Old SEO Tools vs. New SEO Tools

Filed in SEO by Matt McGee on February 17, 2013 4 Comments

I’m working on a new presentation that I’ll be giving next month and, unlike many of my recent talks, this one is SEO-focused.

That’s fun, because it gives me a chance to talk about the current SEO landscape and how things have changed in light of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates (and all the other changes that have affected how we approach SEO).

I’m wondering if you agree with these two slides that I’ll be using. They’re titled “Old SEO Tools” and “New SEO Tools” — and I don’t mean tools in the sense of web-based, online tools like Raven or SEOmoz or something else. I mean tools in the sense of … how SEO is best done now compared to how you could do it years ago.

Here’s the first one: Old SEO Tools.


My point with this slide is that, back in the day, you could overpower the algorithm with pure strength — i.e., the sheer quantity of inbound links, the sheer amount of pages or networked sites you could create, and things like that. Subtlety wasn’t often rewarded.

Here’s the second slide: New SEO Tools.


My point with this slide is that SEO now involves more balance (thus, the images of the level tool and the ballerina’s shoes), more sophistication (the conductor’s baton) and a more gentle approach (the artist’s palette).

I’m trying to echo the point that I made last year when I said, “So much SEO is ugly because the person doing it is using a hammer, when the better tool is a paintbrush.” (And that post references Adam Audette’s excellent SEO Should Be Invisible article, which is worth reading again.)

So, what say you? Do you agree or disagree? Comments are open.

(PS – yes, I’m aware that in uber-spammy and uber-competitive spaces, winners are still often overpowering the algorithm with brute force. That’s not the audience I’ll be speaking to, nor is it the audience I write for on this blog … i.e., small business owners.)

Comments (4)

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  1. Vanessa says:

    To add, SEO now should work side by side traditional marketing research. To better position yourself, you have to know where your market is. Put value in knowing your market and leverage the knowledge to put yourself right in front of your customers when they are actually searching for you.

  2. Jeremy KUHNKE says:

    Matt, always appreciate your insight. I would suggest putting a shotgun in the first image and a laser targeted sniper rifle in the second. In the old days you could blast your way to the top, now content, links and even the now popular info graphics have to be focused and on target.

  3. Nathan says:

    Pictures do paint a thousand words! Especially the second set there. It’s very true that SEO strategies these days have to be much more user and brand focused where as before you could get away with pretty much anything and still enjoy great rankings.

  4. Eric Ward says:

    I think I used the paintbrush metaphor in 1998 :). I like the contrast, but I do wish people would remember that not all of us used the brute force tools in the first place, and have been preaching against them because we knew they were a dead end in the long run, even 18 years ago. People laughed at my approach then. Those same folks suddenly want to talk. The right approach has always been the right approach, all the way back when I’d do outreach to AOL and Compuserv members via dial up. The paintbrush is mightier than the bulldozer.

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