You have probably noticed a rash of new blog posts and seminars over the last few months, all talking about the “new” SEO: the new formula, the new metrics, the new whatever. Well, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to SEO, mostly because I never could stomach much of what I found many people and companies marketing as SEO over the last few years. So what is my point?
Is the New SEO just getting back to the OLD SEO?
Once upon a time, user experience, website structure, standards, and design were the core of “Organic SEO”. In fact, that was the bulk of what was SEO (literally: Search Engine Optimization). The website could then take that a step or two further and do things like actively promote the site through directory submittals, and, of course, purchase ads – basically end of story. Now, so much of SEO is a multimillion dollar racket that hocks tools to build your website, write your content and link traffic all at the push of a button. Garbage in, garbage out.
So what happened to SEO?
I think there are probably many opinions on this, but at the core is fact that Google did this to itself. Basically, in my opinion, when Google created their Analytics and related tools, and then started using that data (traffic, link juice, bounce rates, etc) within their search algorithms, they unknowingly created a massive opportunity to game and abuse the system. And game it, “everyone” did. Backlink robots, link farms, autoblogging tools, content spinning and so much more started popping up everywhere. Not all of it was bad, but the opportunity for abuse was just too tempting for far too many. Google would try and slap each abuse down, like pesky gnats buzzing around your face on a warm summer night. Finally, though, they realized it was not going away so easily, and got serious. Time to drain the swamp.
Panda, My Hero! – Long live Panda!
When I heard of the Panda updates my first response was: “Finally, it’s about time”. Like the guy still wearing Birkenstocks (Hey, I still wear Birkenstocks) if you wait long enough, most everything comes back in style. (still waiting on that, by the way.. someday, mark my word…) Google finally realized that it allowed this monster to grow out of control and it was killing the quality of their results. Google found itself returning more and more garbage: redundant , meaningless content. Sadly, it did reflect the current Internet – filled with garbage: redundant meaningless content that was being generated in the name of SEO (and many related acronyms).
So…This is the first in a series of posts about the SEO of yesterday, a “back to the future” saga. I will take the time to do a lot of research to bring it up to date with new opportunities and link it all back to Panda and what you can do to build lasting value. First, we will start with some basics about Google, and my take on what they are doing and why, that brings us full circle. We will talk about how you can work with Google in a win-win relationship: play a game of mutualism and not be the parasite that kills the host (more on that analogy later).
And, of course, ever the SEO curmudgeon**, I will question all the sacred cows.
**For those of you who think poorly of curmudgeons, I use the term in the following spirit:
“Curmudgeons are mockers and debunkers whose bitterness is a symptom rather than a disease. They can’t compromise their standards and can’t manage the suspension of disbelief necessary for feigned cheerfulness. Their awareness is a curse.
Perhaps curmudgeons have gotten a bad rap in the same way that the messenger is blamed for the message: They have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology. They not only refuse to applaud mediocrity, they howl it down with morose glee. Their versions of the truth unsettle us, and we hold it against them, even though they soften it with humor.”