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How SEO Best Practices Became Irrelevant

What You Need to Know to Compete Better in the SERPs

     
2:51 am on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Many of you know the word Canonical because of it's use in SEO as the URL specified as being the true URL. The original meaning of Canon related to the authenticity of the scriptures, separating what was accepted as the "word of god" from what was not accepted. Thus, Canonical meant that something is accepted to be the standard. The root of the word canon is the same as cane, because canes were used like rulers.

SEO is very much like scripture. The original authors and reasons behind SEO Best Practices are buried in time. As one generation of search marketers handed down best practices to the next generation, these practices were accepted because they have always worked, yet without actually knowing how the best practices came about.

SEO best practices are canonical and never questioned
Years of actual experience have taught us that there are basics that need to be on the page if a page is to rank well. These truths are held to be self-evident. They are so taken for granted that SEO best practices are baked into WordPress plugins, content management systems and templates that allow you to easily create "search engine friendly" websites.

SEO Best Practices are Canonical
Canonical SEO is a mix of many ideas created over time, based on search engine algorithms and research papers. And whether you have read it or not, the foundation of Canonical SEO can be traced to its most formal declaration in Brett Tabke's seminal article, Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone Part 1 [webmasterworld.com] and Part 2 [webmasterworld.com], published in February 2002. That article is the single most influential SEO article ever written, of all time. That article has influenced how you practice SEO, even if you've never read it.

The tactics and strategies outlined in that article have been reproduced in countless books, articles, SEO guides and documents as canonical best practices. To this day there are professional search marketers who use these tactics without knowing that those tactics were formally collected in one document right there in that article written in 2002. And it's dangerous to not understand where SEO Best Practices come from.

SEO Best Practices are like Gospel Truth
SEO Best Practices are believed in and trusted like scriptures. SEO Best Practices teach us how to please the search engines, that hang over the industry almost like gods standing in judgment, dispensing rewards and penalties depending on how well you worship. There was a time when SEO best practices could be depended upon to help you rank. The article subtitle boasts: "26 steps to 15k a day" and it truly was the gospel truth. Back in the "biblical days" of SEO when it was easy to rank, those 26 steps could be depended upon to help you rank better.

However, unlike the "eternal" and "constant" God of the scriptures, search engines change. The search engine algorithm written about in 2002 no longer exists. That search engine is gone and presumably, the way we "worship" should have changed. But it didn't. Which explains why many search marketers today feel that the search engines are fickle, inscrutable, unfair and unknowable. It's frustrating to "follow the rules" and see nothing happen. The reason is because search engines have changed but SEO Best Practices have not.

One example of this is in section G of the 2002 article where it is advised that every page should link out to one or two high ranking sites. On February 14th, 2002, a member named Trish wrote:

What about linking to .gov or .edu sites that have relevant content? I've read somewhere on here that Google may give edu and gov's a higher importance ranking. It would seem then that getting a link from them would be good. Maybe it would good to link to them also.


And another member cited Kleinberg's research paper that discussed Hubs and Authorities [cs.cornell.edu], which is one of the influences for many algorithms that followed, algorithms that in different ways incorporated links and the concept of authority, including the PageRank algorithm.

The SEO Best Practice of linking to a .gov and .edu page has its roots in a research paper written in 1998 and an article published in 2002. Do you think that the search engine they talked about in 2002 still exists? Consider this: there is no modern research paper or patent that says outlinking to a high quality site is a signal of quality. ZERO. It's not a ranking factor or a signal of quality. There are many research papers that state that spam sites tend to link to normal sites. But there are zero research papers that indicate that linking to a high quality site is a sign of authority.

