By Mihaela Lica

SEO: What’s Hot and What’s Not

By Mihaela Lica

New SEO.Many old SEO strategies have become obsolete, for example ranking for keywords that no one ever searches for – you know, those “ego boosters” that show your site on the first page of Google. Submitting your site to thousands of web directories to get links and submitting your site to the search engines to get indexed are two techniques no serious SEO even considers anymore. Webmasters still believe that exchanging links is the magic answer to higher rankings (they do still play a minor role in Google PageRanks), and many are still obsessing over duplicate content penalties (which we discussed in a past SitePoint article). All these techniques are today used by the inexperienced SEO and by the “old school” DIY who fail to understand the dynamics of Web 2.0.

The New SEO 2.0 Trends

Web 2.0 is a social entity, and obviously SEO for Web 2.0 needs to be social.

Building social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, YouTube, FriendFeed, Twitter and the like, is only one aspect. If you build them, the followers will not necessarily come. You have to give visitors a reason to become members of your community, and more importantly, you have to give them a reason to click on the links you submit to their attention if you want to fully benefit from the “network effect” so many web marketers are talking about today. Twitter is the perfect example of how this “network effect” can be beneficial. For example, Dell managed to make $3 million in revenue using Twitter to announce special offers and to communicate with their consumers.

Link baiting, another modern SEO technique, has a social aspect too: by publishing content people are really interested in, you basically encourage them to “call out” your site. Good content goes viral in a matter of hours. The readers will “tweet” your link, pass it along (this works pretty much like “word of mouth” ), mention your content on their sites, and etc. This is how natural links are built, and this is the only meaningful way to start a linking campaign nowadays.

Another important SEO aspect is defined as “long tail.” The term was originally coined by Chris Anderson in 2004 to describe the niche strategy of some businesses that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. As you see, the original meaning of the term had nothing to do with SEO. SEOs, however, like the term, and applied it to define an SEO strategy that deals with long keyword phrases (typically containing up to 5 words per phrase), that usually deliver less traffic but higher conversions.

Measuring SEO 2.0

Obsessing with page views and Alexa rankings is obviously not the way to measure SEO success anymore. Your analytics program offers a number of metrics that are more or less relevant, if you know how to read them.

For example, if the best performing keywords are the ones mentioning your brand, then your SEO is not that great. Good SEO delivers traffic for non-brand keywords more than for brand keywords. Of course, it is important to have searchers looking for your brand, but you don’t want to be dependent on it for natural traffic.

Another important metric, if you use Google Webmasters Tools for example, is the number of unique pages crawled and indexed by the search engines. The more unique pages you have indexed in the search engines, the higher your chances to drive traffic and generate sales.

The number of pages driving traffic to your site is also very important: it is in your best interest to keep this number high, to fully benefit from the “long tail” advantage mentioned above. Pages that don’t drive traffic are practically dead pages: they only clutter your site instead of bringing an SEO advantage.

Of course, there are other metrics that help in measuring how successful your SEO 2.0 is. Can you think of any? The comments are open, let’s talk!

Image courtesy SEO Refuge: SEO in the Afterlife

  • biswa

    When you say SEO their are 2 part on page and off page. You have mentioned a few ‘off page SEO’ technique here. But still there are lot’s of great technique. Systems are changing day by day. Crawler became very smarter to-day and know easily what’s right and what is wrong. After all good example.

  • Moustafa Ghaddar

    Part of SEO 2.0 is multi-language seo. Twitter also has more than just a “network effect”, it has a great link juice. :)


  • Irrelevant article.

  • commandnotapple

    SixFigureReport Says:
    June 27th, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Irrelevant article.

    How? SEO is something everybody and there momma’ (literally) gives there two cents worth over. It’s good to have someone who knows what there talking about clear up the subject.

  • Haha, SEO 2.0? Sorry, but SEO currently is what is has always been for the last 7/8 years.

  • @MG But Twitter has a Disallow: /* for robots, so how could you possibly get any link karma? For real SEO purposes, it’s useless.

