehensive?

  9. Kole, Thanks for writing about the metatags. This was an issue that had me confused. It can get maddening trying to figure out what is the best combination of keywords, tags, and so on, whether for Google’s black magic or other search engines. Aaargh! Anyway, thanks again for a fine post. Now that I’ve read you on ProBlogger, I’ll have to bookmark your own site, at http://www.officebuddha.org.

  10. I agree that there seems to be a lot of rubbish in this industry. Having worked for one of the UK’s largest websites I saw first hand that there are no real “secrets” to getting ranked. We all know what we *should* be doing. You just have to go and do it.

    If you don’t know what you should be doing.. go read Google’s docs, they actually tell us a lot about what they look for. You just have to read it!!

    Here’s a start: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/11/googles-seo-starter-guide.html

    • Hi,
      You are exactly right. Google does offer a ton of information online to help us all get ranked for our work. I just started reading it recently and I learned a lot.

      Something Valuable to Note: I had a number one spot on the first page for months on Google. Then something happened on my hosts server and the page disappeared from ranking on Google.
      I even found out I could email Google if I had a ranking issue. So I did and even though I did not get an email back from Google within one week the page that was lost was found again on google back on page one in first spot! and I had sales happening again from the page!

      Best of Success to Everyone,


  11. Hey that’s a great post! Not the regular SEO post we can read everywhere! I like it!!!

  12. It’s not comprehensive, IMHO, but it’s probably useful for the newbies…

  13. Awesome post. Your advice was very clear and to the point. No dancing around, here. Thanks for the direction! :)

  14. The most refreshing article on SEO I’ve seen – thanks!

    Coincidentally, I just wrote a similar article because I kept seeing people in the Warrior Forum agonising over keyword density, how to get a keyword into each of their H1 tags and so on. Worse, others were replying with advice on how to do so, and what density they should be aiming for.

    People are still advising, believing and sweating over those things – very 2002..!



  15. I am trying to better understand the complex issue of SEO. This post is by far the most simple and helpful I’ve read. Thanks so much!

  16. SEO is a dark science. Anyone who thinks they have it down pat, need to think again. There are so many conflicting points of view as to what is good for SEO and what is not. One thing I have learned is never trust someone who says they have the definitive answer. I put that claim in the same bucket as “fail-proof ways to pick up women”. But I do agree with those who point to content as being one of the key drivers. I’ll also give good marks to website design and coding. Thanks for the tips.

  17. And here are a couple of corrections for an otherwise well-written article:

    1) Google NEVER used keyword density. That was used by earlier search engines.

    2) PageRank NEVER had anything to do with relevance. Google has always determined relevance through Information Retrieval scoring mechanisms. PageRank simply assesses “weight” or “value” or “authority”.

  18. Few Guys say ignore SEO and write only quality content but I think SEO is equally important. However Guest posting is in trend and the best way to get tons of readers. One thing i want to add and that is blog commenting. blog commenting gives good visits to your sites.

  19. Thanks so much for the simple explanation of what’s really important in SEEO. The more I read about SEO, the more confused I get. Everyone seems to have a gimmick and it’s hard to tell who is credible, and who isn’t.

    Any advice on the best way to select keywords?


  20. Oops. Typo on my last comment. SEEO instead of SEO.

  21. I don’t over SEO my posts. I have a topic in my mind and I write about it. I get a ton of visits from search engines for being a relative new blogger.

    When writing a post, I think of the type of question someone would do a Google search for.

  22. I didn’t realize that “comprehensive” meant “as basic as it gets. Guess it will help someone somewhere right?

  23. I think that’s good basic advice.

    There’s definitely an insane amount of bad advice out there. I recently saw someone advising others that exchanging links is ‘good for Google’. Um … no.

    Totally agree that blog commenting isn’t a seo strategy. I believe in commenting if you read a post and have something to say – but for SEO purposes… no.

    I don’t think bloggers are clueless though. If they’ve been blogging for years, they’d know a few things. There’s nothing like experience to teach you things.

    I think your statement, “If you follow my advice you’ll be ranking number one in no time” needs adjusting. Not even SEO professionals can guarantee a number one spot for you, let alone trying to do it yourself.

    Your images pointing out exactly what title tags and descriptions are in relation to search engines are great – and someone that many people (including myself) forget to do when explaining these things to newbies.

  24. Useful comments, hard to please everyone – but then we don’t have to!

  25. Nice Differentiation in tags. Google earlier use to work on meta & description tag not popular now days . Its better to work on your tittle tag , keywords of your post & create more links.

  26. Kole is right: whose going to read anything that’s been written for SEO? No one: it’ll be a terrible read.

    Write for the love of writing and the love of your subject. Then go back and edit your writing with SEO in mind. If you happen to be a talent, then you can probably do both at the same time, otherwise try and write with some passion.

  27. SEO is changing all the time. One of my favorite resources to keep up with the changes is seomoz’s search engine ranking factors. They just recently released the 2011 version.

  28. James Greg says: 06/17/2011 at 8:09 pm

    Nice piece of information it will help a lot of SEOs who are aiming to get top rankings. Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep up with interactions are a good suggestion. It’s really helpful for new bloggers who have just entered the field.I like Gary’s comment “SEO is dark science” so true. No one can be perfect in SEO you have to really keep on track of the frequent changes to maintain/improve your ranking. But I don’t understand one thing, is link building now useless? Will it devalue the site?