The definition of rote is to do something mindlessly, without thinking
Even though there is no reasonable basis for continuing that practice, the practice continues. And why not? Is it hurting anything? Probably not. Matt Cutts encouraged web publishers to link out, so that must mean something right? Of course it's a good thing to link out. But not if you think it's going to help you rank better because there is no algorithm or patent anywhere that does that. Link out because it makes sense for the user and it'll make sense for the search algorithm. Link out to a .edu or .gov page because you think it's an SEO Best Practice and you will most assuredly be going against the spirit of what Matt Cutts said about linking out liberally. Link because it makes sense to link. Don't write an article and drop a handful of links to .edus because that is the definition of rote SEO.

SEO Worst Practices
- Assuming that if something sounds plausible that it must be in the algorithm
This is a leading excuse for poor SEO practices.

- Taking it for granted that if something used to work then it must still work.
Search engines have evolved. Those keyword laden pages might not be useful anymore. Study up on User Intent and how that relates to search algorithms.

- Articles reporting on "informal" studies showing how they had manipulated the SERPs.
These articles are almost always click bait with zero scientific foundation and thus zero chance of being real.

- Just because something is repeated often it doesn't mean it's correct.
Be skeptical. Look for citations. Scientific research and patents are the smoke that indicate a possible fire. No smoke, no fire.

Reject SEO Best Practices
When you sit down to create a site review or fix your own web page, ask yourself why you are doing something. Take a look at the SERPs to see if Google's ranking pages with outbound links to .gov and .edu's (Google is not). Take a look at the SERPs and see if Google's ranking sites with the keyword phrases in the title tag AND the H1 tag (Google is not). Google has changed. It is your job to understand what is ranking and why it is ranking. The algorithms have changed but the search industry's strategies need to catch up.

Thus, when you free yourself from Rote SEO Best Practices, useless activities inspired by platitudes like Content is King can be seen for what they really are: Activities designed for ranking on search engines that no longer exist. Content is necessary for ranking. But it's not the keywords in the content that are important anymore. It's many other things. Consider this. Download Google's Quality Rating Guideline and do a search for the word "keyword." The only time the word "keyword" appears is in the context of keyword stuffing. If Google cared about keywords, you would think there would be at least a single sentence telling it's human quality raters to check if the page is relevant for a search query by making sure the keywords are there. But it doesn't.

Identify the Actual SEO Best Practices
And that is why SEO Best Practices are irrelevant. They are not relevant to how Google is actually ranking sites today. SEO Best Practices still exist. But they are not the Best Practices the industry has been clinging to since 2002. Read the 2002 document and think it over, think about how a search engine in 2016 is different from the search engine of 2002. Then re-think what Best Practices for SEO means today.

[edited by: engine at 6:53 pm (utc) on Mar 25, 2016]
[edit reason] fixed typo [/edit]

10:24 am on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hilarious. Nice to see insight with humour.

One thing I find helpful is when people say "Google does x" is to ask myself whether I would do it if I was Google. It does not prove anything but is a useful sanity check of plausibility

Identify the Actual SEO Best Practices


Too difficult!
12:56 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's funny, I re-read the "26 steps" a few months ago, and, if anything, I was surprised to see that the vast majority of it would still result in a successful site. Note that just one of the 26 recommendations is for keyword use:

Simple old fashioned seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se's are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can't spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).


I don't even think this is that bad if you don't take it to mean using the keyword in the same order with no variations.

That said, how many people are "following the rules" by just doing the above (one 26th of the "rules") and ignoring the parts that are hard work?
1:33 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback, graeme_p. I'm glad the light humorous touch came through. I was worried that someone might take me literally be offended. A spoonful of sugar never hurts.

Simone Heseltine posted a response in FB that referenced an article he wrote for PubCon where he expressed similar ideas. Time spent reading anything Simon has written is well rewarded with insight. It's titled, Published Misinformation in the SEO Industry [pubcon.com]. He makes similar allusions to worship. I won't quote it here because I don't wish to spoil it with spoilers, I encourage members to take a look. ;)
5:19 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I had two people tell me in the last month that meta keywords "still have value" or "totally matter."