  • Anonymous

    Someone really needs to explain to the author what “SEO” means: *SEARCH ENGINE* optimization. Building social networks is great, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with search engines, and neither does … well pretty much anything else in this article. C’mon SitePoint, even your bad articles are normally so much better than this.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t speak for SixFigureReport, but he’s absolutely right: this article is completely irrelevant to anyone who actually cares about SEO

  • wbd

    @ SixFigureReport – my sentiments exactly… well, nearly exactly!

    While I’m sure some of these “SEO 2.0” (what a stupid buzzword) techniques may possibly assist overall optimisation, sites can still rank well using predominantly on-page only optimisation techniques.
    It will be a sad day indeed when a website can only rank well in search engines if they are linked via social networks such as facebook, twitter and the like.

  • @biswa – indeed, I was only talking about off-page factors, particularly about metrics that help you see whether your SEO efforts are successful.

    @Moustafa Ghaddar – very good point, and thank you for adding it to the list.

    @SixFigureReport – I appreciate your point of view and I think I would like to know what exactly in this article was irrelevant.

    @dreamache – I disagree: many SEO techniques have changed, some of them I already mentioned at the beginning of the article. Twitter, Facebook and the like were not here 7-8 years ago, people were not converened with the “digg effect”, etc. Exchanging links doesn’t work anymore, paying and selling links gets Google penalties. Even on-page techniques have changed. 7 years ago everything was focused on keywords density, today SEO is focused on LSI, natural language, quality/relevant content.

    @krues8dr nofollow is dead. Read Matt Cutts’s post for more details: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/

    @Anonymous – I appreciate your point of view, however, building social network is an SEO technique. All links are relevant one way or another, traffic (visits and use of domain by visitors Google can monitor via Google toolbar, analytics, etc) is also a factor in Google ranking algorithms and so is the time users spend on page. Social media traffic doesn’t convert well for many sites. For example, some people submit their sites to digg and StumbleUpon just to see the traffic boosting, while the ROI remains low. But a good story will always get lower bounce rates, so if you spend time knowing your community and learning what they like, you can transform the social traffic into a goldmine.

    @wbd – If a site depends only on on page techniques and it is never linked from other sites, it will never rank, or if it does, its glory will be short. Links are in the top ranking factors since a long time (anchor text in inbound links, global link popularity of the site, link popularity within the site, topical relevance of inbound links,link popularity of site in topical community, global link popularity of linking site, age of link, topical relationship of linking page, etc)

  • Anonymous

    @Mihaela: you’re mixing up rel=no follow for robot.txt Disallow, which google does respect and twitter uses. Most Facebook pages are behind a login, too, so you don’t get any juice there either. Try it yourself – sign up for both services and see if your google pagerank increases; I haven’t found an appreciable direct increase on any of my sites.

  • @Anonymous – I am not talking about Google PageRank – which has very little to do with how a site ranks in the SERPs anyway. I am not confusing rel=nofollow with robots.txt either. Let me put it this way: all Tweets are indexed by Google, also, Twitter RSS doesn’t use “nofollow” but this is another story. What links on Twitter and Facebook do is sending targeted traffic (Google can measure), which is a relatively important SEO factor. Only traffic that converts is a sign of good SEO. If most of your traffic comes directly from the search engines (and we are talking about thousands of visitors each day) you can call yourself an SEO master indeed. However, if your traffic comes from other referring sites, primary social networks (Twitter and Facebook included) – then you are using social networks in your (SEO) advantage, regardless of “nofollow”. Remember: people are not bots. They follow.

  • PS: @Anonymous – the Twitter command you are referring to is about blocking robots from searching the with_friends pages, the individual pages are still crawled and indexed. You can check it by veryfying the cache at Google. If it’s cached, it’s crawled and indexed.

  • cannot agree to all. haven’t mentioned anything about On-page SEO. and what do u really trying to mean by seo 2.0 i cannot 100% agree to that.
    And are you only talking about Google.com what about other search engines? how do they work?

