Posted August 3, 2007 5:55 pm by with 30 comments

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Sorry, folks. If you were working in SEO, your career is over. Just ask Tadeusz Szewczyk, who guest posted on Google Blogoscoped earlier this week:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as we know and detest it is obsolete in this day and age. When some while ago Philipp asked me to write an article “How do I optimize websites” I couldn’t do it: The way SEO works in Germany on can not really work for international websites in English. Moreover nowadays you do not need conventional SEO tactics to have success on the Net or in Google. In order to make a site succeed in these times you have to forget everything you know about on page optimization and link building first.

Now we can start our ten step guide to Google and traffic heaven.

His advice on what to do instead of SEO to promote your website is pretty solid—but man, it sure walks like SEO and quacks like SEO.

  1. Discover your niche—”Be different, choose a topic or product that not everybody else already covers or sells. Discovering it is not to be confused with ‘keyword research’ as in conventional SEO. You try to introduce a new niche not just obeying the Google users[‘] demands.”
  2. Use WordPress—That’s WordPress. “Instead of ‘on page optimization’ you can install WordPress that is search engine friendly out of the box.” Well, don’t tell the large number of SEO bloggers on WordPress who’ve done posts, series, vidcasts and more on making WordPress SEO-compliant.
  3. Create a killer CSS design and submit it to CSS galleries—”Traditional SEO is all about link building or getting links. Sites doing SEO often look crappy. These days people link web sites that look great just for the sake of the design.”
  4. Allow trackbacks, use dofollow
  5. Socialize, write comments and link other blogs
  6. Include social media on your site, use social media yourself
  7. Write your own content, say something new, express yourself
  8. Compile what you know or what others said and publish it—”If everything was said and done already in a particular case, compile it and create a list. Top list are the best solutions…”
  9. Contribute to your favorite online publications—”Most publishers will link to your site.”
  10. Add new content at least every second day

On one pass through, it’s easy to accept this advice as materially different from SEO, especially with the care that Tadeusz has taken to point out the differences between SEO and his advice.

But the more I read this (as it was reblogged), the more I started recognizing some of these techniques as fairly standard SEO practices today. In Tadeusz’s defense, perhaps optimizing for is unlike what is currently required to optimize for, but here’s my take on his tips:

  1. If you don’t have a niche, are you sure you have a website?
    If your website, blog or business doesn’t have a niche, that’s a more fundamental failing than marketing problem. It’s definitely step 1. But why limit yourself by not doing any keyword research? If you want to blog about crane flies (gross), shouldn’t you somehow find out that they’re also called mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters (or skeeter eaters), gallinippers, gollywhoppers, and jimmy spinners?
  2. Tweak WordPress to make it more SE friendly
    Yes, use WordPress if it makes sense for your site. But at the minimum, do something to enhance its search engine optimization—SEO Title Tag and Add Meta Tags plugins enable you to customize various settings. Why pass up the chance to control your snippet on the Google SERP?
  3. Over here, CSS is SEO
    Okay, this is debatable, but lots of SEOs will tell you that CSS is the preferred SEO design method (specifically external CSS). And most of the time, a crappy-looking site that hires a professional SEO will get a redesign. Usually, a killer design can only increase your linkability. Submitting your CSS design to galleries to get more links back to your site is also just another example of link recruitment, which, again, is pretty old school SEO.
  4. Get links, give links
  5. Promote your site/business and your brand and get links, give links
    Pretty much SEO 1.0 to do something to draw attention to your site from other sites. One of the most popular ways: link to a site, get the site owner’s attention.
  6. SMO
    SMO isn’t perfectly equivalent with SEO, but really, where do you think the idea to heavily promote your site using social media came from? Diggers?
  7. Avoid duplicate content/don’t plagiarize and create lots of original content
    Technically, I usually tell clients something about “keyword-rich original content designed to be attractive to visitors and search engines,” but if you selected a niche up in #1, at least you have some sort of keywords that you’re using (even if you’re absolutely not allowed to look at how other people articulate those concepts).
  8. One word: linkbait.
    Of course it works. I linked, didn’t I?
  9. Become an authority/promote your site on other sites and recruit links
  10. Create original content and update regularly

While many of these tips aren’t directly on-point as current SEO techniques, I think most people offering holistic SEO services will at least address everything he mentioned.

The bottom line? Why avoid the established principles of search engine friendly and search engine optimized sites? If there’s something that can help make your blog, site or business rank better, trying to prove a point by not using the technique is shooting yourself in the foot. I’m not trying to dismiss Tadeusz’s sound advice—but I would like people to recognize that SEO isn’t just keyword research and comment spam.

