Old School SEO Sucks and is a waste of money

Old School SEO Sucks and in isolation is a waste of money

I won’t be telling anyone anything new when I say that today in 2008 the web is a very different place from the web we knew in 1998. Back then Google was pretty fledgling, and spent a lot of time and energy building relationships with webmasters in the various webmaster hangouts. Back then, with a little programming nous and a lot of SEO knowledge you could easily make inroads to as many verticals as you had the time to manage or play in. It really was possible to wake up and say, “right, today I’m going to target x” and in as little as week you could be ranking for x related keywords and earning coin.

Today of course you still can, yet it’s a little bit more tricky of course. Many of the quick win doors have been closed. There aren’t as many keyword rich domains to choose from. The acquisition of links is also wrought with hurdles which must be negotiated with tact and a little cunning even. Every single aspect of web marketing today has changed and matured to a point where anyone considering embarking on an Internet start-up that doesn’t have a team with the historical background knowledge of the debates and nuances that have shaped things over the years is, well, to put it bluntly, taking a big stab in the dark.

How so

A look at the easy stuff for starters, the so called ‘on page’ factors would have you think that ‘hey, this is all easy stuff, just get the onpage implementations right and we are good to go’ . Yeah right, exactly if only that were so, yet you’d be amazed at how many web developers fall at this relatively simple 1st hurdle. It does not cease to amaze me the complete and utter lack of knowledge that exists out there on the most basic of SEO principles. You would not believe the number of people I encounter regularly who just do not get the most simplest of concepts. Page titles, keyword usage, clean URL’s, avoidance of flash, good contextual keyword rich navigation structures to name but a few. Lots and lots and lots of very talented smart people, just don’t get it. It’s almost as if the marketing of their product designed for a marketplace just wasn’t considered. It’s akin to building a boat designed to sail the ocean waves and sticking funky big holes in the hull because they happen to look cool. Net effect, the boat sinks!

It isn’t just about SEO

How many developers out there today hooked on Ruby and Ajax web 2 ideas are knocking up apps that in terms of search engine friendliness just aren’t worth squat. It’s almost like SEO and one of the biggest potential traffic generation drivers [search engines] is almost an afterthought. It’s as if some of these guys say, right we’ll build this site, tell our customers and make some money on the Internet, yet have no clue as to how it even works. Can you imagine thinking right, I’m going to buy me a car and drive it to the other side of the world and meet lots of new people on the way, packing your bags, filling the trunk, getting everything shipshape and ready only to sit in the drivers seat and realising that you can’t even drive? Not the best analogy perhaps no, yet that is exactly what company after company after company do. They employ inexperienced people who think they know what they are doing yet know nothing. They really believe that it’s just all about meta tags or keyword density and nothing else. They really don’t get the whole joined up thinking thing that connects what it is they do to a meaningful SERP position. The lucky ones learn fast and find a company that get the whole gig and hold their hands and walk them through the rights and wrongs of their websites, developing structured plans that’ll help them get to where they want to be.Those with the resources and patience required can usually get there eventually, but for the many trying to break into their niche without sufficient resource or appreciation of the time investment required, then it can really be a big problem.

Playing catchup in 2008

In a 10 places shop window there isn’t a lot of room for new kids on the block. A new player has to be able to hit all the buttons required to get them where they need to be, whilst competing with those who are out miles in front. If site x has 6000 quality web citations then site y is going to have to work pretty hard to get anywhere near them on that front.If site x has established communities of regular patrons drawn from a rich diversity of geographic areas then again, site y is going to have it’s work cut out to compete there too. In the web economy of 1998 links were relatively easy to acquire, you seldom had to pay and you could them from practically anywhere you liked. Today of course it’s a whole different story. Links need to be sourced from the right places , in the right ways and need to be of the right type to have the desired effect.

Universal search makes it all doubly harder too. With Google working hard to mitigate the effects of competitive SEO there just aren’t the spaces to go around either they are ‘ever dwindling’. Today’s search results are often outputted in ways that give the user a wide diversity of choice. A search for Mortgages might contain a mix of banks, local, informational, news, blogs, rich media and comparison type sites. This means that any expectation to come from nowhere and compete for that keyword is at best ambitious and at worst delusional. Understanding the hows and why’s of how those components of such universal results is an obvious asset.

