The SEO Success Pyramid

Filed in MY BEST POSTS, SEO by Matt McGee on January 8, 2008

SEO Success PyramidJohn Wooden, the greatest basketball coach ever, never talked to his teams about winning. He talked to them about preparation and about the process of becoming a great team.

Wooden’s philosophy on coaching (and life) is summed up in the “Pyramid of Success,” which beats the tail off all that Self-Help Guru junk you see peddled in books, on blogs, on daytime chat shows, and on late night TV. I was lucky to hear Coach Wooden speak about the Pyramid of Success while I was a student at Pepperdine University; to this day, it’s one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard. (Seriously, if you don’t know what his Pyramid of Success is, visit

What’s all this have to do with SEO and online marketing? Well, the best SEOs don’t talk to their clients about rankings; they talk about the process of making great web sites that earn traffic and convert visitors into customers. They talk about the process of creating great content that attracts links like bees to honey.

I would never compare myself to John Wooden, but I do like teaching others about online marketing. So, with that in mind, and inspired by the great coach, here is the….

SEO Success Pyramid

SEO Success Pyramid by Matt McGee

click to download high-quality, printable JPG (1.7mb)

Please feel free to write about this SEO Success Pyramid and/or link to this post, but please don’t offer the print version for download from your site/blog. Thank you!

What’s It All Mean?

Commitment: Every successful project I’ve ever worked on has involved a client whose team is enthusiastic and engaged. Whether you’re big or small, one uninterested department or person can sabotage everything.

Planning: Success in any pursuit begins with setting goals and developing a plan to achieve them — detailing the strategies and tactics you’ll use, the people and resources needed, and so forth. Search marketing is no different. Read: Planning an SEO Campaign

Product/Service: Although you can fool some people into buying crap for a while, real long-term success involves a product or service that people want or need. There’s no substitute for quality.

Education/Information: You’re a business owner; you don’t need to become an SEO expert. But you’ll succeed faster if you have access to great information. And as fast as the search marketing industry changes, ongoing access to intelligent information is critical.

Patience: True, there are exceptions every now and then, but for the vast majority of companies big or small, search marketing is a process that takes time to implement correctly. There are no short cuts, no quick fixes. Success almost always takes many months, if not a year or more.

Design & Usability: Yes, there are some ugly sites that make lots of money; but there are more that don’t. Your best bet is to have a web site that’s attractive and easy to use. Get out of your customers’ way and let them do what they came to your site to do.

Keyword Research: If you target the wrong keywords, you’re doomed to fail. You’ve heard that a million times, I hope. More than that, you also need to know what to do with your keywords.

Analytics: How will you know you’re successful if you have no way of measuring what you’ve done? Measure, analyze, adjust strategies and tactics as needed.

Tools: Having access to appropriate SEO tools can give you an advantage over the competition. Of course, more important than the tools is knowing how to interpret the data they provide.

Crawlability: A search engine cannot index pages that its spider cannot crawl. Be careful with the Flash movies, the complicated DHTML and javascript, the robots.txt file, etc. Here are 5 common crawlability mistakes you need to know about.

Content: This can take many forms: a blog, articles, videos, a FAQ page, or even user-generated content like product/service reviews. When you get this one right, you’ll have an easier time getting…

Links: Your great content isn’t going to rank well without links, preferably from relevant, quality sites. I brain-dumped (almost) everything I know about links early last year.

Social/Local Findability: Let me explain this since I might be inventing a new term. Social Media Marketing and Local Search are musts. The size and scope of your company may dictate which you emphasize more, but neither should be ignored. Local SEO is a must for most small businesses, but social media can work, too. Bigger companies that target an audience more than a location will find social media offers a lot of opportunities. In either case, the goal is findability. You want customers to be able to find you as easily as possible, and you can do this on social media sites that make local networking easier.

Reputation Management: It’s imperative to know what people are saying about your company. This isn’t just for Big Business, either: An old client of mine runs the only roller skating rink in our area, yet is probably losing business because they have a couple negative reviews on a certain Local Search site. Given the growing influence of user reviews, knowing how to manage your reputation is a must.

Trust: In my first post of 2007, I said trust is the No. 1 factor, and nothing has changed since then. Trusted domains are powerful domains. When you have trust, from users and search engines, you’re on the way to search marketing success. Don’t miss this more recent article: Why Trust Matters & How To Earn It.

As you climb the pyramid, you’ll find buzz/word-of-mouth marketing or maybe community helping you along. To a large degree, these are two sides of the same coin. It’s the people factor, the human element that often separates the winners and losers in search marketing. Get people talking positively about you, whether it be one-to-one conversation among friends or in the larger setting of an online community, and you’ll climb the pyramid that much faster.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my feed and share it on your favorite social/bookmarking site. Thanks!


