The Evolution (or Lack Thereof) Search Engine Optimization

May 30th, 2012 by

Hey, I'm Being Followed By MonkeysI’ve talked about my SEO origins in the past and explained how even though I was aware of SEO, I wasn’t formally introduced to it in 2006.  At the time my job was basically to tell clients that called in what was good, what was bad, and ultimately how not to screw up their website.  A little over a year later I would be the one trying not to screw up their website and consulting with them on a regular basis on how to best execute SEO on their website.  Obviously my SEO knowledge and career have advanced since then, but no matter how advanced I get in my SEO knowledge or career the core message still rings true.

SEO Then and Now

In his November 2007 post on the US Search Engine Optimization Market Aaron Wall made a timeless statement that pretty much sums up good SEO.  He said, “Building an organic SEO presence provides a cheap stream of fairly stable traffic, especially if you have a diverse set of inbound links and a large catalog of hand crafted unique content.”  Go back a few years in the SERPs and you can see the same advice from other veteran SEO’s.  Jump ahead to all of the Penguin recovery, Panda recovery, and future proofing articles and it’s all the same advice.  Yet nearly every time there is a major update and websites get slapped for gaming the system the bulk of the SEO community is stunned by the fact that their crap-hat SEO techniques didn’t withstand the test of time.

Content Is King

It’s cliche and overused, I get it.  It was the mantra of turn of the century SEO’s and yet it still holds true today. Sure the verticals may change, content can be images, videos, writing, but its still content and its still at the core of everything related to internet marketing and SEO.  If you read any article out there on recovering from an algorithm update or future proofing your SEO from the past or present it will tell you the same thing.  Don’t be spamy, create great content, and earn natural authoritative links.

Future Proofing Your SEO

As Michael Gray pointed out in a 2010 case study believing all the hype isn’t enough to truly see success the way one would think.  Playing by the book isn’t always enough to drive natural links and bring SEO nirvana.  These days its creating great content and finding means of getting it in front of people, either through social media or other means.

In many cases you may still see your site outranked by websites using aggressive webspam techniques to gain an edge.  But when we are talking about future proofing your SEO we are talking about long term strategy and not short term gain.  Oftentimes the difference between spamy SEO and timeless SEO is lies in the long term outcome.    The sites that fall to algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin are usually these more aggressive sites.  Those sites then have to focus less on moving forward and more about cleaning up their past.  Meanwhile websites who played by the rules are sitting pretty in the same positions or have overtaken the throne of a fallen competitor.

At your core, do what’s right for SEO the things that haven’t changed since the turn of the century.  Create good great content regularly, serve your users, and pay attention to the metrics that matter (traffic, page views, conversions, engagement).  If you’re not sure where to start you can take a look at my Google Guide to SEO  and consider these website content tips from Google.

Next focus on earning quality backlinks to your site. Sure, it’s a pain, but in the end you will make up for it in time you won’t be spending cleaning up a penalty.  If you’re not sure where to start on your link building Jon Cooper put together an AMAZING resource on Link Building strategies.

If you feel you have to dabble in risky behavior that’s against the search engine guidelines in order to gain an edge on a competitor treat it the way you would a holiday meal or alcohol and enjoy in moderation.  The key is balance.  Much like the holiday or alcohol if you overindulge you might end up feeling a little sick with the outcome, or worse yet make a complete ass of yourself.

Conclusion

The root of SEO hasn’t changed.  The evolution of SEO began and ended with quality content that served the end user.  The types of content and the platforms for driving users may have changed over the years, but ultimately the purpose and goal of SEO has gone unaltered.  I’m not taking a “white hat” or “black hat” stance on this.  Ultimately you need to do what’s right for your client or your business.  If you’re doing work for a client, at least do the right thing and disclose the risks involved.  Regardless, if your focus shifts from long term goals and turns into a mission for short term gain the search engines will ultimately catch up with your antics and you’ll again be bombarded with months of industry updates about how quality content, natural backlinks, and a great user experience are ultimately how to get you back on good terms with Google.  In the end the the root of search engine optimization never changes.

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