  • AirForceOne

    SEO is still alive and it may have changed in some certain fields just as this article mentioned, like in web2.0 arena! But this article do mention sth. I think relating to SMO but not SEO!

  • I’d like to see some actual tips:
    Do this …
    Do this …
    Do this …
    Of the articles I’ve read lately, and this is one of them, they try to point out misconceptions or SEO myths, but sort of fail to give much in the way of stuff that the normal site owner should do.
    For instance, I’ve always thought that the best thing a person could do for their site was to have unique content, and a lot of it. Without paying too much attention to SEO, just by writing creatively, and using keywords and phrases in the text of my site, I’ve done pretty well in the rankings. Somehow I’ve managed to be #2 on Google for searches for “website estimate”. I get quite a few people coming from Google looking for website estimates. Who knew?

  • I suppose it has a lot about what your selling, is it a service or a product, Now for example Real Estate sites arent going to get huge ammounts of trafic fro Facebook and the majority of trafic comes from keywords in our case Spanish property or property in Spain. However if you have a new all dancing product then obviously social network sites are the way to go. I have also been doing some research on our competitors of late and the number one company has an RSS news feed but is a property portal (which google loves)with 13000 links (mostly poor quality) We have 2400 links (mostly high quality) I suppose this matters if your aiming for keyword searches or looking at a bigger overall marketing statergy.

    What I am trying to say there are still some types of business out there like real estate where keyword is still very important. Our site has a lot of longtail trafic as well as we have managed to get those keywords into the first page of google.

    Also we saw almost 100% increase page in traffic form second page of google to first page of Google

    Id be very interested in the future how Google defines content when comparing that against the user experience of a website with multimedia content, but that’s for another day.

  • Tadeusz Szewczyk

    To me SEO 2.0 is in a way SEO for people. So a crucial metric would be one that has the human factor in it. Conversion attribution is such a metric.
    Also SEO 2.0 often includes parts of CRM but beyond the customer base. So you could not only measure leads, conversions or ROI but the sheer number and “quality” of contacts.
    The most common definition of SEO 2.0 is “social SEO”, the most reputable is the one by Lee Odden where he explains it as Digital Asset Optimization. In both cases your social media relations and other “assets” play a major role. For Twitter there are plenty ways of measuring the influence of a particular user for instance (not the easily gamed number of followers of course).

  • David

    This article is mostly right on the money. Social networking and social bookmarking are going to become paramount in SEO over the next couple years. Search engines are all about accuracy. Their web spiders will never be able to touch the accuracy that goes hand in hand with a community of readers tagging articles, discussing content and passing around links. It’s massive amounts of user generated meta data. A search engines dream. All of the quality content will inevitably float to the top, as they will get tagged, linked, stumbled, digged and bookmarked the most. Anyone who doesn’t see this as the natural progression of SEO is seriously in danger of missing the boat.

  • @Tadeusz and @David – I guess I failed to send out this message, and this can only be my fault. Social media optimization and social SEO (SEO 2.0, as Tadeusz said) are related, however not the same thing. It’s easy to confuse them, as some readers might. I think Tadeusz is right to add to the metrics the number of quality contacts as an asset and an SEO metric. The whole purpose of optimizing a site should be to provide better content for the end user.

  • Simon

    You make excellent points about social networking and SEO, but I think the use of online videos for marketing is understated. Putting up interesting videos on YouTube to generate buzz is almost necessary now, and there are many other sites you could and should also use — I’ve personally found AdWido to be one of them.

  • This article appears to be typical “filler” text blog fodder. It doesn’t seem to be giving any useful information.

    Ranking for keywords that nobody searches for isn’t an “obsolete technique”. It’s a useless practise still employed today.

    Duplicate content penalties? Since when was the filtering out of duplicate content a penalty? Its purpose is to improve usability of the SERPs, not to penalise anyone.

    Link baiting isn’t some newfangled web 2.0 gimmick. Writing good content that attracts links has been going on since the WWW began. The phrase being coined might be new but the concept isn’t. There are more mechanisms available to spread the word about an attention grabbing piece of content than there used to be, but “link baiting” itself isn’t something new.

