When it comes to SEO, and all things orbiting around SEO these days, it can be hard to get a firm grip on just what constitutes smart, successful tactics and proven, best practices.
And like everything else in our overly-busy, commodity-driven, ever-evolving world, smart SEO strategy is subject to the many mercurial whims and winds of change that define life in 2020 America.
Or is it?
We don’t really buy into that line of thinking. Not at all. Rather, we firmly believe that the best way to operate when it comes to SEO in 2019 is the same way to proceed when the calendar turns to 2020. Or 2021. In fact, we’re convinced that the same thing would have worked wonders back in 1995.
Why? Well, in our opinion, it’s really quite simple.
When it comes to SEO, it pays to think like that bold and iconic innovator, Marty McFly, and go Back to the Future.
Why? Because when you get right down to it, there’s no need to fall prey to what RKG Chief Knowledge Officer Adam Audette wisely described as “shiny new object syndrome” in a classic blog post over at Search Engine Land. There’s no rush to seek out and find The Next Big Thing in SEO.
Why not? Because SEO and its functions right now aren’t really as unique as a lot of advertising “gurus” and marketing “mavens” today would like you to believe – and overcharge you to provide further explanation.
Instead, they’re really a collection of best practices that website owners and internet marketers should be doing – regardless of whether or not Google, search engines and SEO itself even exist.
You see, the basic building blocks of SEO – content, site architecture, inbound links – really haven’t changed all that much over the past few decades.
Unless you’ve been doing things wrong all along. Then, it just might feel like things are in a constant state of flux.
Of course, there are SOME actual “new” things in the world of SEO. Things like the focus on mobile, or authorship, rel publisher and the Knowledge Graph. But when you really break it down, these things are not really so much SEO as they are regular website design.
For the most part, as we noted earlier, SEO is really a collection of best practices that website owners and internet marketers alike SHOULD be doing in the first place. And which everyone should have been doing all along…for close to two full decades now.
For instance, what is often called “On-Site SEO,” or what we call the “Site Architecture” part of an SEO Audit is really something that the people who build and manage your site should have done from the start. It shouldn’t take an outsider to go in and re-write Title and Meta Description HTML tags, along with the dozens of other tasks needed to “optimize” a website. These are things that are really best served by the people whose job it is to tackle the rest of the site’s maintenance.
Then there’s another piece of the “On-Site SEO” puzzle – the site’s content. Most SEOs are simply not made for the task of developing content, and most SEO companies that specialize in content building are doing it purely for the sake of SEO, not for actual living, breathing, thinking, reading, sharing human beings. Google and the other search engines reward fresh, quality content because websites are supposed to have quality content in the first place. That’s the way it was in 1995. And that’s the way it should be today.
When it comes to “Off-Site SEO,” otherwise known as link-building, many in the modern SEO environment have truly lost their way. Thanks to some SEOs’ attempts at quick and easy methods of link building, the web is now littered with bizarre, non-sequitur comments tacked on to blog posts, strange links along the bottom of sides of various sites, and a myriad of other schemes designed to trick the search engines into thinking another site is more popular than it really should be.
In reality, links back to the site should go back to the people who have been doing it in the real world for years – and long before 1995 – the public relations team. For years, these folks have been working the phones to get coverage for their companies’ products and services. In modern times, this coverage may have taken the form of a link back to the site, but that hasn’t always been the focus. Nor should it be now. It should just be one more thing you ensure happens once that article hits the street.
And of course, the best links to a site don’t come from comments or all the Black Hat SEO methods that are out there today, but rather in the form of real, honest-to-goodness reviews of a product or service that appear within news publications or blogs. These positive writeups and links are hard to get ,and are rarely obtained by the SEO team. The come about, instead, via long-time relationships that your PR chief has held with an editor over at the Journal or Times.
Google knows all this. Well, of course they do. They’re Google. They know all (including what you have open in that other browser window at the moment). And to this end, Google also knows how to reward select sites for, well, building and maintaining great sites. And how to punish lazier, shadier sites.
There’s no tricks involved here. No magic. No mysterious, dark, shrouded-in-secrecy evil empire out to destroy us all. No matter what some “experts” out there might have you believing and fearing.
Go too far, too fast, with anything else out there…and you’re really just straddling the line of Black Hat SEO trickery. And Google gets better and better at sniffing out and punishing Black Hat SEO each and every day.
Don’t believe us? Just ask Interflora. Or find out for yourself…and learn the hard way.
And THAT, friends, is what has actually changed quite a bit over the years. The cheating and manipulating and link-buying and other array of Black Hat SEO dirty tricks.
Not SEO itself.
Because SEO, at its core, is pretty much the same as it’s always been.
And if you’ve been doing it right from the beginning, you know this to be true. And you don’t even need to search your feelings first.
If you haven’t been doing it right, and you want to find your way out of the woods while also steering clear of the Google jungle, feel free to contact us here at Amplitude Digital. We’ll make sure to get you back on track. Fast.
With over 25 years of online marketing experience, Jeff has led the online marketing efforts for companies such as Hilton Hotels, Kimberly-Clark, InterActiveCorp, Experian, and Napster.
Honored as one of PPC Hero’s “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts” for three years in a row, Jeff Ferguson is no stranger to industry speaking circuits throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Jeff is a regular presenter at Ad:tech, AllFacebook Expo, Conversion Conference, eMetrics, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Digital Hollywood, Online Marketing Summit (OMS), Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and Search Engine Strategies (SES), where he also served as a member of the advisory board. Additionally, Jeff has volunteered his time for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) and Digital Analytics Associations (DAA) on both the national and regional levels, where he serves as a board member of the Los Angeles chapter.