This SEO tutorial from 12 years ago NAILED IT (seriously)
Lots of folks in the SEO industry joke about SEO “back in the day” and lolz about old tactics such as the meta keywords tag, doorway pages, and the like. I ran across a few posts from back in the day that just nailed it. Yes, there are a few parts that are slightly questionable but there is so much truth and beauty in the simplicity of these tutorials.
This post from Webmaster World as written by one of the forefathers of our community, Brett Tabke who is still very much active in the industry and is the CEO and founder of Pubcon. It was a solid contribution that went on to receive hundreds of links from around the web.
Link: Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone (Circa 2002)
“Look for the keywords people are using. See any bizarre combinations? Why are people using those to find your site? If there is something you have over looked, then build a page around that topic. Retro engineer your site to feed the search engine what it wants.”
Although [not provided] kind of spoiled this one for everyone, this is still an excellent tip. One thing I like to do is open up my analytics and view my most popular pages for the entire year, or some other large chunk of time. The top 5-10 pages will give you a ton of insight about what your site is truly about, and what your visitors are really looking for. It would be wise to re-think your content strategy at this point if you are working against what your visitors are looking for.
“Watch for spiders from se’s. Make sure those that are crawling the full site, can do so easily. If not, double check your linking system (use standard hrefs) to make sure the spider found it’s way throughout the site. Don’t fret if it takes two spiderings to get your whole site done by Google…”
There is so much to be said for this. When was the last time you opened up your log files to see where Googlebot was actually crawling on your site? Sure there are dozens of on-site analytics and SEO platforms available to do this for you. He also talks a lot about your sites inter-linking system and to always make sure that each page is reachable by all other pages.
“Think about what people want. They aren’t coming to your site to view “your content”, they are coming to your site looking for “their content”. Talk as little about your products and yourself as possible in articles (raise eyebrows…yes, I know)”
While I wouldn’t follow this word for word, there is something we can take away from this. Sure, you can blog about whatever you want but thinking about what your visitors want will bring in much more traffic.
“Learn the lesson of Google itself – simple is retro cool – simple is what surfers want.”
Way ahead of its time. Even now modern day web design is following this rule. Designers are ditching 3d shadows, gradients and other tricks in favor of simpler and “flat” designs that are much easier to navigate.
SEO lessons from a simpler time
Long before tools such as Moz, Ahrefs and Xenu were around, SEO’s had very limited tools to use at their disposal. While I didn’t call myself an SEO back in 2002, I was very much involved in web development and interested in how websites “became listed” in the search engines. I wish I knew about this industry back then!
The forum post I linked to talked a lot about sifting through log files, looking at referrers, and putting a lot of thought into your site before you plan it.
I also thought that what Rand said recently “Does SEO Boil Down to Site Crawlability and Content Quality?” really hit home after reading this nugget of information from the past.
I can talk all day about link earning and site speed but none of it really matters unless my site is crawlable and people love my content.