I was reading SEOMoz.org’s blog the other day (as I often do) and came across a fantastic “white board friday” entitled, “The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning”.

Reading that title blew my mind because it reminded me of the SEO journey I (and everyone at SEOSiteCheckUp) has gone through for the past years – right when we first started talking about “New SEO” and what it could mean for the future.

Back then, we just were throwing around ideas. We had experienced, we knew what had happened in the past, and we were looking to make an informed prediction on what the future would hold. 

It was—to some extent—a gamble. Because what we were cooking up had the potential to change the SEO zeitgeist – not only for our own sites but for every site that could benefit from SEO. 

And that’s a big number.

Well, it turns out we were right. Our prediction came shortly before Panda, and an entire year before Penguin. Every Google update since Panda was in line with our “New SEO” principles. We’re very confident new updates will also fit under the umbrella of “New SEO”.

In today’s article, we’ll be talking about how “New SEO” came to be, and what we think the future will bring for online business.

A Slap on the Wrist

First, I’d like to give a word or two about my own story. For those of you who read our articles fairly regularly, you may remember reading about my “Google Sniper” experience.

Yes, I was one of those sleazy internet marketers trying to game Google so I could make a bit of money online. I had it all planned out – I would get to $5,000/month and move to Toronto.

It was a great plan and I worked every day to realize it.

But I never did. Why? Google put its foot down. Remember, this was in the days when “Content is King” was a debate. Now it’s not even close to a debate – it’s basically online business gospel. And to think this was only a few years ago!

Back in the day of Google Sniper sites, people figured content didn’t really make much of a difference. Because for a sniper site, it didn’t. In fact, I remember specifically reading articles about how your content should be awful because that encouraged users to click on ads instead of hovering on the page!

Yes, the sole purpose of these sites was to get customers to click on advertisements.

As you can probably imagine, these sites were absolute garbage. And there were a lot of them on the Google rankings. Sure, they weren’t #1 for every keyword imaginable, but there was a sniper site listed for the vast majority of profitable keywords.

I was getting closer to my goal, but still had TONS of work to do. 

And then it happened: the Mayday Update.

Mayday Update was the last major Google update before Panda. And it hit sniper sites hard. In fact, it demolished the business model. It made it virtually impossible to get a sniper site ranking for any keyword, in any niche.

Big problems for my future plans. Fortunately, I wasn’t very far along in my journey. But I did know people who had six-figure incomes disappear overnight. Yes, six figures. That’s money they never got back.

Putting Our Heads Together

Fast forward a few months, and I get in touch with Seth Czerepak, one of the SEO experts here at SEOSiteCheckUp.com.

And thus began my involvement with SEOSiteCheckUp.com.

When I met Seth, we brainstormed a lot of ideas for SEO. After all, we were both dedicated to growing SEOSiteCheckUp.com – making sure it could be the type of SEO website we knew it could be.

I just dug up an email that Seth sent me, pre-Panda:

“Let’s focus on why Google hits some sites (bad sites) and not others (good sites). You can protect a site by creating a good user experience and providing expert content.”

And another:

"For years, people have been saying that content is king, but that's only half of the truth. Connection is king online, and if your content isn't connecting with a human being, you're not going to rank high or for very long."

So the “New SEO” was born.

It Is That Simple

It’s almost laughable to think about it. I remember the day I learned people could game search rankings – it was the day a search for “miserable failure” turned up a bio of George W. Bush. I did a search to see how that worked and all I got back was a bunch of industry jargon.

SEO seemed COMPLICATED. And it was… to some extent. SEO is relatively basic, but it can be complicated to get your feet wet.

But here was the “New SEO” – a strategy so simple and mind-bogglingly obvious that it almost seemed silly. How could the multi-billion dollar industry of SEO really be as simple as “New SEO” made it seem?

The “Aha!” moment came when we thought of the “Golden Rule of Google”, that is – Google is a BUSINESS. Google is #1 in the world of search, and that’s where they want to stay. And how will they stay #1 in search? By continuing to be better than every other search engine out there!

