Developing your SEO Sense

SEO Sense

Ever wonder how some SEO specialists do a conclusive analysis within a minute or two of whether a site is ranking well or not? I call it SEO sense – it’s the ability to know each and every little detail about a website and use it to arrive at a certain conclusion of a site’s SEO.

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! I figured this article would be a great way to start the year as I’ve been talking about this endlessly with my team last year. I’ve been reading the book Outliers and Blink which helped me to finally write out this article about SEO sense. I’ve been using the term ‘court sense’ with my team – which is derived from basketball. Wikipedia defines court sense as: “A player’s knowledge of all that is occurring in the game.” I realized that it connotes much about what SEO sense is – except that SEO sense is, of course, all about SEO.

Practice makes perfect but most of all, practice develops your unconscious decision making skills. Deciding by gut feeling is not a rare thing in business. Being able to tell yourself ‘why’ you made that gut decision is usually more difficult. Our brain can process a lot of information at a time and make a decision without our conscious level being able to tell how it came to a conclusion -  unconsciously gathering these data from practice and experience is called ‘thin slicing’

Thin slicing can only occur if you have experience and practice to draw from – real data that your brain has kept in memory. Thin slicing makes up your SEO sense to what it is.

All in the Blink of an Eye

‘SEO Sense’ is knowing exactly what to do in the right situation at the right time. It has the potential to direct your SEO strategy. It can start up your creative juices if you need some. It can help your write you next article, shoot your next video, or record your next podcast. It overwrites your decisions from data in your subconscious.

Sometimes we are left to make decisions that have to be made in a second or two. Thank God we have a lot more time in SEO. Problem is, it’s harder to arrive at an accurate conclusion and we have a lot of things to ‘know’ before we can make one.

So how do you develop your SEO sense?

Go through tons of websites – study up on what makes them tick. A website is a huge interworking of numerous factors – design, wordplay, voice, branding, URL, domain age, backlinks, outbound links, etc. It’s a huge jungle of data and you have to familiarize yourself with what makes all of those factors common and to what extent they can vary – and how they all affect SEO, each in its own way.

Start with the tools you’ll need to gather data. Use SEOQuake if you’re using Chrome or SEO for Firefox if you’re using Mozilla Firefox. Familiarize yourself with the metrics these add-ons allow you to see.

Look at their on site optimization and ask yourself these questions:

Blink of an EyeDo they have a lot of outbound links? If they do, what type of outbound links are they? Sources? Nofollow links?

Do they have a lot of crammed up title tags? Or do they segregate their target keywords per title tag per page?

Do they consciously insert their keywords in their content? Is it obvious?

Do they write content for their users or for the search engines?

Knowing all of these things, is it working for them? Do they have good rankings with their target keywords?

If you’re not familiar with all the on site optimization factors, you should check out our Complete On Site Optimization guide in SEO School

Look at their off site optimization and ask yourself these questions:

Howbout their PageRank? Is it at par with their quality and quantity of links? Does this reflect in rankings?

Do they have bad links? Unnatural links? (Use a backlink checking tool to check their backlink profile)

Where do they get their best links from? How do they get it?

Are they getting a good amount of social signals from their users? Does this reflect on their quantity of backlinks?

How old is their domain name? Does the domain age’s authority reflect in their rankings?

Knowing all of these things, is it working for them? Do they have good rankings with their target keywords?

Becoming an SEO Outlier

Right now, I can say that I have a good handle of my ‘SEO sense’. I can quickly tell if a site is doing well in its ranks by breezing through some of these questions in a minute or two. I can also pinpoint where a website can improve and where it can trim down its SEO efforts.

They say the magic number of hours in practice to be a ‘Master’ at something is 10,000. Developing your SEO Sense takes time and practice to hone. Because it takes time and practice, it is also hard to replicate.

Improving your SEO sense is vital – it is a valuable asset that can direct your SEO strategy and implement SEO campaigns that is focused to strengthen your weaknesses or it can save you money, effort and time in trimming down where your website is already doing strongly.

Tips for Keeps: Go through at least 10 different websites every day – analyze their on site and off site optimization and its effectivity. Develop your SEO sense.

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  • http://www.nicocaramella.com.ar Nico Caramella

    Cool post man! I’m taking your “Tips for Keeps”… it’s matter of practice.

  • Daniel

    That’s really a great article indeed that I liked a lot.

  • Paddy O’Toole

    SEO is a vast process and requires years of knowledge and experience in it. There are lots of updates going on so a person should always perform research for SEO to be up to date with it.

  • http://localmoviereview.com Austin Takahashi

    I remember how you once discussed Court Sense in relation to Google Analytics. With this post, I now have a broader understanding of its function in the SEO world. Thanks, Sean!

  • http://solutionsresource.com Johnpel Quingua

    Great article! Sean. Based on my experience it’s not always “Practice makes perfect” it’s always “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

    Cheers~
    JP

  • http://www.myownseo.com.au/ Arthur Sparks

    This is really informative article Sean. I got ideas that can be applied in doing SEO work. This may a big help for me as I improve my SEO.