Some people say SEO is dead some say people are just stopping you from getting benefit as they want low competition or unsuccess.
What we think please.

People say SEO is dead because it’s a cat and mouse game between black hat SEOs trying to game the system and Google constantly trying to make it impossible, which results in people saying it’s a futile effort.

This is far from the truth, and you only need to start with white hat seo to see that Google has a positive attitude when it comes to SEOs helping Google to help themselves.

When it comes to more black hat stuff, such as link building, it can be a somewhat dangerous game and it will feel a LOT like trying to hit a moving target, but it’s not impossible.

@Dani, I'm still unsure of how to respond to folk that want the SEO results to:

  1. Get them on the first 10 search results.
  2. Do this in a few days or one week.
  3. Have no budget for advertising.
  4. And just so happen to be either a MLM or SEO company.

But you are right. black hat SEO is best avoided. I think it's fair what happens to those that try that.

Get them on the first 10 search results.

As a developer, the best thing I can liken this question to is it being the equivalent of someone asking, "How can I ensure I create a bug-free program?" Your answer would be some mixture of, "Become a seasoned programmer, write elegant code, organize your code into digestable components, etc." It's entirely plausable to work towards creating a bug-free program, but all the specific techniques to achieve it are things that could be construed as entirely subjective, and essentially boil down to "become a seasoned programmer".

The answer to this question is the same exact thing. The goal of any SEO campaign is to work on being in the top 10 results. Seasoned SEOs are more familiar with what the formula is to achieve this, and the formula is different depending on the keywords being targeted you want to rank for. How to choose which keywords to rank for is a part of the job of any good SEO. I guess the best way I can answer this question is to just keep reading the forums, following SEO blogs, practicing SEO, and getting better, and it's a skill you can eventually learn.

Do this in a few days or one week.

Search engine optimization is broken up into two components: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Off page SEO is the stuff you have no control over ... which mostly boils down to links from other sites. To build up your off-page SEO in a weekend, create Facebook and Twitter pages and start to post to them. Social media counts. For on-page SEO, that's all the stuff that you have direct control over ... ensure your HTML 5 code is validated, is written efficiently, loads fast, you have all meta tags in place, all canonicals in place, no internal 301s, http redirecting to https, and of course the list goes on, but it's definitely something that's all achievable in a week.

Have no budget for advertising.

Let me tell you a little secret about what makes SEO so amazing. What's great about search engine optimization is that it's all entirely free! The rewards are almost purely based on how much time, effort, and skill you put into it. Yes, that's why 14-year-old fulltime student Dani got hooked on it and hasn't looked back! What I fell in love with was something that I could do from my own bedroom, and with the will to learn and effort, achieve some amazing results all on my own.

Yes, the average SEO firm charges a mid-sized website $150K a year on the low end, and a large enterprise-level SEO campaign can be as high as $500K or a million a year. However, what you're paying for is pretty much the same as what you pay for with any other industry ... you're paying for the years and years of expertise of that SEO team and the labor that they put in to achieve results for you.

As I mentioned just above, there are two parts to an SEO campaign, on-page SEO and off-page SEO. An SEO firm that you hire will tell you exactly what on-page changes you need to make to achieve your desired results ... everything from achieving perfect keyword density, when to use canonicals, what pages to noindex, when and where to nofollow, pagerank sculpting, etc. These are all mostly HTML changes, but of course CSS, Javascript, and all of the other webpage assets all go into creating a perfectly SEO'ed site.

Now here's where SEO firms get really expensive: Off-page SEO is all about getting lots of backlinks from lots of other sites. The more links from the more reputable sites the better. However, this does not mean advertising budget and this does not mean paying for advertising!! That's an entirely different digital marketing strategy that is outside the meat of SEO. SEO is all about getting links by asking for them!

Reach out to blogs about topics similar to your site and politely ask for them to link to you. Submit guest articles to various publications and you can usually earn a link back in the "About the Author" section. Posting on forums is a great way of building off-page SEO because most forums will grant you a backlink in your member profile or forum signature in exchange for contributing posts, and posting in forums about the topic of your site is an excellent way to gain a reputation in your industry as someone who is skilled and knowledgeable. Members of the forum who like what you have to say will be more likely to want to do business with you or buy from you. Of course, there are many other off-topic SEO strategies ... I think there are a handful of threads here about what the latest ones are. People are coming out with new strategies all the time, and what used to work doesn't work anymore, and things that didn't used to work suddenly work the best. Also, what works is different for each industry or niche, and knowing when to use what again goes back to learned intuitition from being in the SEO industry for a long time, which is of course why you might choose to hire an experienced SEO firm instead of spinning your wheels yourself. Of course, if you're posting in our SEO forum, or others, it's most likely because you want to do the heavy lifting yourself.

