Amlot notes

All you really need to know about SEO

We should really call it SER, or Search Engine Relaxing.


Seriously, it’s not as bad as it looks.

Here’s the Amlot take on SEO.

How often have you seen a pitch urging you to be “Number one on Google!”?

How often have you submitted your site to a Search Engine Optimisation tool only to be confronted with a load of technical suggestions you don’t really understand?

How often have you been tempted to contact that large full-service agency that offers “expert SEO advice” with a huge list of features and an even longer list of company logos?

We’ve been there.

The simple truth is this: SEO is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Some of those large agencies offer good services that help sites with thousands and thousands of pages of dynamic content. It’s good that there are people you can call.

But at the end of the day, SEO comes down to one simple concept:

Publish good content.

The rest is detail.

We’re not joking. The fundamental principle of SEO is to produce content that people will find, and there are two parts to this. The first is the content itself, the second is the technical presentation.

The first part is the hard bit.

Assuming your product, company or service solves someone’s problem. You fix floors, teach the violin, sell cakes. You’re selling to someone who has a broken floor, wants to learn the violin, or is hungry for cake.

If they walked into your shop, you’d know what you’d say to them, don’t you?

But they’re not going to walk into your shop until they hear about you. They’re going to walk into Google’s shop first and they’re going to ask Google if they know someone who can fix floors.

The challenge with SEO is that your content, the content that Google indexes, has to answer the visitor’s question before they ask it. So when they ask Google about violin teachers and cakes, Google knows who can help them.

And this is where it gets interesting.

If you’re looking for a violin teacher to teach your son, in your town, that’s what you’re going to search for. So that’s what you write on your website.

“Violin teacher in Townsville”.

If you have more than one product, then you need more than one page. If you also teach the piano, you need a page called – you guessed it:

“Piano teacher in Townsville”

These are just examples, and the truth is the content needs to develop and change with time. The Google Search Console will tell you what people who visit your site actually searched for (if they came from Google), and you can adapt to and learn from that.

Another important point that we always stress to our clients is that your website is most often the second point of contact with a potential customer. Let’s be honest, no one visited our website by googling “communicate elegantly and efficiently”*. Anyone who visits has either followed a link somewhere, in an email, on LinkedIn, or has been in touch with us a different way, by a referral or personal contact.

Our goal is not to be number one on Google.

SEO Shortlist

This is a short collection of things you can do right now, for little or no money. We can help you if you get stuck.

  • Clean up your text content (we can’t stress this enough, but this is the single-most-important thing you can do to improve your SEO. If you don’t do this, forget the rest)
  • Clean up your headlines
  • Clean up your page titles
  • Check your page descriptions
  • Set good page URLs, stubs, or slugs (the text after your main domain). Make them human-readable and clean
  • Make sure your page format is good (various headlines and paragraphs, so Google can understand what’s important)
  • Make sure all images have alt tags
  • Set a sharing image for each page (not technically SEO, but good for social sites)
  • Check structured data format where applicable (in blogs, news, articles, etc.). This helps Google understand what your content is about and present it accordingly
  • Submit site to Google
  • Sign up to Google Search Central
  • Tweak robots.txt
  • Submit sitemap file

Sure, there’s a lot more to do, but without these simple tasks done, there’s no point starting to work on the more complicated tasks like backlinks, online posting, content seeding etc.

* Actually we are number one on Google, just not for our core business. Years ago we wrote a blog post explaining how to use a simple preview text hack in MailChimp. It was surprisingly popular and is still our most-visited page. And to this day, if you Google “MailChimp preview text hack”, we’re number one (your results may differ from ours).

This Amlot note was published on

October 11, 2023