In response to Sergey Grybniak’s post on Search Engine Journal about whether SEOs overcomplicate things

Sergey Grybniak (of Clever Solution) wrote an article on Search Engine Journal recently, entitled “Is SEO Really Complex or Are We Overcomplicating It?“. This is something of real interest to me, because I believe that many an SEO agency has made search engine optimisation seem like something that is way beyond ‘mere’ business owners and marketing directors for far too long. In reality, most SEO tactics are something that are not so complex at all.

Sergey writes,

Today your SEO toolset is much broader and more complex. But is the current state of things really that tough, or are we bringing too much drama when talking about modern SEO?

My own opinion on this is that yes, in general, the more vocal SEO community generally adds more drama than what their actually needs to be. Whenever there are are SERP movements, or Google updates, for example, there is much debate about preceding tactics, while those website owners that have been writing great content month after month don’t need to get involved – because not much has changed for them – and if anything, things will have improved.

He goes on to say,

A common issue is misunderstanding how a recent algorithm works. We tend to misinterpret the changes Google brings, and this makes us spend much more time on irrelevant tasks with zero results.

Again, this is very true. Panic seems to set in, with many SEO experts writing posts for the masses about how to improve feature ‘x’ (which may not be important in the slightest), with them (the masses) spending hours upon hours working to fix ‘x’ when this time could have been spent writing some excellent content to attract more visitors.

He uses page speed as an example. While page speed is important for so many reasons other than Google rankings, is it more important than building some great links via excellent long-form content?

He then writes,

Making things more complicated than they really [are] by overreacting to new changes will not help solve your SEO problems.

And he is spot on.

He finishes off the post with three tips about how to not over-complicate SEO, which are:

  1. Develop a Habit of Reading SEO News Daily
  2. Track Progress with Monthly Reviews
  3. Watch Your Competitors

While I agree with each of these points, they need some explanation. Yes, reading SEO news daily is important – but for a reason more strange than you may think. In my opinion, you need to read over 1,000 news/articles about SEO (yes, I did this myself) to work out that 925 are a waste of your time, 50 or so are good, and 25 are career-changing. Knowing which advice is bad and to ignore it is so important to become a good SEO.

Tracking progress is a given, and shouldn’t really be something to list, although I agree that not every search engine optimisation professional does this as much as they should.

Watching competitors should also be done, but it should not be the sole focus of what you watch. You will learn so much about SEO by watching other industries completely. There are many lessons to be learned by watching a company become a big player in an industry totally different to your own.

I do think that Sergey missed out a key, very important suggestion – that of consistently creating great content. If you and your team are adding several great pieces of content per week to your website(s), then it is almost impossible to not start to rank highly in the search engines.

One of Sergey’s last statements is,

To stand out, you have to find original approaches and amuse users with information they cannot find elsewhere.

And again, he is very correct indeed.

Yes, SEO agencies and SEO teams generally do over-complicate SEO strategies and tactics. The truth is that successful websites are built on much more simple strategies than people would have you believe. Lots of content, some great earned links, and a great site architecture and design pretty much covers 90% of what you will ever need to do.


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