The SEO Success Pyramid has been translated into the following languages:

Comments (183)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Patience - A Key to Search Engine Success » Small Business Trends | small business experts | January 8, 2008
  2. Pilgrim’s Picks for January 9th | January 9, 2008
  3. Esquema seo para obtener el exito « El rincón seo de Raquel | January 9, 2008
  4. (EMP) E-Marketing Performance » : » Team Reading List 1.9.08 | January 9, 2008
  5. ResultsON : Resolução para o ano: aumentar o tráfego | January 9, 2008
  6. The SEO pie! - WebProWorld | January 10, 2008
  7. 25 SEO-Related Things To Do During Must See TV Thursdays - Cape Cod SEO | January 11, 2008
  8. Friday Tea Time - 1/11/08 | January 11, 2008
  9. links for 2008-01-11 | Brewed Fresh Daily | January 11, 2008
  10. Pay Per Click Advertising | Weekly Roundup January 5 - January 11, 2008 | Apollo SEM | January 11, 2008
  11. SEO金字塔 | Ge Xiaofei | January 13, 2008
  12. | January 14, 2008
  13. Webgrrls Wisdom » Create a successful SEO campaign | January 16, 2008
  14. The element of trust. | January 21, 2008
  15. Erfolgspyramide für Start-Ups, Business, Geschäftsmodelle | | January 25, 2008
  16. SEMpdx Searchfest 08 Mini-Interview: Matt McGee (Marchex/Small Business SEM/U2 Diary) | SEMpdx Blog | January 28, 2008
  17. Jan Norman on Small Business » Blog Archive » Tip of the Day: Build search engine success - | February 2, 2008
  18. This Month In SEO - 1/08 - TheVanBlog | February 2, 2008
  19. This Month In SEO - 1/08 | TheVanBlog | February 4, 2008
  20. La importancia del Seo en el éxito de tu proyecto | MP3d - Posicionamiento Seo y Adsense | February 26, 2008
  21. I Call Them Gonzo SEO’s for a Reason | Gonzo SEO | March 5, 2008
  22. links for 2008-04-22 » | April 21, 2008
  23. Focusing On People At Small Business Marketing Unleashed - SiteLogic - Marketing Logic | April 25, 2008
  24. Link Building, Search, and Influence: Not So Silly After All - Scott Clark | April 26, 2008
  25. SEO Blog RSS Feed List, The Ones I Personal Follow | Search Marketing Blog from Cincinnati, Ohio | May 2, 2008
  26. Mihmorandum | An Interview with Small Business SEM’s Matt McGee | General Marketing | May 8, 2008
  27. O marketingu w internecie - warto przeczytać | May 17, 2008
  28. SUMAtopfmodel | June 27, 2008
  29. Wunschgewicht mit Fressnet-Diät | July 9, 2008
  30. SEO Success Pyramid - blog ecommerce du capitaine commerce | December 29, 2008
  31. Climbing the SEO Pyramid | iePlexus | December 31, 2008
  32. Everything You Do Online Should Be Done To Increase The Trust That Others Have In You « Charlie Four Whiskey | January 14, 2009
  33. SEO - All 2009 Nominees » | January 19, 2009
  34. 21 SEO Articles you Must Read | | February 4, 2009
  35. Best of The Web - Blog Posts and Articles Of Year 2008 | February 6, 2009
  36. Best of The Web - Blog Posts 2008 | February 9, 2009
  37. Maximise your SEO Efforts | Brighter Marketing Blog | February 17, 2009
  38. Linkkraft: Golf online, SEO-Longtail, mobile Social Networks | March 2, 2009
  39. | March 3, 2009
  40. Blogzwonull Links der Woche: Lesenswertes der KW10/2009 » BlogZwoNull | March 8, 2009
  41. The Pyramid of Search Engine Success | March 9, 2009
  42. Be Seen Seo » Blog Archive » 38 resources for SEO Information | April 19, 2009
  43. De beste SEO en SEM informatie | Enthousiasmeren | April 20, 2009
  44. Online Business Strategy & Marketing » Blog Archive » Online Marketing Success Pyramid Blog | eCommerce, e-commerce, strategy, marketing, statistics, retail, blog | | April 20, 2009
  45. 21 SEO Blog Articles I Wish I’d Written | USASEOPros Blog | June 12, 2009
  46. Word-of-Mouth Marketing: It’s About Being Remarkable « FromDHart’s Blog | June 14, 2009
  47. Cómo Ganar el Primer Asalto de la Comunicación 2.0 en tu Empresa | ivanpino.COM | September 7, 2009
  48. Whom do you trust? | Strategic Social Media | April 8, 2010
  49. La pirámide del éxito para el SEO - Richard Johnson Hurtado | June 9, 2010
  50. Top 10 Must Read SEO Posts | Gotlan's Blog | August 24, 2010
  51. La Pyramide du référencement | Christophe BENOIT | December 23, 2010
  52. Solutions créatives en Webdesign | Les différentes étapes pour mener à bien votre référencement | January 8, 2011
  53. SEO Daily Reading – Issue 12 | March 30, 2011
  54. Mihmorandum | Google Places Now “Spot-Checking” Business Owner Information | Google | April 24, 2011
  55. Pagina d'attesa o lancio immediato di un nuovo sito? | | August 17, 2011
  56. Quora | September 1, 2011
  57. It’s all about Trust. Trust me. « Drum Up Business! | October 1, 2011
  1. davidmihm says:

