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I’ve never claimed to be an SEO expert, and – to be honest – I’m pretty sceptical when people claim advanced proficiency in this area.

Granted, there are industry leaders out there that know what they are talking about. But I’ve had too many experiences with people talking good games but delivering relatively little.

It seems there is a stock list of reasons quoted when SEO activities fail. These range from ‘site architecture being all wrong,’ and ‘it takes a long time to see uplift,’ through to variations of ‘you just don’t understand’.

And the SEO world seems to have grown even more complicated recently, with developments such as content marketing, social integration and sophisticated algorithm changes all serving to move the goal posts on a regular basis. The days of keyword stuffing and the old best practices are long gone. Or so I assumed.

We recently noticed certain pages on our site were outperforming very similar pages in terms of organic search visits. And it turns out it was all because of good old-fashioned SEO.

These pages included intelligent use of keywords and searchable headlines, were targeted on popular search terms, and included appropriately named images, links and metadata. In other words: all the basics were present and correct and pulling in the right direction.

We then replicated these features across a controlled sample of 10 underperforming pages, and monitored their performance over the course of the next week. Needless to say, results were mixed but there was an undeniable uplift across the sample. In some cases the change was so great that we went from relative obscurity to the top of page one almost overnight.

It just goes to show there doesn’t need to be any cloak and dagger with SEO. Getting the basics right does still seems to make a difference. You can have that tip for free. If it doesn’t work, your site architecture’s all wrong.