  • “Use WordPress—That’s WordPress. “Instead of ‘on page optimization’ you can install WordPress that is search engine friendly out of the box.”

    Are you kidding me …. FAR from the truth. Duplicate content penalties run rampant on out-of-the-box wordpress installations. In all honesty wordpress needs to hire an SEO and fix this sort of thing.

    Thanks for not giving this guy’s post the benefit of a link 😉

  • A rose by any other name …

  • not agree WordPress is the best solution, i think Drupal is much better !

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Brian—Oh, shoot. The lack of link was an oversight. It’s here:

  • Great post Jordan! He can call it whatever he wants but it sounds like SEO to me.

  • Paul Drago

    SEO is dead, again? Thats like the 3rd time this week. I should call up all my clients and let them know that they no longer need my services!

  • Unfortunately, Drupal has some duplicate issues, too. Not to mention its sometimes slow, unless you use the Boost module. Other than that, Drupal beats WP for any large website.

  • I think one item is missing from the list:choosing the domain name may be the most important seo fact. You get one chance at it and at times the search engines deem it the most important factor for determining position.

  • A great for post for any business that doesn’t need to sell anything only. WordPress is fantastic for content but pretty poor for booking engine integration. And wouldn’t most SEO’s consider number 3 as link baiting and indeed the article itself to a fine example of link baiting. What would businesses do to increase conversion rates and improve customer paths through a website if they are to use WordPress and ditch SEO?

  • Just off the back of some of the comments. Last week I was looking at setting up WordPress Mu and adding/fixing all the things that would turn WordPress into a fantastic blog which is search engine friendly. I certainly isn’t as googlebot friendly as some people make out. I would have to add at least 8 plugin’s just to get it search engine and social media friendly.

  • this posting have some different and unique tips to promote a site. But overall its result goes to get links from others site.

  • Yeah, why don’t we turn every site into a WordPress site. That’ll leave nice unique foot print!

    While were at it why don’t we get rid of all the other search engines and directories and just have Google, cos Googles in charge right.

  • And I will be a bad boy saying : write post in a journalist-like style. Make titles, subtitles, lists.

    – Title : This is the end of world
    – Subtitle : So as you could fear it.. etc.
    – debut : Ok that’s not exactly the end but..
    – list : copy paste a bestof (Co2, global warming, new asteroids, durty nuclear weapons, ..)
    – end : insert one new idea and ask questions to your readers to make them put comments.

    SEO is really not dead.

    (titles, my titles !)

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  • It realy sounds like SEO. So it is not dead…

  • Great Post, however, it seems like it’s an good idea to write like the authors has done it to collect links? Don’t you think??

  • @Boydie: That’s the great thing about WordPress. It only take a couple of extra minutes to add the plugins that transform your site into what you want it to be. How much harder would it be if you were hand-crafting the site ?

  • Sounds a lot like SEO to me. Then again isn’t pronouncing SEO as dead just another form of linkbait at this point.

  • Great …

    I think this is exactly the same as someone is saying SEARCH IS DEAD.

    Now you have to do this
    1. Discover not Search
    2. Forget Keywords use words to find your desired result..

    blah, blah, blah

  • Linkbait material. Doesn’t anyone have anything new to say about SEO ever?

  • SEO goes hand in hand with website promotion. I think anytime your promoting your website in any fashion, whether it’s online of offline, your contributing to your SEO. People get so hung up on the “SEO” term that they forget that its M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G.

  • Thanks for that last reply, Drew. Marketing by any name is what we all do, isn’t it? Sure we want to be on top of the search engines, but I also want the people I’m marketing to be able to use my site.
    I find that my hardest challenge because I market to the newcomer on the web who may not even be able to navigate past the homepage yet.

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  • I just wanted to let everyone know that I am offering to help a few more people out in there search engine optimization efforts. For a simple example, I was able to place my last client above mopar within a couple months using a very sought after search term. Feel free to contact me with any questions or more examples.

  • Well in a word, Evolution… Everything you state is true enough but you must realize that SEO itself is evolving. There is nothing in your approach and quite a bit more you have not mentioned that would not or should not fall under the category of “Web 2.0 SEO”

  • Jordan McCollum

    Keyword research and link building are SEO 2.0? Trying to get the word out there about your website and creating original content are SEO 2.0?

    Then I have been in this industry too long.

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  • Everything could be optimized. Now we have a lot of free tools for it. You just need to use them right.

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