Don't have time to post on forums yourself? Back when DaniWeb was super popular, people would pay our top members, who had trustworthy reputations within our community, to link to their small business from within their signatures. It was a win-win because our top members earned some money in exchange for doing nothing they wouldn't normally do.

And that brings us back to why SEO firms charge upwards of half a million dollars a year for a large campaign. Large campaigns means they're getting thousands of links a month for their client. How are they doing it? They literally are hiring a team of people overseas to just hustle through spreadsheets, knocking on doors, asking every blog in your industry to please link to you. They're posting in forums on your behalf. They're writing blog articles and submitting them to various sites (e.g. DaniWeb Editorial Workshop) on your behalf. Do you know how many people in overseas call centers need to hustle fulltime to get thousands of links a month? That's where the money is going towards.

OK, so that's oversimplifying it a bit ... basically first the experienced SEOs at the firm you hire will do research to figure out the specific keywords that are in your best interest to rank for. They'll use their expertise to figure out the best strategies that will work best for your business. They'll build huge spreadsheets of all the possible sites that you would do best to get a backlink from. And then they'll put people on them to do all the hustling to get those links.

And just so happen to be either a MLM or SEO company.

Did you read what I wrote just above? One of the best ways to do white hat SEO is to post in forums related to your industry. If you have an SEO company, that means posting in SEO forums!!

But you are right. black hat SEO is best avoided. I think it's fair what happens to those that try that.

Did I say black hat SEO is best avoided? Black hat SEO works better and faster than anything else. But it's also riskier, partly because Google can blacklist your site if you get caught, but mostly because it means you might be throwing money away towards something that doesn't work at all. Yes, I said money. The difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO is that white hat SEO is free and black hat SEO costs money.

According to Google's policies, it's disallowed to receive a backlink in exchange for money. Black hat SEO is simply the act of doing just that. Is it a hell of a lot easier to ask the absolute top 100 best sites that would earn you the biggest SEO boost if you could pay them to link to your site, instead of hustling and asking 100,000 sites to link to you, and go back and forth via email with a few hundred of them until you end up with 50 mediocore quality backlinks? Absolutely it's easier to not have to hustle, and to just get the best sites to link to you! But you know what? If Google catches wind that the link was paid for, then they'll blacklist both the site that paid as well as the site that hosted the link.

So it all comes down to being resourceful, being strategic, and being a hustler. Can't buy links? Engage in awesome business development!! That's where I went wrong all those years ago. Back when Stack Overflow was in its very early days, they didn't offer a superior product or service to DaniWeb, and they definitely didn't have more traffic than us. But they got outside investors, and they used that funding to hire business development people. Do you know what those biz dev people did? They reached out to Facebook and said, "You have a popular API, but you're having a difficult time handling developer support. Outsource your support to us!" In exchange, Facebook paid Stack Overflow for SO to create a "facebook-api" tag, and Facebook linked to it from their API support page. No one was paying for backlinks there! Just good ole natural business development. And the result was a backlink from a site as high profile as Facebook!! That was killer for Stack Overflow's SEO. You know what else SO did? They reached out to LinkedIn and even Google and made the same deals with them. They did all of this in a matter of a month or two. Within 3 months they had high profile backlinks from Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, and then there was absolutely no way for DaniWeb or any other site to ever compete again. That was it. We could get a backlink from every other website on the entire Internet and it wouldn't equate the quality or clout or SEO benefit of having prominent backlinks from the big three. And all it took was a single biz dev SEO guy who reached out to three companies who created 3 links. And that's why that SEO firm probably cost a million dollars. In their case, their SEO form came up with an amazing biz dev strategy that was completely out of the box and never done before, they devised a genius way of pitching it to the big three, and in what probably amounted to 3 emails and a few weeks of negotiating, they secured the biggest SEO deals in the tech industry to date. Even a decade later, no other tech site has any way of competing.

That's what off-page SEO is. Being creative. Being an out of the box thinker. And being a hustler.

On-page SEO, meanwhile, mostly boils down to being familiar with what works and what doesn't, actively following the SEO forums and SEO blogs because the industry is changing day-to-day, and having the technical know-how to implement the changes required, and for example know when to use an HTTP header and when to use a meta tag to accomplish the same thing.

commented: Thanks for expanding here. There's a lot to take in here, much like "a sip from the fire hose." +15

Get them on the first 10 search results.
Do this in a few days or one week.