Of course, people are also telling me that humans only use 10% of their brains, to which I reply, "Well, that may be true of the ones who keep repeating that without reading William James, the original source for that."

these practices were accepted because they have always worked


And often because they *never* worked but Matt Cutts said something that could be interpreted to mean X and people ran with it, but perverted it into Y, and then all the followers of those blogs declared it a well-documented best practice recommended by many top SEOs.

And reading on a bit farther in your essay (I'm commenting as I read), I find....
Matt Cutts encouraged web publishers to link out, so that must mean something right?


One issue is always time horizon. So one problem with ...
Activities designed for ranking on search engines that no longer exist.


... is that back in 2002, which is pre-Florida Update, is that many people had short time horizons and burner sites. A trick that made you rank briefly and then got you burned could make you enough money to live on for a couple of years while figuring out your next move.

As it became harder to peak and crash or churn and burn, site owners and SEOs needed to take a longer and longer time horizons. The idea today that you would find a Google exploit that would put your crappy burner site at the top of the SERPS for mortgages or viagra is ridiculous. Which means that people have to think longer term and work longer term, which means there's a lot more equity in a site.

That becomes more true if you have a real, physical world business with long-term equity (brand, customer trust, physical assets). I maintain a site for a business location that has been at it in one shape or another for about 80 years (parent company just turned 100 and the executive suite is now mostly the grandkids of the founders). There is a pressure to meet quarterly goals, but there's also a desire to be there in 10 years and 20 years and pass something on to the great grandkids and their kids.

This means thinking not just about what worked, but about the evolution of computing, searching and even broad demographics and economics and culture and taking *that* into account takes you far beyond narrowly defined SEO, let alone auto-generated link networks and keyword stuffing that worked so well circa 2000.
5:38 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You're right, that's something I totally missed. SEO Best Practices were created for a world in which affiliate sales dominated the conversation. Different needs, situations and considerations- in addition to a different search engine.

...and taking *that* into account takes you far beyond narrowly defined SEO...


Yes! SEO tends to be like a hammer in search of a nail in a world of screws, nuts and bolts. And even today in 2016 some publishers continue to cling to old aphorisms like "Content is King" or "Google ranks sites that are popular" as if they were relevant to the search engines of today.
5:01 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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SEO became a very difficult topic to discuss, it's now same as adsense:

- doesn't follow basic or at least what seem valid principles
we can argue, discuss, agree, etc but most of the discussion will end on disagreements and also on talking things that we have no way to validate.

- magical discussions
many discussions will end, just like adsense topic, as "you are doing it wrong", or "me? I'm having a blast". Well such discussions are "ok" superficially but are invalid for in depth value, anyone could be lying, and discussions are not exactly made for posting "my sites are doing amazingly well" and period.

- this works, that doesn't work
same as the previous point, we could be talking cooking here, some cakes end up good, some others terrible, same recipe.

In my case, just as many other webmasters, built sites with the same ethics and valid guidelines, some got better positions and performance on SE than others, then some algo hit the SE and suddenly several sites were sent to the bottom of the pit, in my case: none, but some never ranked the same, some ranked way better (based on the same principles?) then it's difficult to apply a formula, there is no formula, doesn't seem as all sites being treated equally: now it's harder to find a working formula to replicate on other sites.

The forum was amazingly good for years, now... it's difficult to find threads with valid points to take home, it all gets lost on things we have no way to prove (really), so it's not the forum, it's just the game now being blurry. Some things are basic, yes, and there is a lot of stuff to take home, but a lot of stuff is just reading and reading with just general terms, and no solid conclusions. Sometimes it's... irritating, it's like decoding what my exGF says (talking about G here).
8:10 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As it became harder to peak and crash or churn and burn, site owners and SEOs needed to take a longer and longer time horizons. The idea today that you would find a Google exploit that would put your crappy burner site at the top of the SERPS for mortgages or viagra is ridiculous. Which means that people have to think longer term and work longer term, which means there's a lot more equity in a site.


