A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Comparing 3 Common SEO Approaches

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

It’s interesting to read what industry big-wigs have to say about an approach we’ve been practicing for some time. From the SEOBook site:

3 Common SEO Approaches
There are 3 basic ways to approach search engine optimization

  • a mechanical strategy, where you try to outsmart the search engines and stay ahead of their relevancy algorithms
  • a marketing-based approach, where you try to meet ranking criteria by creating the types of content that other people value and making sure you push market it aggressively
  • a hybrid approach, where you take the easy mechanical wins and study general algorithmic shifts…but are primarily driving your decisions based on fundamental marketing principals

Comparing the 3 Strategies
For most people the first approach is simply too complex, risky, and uncertain to be worth the effort. Not only do the sites get burned to the ground, but it happens over and over again, so it is quite hard to build momentum and a real business that keeps growing. In fact, most of the top “black hat” SEOs have “white hat” sites that help provide stable income in case anything happens to their riskier sites. Some people are great at coming up with clever hacks, but most people would be better off focusing on building their business using more traditional means.

If search engineers have access to the source code and still don’t know everything then how can people outside the company know everything? They can’t. Which is why we take a hybrid approach to SEO.

The approach we teach is the hybrid approach – a marketing-based strategy with some easy mechanical wins mixed in. Our customers take some of these easy wins to help differentiate their strategy from uninformed competitors, and then use marketing principals to build off of early success.

The Paradox of SEO
In using a marketing based approach you build up many signals of trust and many rankings as a side effect of doing traditional marketing. If people are talking about you and like your products then you are probably going to get some free high-quality links. And this leads us to the paradox of SEO: “the less reliant your site is on Google the more Google will want to rely on your site.”

That really captures it in a nutshell. There are all sorts of ways to build traffic, and different approaches will be appropriate in different situations. And yes, things will continue to change rapidly. (It wasn’t that long ago that it wasn’t much of an exaggeration to say that meta tags were the beginning, middle and end of SEO.)

But it’s hard to imagine a time where the best way to build high-quality traffic won’t be with high-value information presented in ways that your target audience finds useful, and marketing the existence of that high-value information a variety of ways – on-site, on other sites, via social media and email, and offline.

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