"Honest SEO: Demystifying the Google Algorithm To Help You Get More Traffic and Revenue" Book Summary

Honest SEO: Demystifying the Google Algorithm To Help You Get More Traffic and Revenue by Jason Hennessey contains useful SEO info. It covers SEO strategy, content strategy, link-building, technical SEO, local SEO, and more. I appreciate Hennessey's "honest" approach, desiring to rescue the SEO industry from its reputation for slimy snake oil sales. Each chapter ends with tips and takeaways which summarize the chapter.

Hennessey says you need a team of people with a variety of skills to do SEO well. It's true that that will provide the best results, but even 1-2 skilled people can provide worthwhile SEO gains.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Below are my notes from the book.

Note: This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see Affiliate Disclosure.

Behind the Scenes of the Google Algorithm

Google's algorithm values site elements that provide positive UX, attract new viewers, and keep people browsing.

Site elements valued by Google algorithm

  • Regularly publishes high-quality content
  • Loads quickly (under 3 s)
  • Delivers relevant info that satisfies searcher's intent
  • Offers secure browsing experience
  • Has user-friendly, responsive design

Technical SEO refers to making site easy for search engines to crawl.

Technical SEO elements

  • TLS certificate
  • Site speed
  • Server performance (errors or lack thereof)
  • Domain age
  • Domain expiration date
  • Duplicate content (on your site and other sites)

Elements that damage technical SEO

  • Broken internal links
  • Large uncompressed images
  • Intrusive interstitials

The Three Main Components of SEO

3 main components of SEO

  • Relevance to query (content, keywords)
  • Popularity (number and authority of inbound links)
  • Integrity (technical SEO; security, speed, crawlability, mobile-friendliness, presence of broken links, etc.)

Creating the Blueprint for Your Overall Web Strategy

Pillar page: Page focused on single topic, with 1k-10k words, linked to by other in-depth pages on topic (cluster content). Goal is to build most authoritative resource about topic.

How to choose pillar page topic

  • What topics are important to customers?
  • What questions are potential customers searching?
  • Who's ranking for these searches? What does their content look like?
  • What info does user need to know?
  • Do different geographic locations need their own pages?
  • What do search volume and competition look like?

SEO blueprint

  1. Plan pillar pages and in-depth subpages that will link to pillar pages
  2. Identify top competitors
  3. Study competitors' sites (content strategy, ranking keywords, backlinks, etc.)
  4. Reverse-engineer competitors' strategies

Tools to Help You Measure Success

Searches to find guest-post opportunities

  • [keyword] write for us
  • [keyword] write for me
  • [keyword] become a contributor
  • [keyword] guest post
  • [keyword] contribute
  • [keyword] submit a guest post
  • [keyword] accepting guest posts

Use Google's "people also ask" feature to find content ideas.

SEO tools

  • Ahrefs: all-in-one SEO tool
  • Semrush: all-in-one SEO tool
  • Screaming Frog: spider that runs on local machine
  • Copyscape: plagiarism checker
  • Siteliner: finds duplicate content in site
  • BrightLocal: local SEO and citation tool
  • Podium: messaging platform to communicate with leads and customers
  • UserWay: adds accessibility enhancements to site

Make pages relevant to local area by referencing local companies you've worked with, linking to local companies. Each location-based page must have unique content.

Content strategy

  1. Identify target audience
  2. Create list of pillar pages and subtopics based on keyword research and competitors' sites
  3. Create spreadsheet of practice areas and locations to target
  4. Create internal links between pages
  5. Create best page on topic (skyscraper technique) to establish authority and attract inbound links

Increasing Your Website’s Popularity One Link at a Time

It's OK to pay administrative fee to a site for their time to review and publish your guest post; that's not buying link.

Evaluating guest post opportunities

  • Site relevant to niche
  • Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) 30+
  • Sites that rank in Google for at least 1,000 words based on Semrush's organic keyword trends

PR and Marketing

SEO is best, most reliable marketing channel; Google has most leads in world.

Finding media contacts

  • Use services like Muck Rack, Cision
  • Search web for contacts
  • Check publications that cover similar topics
  • Find journalists who wrote articles similar to yours

A link to your site is best, though there's some value in co-citations (site mentions you without linking to you) and co-occurrences (site mentions keywords related to you without linking to you).

Share press coverage on social media to get more attention and spread it.

Use press coverage to get more interviews and press coverage; show media you're worth covering.

Use multiple PR services because they syndicate to different news outlets (PR Newswire, Accesswire, PRWeb, 24-7 Press Release).

Post press release to your site before syndicating it, so that media links to your site and Google indexes it.

Have dedicated section of site that includes all press releases.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO issues to monitor

  • Crawl depth inefficiencies
  • Cannibalizing pages
  • Duplicate content
  • Broken links
  • Crawl errors
  • Slow page speed
  • Mobile accessibility issues
  • URL structure issues

Optimizing more than 1 page for same keyword can cause them to cannibalize each other; search engine doesn't know which to index, so it doesn't index either one.

Getting Onto Google Maps

Google Business Profile guidelines say profiles are only for businesses that have physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to customers.

If you work from home office, you can set up service area business with hidden address, but it's very difficult to rank in Google Maps for competitive keywords.

The Importance of Photos and Videos in Your Strategy

Don't embed YouTube videos in site, because many users use video to jump from your site to YouTube. Keep users on site by using a video service that doesn't link to other sites (e.g., Wistia).

Post videos to multiple video hosting sites, including YouTube, because they attract different viewers.

You can buy Honest SEO: Demystifying the Google Algorithm To Help You Get More Traffic and Revenue as an ebook or book on Amazon.

Honestly Need Help with SEO?

This book is a great place to start in optimizing your site for search engines, but if you don't have the time or experience to handle SEO for your site, contact us so we can put our years of SEO experience to work for you.

Filed Under: 

Want tips to rocket-boost your website?

Simply sign up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to Blast Off?

Let's talk.

Contact OptimWise