10 Insightful SEO Quotes (and Explanations)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever. But, it’s not always easy to know how to execute SEO properly for your business. Sometimes, rather than focusing on the details, it can help to take a step back and focus on the big picture. 

We’ve put together 10 helpful SEO quotes and explanations of their meaning so that you can move forward with clarity for your SEO campaigns.

1. “SEO isn’t about gaming the system anymore; it’s about learning how to play by the rules.” – Jordan Teicher, Director of Content at Cedar

In the past, one could write an article about anything, stuff it with keywords, and rank at the top of Google with ease. No longer is this the case. As time goes on, “black-hat” SEO methods are becoming less effective, and playing by the rules with “white-hat SEO” is the name of the game. Fundamentally, Google’s goal is to provide its users with the most accurate, high-quality, and easily accessible content, and gaming the system a) doesn’t align with that goal and b) doesn’t work anymore, even in the short term. For true long-term success in SEO, it’s all about understanding what Google values and providing them with a website and content that is congruent with those values (i.e. what users want). 

2. “It is very hard for SEO to give kind of a prescription that fits everyone” – Kevin Indig, Director of SEO at Shopify

Just like losing weight is different for everyone, so is SEO. There are certain rules that remain true for everyone in SEO, as with losing weight. For example, “burn more calories than you consume” and “publish high-quality content”. But when it comes to the details of SEO, what works for one website may not work for another. Some websites are already very authoritative and can target keywords that are competitive, while smaller and newer websites will need to focus on targeting less competitive keywords in order to get results. When planning your SEO campaigns, it is important to understand the basics of what works and what doesn’t, but ensure your plan is specific to your unique needs, as this will help you get the best results possible.

3. “Think why you are linking to specific things, and then think back to why someone would link to what you’re doing.” – Tim Soulo, Chief Marketing Officer at Ahrefs

Backlinks are undeniably important for SEO. A website with a great backlink profile is going to perform better than a website with a poor backlink profile, all else equal. This quote is talking about a mindset change when approaching backlink building. Many people start with the question of “how to we acquire backlinks”, “which method are we going to use to ‘get’ people to link to our content?”. But the question you should be asking is: “is the content we’re publishing is worth linking to?” “If I were the person we want to link to our content, would I link to it? If not, why?” “What would make the content we’re producing worthwhile linking to?” These are the questions to start with, and building links will become much easier. 

4. “As SEOs, we’ve got to be asking ourselves, “Okay, how do we build up an association between our brand or our domain and the broad keywords, terms, topics, phrases, so that we can rank” – Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

Why is an association between a domain and keywords important? It comes down to “topical authority”. The domains most successful at SEO not only rank for keywords in their industry; their domain and brand name are synonymous with the keywords they’re trying to rank for. When you think of Moz.com, what do you think of? SEO. When you think of Healthline.com, what do you think of? Health. When people start typing in something like “how to lose weight healthline”, as opposed to “how to lose weight”, your domain gains topical authority (one of many theorized ways this happens), which could be very beneficial for your SEO efforts.

5. “Speed is definitely a ranking factor? Yes.” – John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google

With Core Web Vitals updates and Google being very clear about speed being a ranking factor, having a fast website is more important than ever. But why is speed important? Speed is important because of user experience. Google’s goal is to provide users with the most accurate, informative, and engaging content. Additionally, Google also wants to provide this content in the most accessible way. Speed makes content more accessible and so, given other factors, such as content quality are equal, speed could be one determining factor affecting how well you rank. It makes sense why Google’s algorithm is set to give a nudge to pages and domains that load faster, as they provide a superior user experience.

6. “If you’re going to build a website, make sure to have a website that Google would be embarrassed not to rank for its main keywords.” – Barry Schwartz, Founder of Search Engine Roundtable

This comes down to the idea of being ‘so good they can’t ignore you’. If you build the very best solution to a problem, chances are, people are going to find out sooner or later. The same goes for your website and the content you publish. If you’re targeting a specific keyword, and you create the absolute very best page and content fulfill the search intent behind that content, you’re not guaranteed to rank for it, but you are giving yourself the best possible opportunity for your content to perform well. Create content experienced so good that Google has to rank it #1.

7. “Longer content helps you rank better for your target keyword and brings in more long-tail traffic, a win-win!” – Brian Dean, CEO at Backlinko

There definitely is a positive association between content length and positioning in SERPs. Now, this doesn’t mean that the longer your content is, the better it will perform. It’s a correlation and not causation! But what this relationship does tell us is that you should be aiming to create the most comprehensive content possible for your target keywords. In general, more comprehensive content is longer, and that’s why it often ranks higher, and for more keywords. Not because of the length per se, but because it covers the topic more comprehensively than competing content. If adding more words helps you write more comprehensive content, add more, if adding more dilutes what you have, don’t add more.

8. “For some sites, good E-A-T is a “nice to have” but not a requirement. For example, if you have a blog about knitting, it’s fine to just be a knitting enthusiast who chose to start a blog – not much “expertise” is required beyond that.” – Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research at Amsive Digital

E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This is a concept that relates to how Google ranks websites. Some websites focused on topics that more closely affect one’s wellbeing, such as health (known as “YMYL topics) are going to need to focus more on EAT, as opposed to a topic like knitting which misinformation is less harmful for. Google wants to be providing people with the most accurate, safe, and responsible content, and so for certain subjects, such as medicine and personal finance, they want to have assurance that the content is credible, as opposed to something like knitting that has a lower risk of negatively impacting people’s lives in aspects that matter most.

9. “Easy wins in SEO don’t usually last long” – Joost De Valk, Founder & Chief Product Officer at Yoast

SEO is very much a long-term game. With PPC, you can set up a paid advertising campaign and have leads fly through your door in weeks, but with SEO, you may not even start seeing results for 6 – 12 months. Even then, it will likely be years before you start to see the true potential of your SEO efforts. While certain “tactics”, many of which are questionable, may provide quick boosts and wins for SEO, they probably won’t last. The things you do with 3, 6, 12, 36 months in the future in mind, such as publishing high-quality content, are what will pay dividends over the long-term, just as with any good investment strategy.

10. “Today it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.” – Adam Audette, Senior Vice President of SEO at BLEND360

If you’re selling pet products, and you post content targeting low competition keywords about something related but not closely enough related to your ideal target audience, then your traffic isn’t going to convert. You shouldn’t chase vanity metrics such as overall visitors per month. While SEO KPIs like total visitors certainly are great to monitor, it’s more important to focus on getting the right kind of traffic — the type of traffic that’s extremely relevant, and ideal for your brand and your offering. 10,000 relevant visitors per month is better than 100,000 visitors that aren’t closely aligned with your ideal target audience. For best results, be sure to focus in on the right people and create content that specifically helps them.

The bottom line

SEO is far from dying. As long as people search for stuff, SEO will be alive and thriving. But, SEO is more complicated than it used to be, and it’s harder to compete. To remain competitive, it’s important to focus on what works, and so hopefully the quotes from these leading SEO experts have given you some food for thought and inspiration on your SEO journey.

Don’t forget to share this article!

Related articles