People Change, Things Stay the Same

March 10th, 2009 by Chris

Woe for the sexy days of SEO. In watching the Watchmen this weekend there is Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” during the opening credits, and that song fits my mood now. Situations have changed, but more so I have changed rather than the times, and I imagine I’m not alone.

SEO used to be sexy, different, dynamic. Things used to change regularly, but, really, they haven’t lately. I see SEO-rumor mongers (those who sell services and ergo pretty much use fear to motivate clients to keep reupping) still hard at work, but from where I sit, SEO has been pretty consistent for, 5 years. Maybe they’re not having success, but the things I do have continued to work without the need for change for 5 years. Sure, search engines have gotten much more complex in their anti-spam activities, and if you’re a black hat (even if you’d like to think you aren’t) maybe you’re having problems, but that isn’t a ranking algorithm change. A spam filter addition doesn’t mean the fundamentals have changed. If the IRS changes a rule or steps up enforcement it doesn’t mean the ways to create wealth have changed, it just means the people who cheat on their taxes are going to get caught.

So, whereas SEO used to be a field you needed to keep up on, nowadays, I don’t feel that that is true, there is no news, no changes, nothing you need to relearn. Stick to the fundamentals and you’ll do fine. When I launch a new site it is almost a forgone conclusion that I’ll get it ranked well eventually. My business has progressed to the point where I have all the tools in house I need to rank well. I sometimes don’t even bother with a third party link building campaign.

I find myself lately worrying about other things than a Google dance or an algorithm change. I worry about a trade war with China. I worry about import duties. I worry about the price of oil affecting my freight charges. I worry about warehouse space. I worry about the economy as when you get into ecommerce consumer spending is a big issue. I worry about the dollar, I worry about the Chinese RMB.

Has my change come about because the simplicity of SEO has allowed me to stop worrying about that? Or has my change come about because my business has changed to be less reliant on it? Or both? Probably both.

How about you? Am I the only one?

4 Responses to “People Change, Things Stay the Same”

  1. Chromate  Says:

    I’m completely with you on this one. The fact is, I got fed up trying to follow each and every little SEO theory years ago. So I decided to just stick to the basics: A well structured site that gives prevalence to the most important pages, and good content that naturally attracts links. I do look for links initially, but then I tend to let things take care of themselves once the ball is rolling.

  2. Dan Schulz  Says:

    Same here, Chris. I’m sick and tired of people claiming that SEO is constantly evolving, even though they just talk about more of the same, repackaged in the same pointless arguements. It’s almost like they’re trying to polish a… well you know, pass it off as snake oil and then say it’s the next big thing in search engine optimization.

  3. Daniel Clough  Says:

    Love the post Chris.

    I find it funny that people fascinate over SEO trying to work out what is the best way to do things, trying all the tricks in the book and worrying like hell if they drop a position or two.

    People should just focus on building sites that make sense. You know, sites that are designed so well that people can read and buy what they want easily. And as long as you stick to some basics, you should do well.

    I too worry far more about the quality of content and running my business than trying to be an SEO expert and that’s worked for me.

  4. KLB  Says:

    I have to absolutely agree. Recently I reread an article I posted several years ago about SEO and not chasing the Google Dance and what I wrote then still applies today. Really, some of the core fundamentals haven’t changed at all since search engines came into existence. Content was is and forever shall be king. A good link structure has always been important to not just the flow of search engines but usability for human users. Lots of links to external sites not only bleed PR but they bleed users as well who follow those links and thus spend less time on average on one’s own site.

    Back in the ’90s I figured out that the key was to make a site that was a destination, not a weigh station on the way to somewhere else. This required lots of good content that was effectively cross linked so that users could find the other good content easily. As search engines evolved (yes I’m pre-Google) this strategy became critical to effective SEO. The only times I’ve ever had problems with SERP placement was when I tried to aggressively chase the Google Dances and got involved with link selling schemes (e.g. DigitalPoint Coop).

    Maybe the hardest SEO tactic to employ is to just leave things well enough alone and not try to constantly tinker. Instead one needs to focus on constantly adding new content that creates an ever growing long tail of search phrases.

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