Former Google employee explains SEO

“Back in the day,” Michael Peggs began, “SEO used to be just keyword stuffing. There were less spammers. Google was less sophisticated. Everyone and their mom was doing SEO.”

But now SEO combines a whole constellation of factors, all held in Google’s mystery algorithm. One thing most people can get straight, though, is that it’s important to be at the top of Google.

“Less than 20 percent of people are going to scroll down on the first page. You really have to be in the top three to five results,” Peggs explained while speaking at The Yard, a coworking space in Williamsburg.

Peggs started his career on Wall Street before moving to Google, where he worked in business development for five years. Recently he moved back east and started up his own Crown Heights-based digital marketing and branding agency.

According to Peggs, there are three pillars of search engine optimization:

  1. Backlinking
  2. Site optimization
  3. Content you create

Google weighs each of these to determine, basically, how important each website is for a given search topic.

Site optimization is making sure the keyword tags and other metatags are filled out, and having a site that is easily crawlable for Google.

“What most sites do wrong is put 100 percent effort on site optimization,” Peggs said. “Title tag and description tag, these each need to be unique. There’s also a keyword tag. You really don’t have to worry about that. Google really doesn’t consider that important anymore.”

More important than site optimization, Peggs said, would be content.

“Keywords are the bedrock of all SEO,” Peggs said. And when he’s talking about keywords, he doesn’t mean the metatags you put in on WordPress, but rather the words that appear in your articles, titles, descriptions, and captions.

“Google wants sites that are experts,” Peggs said. “The way you do that is by continually producing content. Blogs, photos, infographics, ebooks, webinars. You want content that either engages, entertains, or educates your market. All three of those would be best, of course.”

The third aspect is backlinking, which is simply what other websites have links to your site. If you think of SEO like a painting project, site optimization is the primer, the base coat you absolutely need to get started and have things go well. The content would be the paint. You pick the color and paint it on. The third aspect, backlinking, would be the quality of the paint you use.

“Just ’cause you create the content doesn’t mean people will come,” Peggs said. “Links are the holy grail of SEO. Links with a high domain authority and a high page rank are better. The higher the authority and the more of those links, the higher you’ll rank.”


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