    Awesome. Truly boils everything down to essentials, and I love the fact that you talk about the five “bottom” components. So many businesses expect to start on the next level up.

    My only gripe is that the title narrows the focus too much. I think this model applies to so many things BEYOND SEO. If you’ve built up a lot of links in topical communities and gained trust among users and customers, you’ve built a business model that can succeed independently of Search Engines.

  2. pratt says:

    Matt, this is really awesome. I printed out the diagram and have it on my wall. Great stuff.

  3. Todd Mintz says:

    Best. Matt. McGee. Post. Ever.

  4. Matt McGee says:

    I thought that putting the SEO label on this might not be the best idea, but decided to do it because I’ve been saying for some time now that we need to expand our definition of what SEO is. I know when I “do SEO’ with clients, only a portion of the effort deals with traditional, on-page stuff. To me, what’s in the pyramid is what I consider SEO to be in 2008.

    In any case, thank you all for the great feedback. It’s always cool to see your time and effort appreciated!

  5. Peter says:

    Thanks Matt – I was in the middle of drafting an email to a prospective client on how we could help her with her website when your post popped-up in my feed reader.

    Now I’m going to completely change the email – and the approach I take when dealing with other potential clients.

  6. jssdds says:


    Maybe it is something I’m missing… but I read your seo pyramid and wanted to make contact with you and could not find any way to do so other than to leave a comment.

    I don’t mind registering… so that’s not an issue… it’s just that the pyramid talks about … usability… findability, etc. and here I am unable to make easy use of the site to find and contact you. When I tried to click and find you I was taken to WebMarketing . com… and under nowhere on the site do I see that you are affiliated with it….

    Anyway, I am very interested in working with you as I have talked to a number of people/companies that have fallen short of understanding or outlining all of the things you share in your pyramid. I am amazed that the easiest way to get in contact with you from a post like this is to leave a comment…. please drop me an email at jssdds (at) msn dot com… thanks

  7. S.I. says:

    great article on a great blog, thanks

    & what a good illustration. we wont even mind plugging another SEO Company to have that on the wall 😉

  8. jdeuling says:

    2 years ago I started with SEO. For my own ‘smallbusiness’. I did it all by myself. Trial and error. This pyramid contains a lot of elements I discovered myself. If you are starting with SEO just learn to be patient…and get some help…

  9. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks for the great feedback on this, gang. I’m glad to see that it’s being received so well and filling a need for people. What else can you ask for?

  10. F.S. says:

    Matt, Impressive. What more is there to say. 🙂

    I would like to join your mailing list if you have one. Please advise how I can.

  11. Neil says:

    Only just found the site – feel like I’ve just discovered the holy grail! Fantastic Resource. Thanks

  12. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks again for all the kind words.

    @F.S. — no mailing list, but please do subscribe to the RSS feed. 🙂

    @Neil — you’ve put a big smile on my face. Thank you!

  13. S.D. says:

    Great, well thought out article. Some “bricks” of the pyramid should be bigger than others (that would only complicate the drawing, wouldn’t it?), but all in all, we’re all gonna have to touch on one of those points at some point in time.

  14. Buntu says:

    1. There should be word “Traffic” along with “Social/Local Findability”

    2. Analytics should be above “Crawability”, “Content”, “Links” since these three helps to generate “Traffic” and once “Traffic” is generated, “Analytics” come into picture. The word “Analytics” mentioned in the bottom second line should be replaced with “competition analysis”.

  15. Anup says:

    Hi Matt,

    Very impressive! I think that trust is really the critical element and it starts with the offering. To build trust, we need to get into the mind of our visitors and create moments of magic for them, all along the pyramid.

