This blog post is already starting to make me feel old. 🙂 Here I am recollecting on the "deep dark past" of SEO days gone by. Dusty old tomes. SEO Wizards with pointy hats and long pipes. Fairy tale creatures living in fairy tale lands…. Wait a second! That's not SEO. Wouldn't that be great?
But in some ways, what I call "The Old SEO" almost does have that dreamy quality about it -- shrouded in mystery and painted in Golden Age imagery. Yes, folks, there definitely was a time when you could get your SEO Toolbox out, go to work on any ol' website, and *whiz-bang-plop* you got yourself a top ranking site.
The Old SEO process was really about finding target keywords and then building an SEO campaign tightly focused around those target keywords. If you were early to market and your competition was low enough (or lazy enough), you had a pretty strong chance at making some basic tweaks and seeings some success. In some markets, this process still works -- at least temporarily -- but not for long.
The Old SEO was mostly about "off-site optimizations" -- link building, article marketing, comment linking, etc. But then, something happened. To be fair, a lot of things happened.
Online competition increased. Consumer awareness improved. Web literacy went up. And, most importantly of all, Google came to town.
Google has always been working to improve the search experience. That's what makes Google the Google that they are. Rest assured, Google's #1 goal is to create a valuable, enriching, even exciting search experience for their users. And they'll stop at nothing to maintain their market leadership and their search engine dominance.
Enter, The New SEO...
Unlike the old SEO strategies, The New SEO put the focus on value and quality. Great content, great user experience, great business! All Google had to do was continue pushing the bar higher and web masters the world over were forced to respond. Google's been doing exactly that for well over a decade with their systematic algorithm updates.
The most critical updates we can attribute to the transition from "Old to New" are Google Panda (2011) and Google Penguin (2011). More recently, in 2013, Google released Hummingbird. Although it hasn't quite hit home with the average small business website, Hummingbird has the potential to be even more demanding and rigorous than Panda and Penguin combined.
The truth is, what we now call "The New SEO" is really what you should have been doing all along. The reason a lot of people/websites weren't following these best practices is the Old SEO tactics actually worked AND they were a lot less time and resource-intensive. Since the search engines had unintentionally set the "quality bar" low, that's as far as many small businesses were willing to go towards "doing SEO."
So what should you be doing if you want to get results in The New SEO world? Here's a quick list to help you along:
1. Blog, blog, blog.
The most important thing you should be doing today is blogging. The New SEO is all about content. Your content should be focused around quality, frequency, and share-ability.
2. Be social.
Social activity is the new link building in The New SEO. Social media channels allow you to build social proofing (likes, shares, tweets, etc) around your content.
3. Stop paying for links.
Seriously. Stop, stop, stop. It's not helping you. (Here are 10 other things you should stop doing for SEO.) And if it's helping you today, it's going to hurt you tomorrow. I really believe in the next 2-3 years people are going to start saying something like, "People really used to PAY for links? How silly!"
We're just scratching the surface here, but these are 3 most critical elements of The New SEO. Focus on these 3 things and you're bound to see results!