On the other hand some people seem to be able to rank consistently well on consistently poor quality content (Demand Media) or on a mixture of high quality, low quality, and copied content (Stack Exchange, Wikipedia) - what I mean by the latter is that skeleton content can rank high, and copied content outranks the original site.
9:14 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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it's difficult to find threads with valid points to take home


That's very true. Nowadays however the whole SEO subject, and the internet in general, has become so complex and so site specific that the days of you or me being able to offer anyone specific advice about their website have long gone. That's part of the evolution process.

What discussions like this do is to make people think about SEO and that is a goal well achieved by itself.

Here's my tip, don't stop experimenting. And when things work or fail don't go too far into the reasons why, that way lies madness. It's impossible to work out any logic behind the algo, just accept that "this" works for your site and "that" doesn't.

Take a real holiday away from it all regularly. For me that's when the most successful ideas are formulated. Somehow all the random points made in forums like this can be stripped down to a few that suit you.
12:48 pm on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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And while you are doing all that, make sure you actually have "content" on the site. :) Might not be "king" any longer, but it is required.

Last two years I've tried the less is more concept while not changing the content part (got to have it). This results in mid-top (first 20ish) on a more consistent basis. Less JS, less CSS, less video, less images. Moving lean and clean, avoiding canned CMS or blog (to avoid looking and ACTING like the average website).

1999 to about 2005 old time SEO had some value. Then the animals began to play and the barnyard became a mystical place for many.

I also suspect, i n this world of more than a half billion websites, those that are getting consistent results are rather reluctant to share the blueprints the way we used to do "way back when" SEO was invented.
1:12 am on Mar 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The penultimate heresy of SEO:
SEO best practices are, as the SEs' didactic messages, not fickle.
Ipso facto if an SEO behaviour changes greatly it was, or is, not a best practice.

And, the greatest SEO heresy of all:
SEO best practices optimise for search engines not just Google.
If you disagree please refrain from using the named-entity Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and more accurately identify your filter bubble of activity as Google Search Optimisation (GSO).


The theory, practice, and delivery of web search has changed greatly within and also spread widely beyond the general engines in the past decade or so. The inclusion and growth of personalisation and the development of contextual delivery has and is fundamentally altering the genre. When every query differs on known and unknown dependancies only basic strategic practices survive; tactical efforts either work on ever narrowing segments or fail sooner.

As a result we see those discussing/offering SEO broadening their scope and claiming all sorts of non-SEO behaviour as under it's umbrella auspices. It is not so much that SEO best practice has become irrelevant but that SEOs are tacitly admitting that their SEO practices have become irrelevant.

Lost in all the hype about machine learning and the fears à la Terminator of artificial intelligence is the fact that SEOs are already servants of their machines; they have long done that which their tools dictate, not dictated that which their tools must do.

Web search has never been a level playing field; individual webdevs were early adopters and adapters so generally benefited by virtue of first come back when. Even then some niches/verticals got away with much more of certain behaviours than others. It's not just that search has changed but so has the competitive landscape; enterprise is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wealth are stored and there is little to no room left at the SE for infants or family businesses.

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
...this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
---HAL 9000
2:58 am on Mar 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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On the other hand some people seem to be able to rank consistently well on consistently poor quality content


Question is, is it a matter of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" or do they actually know something that works? Have to consider the "luck" factor here too. I saw Google organic traffic to my largest site wiped out like turning off a light switch and I have similar sites (smaller by a lot but virtually the same in content structure) getting a steady slow stream from organic. Nothing to write home about but it encourages me to keep going. Of course organic search isn't the only cow in the barn anymore.

Last two years I've tried the less is more concept while not changing the content part (got to have it). This results in mid-top (first 20ish) on a more consistent basis. Less JS, less CSS, less video, less images. Moving lean and clean, avoiding canned CMS or blog (to avoid looking and ACTING like the average website).


