You Want New SEO Tactics? I Got Your “New” SEO Tactics Right Here

Filed in MY BEST POSTS, SEO by Matt McGee on July 24, 2012 15 Comments

Someone posted this question on Yahoo Answers last week:

new-seo-tactics

This will go over like a lead balloon, but here’s my reply: There are no new SEO tactics. At least none that are likely to have staying power.

Why?

Because so much SEO over the past couple years has been a race to the bottom, a search to find tactics that offer an immediate hit — stuff that valued short-term results ahead of long-term success. People have spent all kinds of time digging for links and tricks rather than building something to stand the test of time.

That’s why people created do-follow blog directories, SEO companies selling 370 links per month and SEO software that promises to shoot your site to the top of the rankings and dominate your niche.

Meanwhile, Google has started doing what it said it would do years ago: killing off crap content (Panda) and neutralizing low-level link building tactics (Penguin).

Now, neither of those updates has been perfect. A lot of business owners/webmasters have been hit wrongly. (But a lot were also hit rightly.) And Google itself is plenty guilty of confusing matters for all of us.

But the reality in 2012 is that SEO is still Google’s world, and if we want traffic from Google, we play by its rules or we accept the risks of doing otherwise.

New SEO Tactics?

Here’s how I’d answer that question on Yahoo Answers about “new” SEO tactics:

1.) Stop focusing on how many links you built, and start focusing on how much authority you earned. The fact that people are now trying to reduce the number of inbound links they have should speak volumes. Skip the traditional link building and start authority building.

2.) Related: Build your brand. There’s a lot of crap on the web from unrecognizable and indistinguishable companies/websites. (How often have you seen a really unique real estate agent website, for example?) Don’t be unrecognizable. Don’t be indistinguishable. Be unique. Be valuable. Become a brand that people recognize and trust.

3.) Do SEO invisibly. You’ve got to do SEO; can’t ignore it. But you can’t overdo it, either. In 2012, less is more. Do your SEO gently with a paintbrush, not a hammer.

4.) Create “vital” content. The “trick” to all three things above — building authority, becoming a brand and doing SEO gently — is to make your website vital. Vital — that’s the word that Google uses to describe the highest-quality web pages.

5.) Diversify. If Google’s recent changes have taught us anything, it’s that we need to diversify. Google’s updates hit some companies that didn’t deserve it, and they lost visibility and money. That sucks, but it’s a reminder that you can’t build a business around the expectation of free traffic from a source you don’t control. Find other sources of traffic. Diversify or die.

6.) Related: Don’t skip social media. Social networking should not be your primary online asset, but it can be a great way to diversify your incoming traffic and to build authority. When you look at your analytics, you want to see a nice balance of search and social traffic.

Final Thoughts & Advice

Ummm, Matt? Nice list, but those aren’t new SEO tactics.

I know.

What about an infographic?? That’s a new tactic, right? I get some inbound links. I need more links. Links are great.

You want an infographic? Here’s one of the original SEO infographics, created before infographics were cool:

SEO Success Pyramid by Matt McGee

That’s the SEO Success Pyramid and it’s as relevant today as it was when I published it four-and-a-half-years ago. Maybe even more relevant.

SEO … what’s old is new. Before you worry about new SEO tactics, work first on mastering the tried and true.

Comments (15)

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  1. Manny Arman says:

    I would add an asterisk to 6. Social media can not be overlooked!!! We’ve run studies where we’ve built nearly identical sites in identical niches, and then went at SEO with social and without social.

    The difference is results ~ DRASTIC!

    Social traffic may not convert well, but it’s necessary for SEO!

  2. Trust and reputation is the key. Earning trust when link building is greater than building links manipulatively. True less is more (Quality and authority less links rules than the spammy hundred links.) Also don’t forget to create content on user. Making it informative and helpful.

  3. SEO is so complex and deep, I just think the biggest thing to realize is that it takes time and patience. People will always try to pull off the rank high quick stuff and it always failes in the end.

