My first introduction to the practice of online marketing was through search engine optimization (SEO). I began my career as a SEO expert and did that for five years. It taught me the fundamental nature, and, more important, the feasibility, of return-on-investment (ROI) tracking and the get-stuff-done attitude that doesn’t wait for big-budget allocations to make things happen.
I learned about how the Web would change marketing from pushing, intrusive, interruptive, outbound practice to a user-driven, pulling, inbound process. I studied keyword lists to discern user intent and pored over analytics reports to ensure websites were filling user demands. I learned a lot from working in SEO; I owe my career to it.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that SEO as a distinct discipline is outdated. What we used to call link baiting is now simply the creation and promotion of good content that will naturally draw traffic and links. On-page optimization that used to be keyword density analysis and header tag tweaking has largely been outsmarted by the piles and piles of genius brains working at search engine companies. And spider friendliness issues have been all but entirely solved by modern content management systems—at least those worth paying for. Given my roots in SEO, I didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly. I have friends who still work in this field.
This chapter is composed of my research into the topology of the modern SEO field. The most important takeaway ...