I've been doing the same here. Can't really say any of it impacts rankings but it's making my projects less resource intensive, faster, etc. I can't imagine that having a better content to code ratio (for example) will get you penalized. Don't know if it actually improves your chances in the SERPs but I no longer do things for the sole purpose of trying to improve rankings. I do them because they are good for my visitors. For me, rankings are gravy. It's all about my audience now and, of course, that starts with content, services, etc.

As a web developer, I've been at odds with the SEO industry for well over a decade now. I watched companies get fat on unsuspecting businesses using techniques like submitting your site to 100, 200, 1000 search engine indexes, building comment spam and other linking strategies. And now all that's come home to roost. There may be some valid, verified effective strategies out there but the perpetuation of deprecated strategies across the Internet makes finding anything of value on the subject like looking for a needle in a haystack. Content, service, usability, good code--that is my SEO I suppose. I just don't think of it as SEO.
3:28 am on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have a site which is stripped down in every way possible, to an extreme in fact.

- Pure HTML pages, 90% text 10% markup(or less)
- No database connections
- No keyword or social meta tags
- Doctype, html, head, body, title, description and stylesheet link... and that's all
- Images banned from Google(to avoid image search)

It's the fastest and most informational site I know and is doing perfectly fine in rankings with zero social or paid advertising. The term SEO itself is outdated, I believe search engines have moved to ignore absolutely everything but the textual and title content of a page. They've gotten good at spotting "written for search" pages too, even if completely unique.

Result: There are marketing tricks that require various levels of effort or resources to maintain but none of these can be considered SEO anymore, they don't permanently influence SERPs anymore. You can rank just fine with the bare minimum now, which is great if you don't feel like doing anything more than writing good content without needing to know or pay for SEO.

Sadly it's my personal belief that the days of building a website to share information are coming to an end. There are a lot of other mediums available to share knowledge with and voice isn't just on the horizon anymore, it's here. Serps are also now cannibalizing they very content they used to just rank. Perhaps "end of sites" is a harsh word, but perhaps "end of co-operation between site and search" is more accurate.

Sure there will be major online companies posting paid content and influence manipulating stuff but those will have effectively turned off the last of the "wow, websites are so cool" population. Enter an era of apps, voice and alternative sources. (and hopefully books, once again)
12:59 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Lots of slicing and dicing here... For me, SEO (the moderate amount that I do) has always been about making new friends (visitors) with my website. The hard work that matters is about making long term website friends. SEO is and will always be about the short view.

And folks, getting your visitor what they are looking for, expediently, honestly, accurately and without gimmicks or tricks makes for bookmarks and long term friends. In other words, “Content is King”.
1:41 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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....getting your visitor what they are looking for, expediently, honestly, accurately and without gimmicks or tricks makes for bookmarks and long term friends. In other words, “Content is King”.


I don't know... Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions but it sure reads to me like your focus is strongly on site visitors and the user experience. To me that sounds more like the Site Visitor is King.
4:40 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In other words, "Content is King"


Is content king? I would say "Value is King" and content may or may not be your main value. If all you have to offer is content, then your content needs to offer value, but there are many other ways to make your way on the web.

If you sell a product, is your content your value? What percent of links to Amazon are because they have awesome detailed buyer's guides?

If you offer a service, is your content your value? Do people link to Dropbox because of their great content?

has always been about making new friends (visitors) with my website


And *how* do you make friends?

Do you do so with your website? I've built two small e-commerce sites for two very small businesses that have no advertising budgets, not a lot of content, no time or budget to make content king. What they do have are a fair number of links, bookmarks, return visitors and customers. Most of their links come from reviewers and forums and most of those come in because they get out to conferences and trade shows and meet the people who post links.

"Content is King" has been a simple rallying cry for a long time, but it's one dimension of a multi-dimensional puzzle
5:49 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is content king? I would say "Value is King"


I don't know what one could add to that could put the "? is King" topic into a more concise nutshell. And we're right back at the root of things e.g. how to succeed in business.