  4. Matt:

    I work with small businesses with low budgets and I can tell you right now why the short-term tactics were so popular for many SEO “professionals” – it was cheap to do and you got results. When you are dealing with a plumber who only wants to spend $500/month on SEO, you have two options – tell the plumber the way it is (that to do SEO right it takes time and more than $500/month to do) and risk losing the business, or take the business and do “SEO tactics” on the cheap to get the plumber the results he wants.

    I personally always opt for option #1, which is why I lose a lot of business. And I know the obvious reply to that statement is that I have to do a better job of educating and selling these businesses on doing SEO the right way. That’s a discussion for another day…lol. The point is, so many small businesses don’t understand that to do SEO right it takes time and money (if they outsource it). They’ll spend thousands of dollars a year on Yellow Pages print ads, billboards, radio ads, etc. but when it comes to SEO, they don’t understand how it can be “so expensive.” It really is amazing.

    Travis Van Slooten

    • Matt McGee says:

      That’s true, Travis. And what I find sad and frustrating is that so many SEO consultants/companies are willing to go along with the client’s race to the bottom — anything for quick results — rather than actually educating the client about the need for patience and the value of shooting for long-term success, not short-term fixes.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Hey matt,
    I’ve had good luck getting fast backlinks with well-written, optimized Press Releases! Don’t forget this old stand by!
    Suzanne

    • Matt McGee says:

      Suzanne, like most tactics that produce “fast backlinks,” I’d assume press releases will eventually carry less weight. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they already do. Google clearly is aiming to minimize any “fast” link-building tactics like this.

  6. 4 and 5 are my new focus. You can’t go wrong with good content and advertising in a variety of channels: organic, PPC, local online magazines, social networks.
    The difficulty in this is that really small companies may not have the capital for effective campaigns. Spam, after all, was/is low cost high protein meat product for those who could not afford pricy meats (adverts) ;) I bet a lot of little guys will be missing their beloved spam.

  7. Charles says:

    I’ve been helping build another site for an English lesson company. We have been creating great blog posts and publishing the articles on linkedin with a link back to the site. It drives a lot of traffic. There are a lot of visitors that come back to look at new posts. It has dramatically changed the ranking of this site.

    You have to be engaged. Write great content, and the information seekers will come. Not only that, but it helps me personally with business to constantly be researching content for great blog posts.

  8. It seems as if everybody (especially those new to the game) is looking for that quick hitter, instant SEO is what I call it. Nice to know that slow and steady still wins the race.

    Good content that answers a question or provides a solution (with basic SEO optimization applied to it) is the way I prefer to go.

    Stumbled on to you this morning while performing a search in Google on “what small businesses need”. It’s been a while since we chatted, I see you have revamped the look of the site sightly (looks good).

    Thanks for sharing!

    Regards!

  9. Sonja says:

    And in ten years google will change there algorithm back to the favor of links when the spammers focused too much on social media… On the long run everything will stay the same.

  10. Matt L says:

    I like what Jonathan said. Persistence and patience is what SEO should be all about. I have worked on a number of sites where the previous SEO promised “instant SEO” as one person put it. They used cheap tricks for quick results (honeymoon effect) and then disregarded long term success.

    Number of links vs quality of content vs site/social stats etc. SEO is not a versus game (especially more so these days with the ways search engines are playing with their algorithms). SEO is a cumulative effort but I believe that content is at the forefront. If you put the time in to build a solid website layout with even more solid content then links and other things will follow organically. That’s not to say you can’t help them along.

    The rockstar SEO’s of the world develop many tactics for their SEO strategy that involve covering all the bases. They even implement these tactics sometime simultaneously and seamlessly.

  11. Jay says:

    This pyramid has definitely stood the test of time. Only thing I would change, or I guess a better word would be clarify, is that anchor text is key. In my findings, keyword anchor text is proving to be more harmful than beneficial. Link AND anchor text variety are key.

  12. Patrick says:

    fantastic post – yes yes yes. So many points made here that just need to be drilled into so many people. I really loved how you said the fact that so many people are working so hard on reducing the amount of inbound links should speak volumes.

    a friend of mine is a real estate agent and asked me to help him “install” this SEO framework on his real estate page. I told him to delete everything and make a cool, custom page about himself, some testimonials then maybe down the road we will get him MLS listings and look at SEO. Same with interflora, blahhhhh.

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