  16. S.F. says:

    I found this post via one of your more recent posts. I truly am impressed by this post. It is very usefull for me explaining SEO importance to my clients.

  17. Annie says:

    Matt, excellent post. It is nice to see it broken down into Laymans terms. You don’t realize how much goes into SEO and SEM until you break it down. Also helps justify some of the cost that can be charged by good, reputable SEOs.

  18. Todd says:

    Excellent post, nice illustration of the many facets of an effective SEO / Branding campaign.

    Other elements I found, that likely fit in the bricks for startup ventures are:

    Genre Selection / Research

    I am not sure Reputation Management fits for all businesses.

  19. As a young man, I was lucky enough to spend several summers in a row at John Wooden’s basketball camp. I would have preferred the Lakers Youth Camp, but alas…

    That being said, John Wooden’s philosophy as a man, not just as a basketball coach, was always about serving others, over delivering and persisting. He took great interest in those around him, cared about what happened to people and looked for the good in others when it would have been far easier to find fault. As far as I know, these qualities still define him. He is as well loved today as he always was, if not more so.

    I actually got a few pointers and a pat on the back from the great man himself, and as a 12 year old kid and aspiring pro-basketball player, I can assure you it meant A LOT to me.

    Strangely, it took your article here to make me consciously and suddenly realize how important those same “basketball” lessons are in life and on the web. They were such formative and powerful lessons that I think I inculcated them into my very being without even being consciously aware of it.

    Anyway, great article Matt! I have Spunn you, Dugg you and I’m going to mention this article in my business blog. Keep up the great work!

    Finally, (shameless plug to follow), I blog on the Lakers/NBA at my site, for any SEO fanatics and basketball fan(atic)s like myself!

  20. Matt McGee says:

    Karl et al, thank you again for the generous comments. I’m glad people continue to enjoy and value this post and the SEO Success Pyramid!

  21. div says:

    Wow, now this is a realy nice article. I am new into SEO and this pyramid is just so exciting for me. All of this is realy interesting I´ll read trough it once more when i have a clear head I think.


  22. Jed says:

    Excellent resource, thankyou. I am wondering if you might be able to break other components of online marketing into similar pyramids to publish, and this model really serves to help build the correct pillars for a successful campaign, and I would imagine we could apply it to SEM as well?

  23. Zombie says:

    That’s actually a really creative pyramid, and pretty accurate.
    I love the way it summarizes and builds. I might need to use this in a post because it really lays out basic SEO for someone who is new to the field.

  24. W.D. says:

    This is really cool. I’m going to definitely print this out and hand it out around here. This is the holy grail of SEO. Cheers!

  25. Jordan says:

    Matt, I printed this out for all my co-workers. A brilliant piece of work.

  26. Great diagram. I don’t know much about SEO, but have a friend that helps with a few projects. I get lost listening to him sometimes. I like this though. Diagrams like really help give the “big picture”

  27. BJ Wright says:

    Excellent resource, its just goes to show how much effort really goes into a well played out SEO strategy! It doesn’t happen over night, for this reason people are more slow to coming around to understanding all the benefits.

  28. Donace says:

    I have recently just started working on SEO properly and researching and this post indeed has helped me alot and actually winged me to subscribe to your blog!

    Great content man, also how would i go about grabbing a copy of the pyramid?

  29. Matt McGee says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments in the last month or so, sorry for not acknowledging earlier.

    @Donace — right under the image in the post, there’s a link for the hi-res, printable version. Click that and you’ll have a copy of it for printing or offline reference. Thx!

  30. Tim says:

    “He talked to them about preparation and about the process of becoming a great team.” What a great quote. I really think that a lot of SEOs get lost here, including me from time to time. It is really about building the best website in your category. If you get too caught up in rankings you can end up going about the entire process wrong, and missing some other great accomplishments that you can achieve along the way.

  31. George says:

    Well written post. The reputation management is huge right now, and often overlooked by too many companies.

  32. G.R.D. says:

    Very nice post. I think Local Search is too often overlooked. I get a ton of calls from my google local listing.

  33. Hi Matt,

    Being a fellow SEO myself I think it is great that someone took the time to do this! I’ve always had an this concept in my mind as I “do SEO” for clients, and this really defines it well for those new starters or SEOs who need a push in the right direction.
    Great Work!


  34. Eva White says:

    Very nice article. I am feeling bad that the article was written on Jan 08 and I have got my hands on it in sept 08, wish I would have read it earlier. I have bookmarked it for future reference.

  35. Alice says:

    This hit a nerve for me. This was very up-front. Too many people, do not realize what’s involved in starting an online business.

  36. Goran Web says:

    Hi Matt.

