7 SEO Rules & Guidelines if you want traffic from Google

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

I’d like to propose 7 SEO rules and guidelines to help you earn more traffic from Google and search engines.

Here we go !


What is search intent ?

Search intent is what the user is looking for from a search result.

Certain words used during a search are tell tale signs of the person’s intentions.

If someone includes “buy” or “order” in their search they most likely are looking to purchase something.


How to” would typically mean they are looking to learn something.

I’ve been searching “akai mpx16 tutorials” on Google and YouTube this week as I don’t know how to use this product I bought.


Alternative” included in a search would indicate someone is evaluating a few products they are considering.


Same as a “versus” search; they are looking to compare the features and prices of two similar products.

And what you will typically find in the search results after typing a search query is that Google do a pretty good job at delivering the most relevant results for your query.

They don’t always get it right.

And they don’t always give you the best results.

But that’s your opportunity to earn traffic if you can better serve the users’ intention.

Ps: so if any musicians want to make some good “akai mpx16 beginner tutorials” rather than “unboxing videos” you would help solve my problem.

Search Intent Keyword Modifiers

Here’s some typical keyword modifiers related to each stage in the consumer buying process when you do keyword research.

Search Intent Keyword Modifiers

Topics not keywords 

Keywords aren’t the be all and end all, topics are.

Let me explain.

When you type something like “mens shoes” or “ladies shoes” you’re not exactly going to get the answers you want.

You’re more likely to type in something longer like “mens black shoes size 8”

In fact for the search query “mens shoes” there are 50559 other keywords that contain “mens shoes”.

mens shoes keywords by number of words

Let me demonstrate with an example.

mens shoes to wear with shorts

That’s 6 keywords in a search query that has only 300 searches a month.

Before I look at the search results, I’m fairly certain what kind of results Google will show.

They will show :

  • some shopping results
  • images of shorts and shoes
  • A result with “how to” in the title
  • maybe some videos

Ok, let’s look at the results.

There you go.

So what ?

When we examine the estimated traffic to these top pages then we can determine if it’s commercially viable to target a query with only 300 searches a month.

Turns out that the 3 of the top pages earning on average around 3000 visits per month.

Why is that so ?

Because not every man searching “mens shoes to wear with shorts” types the same search query into Google.

They type :

  • Shoes to wear with shorts – 1700 times
  • Best shoes to wear with shorts – 400 times
  • Mens shoes with shorts – 400 times
  • Shoes with shorts – 300 times
  • Loafers with shorts – 600 times

In fact, there are 1151 different ways that men search for shoes to wear with shorts.

This is what we call a topic.

If you didn’t know to include loafers on your page content you’d be missing out on these keyword searches and clicks.

User Experience

Your job is to solve the user’s problem.


I started my digital career at an e-commerce agency.

I created wireframes of the user journey because it was imperative to maximise sales conversions for clients.

Any user journey starts with a problem in their head.

This translates into a Google search or visiting a brand site they know.

Google give the best, relevant results for a search query.

  • You can give the user a great title to maximise your position and click through rate.
  • You can serve a fast page with a result that matches what they were looking for.
  • You can make it easy for people to read your page with good font sizes, spacing, supporting images or videos.
  • You can communicate your answer in words that people understand.
  • You can remove barriers such as push notifications and pops up enabling the user to consume the content in the answer you created.
  • You can nudge users in the direction of similar articles or products.

But please don’t interrupt the user.

Size = quality

Brian Dean did a study of nearly 1 billion search results and found that the pages in the top 10 search results contained, on average, 1890 words.

Interestingly, if we circle back nearly 70 years ago, David Ogilvy said that advertising with longer copy tended to sell products better than short copy.

You are never going to explain keyword research in 250 words; therefore you have to write in depth.

Same goes with capital gains tax; you try explaining “how to avoid capital gains tax on inherited property” in 200 words.

It’s impossible if you want to recommend various tax saving strategies for the user.

So the size or word count of a page would seem to suggest quality.

However, that doesn’t mean you should start stuffing any old copy on a page or adding copy to your product category pages hoping they’ll rank better.

If you searched for website cost calculators, one page has 263 words, one has 679 words and one has 864 words.

I used 2 different word count checker and there clearly isn’t 263 words on this page.

So size doesn’t always equal quality; in this case intent outweighs page size.

What the user wants from a search query will dictate the page word count.

Mobile First

Today it’s really easy to produce websites that work on desktop, mobile and tablet devices.

WordPress own the CMS market and Shopify the e-commerce market.

There’s a huge market built around serving website themes that work great on all devices and browser sizes.

I just launched this website for an accountant.

The seo for this accountant website helps with speed of 2.6 seconds.

Good but could do better.

But mobile is more than just about site speed.

Shift from desktop to mobile ?

Here’s my website traffic by device type the timeframe 22 May to 20 June.

shift from desktop to mobile infographic

I alway thought my audience was primarily business owners and web professionals looking for answers on a desktop.

That’s quite a shift to mobile, even for a service professional website, in 4 years.

Mobile hasn’t replaced desktop, it’s replaced our boredom time

If I’m honest, I rarely use my phone to search Google.

I use my mobile for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Netflix in bed at night !

I use desktop for work and that involves searching Google a lot.

This diagram shows the trend of search clicks (not search volume) to non-Google sites on mobile and desktop devices.

From this visual, yes you’d say that overall click volume has decreased but the relationship between mobile and desktop isn’t changing too significantly.

I would be far more concerned with “zero click searches” as per the diagram below.

That’s why it’s essential you research search volume and search clicks and invest in topics where the majority of searches result in clicks.

Pretty pictures sell & earn links

Stop using stock photography.


Don’t subscribe to Adobe Stock.

You’re a service professional selling yourself as an accountant, lawyer, insurer, consultant.

Hire a local photographer and get great headshots, group shots, office shots and building shots.

People buy from people they know and trust.

Be real and invested in real photography like fashion retailers do.

Images get ranked

If you’re a fashion brand, you know that adding an ALT tag to an image can help Google understand what this image is.

Go into Google Search Console and look at the number of clicks that come from images.

Images get clicked on

You can check Google Analytics to check the conversion rate of image clicks.

view image impression and clicks with google search console

Images earn backlinks

When you use backlink analysis tools you’ll find that many of your competitors will earn their links from images.

People use images and charts (like those on this page) from other websites as sources and references when creating their content.

2 of top 7 linked pages are image assets that others link to.

Create the right kind of image assets and you’ll earn links and boost your domain authority.

Images help sell products

One of the first e-commerce pitches I made was to a shoe brand called Kickers.

The post pitch feedback was “we were looking to see pretty pictures in the presentation”.

We presented too much business, search and advertising data !

Plan B

Perry Marshall once remarked; you should be a digital marketing expert in at least 2 marketing channels.

Don’t be completely reliant on Google and SEO.

Master conversion optimisation, personalisation, Facebook Ads, PPC, email marketing, joint ventures, Instagram or whatever.

PS: these aren’t really rules, more like guidelines

I mentioned images are great strategy for earning links but so is producing better content about a subject.

I actually found the idea for this topic when I was searching for broken link building opportunities.

At the time of writing the old broken article has 121 other websites linking to it.

Hopefully I can convince a few of those websites to link here.