1. Know your audience
2. Know what your audience wants
3. Give 'em what they want
4. Do it better, cheaper and faster than the competition
5. Make sure your ROI is acceptable
5. Think ahead...nothing lasts forever!

That list could be a bit longer but I'm not trying to outline the fundamentals of business. It's a decent starting point anyway.

It's long past time to let the SERPs sort themselves out and focus on business fundamentals, new opportunities, new technologies, and some good-old-fashioned brain-storming that isn't dominated by what some algorithm is or isn't going to do with it.
6:10 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Simple old fashioned seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se's are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can't spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).


I get a kick out of that one line, between 5 and 20% (don't fret about it) there is a huge difference between 5 and 20% and if under the payday loans algo how about between 0 and 1% and you better fret if you actually want to make some money. There is a ton of generic info out there designed to help the new person fail, who needs more competition, I feel that is where the 5-20% line came from. If you truly want to get to the top, follow the one who is already there, don't read seo blogs written by people who say they can but never really could. If you did have a great formula for ranking, who in their right mind would publicly share it? think about that, I mean really think about it.
11:09 pm on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I had a meeting a few weeks ago with someone who claimed huge success at seo in current climate. I noticed that mainly worked with branded clients. Here is a summary of what they said:

Not about Links or Keyword Density
Never advertise on your keyword
1:26 am on Mar 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Site Visitor is King
Yes well, if that works for you… Personally saying that the visitor is king is a bit much for me. Like saying the customer is always right – you do know that they’re not?

"Value is King"
another variation.

And *how* do you make friends?
I meant “Friend” = “Visitor”.

Well, I thought my point was clear. SEO is for new visitors and Value/quality/content/kings/whatever is for repeat visitors. Think this site WebmasterWorld, is there value here? Content worth reading? Are you here because good SEO bumped a topic above the fold on Bing? How about Facebook? McDonalds, Amazon, Google? People go to these places because they know what to expect and they’ll usually get it.

Ignoring branding, when a website reaches what I call critical mass in terms of repeat or desired visitors – SEO becomes secondary. For my web space, that critical mass was at about 1.6 million uniques’.

Anyway, I’m off to work … for old and new friends.
3:54 pm on Mar 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is content king? I would say "Value is King" and content may or may not be your main value.

Maybe, but it's what Google is interested in indexing and ranking. i think a lot of the teeth-gnashing that we see on Webmaster World occurs simply because people don't understand that Google Search ranks Web sites, not businesses, and that having useful, in-depth information can be a competitive advantage.
6:32 am on Mar 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've read a few posts about people being able to temporarily improve rank if they send a lot of clicks to a page, to me that's the type of "SEO" that has made virtually all on page factors irrelevant. How can webmasters be trusted when they try so hard to find shortcuts? They can't, and that's a shame.

The most reputable "SEO" sites seem to be moving away from offering tips on optimization of a page towards tips on creating better content and managing reputation or brand. In other words learning SEO means learning how to create better content for a page, not learning how to code it better, which is fine. That's a tough sell considering people want out of the box insta-results for free but we reap what we sow.

Excuse me while I go search for tips on creating widgets, my only question is should I look for 7 tips or 8 tips, or 12 tips, maybe 51 tips? Hard to tell what number of tips makes a page best, so many choices, all the same titles except for the numbers....
11:15 am on Mar 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@JS_Harris - what you say is true, yet is so very wrong. You can have a-lot of content but if the structure of your documentation subfolder or subdomain is poor and you end up with a huge spam of duplicated pages, repeating H1 tags, bad On-Page code and SEO practices, you will still loose huge on ranking.

For me it is not about moving away from the SEO and more about SEO becoming another bullet point to be covered by the front-end developers. An axiom if you will. Rest, send it to your marketing team.

Now, when we talk SMBs, again, SEO is not about the ON-Page because the guy building your website should have built your site with this knowledge in mind in the first place, leaving the link building to you, or your agency of choice.