    The diagram is brilliant, hope you dont mind I have saved it to show the guys in the office, just makes sense, thanks Goran

  37. SSC says:

    The pyramid is brilliant. It completly puts the ‘SEO process’ into a step by step process. I have not seen something like this before.


  38. I.G. says:

    My only gripe is that the title narrows the focus too much. I think this model applies to so many things BEYOND SEO. If you’ve built up a lot of links in topical communities and gained trust among users and customers, you’ve built a business model that can succeed independently of Search Engines.

  39. A very good breakdown that will help people to visually understand a good SEO/SEM/PPC approach. Well done.

  40. Tamar says:

    This pyramid is one of a kind, it is simply awesome. The info it provides very informative and will help me a whole lot. Thanks.

  41. K. says:

    Great post for me to end the year with….

    The only thing it doesn’t address for me is the iterative process of change over time – things like keyword improvements / optimizations or improvement of quality of product and the follow-on steps that need to be re-visited after that.

    But from a general SEO pyramid, it’s spot-on, and easy to use.


  42. Morkel says:

    Just gone through your another article, and found another marvel on your site:D, i think i have to read all your articles, whenever i get time. It will really help me to understand SEO better.

  43. Gennice says:

    Wow… What a wonderful and true pyramid for building internet success… Thanks for the insight…

  44. Matt McGee says:

    Thank you, Gennice, Morkel, and all others who’ve commented recently. I’m glad you’re finding value in the SEO Success Pyramid. 🙂

  45. Mike says:

    Pretty awesome Matt, Never thought I would be saying that about a article on marketing with the word Pyramid in it. Excellent way to illustrate the process of A good Business / Client relationship.

  46. Matt McGee says:

    Hehehe. I know. I almost regret having used the pyramid because of the negative connotations, but it just fits so perfectly…. thx for the kind words.

  47. This was a very informative article. I will read your blog often.

  48. Casey says:

    Great post and I love the chart!

  49. Matt, I am new to internet marketing, I have always been a “physical location” businessman, people come into my resaurant, people come into my office at tax season, people meet me at properties they want me to decorate or remodel or help them buy or lease. I have just started to work on the internet and am shcoked at what I do not know, or understand. What would you suggest I do to this Web site to really make it popular. Please note the chef and her people did this, I think it is not very good but what has been done has been done. We have hard products other then food that we want to sell over the internet. I have a seasonal tax business, any ideas there? I am reading as much of your material as i have time for. there really is a lot take in, any help is greatly appreciated. Gilbert

  50. Sujan Patel says:

    Great Post. This really proves your point in your latest article “Why Trust Matters & How to earn it?”

  51. David Allred says:

    WOW! Thanks for the image. Gives me something to pin up on my board!

  52. Stevie Black says:

    Great effort on this SEO Pyramid. Being it’s what I do all day, design and useability really are two very different standards and/or knowledge bases. But making them two pods makes for an ugly pyramid!!!

    Thanks again.


  53. As a newbie in SEO marketing this is really helpful. This is one of the best SEO article I’ve read so far, very informative. Much success..

  54. Eric says:

    It’s really nice and thoughtful! Awesome! Thanks for this.

  55. Eric says:

    Oh, forgot to say that your SEO approaches also cover some SEM aspects…so it is a wide-sense SEO?

    I understand that those two are sometimes hard to classify but they are TWO things, right?

    • Matt McGee says:

      My definition is SEO is “wide-sense”, Eric. It’s not just about tweaking page titles and copywriting. All of these things work together for real success….

  56. Jeanette says:

    In an everchanging world its great to see common sense laid out so clearly.

  57. gs says:

    I like this, but I think there’s a clear difference between a brand site and a media site that needs to be mentioned.

    Brand sites would include anything that is not dependent on ad sales or other impression-generated revenue. A vacation company, plumber’s site, online storefront etc…. these are always going to be sites that do not command a healthy percentage of repeat visitors. Therefore, SEO is absolutely critical.

    I get a lot of questions from media companies now about SEO-this and SEF-that. But these sites, with their constant content cycle, cannot possibly benefit from a focus on optimization as much as they can benefit from capitalizing on every possible way to get each visitor to return for some reason. Any reason: To comment, to profile, to argue, it doesn’t matter – a bookmark is worth everything while a few search engine spots up or down are less critical.

    So, again, like the first days of the web, with our newsgroups and boards and webrings, content is king. Now, how to marry a client’s brand site with the truly effective social networking/publishing/user generated content tools. Micronetworks are the next frontier.

    “Those who yap and spout about web 2.0 didn’t understand the internet in the 1.0st place.”