And how do they make themselves better? By providing their users with the absolute top results for every search they make.

Because think about it. When you search for something on Google, you want to get an answer to your search. You want to get the best answer possible. And as long as you’re getting the best answer possible to your search, you’ll continue to use Google! Why use Bing if there’s nothing wrong with Google?

But if you don’t get what you’re looking for, consistently, you’re not going to use Google anymore.

It’s in Google’s best interest to feature the best—and only the best—websites on page #1. It is that simple. Really.

So for starters, ask yourself – is your website the best possible website Google could display for the keywords you’re targeting? If not, then why would building backlinks, optimizing keywords or changing meta tags make your site more appealing in Google’s eyes?

The answer is, it wouldn’t. Google doesn’t care about backlinks, they care about quality. Google doesn’t care about keywords, they care about relevance. Make sure your website is the absolute best site someone would find when searching for your keywords, and you’ll be in the “New SEO” sweet spot.

In a nutshell, that’s “New SEO” – making sure your site is the absolute best it can be. It’s a total mindset change. Instead of thinking about how you can beat Google, you think of ways you can make your site more appealing to Google.

Because Google wants to rank the best of the best. If your site is the best of the best, Google will want to rank it. It is that simple.

The Era of the Individual

So where are we headed next? Well, we don’t have a crystal ball here, but we are decent (if we do say so ourselves) at identifying potential areas the industry can move in.

And right now, all signs point to the era of the individual. The customer. The business. Individual, distinct, unique personalities. 

For the past few years, there have been a few “cookie-cutter” website layouts. Land on 100 websites, they’ll all have some design elements in common. 

At least, that was until the phrase “user experience” became common online business terminology. Essentially, user experience is about having a design and content strategy that is completely and totally unique to your business.

It’s also about treating the customer like the totally unique individual they are. It’s about creating the best experience possible for your customers. A personalized experience.

We’re seeing more and more websites break the “traditional” rules of web design and focus on individuality, to great effect. One of our favorite examples is Hipmunk.com – the new cheap flight search engine.

Take a quick look at the site and you’ll see it’s completely different from anything else out there. That’s because it’s specifically designed from the ground up to provide users with the best cheap flight search there is. And it works – I use it whenever I need to buy a plane ticket. Why? Because it’s the best site for the job.

I’ve always had an eye for design. And people have asked me, “how do you make things like that?” I tell them anyone can do it. Then they say, “not me, I’m not creative.”

The reality is, everyone is creative – because creativity simply relies on being a unique individual, which we all are. With web design tools getting easier and easier to use, more and more people will be able to create something totally unique based on who they are. We’ll start seeing more businesses built from the ground up like Hipmunk – not designed to copy what already exists, but provide something completely and totally new.

And Google is going to reward these sites. Why? Because those sites are going to be the best results Google could list – the results that will help Google retain its lead in the world of search.

Shedding Mediocrity

Online business is hard. No doubt about it. But no one said it would be easy.

It’s tempting to take shortcuts. To launch a product that isn’t ready. To launch a website that looks like it was built in 1995. But doing this will have long-lasting consequences, both in your customer’s eyes and in your Google rankings.

Because as we know, putting Google ahead of customers is a sure-fire way to ensure you’re not ranking on page #1 any time soon. 

So don’t take a “shortcut” – these shortcuts will not help you in the long run. They’ll hinder you. Start building your website with quality in mind. Focus on the customer. Focus on providing your customers with an individualized experience.

The irony is, most business owners take shortcuts because doing things right takes “too long.” But if you do things right, that’s actually the quickest way to be successful in business! So by taking shortcuts, you dramatically increase the amount of time it will take you to be successful.

As you can see, we’re not magicians here at SEOSiteCheckUp.com. Often, the simplest answers to life’s most difficult questions are the ones that ring the truest. And although SEO may not be life’s most difficult question (or is it?!), the rule of simplicity still applies.

Using this idea of “New SEO”, you too can predict Google’s next updates. And when they do roll out a new update, instead of standing and scratching your head, you’ll know exactly why it happened.

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