The New Rules of SEO

Dan Thies

SEO Fast Start Update #1: The New Rules of SEO

“A lot has changed.”
— Captain Obvious

I’ve been involved with SEO since the beginning of search engines. There has always been change. However, the kind of change that we’re seeing right now simply hasn’t happened in a long time.

In this series, I’ll walk you through the most significant changes, how they affect you, and tell you what you can do about it. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Rule #1: Mobile Users Run The Internet
  • Rule #2: Site Speed Is No Longer “Optional”
  • Rule #3: Structured (Schema) Beats Unstructured
  • Rule #4: Drive Traffic, Not Links

Each of those rules comes with its fair share of exceptions, even the last one. It all depends on how you approach SEO – what your priorities are – and our own strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

Once you understand the rules, you’ll be able to easily see how to apply each rule to any website you’re working on.

Let’s start with mobile today – because a lot of people are getting this very, very wrong.

Rule #1: Mobile Users Run The Internet

We’ve all been hearing “mobile, mobile, mobile” since 2006, but if you hadn’t realized it already, the age of mobile is upon us, and this is already having a huge effect on search marketing.

  • Google’s next big launch is “mobile first.”
    Just a few days ago, Google let it slip that they’re working on an entirely new “mobile” index, which will actually become their primary index of content. Desktop and laptop users will still be able to search, of course, but Google will not update the desktop index as often as the (now primary) mobile index.
  • Search is growing again – but only on mobile.
    The growth in desktop search has flatlined, but mobile search is growing strong. Search engines have a strong incentive to “encourage” you to focus on mobile – because you can’t buy mobile ads until your site can turn mobile traffic into money.
  • Google’s “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP) project is growing exponentially.
    The number of sites publishing AMP content is going through the roof, the number of search result pages with AMP articles (especially on mobile devices) is skyrocketing, and a lot of publishers have seen huge growth in AMP traffic. But it’s not as simple as “checking the box” and publishing AMP versions of your pages – in fact, that can easily do more harm than good.

Why Should You Care?

If you’re not already making most of your money from mobile traffic, you might wish that mobile browsers would just go away, but that’s not going to happen – and it would be bad news for you if it did:

  • Buyers research on mobile, even as they buy on desktop.
    Most websites either don’t have the needed Analytics in place, or don’t use enough paid traffic, to recognize this simple fact. In some cases, we’ve seen as much as two thirds of desktop sales happening AFTER a prior mobile visit.
  • The thumb is becoming the new “wallet.”
    Google and Apple both have mobile payment systems on Android and iOS phones, and retailers are slowly catching up. It might be a year from now, or five years, but one day the majority of online transactions will use a digital wallet. There are buyers out there right now, but most of your competitors don’t take Apple Pay.
  • Mobile users share, recommend, and review – and they are LOGGED IN.
    Lead generators and publishers have just as many opportunities here as retailers. Most mobile users are logged in to one or more social networks when they get to your site, making it easy for them to share your content, write reviews, or even hand over their email address or phone number with the push of a button.

Mobile users are worth money, it’s easy to generate mobile traffic, and since you can grab a whole lot more traffic from mobile search with a few simple, easy, and cheap improvements, there’s no sane reason not to follow rule #1 – for any business.

What Should You Do?

  • Get your mobile website in shape – and keep improving.
  • Create content optimized for mobile users – this is not the same as desktop.
  • Fix your Analytics – and start using all of your data.
  • Start driving mobile traffic – and leveraging social media.

Tomorrow, I’ll dive into this “to do” list, show you some stuff you’ve probably never looked at before, and explain why everything on that list is a lot easier than you think.

Got Questions?

If you’d like to talk about anything in this article, or find out how we can help you drive more traffic for your business or your clients, hop onto our Facebook page and send me a message.

I’m always happy to chat.



  1. Hey Dan, these are all things I’ve been “thinking about” but haven’t taken any action on yet. Looking forward to your post. I think I have a lot to learn.


  2. Chris Thomas says:

    re: ” Google’s “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP)………But it’s not as simple as “checking the box” and publishing AMP versions of your pages – in fact, that can easily do more harm than good. ”

    I for one would love you to expand on that point. I thought it was just a case of installing an AMP plugin (on WP) and you were good to go. No?

    • I’ll be covering the different approaches to AMP, specifically from a WordPress perspective, next week. I was hoping to do that sooner but we’ve got to move hosting on my test sites first.

  3. Hi Dan!

    Is there a WordPress plugin you recommend for Amp web pages and/or blog posts?