  58. Matt McGee says:

    It’s a good distinction to make, GS, but I’m not sure I fully agree with you. Are you suggesting the NY Times doesn’t need SEO? They do SEO, they do it incredibly well, and even own an SEO company that also serves many other media sites, too. I get what you’re saying about repeat visitors, but you have to get the visitor in the first place … and SEO can do that.

  59. gs says:

    Not discounting good SE efforts….I’m looking at the counter punch for a smart brand site.

    Truly massive traffic comes from content, so how do these static brand sites – which are the core of most SEM company client lists – tap into the pageview wealth of repeat visits?

    An average visitor on a content rich site will read, comment, view vids, images, get lost, wander back, check his comments…. and on and on, and before you know it, the pv’s-per visitor are 20 or 30 or more. Then they do it again the next day.

    It can be easier to get great traffic numbers, and the exponential growth that brings, by working just as hard on new stories, fresh blogs, interactive features, true online customer service, than it can be to cast a wider and wider net for SE window shoppers.

    Many people are getting the idea that Google is the first stop for every visitor, and it’s just not the case. G owns 80-whatever percent of the search market, but not 80% of all traffic. You don’t Google Facebook, or ESPN, or the NY times every day, you go through your favorites.

    So how do you get your clients to compel each and every user to Add That Bookmark? Give them a reason to come back the next day, or hour, or 10 minutes….It’s just good strategery.

  60. Paul R says:

    Very nice article on the theory/philosophy of SEO strategy/mindset needed to succeed. I lovethe fact that you mentioned “Patience” as an important factor which can take almost a year to index well.

  61. Ab says:

    Very nice article, I know how should I do for SEO now. Thanks

  62. rita says:

    Awesome Post. The chart you used to explain things is really great..

  63. JT DeBolt says:

    Awesome article! Found it while I was looking for SEO tips. The best part is the downloadable image that solidifies the message and inspires us all to apply each building block to our home businesses to dominate the search engines. Thanks for breaking it down in such digestible parts!

  64. O. says:

    The idea of pyramid in SEO was perfect!
    I think that was one of the most complete tutorial of SEO, getting all efforts need to make a good search engine optimization.

    Great post!
    I´ve already subscribed the feeds!

  65. Charles says:

    Very nice illustration of basic SEO structure and processes and great “link heavy” list of factors. I ending up following a link over to your “Traits of a Great SEO Client: Commitment” article, which is another great read… Thanks for the good content and sharing your knowledge.

  66. G.F. says:

    I think the module works even better as a funnel flipped up side down to get to the goal Trust.

  67. Param says:

    Wow awesome info. you have hit the nail right on the head. I work as a team leader with Wisitech and I exhort my team members to follow most of what you have discussed here. Now I have this to show them that I ask them to do right…hope they will listen to me now 🙂

  68. steven henley says:

    Is this Matt McGee from Grady HS?

  69. Matt McGee says:

    Nope, not from Grady HS. Sorry, Steven.

  70. Great SEO success pyramid Matt. This is one of the best diagrams I’ve seen and truly covers all search engine marketing. Thanks.

  71. Chris Chong says:

    This is a unique chart, I like the concept and agree with it. Very thorough.

  72. Bram Bolt says:

    Matt, Impressive Blog post. thanks !

  73. Nancy says:


    Thanks for all that you share out here on the web. Great stuff!!


  74. Jared Bing says:

    Great, great content.

    I’m a basketball coach and know that if you can get them to focus on prep and becoming a great team then winning will often follow.

    The temptation is to focus on winning when your not, if you do that then the players focus on themselves and what their teammates are doing wrong and it undoes all the great work… and actually reduces you chances of winning.

    You’ve taken a golden sporting rule and applied it in a stellar way to the business world!

  75. Ismael Ahmed says:

    The SEO pyramid is a tool in helping to understand the the importance of SEO. It really helps people who know nothing about SEO learn how important it really is.

  76. Steve says:

    Anyone who wants to be successful in online marketing should read this. There are countless marketers who fail because they don’t conduct the proper preparation to succeed. Patience is also a necessity. Anyone who thinks they can make thousands in just 1 week is dreaming. This is a very good article.

  77. Amazing breakdown Matt, I wish I found this last year. Judging by the number of comments and trackbacks I’m not the only one who will be keeping this printout close by for reference.

    Your comment below the pyramid especially caught my eye, and in hindsight was a great way to make the post viral. I came across this post from a link on David Mihm’s blog, even though I read your new posts regularly – and I’m glad I did.


  78. Ewan says:

    Nice job, pulling together all the key items and building into methodolgy. Where would you place testing and refinement into your model?

  79. Word of mouth is the most underrated/overlooked form of marketing. However, getting to the point and having people talk about your company/service must come first.

