John is a 27-y-ear-old computer engineer living in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has a great job. Six figures. Benefits. The works. He has all the alluring qualities that a woman might look for in a potential spouse. Good looks. A great personality. Money in the bank. And incredible career prospects.


One day, John meets Jennifer. She's a 25-year-old barista living 40 minutes north in San Francisco. Auburn brown hair. Blue eyes. Beautiful smile. And an incredible sense of style. They both swiped right one summer evening while using a dating app and didn't think too much more about it.

After their match, John and Jennifer begin chatting. First through the app. Then by text. Then on the phone, oftentimes for hours on end. They exchange stories about their childhood, where they grew up, what they studied at school — mostly talk at first.

After a while, they begin to exchange photos, sending cute good night messages, and eventually following each other on social media. Long-winded conversations ensue where they talk about the meaning of life, their past experiences, and their dreams and aspirations.

After growing closer by the moment, John and Jennifer decide that it's time to meet. Considering that they aren't next door neighbors, John agrees to take the 40-minute drive up north to San Francisco where they sit down for a drink one sweltering Friday evening.

At the bar, they're both on their best behavior. There was something about chatting on the phone that was so comfortable, but meeting in person threw an entirely different dynamic into the situation. But they could both sense that there was something rare there, something sacred.

As they speak, sitting side by side at the bar, waiting for the host to call them to their table, they both sense a twinge of something special — something unique. She lightly touches him on the shoulder after he tells her a funny story about his childhood.

As they sit down for dinner, they continue their conversation. Engaged and enthralled, the hours pass by, and before you know it, they share a kiss goodbye and John makes his way back home at 2 o'clock in the morning, reeling with excitement and enthusiasm.

He had shared a near-instant connection with Jennifer from the start, and it only deepened in person. It was almost everything he had hoped it would be.

"She's the one," John tells his mom the next day on the phone.

"How can you be so sure?" his mother asks.

"I just know," he responds coyly. "You just know?" she says.

He didn't need to respond. He simply nodded his head and repeated the words back to himself.

I just know...


This might seem like a strange way to open a book about search engine optimization, but I assure you that there's a method to my madness here. I highlight the story of John and Jennifer because we'll use their ensuing relationship to better understand the world of SEO.

Why? Because, the best way that you can think about SEO is by thinking about your relationship with Google. Okay, you're not going to r a search engine. I know that. But, like any other close-knit relationship, you are going to work on building an intrinsic level of trust.

Because, as we all know, trust is the foundational element to any relationship. Whether we're talking about a romantic relationship, a business relationship, or a friendship, without that intrinsic level of trust, you have nothing.

In romantic relationships, love and trust go hand in hand. How can two people be in love, get married sand start a family without having a certain level of trust in one another? How can one person trust that the other won't cheat or lie or do something else underhanded?

In business relationships, how can consumers trust the company that they're dealing with or the professional that they've been referred to? How can they trust the food they buy from the grocery store or know that a certain product isn't fake or that a particular car won't break down on them?

No matter what type of relationship we're talking about, what we're really talking about is trust. The most successful businesses in the world have built up the most trust over time. Think Apple, Facebook, and of course, Google.

However, that trust doesn't come cheap nor does it come quickly. It takes time to build. It doesn't happen overnight. In fact, that's one of the most frustrating parts of starting any new business. In the beginning, there's simply a lack of trust.

The fact of the matter is that blind trust doesn't exist. Why? Because people have been scorned and burned in the past. Some are more willing to trust than others, but for the most part, you won't get that blind level of trust from anyone, including search engines like Google.

And, like any other successful relationship, you have to earn that trust. Trust is sincerely developed over time. You can't force someone to instantly trust you. Similarly, you won't get Google's immediate trust. In fact, in the beginning, Google will look at you with an eye of distrust.

Because Google distrusts you at first, especially when it's never really met you or developed a relationship with you, ranking or being found for any search is likened to achieving the impossible. It's like trying to fit an over sized square through a circular hole. It just doesn't happen.

The important point here is that no matter what anyone else tells you about search engine optimization, with claims of overnight ranking secrets, without trust, you'll get nowhere. Period. No matter what secret strategies or methods you attempt to implement, you'll simply fall flat on your face without trust.

Now, in our story of John and Jennifer, they meet during what's called a courting stage. The term courting simply means that we're paying attention to someone in an attempt to win them over in some aspect. In this situation, John and Jennifer are romantically courting.

However, we can also liken our initial relationship with Google as courting. We're courting Google, similar to how any person that's romantically interested in another person, might court the other. What we're trying to do here is to get Google to notice us or even. know that we exist.

Most of us (including myself) have had the misfortune of not be in noticed by others that we've tried to court. For one reason or another, either we were simply ignored, Jennifer, in our completely shut-down in our attempts. Jennifer in our story , hasn't shunned John; she's welcomed his advances thus far. But that's by no means the end of the story. Then it comes to getting Google's attention, like in any other relationship, we need to be well-manicured and well-mannered. We need to look good, just like a Website needs to look aesthetically appealing, and we also need to behave appropriately. We can't do things that are deemed frown upon or illegal if we want Google to like us.

Considering that Google has so many rules, it truly is best to think about this as the romantic relationship between any two individuals. Why? Because, like any romantic relationship, your relationship has stages, and it takes time to develop. This isn't a one-night stand we're talking about here.