    As someone else pointed out earlier, social networking and all the other web 2.0 buzzwords dropped in the “article” have nothing to do with search engines. They are merely ways for people to get their sites in front of more eyeballs (er… advertising?) and this process *may* lead to getting more links but probably will not.

    How about writing an article that is useful to someone?


  • @hooperman – obviously you looked over the article without paying attention at what it says, like so many others before you. surprisingly you are a SitePoint Webmaster forum member, you should know better, but anyway… here are your points, addressed:

    – ranking for keywords no one searches for: this is a technique STILL used by many beginners and snake oil SEOs. Many webmasters still fall for the “rank in Google in 24 hours guaranteed” gimmicks used by some SEOs. How can you rank on the first page in 24 hours if not for something no one searches for? I can rank for “ducifalus per scorilo” in one minute, FYI.

    – duplicate content penalties – if you read the article I linked at, you will see that I already explained a lot about this topic, with details from Google.

    – link baiting is just a new term, yes, you are right. But two years ago no one used the technique as an SEO technique. So yes, we can call this a modern SEO technique.

    – social networking has EVERYTHING to do with search engines. Google and ALL the other search engines encourage webmasters to promote their sites through social networks in their SEO guides. For more information on this topic, read http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

    Last but not least, I am very sorry if I sound aggressive in my answer, but I am really upset. The tone of your comment was offensive and I am usually more thick-skinned than this. However, your last word “fail” was the last straw. I think you could have expressed your opinion without basically “cursing” me in the end.

  • But Mihaela, in writing an article on a particular subject for Sitepoint, you position yourself as an authority on that subject. If it then turns out that the article has some mistakes in it, you should expect that article to get some criticism.

    To make the newb mistake of telling us that there is a “duplicate content” penalty does you no favours. It’s not a penalty and calling it one simply reinforces this misconception. Remember, people who have no knowledge of SEO will read this piece and believe it because it was a Sitepoint article.

    It appears you’ve done a u-turn on what you wrote in the article: “Many old SEO strategies have become obsolete, for example ranking for keywords that no one ever searches for”. You now acknowledge that people still do that. Good.

    Yes, Google are encouraging webmasters to promote using all the means available to them. This is marketing, not SEO. That Google recommend something doesn’t make it “SEO”.

    Linkbaiting: I’m sorry, but 2 years ago and more people were writing excellent content and attracting links for it – knowingly. People have known for a long time that good content attracts links. It’s not rocket science. To call it linkbaiting and imply it’s a new thing is a bit misleading.

    As an overall observation, I’m not sure how this article would help anyone. As skunkbad says:
    “I’d like to see some actual tips:

    Do this …
    Do this …
    Do this …”

    And then your pamil visions site that gets a link because of this article. It puzzles me when I see so called SEO experts who make basic mistakes on their own sites. Like not redirecting non-WWW URLs to WWW URLs. And then not redirecting index.php to the root.

    Get your act together Sitepoint, and start using knowledgeable people to write your articles.

  • Well someone finally did it. Convinced me to make a comment like the one you are about to read. Mihaela is my partner at Pamil Visions, just so the transparency here is crystal clear. Just so anyone who cares to read this knows too, she did get pretty upset with this last comment by hooperman, and asked me to look at it. In doing so I was reminded of all the low down dirty comments I have gotten, and I felt for her.

    Without going into a flaming war, or a dissertation on who is who and what is what, I hope some readers will understand that Mihaela is one of the most respected SEO people there is. These statements are, of course, rather arbitrary as you all know too. But, if I wanted to take the time and effort, I expect I could summon any number of those she learned from to suggest the same. That being one contention, and putting the “credibility issue” a little behind us, perhaps we can examine just why anyone would want to make a comment so rude and inappropriate.