  80. Brian Carter says:

    Still love this post. Did I ever tell you we played darts with it as a joke?

    “Hmm what should we work on next?”

    “Throw a dart”

    “Ok… oh, crawlability! cool!”

    just kidding! 🙂

  81. Matt McGee says:

    Darts? No, you never mentioned that, Brian. Actually could be a good idea on some sites, esp. the ones that look like they were put together by throwing darts at the wall… 🙂

  82. Thomas says:

    Thanks Matt for your article. I’m still new to the SEO concepts and i find this very useful. Thanks once again.

  83. Lew Sabbag says:

    Hi Matt,
    I came back to SBSM today after a webinar and it was sure worth the trip. The SEO Pyramid is a great way to show the process. We love helping the small business person, they are the backbone of our world and a key to community.
    Getting them to understand what needs to be done is a huge learning process for people that are, as a group — “time challenged” at best. Anything you can do to put the words into a picture is a huge help.

  84. Wow. At first blush I thought the #1 spot on the serp for “local search marketing” might be a fluke. But after reading this system over, I’d say it’s deserved.

  85. robert says:

    Great post! This is the best illustration of why SEO is so much more than just optimizing title tags and metadata.

  86. righini says:

    awesome… except that i’m trying to build it upside down (starting from trust) 🙂

  87. Tamim Sahidi says:

    Great stuff!

    In my opinion Trust is indeed still the no. 1 ranking factor. Also for good rankings google needs to trust your website.
    Too bad we can’t really measure how much Google trusts our website.

  88. Newbie to the field of SM, but big fan of John Wooden. Thanks. This helps me connection alot of dots.

  89. Paul Dumas says:

    Thanks for a concise and invaluable tool, Matt. I work with hundreds of small business owners who generally are intimidated by the process of online marketing. I’ll be sending them to this posting as often as possible as it may do quite a bit to calm their anxiety. SEM shouldn’t be a necessary evil and a wild goose chase and you help articulate that better than I often can.

  90. Chris says:

    I think of of the major problems with working with companies and websites is the goals are not set early in the engagement. Although in the post you did have a link to Planning an seo campaign and had that as the #1.

    Without knowing the goals of the customer you constantly have to resell the project because the rankings and traffic take a while to take place.

  91. Roxy says:

    I just gotta say, that diagram is excellent! I think that trust is more important than ever these days, but it was nice to see a diagram of all the other things I need to focus on as well.

  92. Great article, SEO is all about credibility:
    you can claim it or you can earn it. Following your SEO Success Pyramid, we can earn it!

  93. Aaron says:

    I’d almost place design and usability directly underneath trust. Once somebody does find your site, you have a few seconds to keep them or have them remember you.

    If you can’t grab them there, all your content is worthless even if it brings in mass amounts of traffic. Just my 2 cents.

  94. Your pyramid is still relevant today and I especially agree with Trust as the number 1 factor for SEO success.

    As long as people want their website to create a relationship with the buyer/visitor, trust is always going to be number 1.

  95. Byron says:

    I am a programmer, moving towards web design. Am slowly researching all the things I need to know about giving a client a good service. Am bottom feeding atm with clients that dont appreciate SEO AT ALL. I like the content of this page and have favourited it for digestive purposes and for use with my clients.

  96. R.W. says:

    Although it’s been a while since the post was first published, I think the pyramid is still relevant. So many times we get focused on the third level that we might forget about the base. Matt, thanks for the awesome post!

  97. JFGrissom says:

    Hi Matt,

    Great post… very encouraging to see SEO as a process.

    In the end results are what count right? The process is what gets the results… (I forget that sometimes when the pressure is on… hehe great reminder you have here…)

    Thanks for putting this together!


  98. Nothing but admiration. The best overview of the SEO Process that I’ve seen so far. It gives me a better appreciation of the entire process and not just the technical aspect of it. Thanks Matt.

  99. I used your pyramid to build mine (with a slightly different approach). Everything is written in french for my french readers. You can see it here :

  100. Melissa says:

    Wow I wasn’t expecting to come across this, totally happened by accident. I am a site owner myself (1 month old)and I find your pyramid super helpful! I even printed it out to remind me of certain things such as patience. I know it takes time yet I wish it could happen over night!

  101. Hello Matt and everybody,

    Very refreshing to see your SEO info explained the way you do. Way to many SEO rip artists out there taking advantage of people all the time. Your Pyramid shows everyone that it’s a lot of work and a long term project.

    When you come down to it at the end of the day it’s all about working with the right people. You have explained this very well. I like this line “one uninterested department or person can sabotage everything.” well said.