  29. That’s a paradigm shifting post for many people, Kole but you made your point so beautifully.
    I am 100% against over-obsessing about SEO technicalities such (as keyword density) as they can be time consuming for the results they produce. (If any!)
    The alternative you are proposing is not easier but far more effective. It goes without saying that bloggers, who never compromise quality and strive for killer content that will make them standout, will have to dedicate a lot of time and effort for their blogs. And with the information overload syndrome, differentiating yourself is not by any means a smooth sailing!
    Still, perfect ionizing your blog posts is well worth the time you will put into it. You may spend 3 hours on a great blog post but you will keep reaping the rewards for years to come in terms of visibility, link building, traffic as well as content repurposing. (Seth Godin made some good money by assembling some of his blog posts and turning them into a book.)
    Think of evergreen blog posts that are fun and unique and will provide timeless value for your readers and you will be on your way to great rankings. That’s a load of work on its own so forget worrying about keyword density or “fake” link building! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks a lot for this great post, Kole. I’m hooked and will become an avid reader for yours from this day on. Keep up the good work :)

  30. SEO is not just all about implementing title, meta, description and keywords, there are many other factors that influence to the ranking of the website in search engines.

  31. Killer content, good content, unique content, content is King etc… Many IMer’s still struggle to write it and is one of the reasons why there is so much duplicated, re-hased, content online today.


  32. I was really curious if indeed google punishes sites using excessive post keyword tags. One of my sites was banned by google but they did not tell the reason (indicated just to read TOS). I was using lots of keytags for that website but the reason might have been different. On the other side famous news blog like Huffington Post (or allvoices.com) use a lot of keyword tags in their post. Only God knows the truth.

  33. Since most “good SEO practices” onsite can be quite automated (think WordPress plugins to choose titles and create the right markup, availability of standard compliant themes, etc…) I think writing good quality content about what you love is the way forward. Not so sure about how the social signals are being weighted, but I think Google gets info from repeated visits and visitor habits, and people don’t come twice to a blog filled with spinned, bad quality content that they cannot understand…

  34. I’m a huge fan of this site….but the guest posts are falling really short of what I’ve come to expect from this site. This is so far from a “Comprehensive” guide to SEO that it’s frankly laughable. I don’t disagree with any of the suggestions in this post, but frankly it’s all the same stuff we read EVERY day.

    Signed: Bummed Problogger Fan….

  35. This is so true! I used to load my site with tons of keywords and and my site wasn’t ranking very high. I reduced my keywords and focused on writing quality content. After that, my site has been consistently doing well!

  36. Hey Kole. Great tips. Ive been doing SEO for a while now and I agree with every single tip here. However, from what I’ve heard, social links from Facebook and twitter and becoming more and more important. I heard of a study that showed Facebook shares are becoming more important than links.

  37. I write about what i love but i also try to find information that i think my readers would like to read!!! i think I’m doing half a good job..:) thanks for the post very interesting points.

  38. Found some typos “This guest posst is by Kole McRae” on the front blurb, and in the piece, “a great way to naturally product lots of links.”
    Title and Description are indeed important for SEO, and for human readers. I tend to try cute and tantalizing titles. Not smart. Both search engines and readers want the “take home news” up front. My title style, “What Was He Thinking?” offers no real clues to a story ripped from today’s headlines. Does cutesy attract Facebook readers? Logic would suggest there’s a better chance, but a newspaper-style headline still wouldn’t hurt. My theory: Search engines will be driven to make their searches more intelligent and less susceptible to cunning SEO devices, not that it’s time to abandon them. But even now I often jump to the third or fifth page of search results to start scanning for what I want.

  39. Stimulated by this topic, and the fans of not obsessing about SEO, I just wrote http://blogsnewsreviews.com/2011/06/17/warning-warning-write-from-the-heart/

  40. Kole,
    Thanks for your guest post which is very helpful. Except…you don’t tell us HOW to change our Title Tag or our Description Tag. Was it there and I missed it? Can you tell me? I’d be very appreciative. Thanks!

  41. I do write about stuff I love and know but, I need to bring people in to read but, this SEO stuff is tiring and information overload sometimes.

  42. Can anyone of you help me? I would like to know where should the meta title tag should be added? Basically I have site where I can see the title of the page at the top of the browser. Still if I use some tag analyzer tool then it says that I do not have the title. Could you help me in this?

  43. Anybody know HOW to change the title tag and description tag? Thanks!

    • If you run WordPress, the by far easiest way is to use the “All in One SEO Pack”, which will also take care of some more SEO.

  44. It’s true that other sites usually advice to comment on other blogs in order to have more inbound links. Are all blogs ‘no follow’ by default? How can one check if a blog is ‘no follow’ or ‘do follow’? Thanks.

  45. This was really very helpful.I made some changes, I’ll be curious to see if it helps.Thank you!

  46. Thanks for sharing nice tips on SEO. Probably, as far as my knowledge as a newbie goes, considering tips form seo geeks is a good idea. I think, meta Tags and Meta Description play important role in Search engine optimization. Nevertheless, quality of the post too is also very important.

  47. very nice & clear steps, the case study is very good, i believe in social work fb page & twitter, i used to follow special hashtag using tweetdeck so i can contribute any word about my product, also i prefer guest blogging networks such as http://www.guest-blogging.org

  48. So writing great content is more productive than trying to cheat the system? Who knew ;)

  49. If writing about what you like was enough, there wouldn’t be thousands of blogs with great content and no readers.

    Not promoting your blog is akin to manufacturing a great product and running no advertising – how will the potential buyer learn about it?

  50. great, I left my geek to human translator book in the car

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