    I was a writer for SitePoint some time back, and enjoyed most of the feedback here a great deal. There are so many talented people here, like others of us, who want to learn and build a great community. But then…..well, I expect all of you know the other kind of self serving people intent on building themselves up at any cost. Every time I read the comments here I am a little appalled at the number of “comment hounds” who think that demeaning other experts and iserting themselves is good business. As for hooperman here, his own Web site is about nothing other than making money off SitePoint. Not such a bad idea, and much of the advice is sound too, but it is mercenary to the core. Let me reveal just one “snippet” taken directly from his site which might reveal all that needs to be said here:

    “Contributing good and useful information is an effective way to advertise your services and the way that you conduct yourself on Sitepoint gives a good indication of your professional business manner.”

    As far as conducting one’s self in a manner befitting good business practices, if I have to explain here, well frankly, anyone who does not glean propriety should probably go back to WOW or their toasted oats. Another SitePoint Forums “celebrity” came to down Mihaela the other day (ironically a friend in the community of hooperman here), and in a totally inappropriate way. Well, I am not employed by SitePoint any longer, am only subject to the general rules of conduct, and will say what I think is right, not just for Mihaela but for other authors (which I can prove I have done). This business of 12 year old “nannie nannie boo boo – I am better than you” is far too transparent and juvenile. If anyone this ambivalent can be trusted to help anyone but themselves make money? UGH! You get the point.

    These writers make a little dough and get some links to their businesses, they want to help people do the things they are trying to do, they are nice people. Everyone who reads these SEO posts is not the God Almighty SEO wizard hooperman here is, they are people who want to develop greats sites, and who may not have the inclination, time or money to be EXPERT at SEO. So, Mihaela is providing a service for the readers here. Not every reader, certainly, but the ones how do not know as much as she does.

    Well, there is is, just defending what is good and right for what it is worth. As for you hooperman, you can praddle on with whatever infantile meanness you can think of, I will not be back to comment again. No wait! I changed my mind, let me show the Sitepoint community a little more of your “pretty clumsy” strategy in practice, from your very own “expert” site:

    Tout For Business – The More Direct Way

    Fortunately, for those who don’t have time to build up a reputation as a guru in their chosen field, there is a quicker and more direct way to advertise their services. You could create a listing in the Advertise Your Services forum.
    Tout For Business – The Clumsy Way

    Tout For Business – The Clumsy Way

    And if you don’t have the time or money, you could always barge into an irrelevant thread and proposition anyone who’ll listen with improper suggestions to buy your cheap SEO services. My sneaking suspicion is that this technique doesn’t win much business.

    I can add one suggestion for you sir, maybe tell your loyal readers how to come to SitePoint or 100 other such sites, find an article with lots of comments, and then interject your form of bestiality upon the readers and the author. You sir are a cad, look that one up.

    Phil Butler

  • Thanks for responding Phil.

    Can you defend at all the mistakes that Mihaela made in her article? I’m guessing that you can’t, as your comments were of a more personal nature. I’m sure that Mihaela is a very nice person and I wouldn’t want to upset her, but the criticism of the article stands.

  • @hooperman – the article has no mistakes in it, and we both know why you are making these rude comments. I have never said that there was a duplicate content penalty, what I said is that many people obsess over this. I provided a link to an article that describes clearly the topic and OTHER misconceptions.

    Also, no “u-turn” as you say. In the past SEOs made good money ranking people for irrelevant keywords. Obviously you have no idea how many people got burned, and how many still pay for fake SEO. No matter how many times the white hat SEOs say don’t fall for “guaranteed ranking promises” people still do. My job is to tell people who don’t know SEO how to avoid such things. People still do it, yes, and in the past it was also easy to get traffic and conversions – loads of – by simply inserting keywords (no matter how irrelevant) in the keywords meta tag and in the body text. I’ve been there, done that when I first started, in 2002. The technique simply doesn’t work anymore.

    Link baiting: anything you do to get links is SEO. Period. If the links happen to be in social networks/social media, it is still SEO. Even writing good content is SEO. What is SEO if not optimizing content (text,images, etc)?

    As for your last observation: our site has a new design and code by people who are not so knowledgeable, and we haven’t finished it. There is still a lot of content to be uploaded and many issues to be addressed, including those you mention. Be so kind and keep my private business out of this. You do not want me to start on yours, and this is NOT the place.

