Specific advice is awesome

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Now that we actually have a product, Bracken and I are trying to figure out ways to bring people to our site.  Probably the most cost-effective way to do this over the long term is by working on Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).  SEO is the practice of using various techniques to make your site rank higher in search engines like Google, which in turn brings more visitors to your site.

I know a little bit about SEO, but I've recently subscribed to a number of SEO blogs in the hopes of learning even more.  Unfortunately, most of these blogs suffer from a problem that I see all over the internet: people are afraid to give specific advice.  There are too many "it depends" and "do what works for you".  That isn't really advice at all.  Give me something to work with.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me re-write a previous blog post of mine in the style that I'm complaining about:

"If you want to design a brochure, you should consider important design aspects such as color, font, and spacing.  Make sure you consider how the alignment of the text plays into the design.  In the end, you just need to work at it and come up with something you really like."

If I had written my blog post like that, it wouldn't have helped anyone.  I just don't get what the point of writing something like that would be.  I'm only mentioning all of this, because I saw stumbled across a video on internet marketing that does the exact opposite.  The video is pretty long, so feel free to skip it if you don't happen to be a tech entrepreneur.

There's nothing ground-breaking in this video.  Everything is very basic, but the thing I really love about it is that the speaker actually tells you real things you can do.  Here are just a few very specific pieces of advice that he gave:

  • The <title> tag is incredibly important for SEO, so that's the first thing that should be optimized.
  • If you put the name of your website in the <title>, put it after a description of what your website does because Google cares more about the words at the beginning of the title, and you don't need to fight for traffic when people are searching specifically for your site.
  • Use a different <title> on every page
  • Facebook advertising has a great tool for doing marketing research and you can use it without even buying any facebook ads.

There's nothing sophisticated about this advice.  He may not be an expert.  He might have just read SEO for Dummies ten minutes before the presentation.  The reason this advice is better than the countless SEO blogs I read is because he wasn't afraid to say "You can improve your results by doing taking these exact steps".

This is something I've always been a big supporter of, but that video was a nice reminder.  A lot of our posts on this blog aren't necessarily about giving advice, but when they are, I'm going to do my best to actually provide specific, actionable suggestions without any doubt or compromise.  If you find yourself in a technical writing role, I suggest you do the same.  You'll at least make one reader happy (me).

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