Yet how many people truly know or even appreciate how or why this is important? How many people just shrug and think, ah that clever Google bot algo thingy all knowing all seeing just knows what to put there. Thankfully for most, the answer is lots.Knowledgeable web marketers today will attack all aspects of those SERPs and seek to influence them towards the goals of their clients. Done correctly, people won’t even notice the subtleties. Done correctly a new kid on the block struggling to compete for that unattainable organic 1st or 2nd position slot might suddenly find themselves enjoying the raft of complementary traffic that comes from a developed strategy. That youtube channel with the viral video, that carefully crafted, widely publicised press release or article, that funny viral game, that shock controversial revelation will be seen for the fantastic investment it quite clearly was.

At the end of it all I guess nothing has really changed at all, it’s all still about putting bums on seats and eyes in front of screen, yet the means to do so requires the employment of people who really get this kind of stuff and have the contacts and resources to deliver, it just really isn’t enough to employ an SEO who says I’ll get you a few links and fix your meta tags. If this is what your SEO company told you, then do yourself a favour and sack them today.

Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios
Posted on: 22nd June 2008, by : Rob Watts

11 thoughts on “Old School SEO Sucks and is a waste of money

  1. Rob, you are on the right track.

    Today it s not just SEO! Let me clarify myself, it has never been just SEO.

    SEO is a tool which needs to be used in Social Media network with creative marketing!

    You need to feed your customers with positive brand awareness!

    As any good salesman, go to where the people are interested in your product.

    Generate attention and get feedback. Show people you care and not there just to Spam your wares!

  2. I agree Igor It never has just been SEO. The post is more SERP specific, in terms of what it is that is required to get on the first page fro a query. I could have just said that in 1998 onpage with a little off page worked and in 2008 it doesn’t, but that wouldn’t have been half as interesting. 😀

  3. I agree also that it never was just old school SEO. Old school SEO, however, is still part what needs to be done. When trying to explain to a potential client why they can’t just jump into, say, fifth place for their key search term, I usually try a sports analogy.

    So you’ve decided to pick up a ball and bat and practice hitting it? And you want me to coach you and train you and help you get better? And you want to win the World Series when?!?

  4. Internet lifestyle is so fast and furious that we have to change all our techniques and strategies to cop with it. Whatever you will do, “old school” or new ones, if you will not acquire desired results, everything is a failure.

  5. interesting post rob, but i guess i don’t understand if it is your way of venting your frustrations or trying to help convince smart business people that if they want to do better with their digital assets, they should be willing to “learn” about SEO.

    to the traditional marketer, they won’t understand the deep down strategies and tactics of modern-day SEO but the fact of the matter is, so many “online marketing managers” and “directors of ecommerce” are nothing more than glorified traditional marketers who maybe oversaw the creation of an ecommerce website at some point or another.

    i would never expect these individuals to ever “get it”.

    that being said, SEO is one of those fields where if the person wanted to take the time to read on the web, they could learn 80% of the trade in a matter of days/weeks. not many professions (and i will go out on a limb and say that being an SEO is a profession) exist today where you can read up on the web and suddenly be considered knowledgeable in the space.

    interesting times indeed.

  6. Hi Persona – if I’ve managed to keep you guessing as to the motivations then all good 😀

    In terms of the people to which you refer, yes they still exist, but they are on the decline, at least that’s been my experience of meeting with them in the field.

    In terms of your 80% assertion, whilst it’s true that if anyone wants a good take on how to do this stuff they simply have to go look at a competitive serp or 5 and look for the commonalities it has to be said toothat whatever way you look at it, there’s no replacement for the experience that comes with doing it for years. I’d say that’s where the 20% really comes into its own. 🙂

  7. I so agree with what you have to say. In the old days we could spam the meta data and get visitors, now there is so much more that we need to take into consideration. The bonus however is there are so many more searchers now then before so less might still be more.

  8. Interesting. I agree with the whole post, although I am not sure it makes the case that old-school SEO is dead as much as that so many websites have been practicing old school SEO that a newcomer has to do more to catch up.

    But it is true that old school SEO on its own if not enough…depending on what we mean by “old” of course. 🙂

  9. Internet lifestyle is so fast and furious that we have to change all our techniques and strategies to cop with it. Whatever you will do, “old school” or new ones, if you will not acquire desired results, everything is a failure.

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