@martinibuster

To answer your post. I always thought SEO was about the ON-Page and UX and less about link-building and all the shenanigans associated with it. The reason is the latter was always a tool to game the system one way or another. Following Googles guidelines, which by the way is the only thing I consider as cannon, clearly states that a website should be a created for the users, aka be fast, easy to navigate and offer good and informational content. That being said, the two "real" SEO practices are ON-Page and content creation and distribution(yes even paid!), everything else is artificial.

So in my mind all the talk about how people percieve SEO is wrong and outdated. And Yes, they must forget and deny the best practices, but not because they are no longer applicable, but because they are not true in general in 2016 (or since Hummingbird to be more precise)
10:43 am on Mar 31, 2016 (gmt 0)

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SEO is dead and only people who get paid for it still want you to believe...
2:31 pm on Apr 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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SEO is dead like spelling is dead.

Most people don't want SEO though, they want Search Engine Gaming. They want their website to appear at the top of the results, for a list of desired search terms, regardless.

That's like wanting the word website to appear at the beginning of the dictionary and spelling it as aaebsite or .website.

If you spell the word website correctly it will show up in the dictionary where it's supposed to - towards the end.

Nobody needs to feel bad about this. website does begin with a w - that is how it's spelt.
4:13 pm on Apr 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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SVO = Site Visitor Optimization

Nah...
11:50 pm on Apr 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just curious. How many look to see where their sites rank in other search engines, assuming you are allowing them, of course.

What's the differential between you, g, b, y, ddg, the other y (and a few others)? Do some treat you better than others? If so-called SEO works, it should work for all. Otherwise what folks are looking for is how to fool a particular giant se into preferential treatment ... and these days that giant is doing all they can to protect their listings from such.
1:45 pm on Apr 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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How many look to see where their sites rank in other search engines
I rarely look - too many keywords and it's a distraction from my core strategy.
2:07 pm on Apr 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If so-called SEO works, it should work for all.


Right from the beginning, SEO was different for each search engine because they all have their own ranking criteria. Different search engines require different optimisation techniques. All that's changed is that Google dominate most English-speaking markets so heavily that other search engines rarely warrant much attention. If a new search engines takes market share, we can go back to the "good old days" of putting SEO effort into more than one engine.

I'm not sure where the idea that SEO is the same for each search engine would have come from, but it is totally false.
9:07 pm on Apr 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I am not an SEO ... just a site owner and business person. I really don't believe in "SEO" anymore. I honestly believe it is a thing of the past.

For me "accurate, well written and pertinent information presented in an easy to use and understand format" is king".

"Content" perse isn't and never was king, "information" is.

Certain SEO's hire inexpensive "writers" to produce a bunch of drivel in languages that are not generally their own. They refer to this dross as "content".

A rose is not a rose at all if it is a made from recycled plastics and sprayed with some cheap perfume. I'm just saying ... the word "content" means different things to different people.

1. Give the people what they want and what they need to make an intelligent choice if shopping for some sort of product. Do it better than your competitors and do it so well that it will be nigh on impossible to do it any better.

Always try to think of new and innovative ways to expand upon and improve the information provided. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and ask, what really cool thing would I want to see if I were shopping for this? It doesn't matter how small the detail may be, if it is pertinent to the client's search for information, provide it. Then ask your mother, what really cool thing she would like to see. Then ask uncle Harry the same thing and so on. Cover all bases.

2. Provide this incredibly rich information in a concise and an easy to follow manner using a purposely built site structure, being sure to link internally to other relevant information that is closely associated with the topic being discussed. Link outside to other fabulous information that enhances your own, provided it "adds value" to yours and isn't just the same thing worded differently.

3. Make your site stand out so far above your competition that when people find it, they will willingly forsake all others. Yours is the last stop. They have found exactly what they want.

That is basically my entire "best practices" list in a nutshell.

Oh, and be sure to use all the proper tags, titles, canonical info, accurate and concise meta tag descriptions, etc.
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