1000% doable! All I need to do is pick an obscure keyword to rank for. For example, I choose the keyword "ksdflksdf". All I need to do is create a 3 page website that uses proper HTML and all the best SEO strategies to be "All about ksdflksdf" with a FAQ that answers all your questions about ksdflksdf, of course properly using schema.org metadata to get into Google's knowledge graph. For good measure, I'll set up a blog and post 3 op-ed articles about what ksdflksdf means to me. That's a good starting spot for on-page SEO. Now for off-page SEO. A link to my site using the hashtag #ksdflksdf from my Twitter should do the trick. Google has a deal with Twitter where they have access to the twitter firehose (API stream of tweets), after all. It should just take a day before Google will pick up and index my site. Of course usually new domains go into the Google sandbox before they can reach any decent potential, but being the only site in the world about ksdflksdf, I'm sure Google will make an exception if someone does a Google search for ksdflksdf and rank us as #1. My tweet about ksdflksdf might even make it to the number two spot in the search results! And I'm sure if I ask Siri a few days later what ksdflksdf is, Siri will respond with dialogue straight from my FAQ page!

This is done a lot. SEO competitions are popular where an obscure or nonsense word or phrase is chosen, and leading SEO firms compete to rank for the #1 spot when people Google the word or phrase picked for the competition. Google doesn't like it, obviously, because it muddies up their database with nonsense, and with quality SEO, there's no way to distinguish it from any other uncommon topic that might just have a handful of content in the world written about it. After all, the goal of the competition is to be the firm that makes it look as natural and honest as possible that the topic actually is completely legitimate and that they are the leading authority on it, and great lengths are gone to ... and remember, all the leading SEO firms in the world are all competing to do the best job at this. In the end, the nonsense topic ends up with a Wikipedia article, dozens of Facebook fan pages, a popular Twitter profile, lots of tweets talking about it and linking to all different authorities on the topic, and a half a million Instagram followers. Not to mention all of these SEO firms that put their entire teams of cold callers to work building backlinks across the web popularizing their site as the leading authority of topic X.

I just want to follow up that posting on DaniWeb for SEO benefit doesn’t work anymore because signature links can no longer be seen by users not logged in, which includes Googlebot. However, this technique still works on plenty of other forums. And you still get the benefit on DaniWeb of earning a reputation as an industry leader.

Something else I forgot to mention is it’s not just backlinks that count. Mentions count as well as Google recognizes that people mentioning a brand carries weight as well. For example, Stack Overflow earned SEO benefit in this thread from my mentioning them and talking about them even if I haven’t linked to them.

Sorry I forgot a whole other HUGE aspect of on-page SEO is site usability, user experience, analytics, and goal conversions. But typing on my phone so that’s a whole story for another day.

@Dani,
I don't type as much on my phone as talk to it. This year is the end for our Apple phones (reasons) but I hear their voice to text is really great. I know that on our lowly Android phones it's so good that I rarely type out a reply.

I'm very rarely on my phone when I'm somewhere that I can speak aloud. If I'm messaging from my phone, it's because I'm either winding down in bed next to my boyfriend, who is also working quietly, or I'm browsing/typing while watching a TV show on the couch. Also, I can type on a fullsize keyboard faster than I can speak ... nearly 200 wpm. So that means that if I have a lot to say, I'm going to meander over to the computer when I have the time to commit.

My mom tends to also talk to her phone for some reason. She's always asking Siri questions, and even more often, repeating her questions to Siri. Me, I just go to Google :)

1000% doable! All I need to do is pick an obscure keyword to rank for.

I have actually been out of the SEO game for quite some time just focusing entirely on DaniWeb. Can anyone confirm if Google has incorporated a workaround into their algorithm that doesn't make this possible anymore?

@Dani, I think the old obscure word doesn't seem to work now. I recall it worked a year ago but over the last few months discussions I could find with a "word" no longer show on the first page if at all.

I recall it worked a year ago but over the last few months discussions I could find with a "word" no longer show on the first page if at all.

What was the word you're thinking of?

commented: If the word comes back to me I'll be sure to tell you. For now it's lost to me as well as Google. +15

SEO is not dead, it's just changing. Sure, click-through rates are going down and Google keeps adjusting its algorithm but that's to be expected. Google has made it so you can easily target your ideal customer through SEO or paid ads. ... Instead, start adapting or your traffic and business will be dead.