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Is Traditional SEO Still Relevant? Has Panda redefined SEO?

8:19 am on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I've just finished watching a series of videos by an SEO "expert" who outlined his approach to getting sites to rank. The videos are dated May 2010, so they are not that old, but they are pre-Panda.

The recommended process involved the following, and I'm interested in getting your opinions on whether these processes are still relevant in the post-Panda world?

Creating articles (E-Zine etc) with links to the money site
Using article distribution tools
Generate blogs to carry links to the articles
Submissions to a selected group of quality directories
Submit content to Web 2.0 properties (Squidoo, Hub pages etc)
Create lots of social bookmarks
Make and embed videos (wherever possible)

Has this "traditional" approach to SEO gone the way of the dodo?
12:46 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Individual SEO tactics will come and go but the fundamental SEO strategies still apply.

One of my SEO strategies is to generate as many pathways for my target market to find my site. This can be backlinks from relevant sites, being mentioned in newspaper articles, providing free tools for other relevant sites to use, etc. From year to year the "pathways" may change but the need to generate the "pathways" and the quality signals they generate for Google stays the same. Even if they didn't generate quality signals for Google I would still do it since these pathways builds up my direct traffic which makes me less dependent on Google.
1:02 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

SEO has changed a lot in the last years. 5 years ago, optimizing keywords meta, title tag, meta description and building plenty of links was enough to appear in SE, but today everything is different the focus is different.
An SEO can't focus only on SE. On that part, as goodroi wrote, SEO tactics still apply. However you have to promote your brand in social medias, promote your content in sharing sites, banners, and so on. The SEO role is much more wider today.
2:35 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

"SEO is alive and well. It just looks more like marketing than it used to." -- Wheel

4:08 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

buckworks wrote:
"SEO is alive and well. It just looks more like marketing than it used to." -- Wheel

I would argue that that's no longer SEO; it's just plain marketing.

Now, I am, at best, an amateur when it comes to what everyone calls "SEO", but I've been forming an opinion about the concept: there's no such thing as "white hat SEO". What everyone calls white hat SEO, to me, looks like nothing more than good website design, good content, and good marketing. Nothing in there is inherently targeted at search engines, so calling it SEO doesn't seem accurate. In fact, it's probably the reverse; search engines try to target those aspects.

"True" SEO, to me, seems to be grey hat at best. Focusing on figuring out how to get the top positions in any particular search engine's result pages seems fundamentally gamey and short-sighted to me.

Again, that's just my opinion from the outside looking in. I'm likely missing a lot that might change my opinion and I don't even know if was really appropriate to the thread, but that had been on my mind for quite a while.

4:26 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

The death of SEO is a perennial topic, but for "white hat SEO", perhaps throw in a few topics of importance to SEO that you wouldn't do at all were it not for wanting better Google rankings. Think title construction, meta elements, robots exclusion, schema and rich snippets, sitemaps...

And of course, there are many other areas that aren't, perhaps, "pure" SEO, but many people do them for that reason, or with a view to imrpoved search performance - canonicalisation, accessible/semantic mark-up, logical site hierarchy. You can even throw the whole anchor-text-relevancy thing into the pile without too much concern - those focussing on anchor text are often doing so because they've heard it's a search thing.

I don't intend those to be exhaustive lists, by any means.

It's "awkward" being a consulting SEO, because you often have to advise on usability, accessibity, server administration and other best practices that don't fit a "pure SEO" mode. But even when you take those things away, there's plenty that a typical site can do - or does - because Google sends such a huge proportion of traffic - and not because they would do them anyway as part of running a good website.
4:53 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I have long disliked the name "SEO" because it means too many different things to different people. If we look at it purely from what the initials stand for it is Search Engine Optimization - those activities that help search engines rank a website for appropriate keyword searches.

So now that search engines include metrics that look at the audience's actions, reactions and opinions - online marketing is a critical component of true, full-blown SEO. This doesn't mean that the technical steps taken on a website don't matter any more. However, they often matter a lot less than they used to, as search engines learn to accommodate the most common "errors".

After all, if you ran a search engine, would you want to rank websites according to their technical precision alone? Of course not - you would try to rank according to the content's perceived value in the marketplace. After all, this was the foundation insight that lead to the original PageRank algorithm.

So SEO still means what it always has - but the details of how you achieve those goals are shifting, as they long have been.
5:48 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

...your opinions on whether these processes are still relevant in the post-Panda world?
Has this "traditional" approach to SEO gone the way of the dodo?

I can give you an opinion from the perspective of "internet marketers" - what most here would consider 'pure marketers', meaning everything is driven by rankings, traffic, and revenue, mostly for the short- to medium-term.

What you outlined is the 'process' that most follow, however the particulars change, and wouldn't typically be those listed.

Essentially, in the "internet marketing" world, most efforts revolve around link-building; the specific tactics vary depending on what seems to be most effective at the moment.

Along with what you listed, currently 'popular' tactics include guest blogging, press release submission, blog network syndication, video syndication, directory submission, RSS syndication, and others.

On the one hand, this segment works towards getting quick Page 1 rankings, and has been very successful.

On the other hand, it's becoming increasingly clear that the typical "internet marketing" strategies are failing.

As someone who works in that segment, I get a fairly 'wide' perspective (along with dozens of 'in-house' sites, I run a forum for 'internet marketers' and get to see the tactics & results of 2000+ efforts).

Not only has Panda effectively 'neutralized' these strategies - which I believe was a fundamental goal for Google - but increasingly personalized search further muddies the waters.

Having been in the 'industry' since it's inception, it's my personal belief that we're in the 'beginning phase' of a system-wide "correction" (I've written a paper to that effect which I'll be posting on Monday), which will fundamentally change the entire question.
9:05 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Not only has Panda effectively 'neutralized' these strategies - which I believe was a fundamental goal for Google

That is my thinking also. Those processes outlined in the OP all have one thing in common.... they all involve efforts to advance a website in the rankings using techniques that are artificial. Third parties aren't "voting" for the site, the webmaster is basically stuffing his/her own ballot box.

This may be an overly simplistic view but I have always felt that sooner or later Google ALWAYS rubs out any gains that arise from anything that can be created artificially.

All I know about Panda is what I read in here but if the game is now all about signals of on-page quality, then it would not come as a surprise to find that all of those SEO techniques are now a total waste of time. The reality is that they contribute little, if anything, to the page quality signals.
10:30 pm on Dec 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

@austtr - completely agree; when I try and piece everything together into a 'bigger picture', it seems almost self-evident.

When I followed that train of thought, a lot of things 'clicked into place'. I drafted a blog post along those lines, but it grew & grew into a 3500-word 'report' (which I'll be posting on my blog on Monday). Where I ended up is, a massive 'imbalance' has formed, accumulated over time from the disparity between the ease & speed of 'new & better' tactic to game the system (multiplied by thousands of individuals and organizations), and the increasingly slow & difficult 'patching' of that system (through algo & policy 'updates').

Panda is Google's 'search-side' "correction", a "had to happen" response to the too-quickly-progressing 'pollution' of their database and ranking results.

To my mind, it's the initial steps in a massive and fundamental "re-tooling" of, well, everything. There's simply too much money at stake, and Google must certainly be feeling - and be aware - that the 'dark side' is on a curve to hit 'critical mass', and that the current 'everything' will never be effectively retro-fitted and scaled to meet the challenge.