Here’s Why You Can’t “Do” SEO

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Dennis Yu and Danny Leibrandt With Bulwark Exterminators, A Pest Control SEO Company

Imagine if instead of speaking at conferences, solving problems for businesses, and teaching young adults digital marketing – I just wrote about it.

Imagine if I spent 24/7 writing about how great we are… all while you never see any of it.

No images, no social proof, no relationships.

Just text like the one you’re reading now about how cool we are.

Would that convince you that I’m trustworthy?

Probably not, since no one would vouch for me and there would be no receipts of our accomplishments.

Why then, would you do the same for your business and expect Google to reward you?

Here’s a fact most “SEO agencies” are unaware of:

Search engines have been closing the gap between what a machine can understand as real versus what a human can understand as real.

For example, the word “delve” is a solid clue that a piece of content was written by ChatGPT. That’s among other phrases and words which aren’t usually written by an average writer.

Privately, Google engineers told me they can identify ChatGPT and most tools, as can you.

Kind of like when you’re using a chatbot. Even though it’s responsive, you can just tell there’s not a real person on the other line.

Google recently laid off 30,000 search quality raters– the humans who were manually rating search results via the 170 search quality rater guidelines (read it if you want clarity and inarguable simplicity).

In short, AI is getting better at detecting AI. Which means if you’re using ChatGPT (and only ChatGPT) for your SEO – expect problems on the horizon.

Dennis Yu and Logan Young at Google’s Headquarters in San Francisco

This is why you can’t “do” SEO.

What Google is looking for is the best user experience. To do that, you should be using E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority and trust) in everything you do.

As a local service business, this means having proof that you do what you say you do in the location you say you operate in.

If I made a website about how good of a heart surgeon I am – but there’s no proof I’ve ever operated on anyone, should Google promote me?

Of course not. Even if I have a ton of fancy ChatGPT generated text – Google (just like most people) can see through it.

And even if Google did promote me, would you really trust a heart surgeon with no proof they’ve ever picked up a scalpel – let alone gone to medical school?

As a former search engine engineer, here’s how you really “do” SEO:

Put up more content that authentically shows you do what you say you do and are connected in the city you do it in.

For example, our friends at Caliber Gutters in San Diego had mostly stock art before recently adding their own images.

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Caliber Gutters Real Images On Their Website

Do you see how this directly relates to E-E-A-T in that we’re demonstrating experience?

Because these are real images in the city they’re operating in – this helps confirm to Google that they’re a real business.

No spammy ChatGPT blurbs about how good they are – just real proof that they do what they claim to do in the city they claim to do it in.

Build relationships with experts in your industry, as you speak, do webinars, share knowledge on socials, and publish in many ways.

This article is a repurposed post I made on Facebook here.

Repurposed content is great because it’s a rising tide that lifts all boats.

I can record a podcast with Corey Vandenburg, an expert in personal injury firms, and repurpose that into a blog post which can then be shared on socials and by him.

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Dennis Yu Interviewing Corey Vandenburg

And because we link to him in that blog post, he benefits from our repurposing as well.

That’s how you ethically leverage others while giving them the spotlight at the same time, boosting your SEO and theirs.

Make it easy to reach you, answer the phone promptly, and provide great service to customers.

Digital marketing is only an amplification of what’s already working.

As much as we love FB and LSA ads, if you can’t fulfill work for customers, or even pick up the phone when they call, no amount of SEO trickery will save you.

This falls into the “expertise” bucket of E-E-A-T.

Logically this makes sense, since doing good work for customers would be your top growth strategy if the internet didn’t exist.

This isn’t rocket science. Do good work for customers that hire you and broadcast that work on your website for Google to see.

Notice that doing these items mainly requires true EXPERIENCE in your field.

Someone like me (a search engine engineer not a “SEO expert”) doesn’t have that expertise of a plumber or HVAC technician.

What do I know is related to the relationships I build. For example, Thomas Ballantyne, who has run marketing for Bulwark Exterminators since 2006 can teach me the different species of roaches that pest control companies deal with.

Now contrast this with what a “SEO expert” does…

By their very own self-given job title, they admit their sole focus is to try to rank higher on Google.

So most of what they do is purely and intentionally to influence Google– or “trick” Google if they say they are “black hat”.

Because the items in the list above are hard to do by someone outside your industry, they resort to these things:

  • Using AI to generate thousands of garbage web pages, scheduled out for the next year, completely devoid of any real experiences of your firm– I’m not kidding, I posted about a SEO company preying upon roofers a few days ago doing this.
  • Using magic SEO tools to generate 100,000 links instantly in a way that they swear search engines cannot detect.
  • Buying spammy links on Fiverr to get placements on blogs and even places like Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur– search “fake PR blitzmetrics” to see 30 active tactics they’re using.
  • Buying 100 real reviews on Google for only $200.
  • Hanging out at other SEO meetups to exchange the latest tricks that are working (but eventually get busted, so they have to keep finding new tricks.
  • Doing “technical SEO”– which by definition, doing things to influence Google instead of improving the user experience. Sure, update your meta tags, fix canonical issues, sculpt your link juice, submit your urls for inclusion, and use a range of cool SEO tools (which I use as well for diagnosis).
  • Outsourcing to white-label SEO agencies– so they can claim they are not aware of the spammy techniques being used above.  Yet deny they are outsourcing when asked.

Google is looking for real signals that your customers love you.

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Dennis Yu With Larry Kim, Google Ads Top Spender

When I was at Yahoo!, our frustration was that there was so little data on each local service business.

Reviews were hard to get, cell phones didn’t have cameras, and social media didn’t really exist.

But now that all your customers, technicians and community are sharing in an “always on” model, augmented by AI tools– we have enough signal to tell what is real.

So learn why you can’t “do” SEO– even though these SEO experts will try to argue until they’re blue in the face.

I’ve been fighting this battle for over 20 years on your behalf.

Here’s how to rank in search engines:

Train your staff well so they take good care of your customers. 

This means answering the phone when it rings, using basic customer service when it needs to be, and making sure customers are taken care of and your service meets (or exceeds) their expectations.

This is not only important for them to refer you to more customers, but for Google to recognize that you do good work in your reviews.

Collect that feedback and make it easy to share.

Without data to rely on, making decisions for your business becomes tricky. That is why you should be using services like CallRail to measure and monitor your leads.

That way you can best direct your efforts towards serving and interacting with customers you want to serve.

Build relationships in your industry and in your city– sharing their authentic stories and encourage them to share your stories.

Google loves stories, especially ones on camera.

Record and network with others in similar industries, share stories and images, and show overwhelming proof of work that you do a good job.

It’s not just about “links” anymore– but the signals of authentic connections.

You don’t succeed by “doing” SEO, but by sharing real experiences, which we are putting into a book.

If you’re a local service business and want an SEO audit however, you can claim yours now for just $200 here with Are You Googleable.

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.