6 Tips From the Monty Python School of SEO

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1. Dead Parrot

Paid linking is (mostly) dead thanks to a live Penguin.

Watch the video.

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Although the immortal words “e’s pushing up the daisies” were coined by John Cleese, it was Matt Cutts who said “Stick a fork in it” in regards to some questionable linking tactics and as part of Google’s overall attack against paid and manipulative link graphs.

Penguin was a bird that many SEOs wished was “gone to meet ‘is maker” as both big and small brands suffered penalties from link schemes no longer tolerated by the big G.

Bottom Line: In 2015 there are still SEO folk who risk Google’s ire and continue to believe that they’ll get away with it… but, as Cleese would say, “This is a dead parrot!”

Tip: Leverage great content to help drive awareness, traffic, engagement, and links. There is no substitute for quality, expertise, and good old-fashioned relationship-building.

2. Is This the Right Room for an Argument?

Why can’t we all just get along?

Watch the video.

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Whether you’re following the “tactic du jour,” listening to a podcast, or reading this article, one thing is certainly clear in the SEO industry: we hardly agree on anything.

While this creates some interesting discourse at conferences and events, it creates confusion for brands and agency clients who often hear two potential solutions for the same challenge.

Although far be it from me to argue the point, nothing should be taken for granted when dealing with the fluidity of Google’s algorithm.

Bottom Line: The reality is that old, new, white, and black hat will continue to present different opportunities, and clients and stakeholders will continue to be left thinking that SEO folk are pitching the snake oil. After all, ” …is this the five-minute argument or do you want the whole hour?”

Tip: The right solution is to test everything, share results via informative blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, or a combination of any of these, and convince the industry through data, research, and evidence of the SEO truths. You might even drive traffic, links, shares, and build some topic authority. Any argument there?

3. No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

But they do expect results.

Watch the video.

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Dealing with internal or external clients is as much about politics as reporting. To that point everyone should expect questions from clients that will ensure everyone starts and ends on the same page. The key to mitigating misunderstandings is setting expectations early, defining realistic goals, tracking everything relevant, and reporting simple “metrics that matter.”

  • Ask the right questions, define a process of discovery, and agree on primary high-level goals, i.e. traffic and conversions.
  • Assess feasibility, possibility, and opportunity to see if goals are in fact achievable, i.e. 150 percent additional traffic, 125 percent more conversions. Collaborate… and realign as necessary.
  • Quantify resources to achieve agreed goals.
  • Get agreement on trade off of resources vs. goals. Collaborate… and realign as necessary.
  • Make certain tracking is in place to monitor and measure key goal metrics.
  • Agreement of methodology of reporting. Baseline reporting of goals.

Bottom Line: Being prepared is the most obvious recommendation. Having the right questions in hand, the right solutions available, and agreement across the board creates an environment of feasible success, without an “element of surprise” or fear.

Tip: There are some great and cost-effective solutions that consolidate multiple data sources into informational and actionable dashboards. Use them to get buy in, set baseline comparables, report against goals, and act on the observations!

4. Spam Spam Spam Spam

Spam, not wonderful spam.

Watch the video.

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I am certain there’s a long story that explains the connection between processed meat, excessive email, and stuffed content, but the Monty Python team were only concerned about the former when they pitted Vikings against a hungry couple out for breakfast.

The fact that at their restaurant you can have anything as long as it’s spam, doesn’t jive as well for SEO, where Google’s Panda updates have waged a war the Vikings would be proud of.

Bottom Line: Spam tactics such as keyword stuffing, “invisible” text, doorway pages, and footer links are probably tactics that most modern SEO folk don’t even realize once worked beautifully. Now…algorithms are way smarter, detecting machine generated, low-quality content, code-level manipulation, and devaluing low-effort SEO efforts through pattern recognition.

Tip: Spam has come a long way in its sophistication, as have the engine’s efforts to combat, don’t use spam as a strategy, tactic, or long-term solution. Period.

Spamalot? You can have anything as long as it’s not spam.

5. What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?

Or Google for that matter?

Watch the video.

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Monty Python‘s historically epic and inaccurate depiction of life in Roman Jerusalem had the anti-Roman faction, “The People’s Front of Judea,” complaining about life and liberty under Roman rule, much the same as some SEO’s thoughts on the mighty search fist Google wields to (apparently) bolster Google’s top line revenue.

The top line on my side, however, remembers trips to the libraries, uninformed ignorance, and – gasp – encyclopedias. Far be it for me to say it was Google, not the Internet itself, to affect major changes in information retrieval, but they sure make it easier.

So what has Google done for us? Given us a simple way to find almost anything on the Web through obscure or relevant queries, touch, and voice, presented that information in an easy to understand, attractive, and evolving layer.

And for SEO folk? Well…they’ve given me topics for articles/videos, research projects, quick answers to questions, collaboration platforms, analytics, effective tools and… oh yes… a career.

Sure they make working for internal/external clients occasionally frustrating, sometimes exuberant, but always interesting.

Bottom line: Apart from better search results and the knowledge graph and hosted JavaScript libraries and Webmaster Tools and schema and site speed testing and a free analytics package and public DNS and W3 Working Group… what has Google ever done for us?

Tip: Thank Google every day for your paycheck!

6. Who Expects Cheese in a Cheese Shop?

You have to satisfy your customers’ need for “cheese”!

Watch the video.

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There’s a big banner on the homepage of your website… it says “We Are the Most Expert Cheese Site on the Internet” and yet, when your customers arrive, there’s not an ounce of cheese content to be found. Not a wedge.

Claiming you’re an expert doesn’t inspire users who don’t find what they’re looking for, and search engines aren’t easily fooled either.

Bottom Line: An expert offers value, and in most cases on the Web, that boils down to content with “Youtility,” inspiring delight and uniqueness you can’t find anywhere else.

One could say… A better kind of “fromage.”

Tip: Ultimately your expertise is defined by your users; engagement, social signals and value-inspired penchant to actually link to you. Whether you have some Norwegian Jarlsberg articles or some Camembert content, it better be exceptional, share-worthy, and relevant to relevant search user’s intent and queries.

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They say that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and for someone like me – an avid marketer and Monty Python fan – I see SEO in every joke, pun, and silly walk.

What kind of SEO takeaways do you get from classic Monty Python sketches?

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