Long Live Traditional SEO

Many people seem fond of declaring that traditional / old-school SEO i.e. on-page tactics such as modifying title tags, content, and links, is dead. These people are wrong. Even in recent months I've yet to have a client whose site didn't need these on-page tactics. More importantly, I've NEVER worked on a site where such changes didn't result in a significant improvement in rankings and traffic. So why is there such animosity towards basic SEO? I imagine it is part of what consultants and agencies are doing to differentiate themselves from everyone else. After all, if you're not doing anything different than that of someone charging half your price, why should you be hired over the cheaper solution?

In recent months, I've had a site achieve first page rankings just by correcting some mistakes in the robots.txt file along with improper use of the meta robots tag. Many SEOs looking at these corrections would undoubtedly roll their eyes and declare how obvious such changes are. And I agree with them, but with one qualification… They're obvious to SEOs because we've all spent countless hours thinking, reading, and experimenting. Should I turn my nose up to the basics just because they're basic? That would be ridiculous.

Webmasters are getting better and better at SEO, but they're still a couple of years behind the folks that do SEO every day. This, I think, is especially true when the webmaster has held the same role for many years and has a full plate just managing day-to-day activities. And so it shouldn't be surprising that what's obvious to me isn't obvious to them until I point it out. What I think people often forget is that companies are paying search engine optimizers for their knowledge and not just for the 25 page document of recommendations. It's no different for lawyers, doctors, and mechanics. When you enlist the services of these people, you're paying for their knowledge and experiences rather than just the few hours they might spend helping you.

What I think people are really trying to say about traditional SEO is that it will only take a website so far before diminishing returns kick in. I also think that the sheer number of companies that have joined the SEO marching band means that traditional SEO is now what you need to just to step onto the playing field. It may take 6 months or more to get there, but it's still a necessary and worthwhile component of any SEO effort. But as I alluded to, since many, many others have also stepped onto the field, you'll eventually need to non-tradition tactics and strategies to out play everyone else.

So I'd like to tell all of the SEOs out there to hold their heads up high when they achieve results for their clients even if all it required was SEO 101 techniques. And to clients of SEO agencies or consultants, hurry up and implement the basic stuff so we SEOs can really shine!

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  1. Old School SEO dead really, Google don't bother about META tags anymore, it relies majorly on backlinks, on site seo is negligible.

  2. Old school SEO is still viable for search engines. I agree to the post of this blog. No matter what new strategy will be discovered, still the old strategies are never left alone. It is automatically included along side with the new strategy.

  3. @Tristan You've probably already seen this, but SEOmoz has the most comprehensive run down on the importance of various factors here: http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors. I haven't compared my list to the SEOmoz list to see how things match up, but I imagine there'd be a lot of overlap.

  4. There are a lot of differing opinions concerning which SEO tactics are the most important. In your opinion, what are the top 5/10, and which (if any) commonly used tactics hold very little value?

  5. SEO will never die as long as SERP placements can be gained free of charge. Once all placements are paid then the old school SEO would die.

  6. Good SEO, I believe, comes from people with a marketing background...or at least have studied marketing. After all, fundamentally speaking, SEO is about repackaging assets to mold an image for a company/brand optimize demand for the product. That's something any old webmaster might not have experience doing...

  7. I agree completely. However, most of my research into any potential job never fails to show that those at the top of page one on Google are very aware of Google's love for links. On page SEO can work wonders for sites that already rank well or sites in niches that are not so competitive, but for industries that are very competitive, it is the links that are driving the position and many new commers to these scenes are years behind their desired ranking competition.

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