No matter what any affiliate marketer or "SEO expert" tells you, relationships need to be cultivated and nurtured over time. There's no secret bullet train or elevator to success; you quite literally need to take the stairs.

Not only do you need to impress Google in the beginning, when you're in the courting stage, but you also need to keep impressing Google. You can't simply disappear and expect that relationship to grow and flourish. You need to continue to put out great content and behave in a well-mannered and respectable fashion.

Like any other relationship, ultimately, a level of trust develops, and that's when the real magic starts to happen. When Google begins to implicitly trust you, similar to a relationship with your partner or spouse, the bond deepens. When your bond with Google deepens, and the trust level is high, it doesn't filter your results. It doesn't Sandbox (we'll be get to this concept later) you and hold you back from ranking. When you post content, it ranks incredibly fast. There's no waiting around for months or years for it to happen.

You see, in the beginning, everything that you do is filtered down through a lens of non-trust, lessening the impact it would normally have if you wielded Google's implicit trust. Google's implicit trust can only be earned over time. As that relationship matures and blossoms, Google behaves differently towards you.

However, in the beginning, this lens of non-trust softens any potential for positive impact that you might normally earn when you have Google's implicit trust. The links that you build don't help you as much, even when they are high-quality authority links.

When you build links, they have less of a positive impact. When you write content, even if it's excellent content that adds lots of value, it doesn't help your cause as much. Everything you do is filtered down. Everything. No matter how well you behave or how much value you add in the beginning.

I know. I know. It sounds frustrating. And it is. But there's a reason for all of this. There's a reason why Google doesn't blindly trust you. There's a reason why you have to win Google over and prove that you're not just another person looking for a hand-out. Like any successful relationship, it's more about what you give than what you get, especially at the start.

So why doesn't Google trust you implicitly in the beginning? Why is it so hard to win the search engine over and get into its good graces? Well, like any woman or man who's had their trust broken in a relationship, Google's had a tumultuous past with people trying to bend and break its rules.

Long ago, a group of individuals learned how to game the system. They learned Google's rules and just what it took to soar to the top of its search engine, so they manipulated and exploited this to the furthest extent. Spammers and so-called Black-Hatters, used this to gain an advantage over the rule-following masses, effectively cheating their way to profits.

But this wasn't just some isolated incident. No. Once people learned how to game Google's search engine, the exploits flourished. The information was disseminated to others, causing a wide outbreak of frowned-upon SEO techniques.

The problem with all of this is that it went against everything that Google stood for. The whole purpose of the Google search engine, and what made it so alluring to users trying to seek out information, was its knack to deliver the most relevant results in the quickest manner possible.

Relevancy was the name of the game. That's why Google grew so big and so fast. It was the most relevant and simple-to-use search engine that didn't provide a lot of clutter. You knew that if you were searching for information on Google that it was as good as gold to pick those top first few results, unlike other search engines at the time.

However, you can imagine just how much this put Google's relevancy into jeopardy. When results at the top of Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have been achieved not by being the most relevant, but by being the most manipulative, Google's entire business model was thrown into question.

However, with so much money to be made at the top of Google's SERPs, there's no wonder there was this enormous push-and-pull between marketers attempting to rank at the top and Google doing its best to ensure the results were the most relevant and not the result of gaming, manipulation or deceit.

So what happened?

As a result of all of this, Google got upset. Very upset. In fact, the search giant was so angry that it sent shock-waves rippling through the system. It was likened to the equivalent of a virtual atomic bomb. And when the dust settled, everything had changed. This upheaval caused a great deal of panic in the SE° and online marketing industry.

You've likely heard about this in the past. These were Google's ominous algorithm adjustments that took on friendly names such as Panda and Penguin, but were by no means friendly whatsoever. The purpose was to completely obliterate listings on its SERPs that were gaming the system, while rewarding those that were doing their best to deliver value.

After that, everything changed. No longer was Google willing to blindly trust everyone. You had to earn its trust, just like you would have to earn the trust of anyone that you enter into a relationship with. And that's not easy to do today. It takes years and it can only occur over time.

Think about a woman for instance. Any woman who's been scorned or burned in the past is going to approach every new relationship with a great deal of caution. She's going to look for warning signs and red flags at every bend and turn. She might even overthink situations simply as a result of the pain and turmoil that she's been through.

It's hard to win a woman's trust like this. First of all, she won't let her guard down. You really have to work to win her affection. It won't be easy and it won't happen quickly. The point? Think about your relationship with Google precisely like this. You need to win Google over, which won't be easy.

However, to the victors go the spoils. As long as you're consistent in your approach and you don't give in to temptation, you don't disappear for extended periods of time, and you focus on the long-term results of your work rather than short-term gains, you'll succeed. But if you don't, you'll likely fail.

Like in any relationship, if you cheat on your significant other or do something else blatantly that goes against all rules of decency and respect, they'll lose trust in you. Similarly, if Google loses trust in you, you can kiss your chances for ranking goodbye. Because once you've lost Google's trust, it's incredibly hard to claw your way back into its good graces.

If all of this sounds too metaphorical, it's been designed to be that way. It helps to give real-world implications to what's happening in virtual cyberspace. And while everyone might think that SEC) is so convoluted and complex, once you understand the basic foundational principles, you'll come to find that's rather straightforward.

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