    Thanks for putting up this page!

    Mark Barreres

  102. Ty Counts says:

    I know this post is not new – but we just started doing our own seo after getting ripped off three times in a row – a “Map” or this pyramid is exactly what I need to have a game plan. Thank You very much.

  103. Mick Davies says:

    Nice diagram! It’s actually quite interesting to see it broken down this way and it’s funny how some SEO companies get stuck on the rankings and not the process behind writing quality content!

    The human element and word of mouth advertising online has grown so much with the growth of Twitter & Facebook, I do wonder if Facebook/Twitter will fade off like MySpace did.

    Cheers Mick

  104. Aman says:

    Hi Matt,

    Great SEO pyramid. It’s a few years old, however it’s still very important and it’s still very valid. Trust is really the critical element for me. To build trust, we need to get into the mind of our visitors and provide as much value as we can for them.

  105. Hey Matt! What a great article you have written. I am just starting to look at SEO optimization and your pyramid has shed some light on that area for me.

  106. Deryn says:

    Great post, very interesting read. Having great content and building website’s that meet the end user. The SEO Success Pyramid is good for preperation and define what goals need to be achieved in the SEO stages.

    Great article Matt, keep up the good work!

  107. Taylor says:

    Awesome Article! Loved the pyramid. I’d say the biggest thing I need to work on are the 2nd and 5th blocks of the pyramid (planning and patience). Creating a plan for how you will gradually optimize your site is so important to stick with.

  108. Tobey says:

    Brilliant article. Too many SEOs get hung up in the nitty gritty and lose sight of the big picture. Thanks Matt!

  109. Dane Pymble says:

    “You’re a business owner; you don’t need to become an SEO expert. But you’ll succeed faster if you have access to great information. And as fast as the search marketing industry changes, ongoing access to intelligent information is critical.”

    Great article Matt, and that is exactly why I am subscribed to your blogs:)

  110. Carolina says:

    By placing Pyramid in the title I automatically thought some kind of scheme but actually what you are presenting is very interesting and can help with SEO and many other things. To overcome challanges you have to prepare and take it step by step, I really love how you broke the process down to these areas. Thanks!

  111. Ranjan Jena says:

    Thanks Matt for sharing such a wonderful seo pyramid. I would request, if you can share a similar article related to pay per click marketing or adwords, and its essential elements.

    Thanks a Ton, Warm Regards
    Ranjan Jena

  112. ChrisMG says:

    This is a great post that still holds up even though its a few years old. I didn’t realize that at first, but when I saw the comments I noticed the date. Then it got me thinking about how often search engines change, but how consistent the core SEO fundamentals have been. I’ll be bringing a copy of this pyramid to my next meeting. A good weapon against flavor of the month discussions. Thanks Matt!

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thank you very much, Chris. Every year or so, I wonder if it’s time to update this pyramid. And so far, I haven’t found anything I’d change. Maybe next year!

  113. Clint Maher says:

    Talk about a blast from the past. This article is several years old yet one of my friends only just shared that image on FB the other week 🙂

  114. Fantastic article, really enjoyed reading it and learned a few things. Online reputation management is a huge aspect of business that not many focus on yet, I think it will really come into light as 2012 progresses. Thanks Matt!

  115. Roger Hicks says:

    The SEO pyramid is awesome. I will use this many times! Thank you.

  116. I remember when the SEO pyramid came out lol. I used this in one of my first presentations at a company to more so show the process of what we would be doing work wise with their site in order to see improvements in the SERPS. Great pyramid, and with all the new 2012 changes I’ve seen, I’d love to see a new one come out, Who’s on it lol!

  117. Keith Eneix says:

    Matt, awesome article. First time I’ve seen the SEO pyramid. I’ll be using your post as a reference for this weeks blog entry. I’ve been focusing on “Inbound Marketing” tactics. This really puts the concept of Inbound Marketing into an excellent visual.

  118. Wow, I’m amazed that not much has changed 4 years later no matter how many updates Google launches. Great stuff.

  119. Andy Kuiper says:

    “Design & Usability”… can’t be stressed enough, so many sites look like they are put together with usability as an afterthought. It’s a cruel lesson, if one spends time and money only to lose the user once on the site. Thanks for the tips 🙂
    Andy 🙂

  120. arsız bela says:

    The SEO pyramid is awesome. I will use this many times! Thank you.

  121. Ted says:

    Thanks you Matt, for creating this SEO Success Pyramid. I am going to print it out and stick it on my wall!

  122. Ty Kilgore says:

    I love that you used John Wooden in this post. One of the best coaches if not the best basketball coach of all time. Comparing that with SEO is true beauty. Thanks for the article.