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How many blog and article headlines have you read in recent years proclaiming that SEO is Dead? You’ll probably see more of these headlines in 2017 and 2018. It seems that virtually everyone on the planet thinks that SEO is the same as link building. If your definition of SEO is volume based link building and link scheming, then you may be right, SEO is dead.

Let’s step back for a minute and remind ourselves that SEO is short for search engine optimization.  Of all the definitions of SEO, I still like Wikipedia’s definition of SEO the best:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.

The problem with SEO in the pre-Penguin era is that that Google preached about the importance of creating great content for SEO, while rewarding backlink schemes all along.  In fact, sometimes it’s interesting to re-visit the Google link schemes page – it kind of looks like the ‘How To’ book for pre-Penguin SEO – at least for how many ‘professional SEO companies’ used to try to get rank over the years.

Now Google has truly put the carrot in front of content.  Instead of chasing backlinks, we’re all putting more effort into creating, distributing and marketing great content.   Content is King, and they mean it this time.

But Black Hat SEO Is Dead – Because It May Kill Your Site

With Panda & Penguin, Google is now subjecting all websites to its own version of a regular, mandatory drug test.

This is great news for legit SEO firms.  It’s so risky to do volume link building now that it’s not even tempting.  This reminds me a recent article about a private school in the US that is subjecting all students to drug tests.  Many students are actually happy because they have the ultimate excuse to refuse drugs and alcohol from peers – giving students total relief from peer pressure and temptation.

Old school volume-based link building tactics just don’t work anymore – any if they do, it’s likely only temporary:

1. Blog or forum commenting
2. Creating link pyramids. Link wheels or multi-tiered link schemes back to your ‘money site’
3. Creating or participating in any type of blog network, including trying to create your own ‘private blog network’
4. Mass article marketing
5. Guest blog post spam
6. Buying fake social signals, likes, 1’s followers

Generally, any type of ‘link building package’ from an SEO forum or freelancer site now has a great deal of risk.

There may be some diamonds in the rough, particularly and services that focus on ultra-high quality link building from the most relevant sites, but these days any link building service should be evaluated with the utmost caution.

Some may provide you with rank for short period, but there is so much risk with any type of volume based link building that it doesn’t make sense anymore.

The Birth Of Real SEO

While many in the SEO industry still bitch and moan about updates, we should all really be rejoicing.

There is no more temptation to attempt black hat SEO.  Google has really helped weed out the SEO services industry – the downside risks for volume based link building is so severe that there is no reason to even attempt it.

That means all of us SEO can stop worrying about offshore boiler-room link building service and start focusing exclusively on content creation, social media and content marketing.

What is working for SEO? High quality content marketing, real social media signals, Google+ authorship, and yes – despite claims that guest guest blogging is dead – guest blogging will always be one of the VERY BEST types of SEO, WHEN it is done with quality, selectively and for highly strategic reasons.

In summary, today’s SEO looks a lot less like link building and a lot more like traditional business development such as relationship building, social media participation, branding and content marketing.

This is new era of consultancy based SEO – where experience, creativity and discipline will win the day.