The Oath of the Modern SEO: 7 Rules to Live & Breathe

February 12th, 2013          4 Comments

Within our community there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the industry has changed. And now that much of the black hat world has been uprooted and segregated from real inbound marketers and ethical modern SEOs, it’s time we had some rules to live by when conducting our efforts. Below I have comprised a list of seven such rules as a start of what I’ve dubbed “The Oath of the Modern SEO”.

While I think these rules are ones any would deem appropriate and accurate in the current state of our industry, it is in no part a complete list. I encourage everyone to add to the list. Please leave your rules in the comments below and we’ll be sure to add them as they come. Thanks!

1. I will design, create & market for the user

While this might sound like a line out of the movie Tron, it is no doubt that much of what has gone on in our industry in recent history has been focused on one objective: manipulating the search engines in order to increase rankings. Now what we are left with is an internet wasteland of autoblogs, link “networks” and robotic “SEO” content.

However the one thing no one cared to think of was us, the users. Rankings are great if they can lead to conversions. But often this is not the case, and now with recent algorithm updates upon us, the old tactics simply do not work. So the focus more than ever should be on creating for the user.

2. I will use data & creativity to make decisions

Modern SEO, and inbound marketing in general, has become so much more than keywords and links. It should be our only objective from here forward to focus on the things that matter: our goals. The analytical capabilities at our disposal now allow us to make decisions based on factual evidence, in near real time. We can track progress and gain insight into signals. Data is our new “tool”.

Strategy is where the creativity comes in. Not only will the conventional strategies and tactics become less effective over time due to search engine advancement, but the competition is growing everyday. Through creativity not only can we separate ourselves from the competition, but create new strategies that can help push our industry forward.

3. I will think outside the box (and the internet)

This rule is more or less to reiterate and focus on the creative portion of the previous rule. Our industry has made great strides in recent years, incorporating ideas from all ends of the marketing world. From persona mapping to site performance to traditional print copywriting, modern SEO just isn’t SEO anymore.

Many new facets come into play now, and there are no doubt more to come. Those on the forefront of this will reap the benefits.

4. I will focus on building relationships & authority

No doubt the two biggest buzzwords in modern SEO are relationship and authority. However they are probably the two biggest factors in terms of success or failure, and neither have a direct relation to SEO at all.

People online are looking for resources they can trust. You can trust that the search engines know this too. Make a name for yourself or your clients online and harvest a following. The reward will be noticeable in all aspects.

5. I will use automation for good, not evil

If you are someone still looking for the next tool to do your work for you, you’ve got it all wrong. Automation is a great asset, but only in the right application. We’ve all seen how destructive automation software can be to a campaign, ask Panda and Penguin.

Smart automation is the new cool. Automation designed to analyze reports, diagnose link target lists, compare keyword sets, this is the kind of stuff that gets me jazzed up. But if you are still clinging to your “auto-article-scrape-bot-wizard” software, I feel nothing more than pity for you.

6. I will not sacrifice quality for quick wins

This can actually be broken down even further if you prefer. Things like only publishing content that is truly worthy of publishing, only building links that are both authoritative and relevant, could also be added to the list.

While the effort that goes into quick win tactics might be minimal, the return on that effort will be the same. Quality will prevail every time. That’s a fact. Think about what you would want to see on the homepage of your personal website, what links you would want someone finding that point to your business’ name. Create epic shit, every time, or don’t do it at all.

7. I will think long term & big picture

Much of what has gone on in the past within our industry no longer works anymore, just the fact of the matter. Many ride the waves of trends and fads. New loopholes to be exploited, new gaps in the algorithm armor. But much of what has been done has come back to bite us in the ass.

In five years, ten years, will what we are doing now be beneficial or harmful? Are we truly building and snowballing our efforts? Or simply inflating a leaking tire, hoping to make it to the next air pump before we it goes flat. While the reward might seem great at the time, let’s focus long term from now on. Modern SEO is all about the big picture.

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About Josh Patterson

Josh is a young entrepreneur & inbound marketer from Baltimore, has an unhealthy obsession with tacos, a love of craft beer and is known to occasionally grow a pretty mean mustache. Founder @Steamloft.   


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 4 Comments on The Oath of the Modern SEO: 7 Rules to Live & Breathe

Jon Payne says: March 12, 2013 at 9:20 am

Love this post Josh! Am forwarding to several of my team 🙂 Will have to ping you next time I’m in Baltimore – would love to buy you, Chris and Arsham (and whoever else) a beer or something.

Josh Patterson says: March 14, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for the love Jon!

And definitely man, I’ve never known Sham and Chris to turn down a pint (or myself for that matter). Look forward to some healthy digital strategy scrumming!


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