  • Cant everyone just be nice to each other the sun is shining its 30c and lots of beautiful people on the beach, Seo is all about trial error anyway,

    Everyone have a great weekend

    love and hugs from Sunny Spain

  • @SpanishNick – thank you Nick! You are right, we should learn to be nicer and more tolerant. It’s my fault for over-reacting anyway. I apologize if this caused you or any other reader an inconvenience. Wish you a great weekend too. :)

  • Mihaela

    Being relatively knew to SEO I really apprectiate your and other peoples input into blogs like these. I also follow you on twitter (but if I am honest dont have the time to read all your posts) and other people because someone new like me wants to get as much knowledge as possible and personal experience of forums is if your shot down you might not post again which would be very sad.

    theres no perfect forumula for anything as I learnt this week just by changing our Meta description on our home page i managed to get the site from 5 to 11 and when i put it back how it was it went back to 5 again but I have gone off topic, just to let you know there are some people who value your contribution as well as I have valued contributions from other posters who havent 100% agreed with you

    That is for now and I look forward to your next contribution

  • Spanish, You are right of course. I always try to be nice, and as I said, Mihaela and I have received our share of negative comments these years of writing and doing analysis. One gets a little thick skinned after a while, but here on SitePoint the community is made up of people who want to develop things and our goal has been to help developers.

    I was not trying to attack hooperman, and I would not have said anything if it were not that this is about the 20th time she has received such obviously self promotional comments. If I were going to be mean, I can think of 10,000 better texts to put together. As you can see in hooperman’s last comment, he even suggests SitePoint use someone besides Mihaela to do SEO for people who want to learn. This is pretty damned personal if you ask me, especially from someone using SitePoint as a launch pad for their own little cyber SEO rocket ship.

    If we are here to get all “real”, then perhaps I should put my two cents worth in with regard to the tone and value of the SitePoint community as a whole. The people who own and run this site are quite extraordinary, kind and knowledgeable. Never the less, like so many other “hubs”, they are ruled by the “tone” and “timber” of their communities at large. When I was writing here I was accused of everything from shameless self promotion to being down right idiotic by people who could not even put two sentences together to make a coherent idea. All I have is my thoughts, intent and values to defend against extremely prejudiced people. One gets sick of it to be honest.

    I could take the time to defend all these statements, but as you said, it is the weekend and we have other pursuits, and Mihaela needs no defending from me. I just don’t like rude people, it is the Internet after all, and my opinion counts. It is interesting that the author of these SEO comments has an Alexa ranking of over 1 million, while all but one of our six websites is under 200,000. We never have time to do SEO to the N’th degree on our own for doing it for other people. Any way, thanks for reminding us Spanish, please forgive my interjection as well.


  • Nice post Phil, I´ll just take out of this place what I can and Mihaela is someone who I always want to hear from.

    Anyway time fot a beer and to enjoy the weekend

    All the best to everyone

  • sparkydog

    Well, this was an illuminating discussion, to say the least. I have to say that Miheala, in your first long response where you addressed the abusiveness of hooperman and apologized for sounding riled up yourself — well, you have nothing to apologize for and to my ears and eyes it all just seemed like someone answering harsh criticisms as nicely as they could.

    Some people just have no class, and a person like that who runs the kind of site he does — well, this sort of aggressive/arrogant behavior is how they survive and get by in the world (ie, part parasite and part scavenger) and rather then engage them, it may be best to simply have compassion for them since it is clear that their sense their of place in the world and their relationship to other human beings is poisoned and dysfunctional — probably due to having a distant father and an overbearing mother. And for all the criticisms he leveled, I didn’t see him actually give any “do this” examples of his own, nor actually address your responses and engage in a real discussion of the sort you were criticized for not starting.

    I for one found the article worthwhile and while it did not give explicit do this instructions, pointed me in the direction of researching these issues further, and that’s what it was aimed at doing.


  • sparkydog

    Oops, sorry Hooperman. Looks like I lost my Zen for a moment there myself.

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