What do weight loss and SEO have in common?

I'm going through the process of losing some weight. It's been one of those things which I have needed to do for 10 years or so, made especially worse by the fact I work in front of a computer and don't play any sport. I have managed to lost 12kg (26 pounds) so far, which isn't a bad start, but I have a lot further to go.

So what has this got to do with SEO?

Well, I could have visited a weight loss expert at any point in time over my life, and got some advice on how to lose weight. Any expert would have probably told me I needed to do more exercise, and maintain a balanced diet. Without being rude to weight loss experts, I think the bottleneck is always lack of motivation rather than lack of information.

When you ask for SEO advice on a website, it's just like asking someone how to lose weight. The expert will tell you you aren't targeting the right words in your titles and body copy, and that you need more links.

As a fat person, I bought a book on diet and exercise only after I had got into the habit of going for a walk every day, and had already lost some weight. I didn't need to waste money on a book when motivation was the bottleneck. The book talks about the more advanced concepts of how to balance different food types, and which muscle exercises to do etc. Great stuff, once you are in the habit of doing any exercise at all.

When you are seeking help on your site, you get the best value when you sort out the basic stuff yourself. Do a little bit of homework, and put the basic measures into place, otherwise the expert will spend their time explaining obvious problems. You wouldn't want to pay a weight loss guru to tell you to do more exercise and to eat less food, would you? Likewise, no point in paying someone to tell you that you need more links, when you could be out there getting more links.

SEO reports

I used to offer a free service where I did a SEO report on people's site - and I'd politely ask for a link as a way of saying thanks. I'd suggest obvious changes to site structure and content, but most of the time the advice got ignored, and people would leave their homepage title as "Untitled document" and their H1 as "Welcome to our site".

It's the same reason why fat people are still out there buying pies - Learning how to fix a problem is much easier than actually fixing it, but it won't get you results.

I don't do free reports anymore, because people don't value them enough to actually do anything with the information I give them. I still do paid reports, and even these have a fairly average ratio of recommendation to implementation. Knowing this, I try to prioritize the recommendations so that people can start with the most important and "low hanging fruit" changes.
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