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In the SEO industry, there is often a lot of focus given to abiding by best practices, or in other words, the industry standards of what it generally most effective to SEO. These are often good guides to follow, however, in this Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus alerts us to some exceptions to these rules that are worth consideration. You should ignore best practices when:

Adhering to best practices won’t provide the highest return on investment (ROI).

Often SEOs start out spending a lot of time fixing on-page issues existing on a site. While these repairs can bring a high ROI when first working on a site, this will lessen once the basics are done. Sometimes SEOs then don’t spend enough of their time working on things like new content and link-building, which are more likely to bring outsized returns over time once most on-page issues are resolved.

The costs (financial and other SEO factors) outweigh the benefit implementing that best practice might bring.

To illustrate this, Cyrus uses the example of including keywords in a site’s URL structure, which is commonly best practice. If an SEO wanted to adhere to this best practice by changing a site’s URLs to include more keywords, it would involve a lot of time creating redirections, and link juice to existing URLs may be lost. The benefit that better keyword targeting in the site URLs could achieve, probably isn’t enough to make up the time and linkjuice lost.

You are optimising towards a goal other than search engine rankings, for example, optimising for social shares or conversion rates.

For example, the best practice for writing title tags is to keep it within 512 pixels as this is all Google will display in the SERPs. However, if your goal is to maximise social shares, and you have a great title over this specification which is getting traction through social media channels, you are probably better off ignoring the best practice to achieve your goals.

You want to experiment with something to see the results.

The nature of SEO is that it is very dynamic. Constant algorithmic changes from search engines mean best practices have to keep up. If no one experimented with shifting away from some established best practices, they would not be able to evolve.