The Dirty Dozen of SEO Litmus Tests

  • Keyword Research should find Best Bang for Buck
  • Keyword Research should include Competitor Strength Ratings
  • Keyword Research should find unexpected keywords
  • Don’t get locked into a contract
  • Content should be accurate, helpful, engaging & unique
  • Google Search Console should be spotless
  • Make all structural changes on a cloned site first
  • Demand Full Visibility
  • Retractable Links
  • Breadth of Social Signals
  • Test & Measure
  • Rank Tracking
(click here to download the slide deck)

Talk Script: Hi I’m Paul Harvey. I’m the Digital Solutions Architect at Corporate SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a bit like having a flutter at the races. How do you know you’re backing the right horse? What we need is a set of litmus tests to pick the winners from the doped up long shots. I present the Dirty Dozen of SEO Litmus Tests.

SEO is like Open Heart Surgery for your website, and it starts with Keyword Research… Who’s spent thousands of dollars on SEO with nothing to show for it? If you haven’t been outright stiffed, chances are you had your ladder against the wrong wall.

  • Keyword Research is not just about looking for the most popular keywords, but the best bang for buck.
  • Keyword Research without some kind of Competitor Strength Rating is not worth it’s salt. Not AdWords competition level, but SEO competition – how well optimized are your competitor’s sites?
  • Good research should dig up keywords you weren’t expecting. But not way off, as this shows lack of care or understanding.
  • Anyone that locks you into a contract isn’t certain they can deliver.
  • Your website’s content must be accurate (to protect your brand), helpful & engaging (to encourage sharing), and unique (to avoid duplicate content penalty). Speaking of Google penalties…
  • Treat Google Search Console like a holy book. Treat every recommendation as mandatory. Ensure it’s spotless. Zero tolerance for errors. Check your website against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines at
  • Who’s had an SEO that broke your website? If they’re messing with your live site, it’s only a matter of time… The cure is cloning. All structural changes should be made on a development copy, not your live site. Can skip if not mission critical.  So we’ve covered the on-page issues, but the real magic lies beneath the surface, in the links to your site…
  • Demand full visibility of all SEO operations. Don’t be the nightmare time waster who drills into every little detail, but it pays to do an occasional deep dive. If they’re hiding anything, it’s time to move on.
  • Ideally, every link they build should either be retractable or undisputedly natural. Double check that they can pull down the links if they need to, because SEO is constantly changing… What used to work fantastically, now works against you. That’s why you should perform a Detox / Disavow every time you change SEO. We have a special running, to perform a full detox of your site for only $178 at
  • What does it look like if you have 1000 Facebook likes, but no activity on Twitter and Google+? To avoid such unnatural patterns, you need to see a broad spectrum of activity across a range of social networks.
  • Google keeps their cards very close to their chest, so the only way to see what works is the scientific approach: test & measure.
  • If your website doesn’t come up first for your own brand name, you’ve either not started SEO at all, used common words for your brand, or you have a very serious SEO problem indeed. What you really want is to come up for non-branded keywords, so you can be found by people who don’t yet know your company name. And make sure you’re not logged in to Google when you do your search, or you’ll get personalised results, which is not what everyone else is seeing. Instead of logging out of Google just to check your rankings, here’s how to get into private browsing mode in the major browsers.
And there my friends, are the dirty dozen of SEO litmus tests. Stay safe out there! Finally, remember our detox special for only $178 at