The secret of future SEO

SEO tricks continue to get devalued. Google keeps getting better at picking up tricks and rendering them valueless.

So how do you know what’s a trick that is a waste of time or at worst will get you penalized?

Here’s a simple rule.

Anything that can be repeated and scaled can be automated.

Anything that can be automated can be detected and discredited by Google.

It’s very easy to buy into a bot network and spam links across the web. Google caught on and has applied massive penalties to people who do so. It’s very easy to hire massive numbers of people through services like Amazon Mechanical Turk or Fiverr to mindlessly create links in blog comments or social networks. Google can catch those, too. It’s very easy to buy an absurd number of press releases and stuff them with links. Google caught on and slapped penalties liberally to companies that behaved badly.

If you’re considering a marketing tactic, if it can be automated and scaled, it can be caught by Google. They have more robots, more machines, more Ph.Ds, more networks, more everything than any one SEO company or marketing department.

So how do you know what won’t earn you a punishment from Google?

Google values what doesn’t scale. Google values great content, which is exceptionally difficult to scale. Google values innovative ideas, and heaven knows innovation is a struggle. If it’s unique and difficult to do, Google will probably value it. Being a great content provider? Hard to do, even harder to scale – ask anyone with a successful website or team blog just how difficult it is to consistently crank out great content. Being an innovative developer? Very hard to do, exceptionally hard to come up with consistently great new ideas, and incredibly hard to scale well.

Do what’s unique. Do what’s hard to replicate, hard to scale, hard to automate. And every proposal, pitch, or offer you get that says they have an easily automated system to do X, you now know to be a trap just waiting to happen.

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Improve on-site SEO with Webmaster Tools Data Highlighter [Video]

Want to make sure you’re using the latest markup tags from Google for optimum on-site SEO? Google’s made it easier than ever inside of their free Webmaster Tools software with the Data Highlighter.


Just click on the structural elements of your website or blog, categorize the different on-page pieces of data, and let Google do the rest.

Is it a magic wand or a silver bullet that will catapult you to the top of the rankings? Of course not. Will it help, particularly if Google doesn’t highlight obvious pages or links in your site when you search for it? Yes.

Watch this short 4 minute video I made just for you:

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Be happy that guest blogging for SEO is dead

New England Warrior Camp 2010

Matt Cutts stuck a fork in yet another automated, low-quality, easy-to-outsource SEO tactic recently: guest blogging for SEO. In his words:

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging [for SEO] is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”

Is anyone truly surprised by this announcement? Every day, my inbox is clogged with dozens upon dozens of really bad, automated pitches for guest blog posts. Every day, they get flagged as spam. The bots have taken over the space, and now Google is going to lay the smackdown on them.

Before you lament the death of another part of easy SEO, consider another part of Matt’s words:

“I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”

In other words, behave as if there were no Google. Would you still pursue guest blogging if there was no SEO, if Google wasn’t looking over your shoulder? Yes, absolutely. If Oprah Winfrey emailed me and said she wanted to guest blog here, I’d say yes.

Here’s the part that I think a lot of marketers have missed. The impending death of guest blogging for SEO purposes is a good thing, a very good thing, for content marketers who produce great quality content. The less garbage there is, the less hard our audiences have to work to find the good stuff. A diamond in the mud may be a diamond, but it’s easier to find in a bucket of mud than in a stadium filled with mud. If this puts down a bad content marketing practice that’s become so automated that no humans even need to be involved, then good. Cull the herd, as it were.

If you’ve been relying on spammy guest blogging practices for SEO purposes, then it’s time to move on. If you’re still bringing in guest bloggers who you know, trust, and vouch for personally, then chances are Google isn’t going to hurt you (at least based on what Matt said in his post).

The sky falls selectively in the world of SEO, but it tends to fall on “easy” first. Stop chasing “easy” and start chasing “great”, and you’ll spend a lot less time dodging sky fragments.

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