If you could only memorize one thing about SEO, memorize this…

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLEA lot of digital agencies have their very own catchphrase or ‘summary statement’ for SEO. The usual suspects involve anything from the old standby ‘quality content,’ to ‘value-added online branding’ to ‘relationship-based SEO’ to the ever-so-catchy and trendy ‘growth hacking.’ While there is a lot of value to these concepts, they tend to nip at the edges of the core fundamental of earning backlinks in the Age of Penguins, Pandas, and Hummingbirds. Make no mistake about it, if you want your backlink generation strategy to gain traction in this stage of SEO evolution, you need to focus on this key concept: The best SEO involves getting links few other people can get. Everything else, content quality, growth hacking, and relationships flow to and flow from this concept.

Exclusivity is the name of the game

Thanks to the pressure Penguin has placed on traditional, and easier ways, of building backlinks, your brand has to have as exclusive of a backlink footprint as possible. Why? Exclusivity implies quality and competitive advantage. If you can habitually get backlinks from places that are very stingy backlink sources like NBC or have high editorial standards like Forbes or Business Insider, you are leaving your competition in the dust. They are left with the tired old link generation tricks of the past. Sadly for them, old style SEO practices that involve simply filling out an online form and getting a link might cause more problems than they solved. Simply put, Penguin has hammered the nails into the coffin of this style of SEO. You are definitely taking a massive risk with the ranking health of your website by engaging in these link building activities.

SEO after Penguin

Real SEO, after Penguin, is all about earning links. This means getting the attention of sites with tight editorial controls and building credibility and authority with them over a longer period of time. Then, and only then, might you earn backlinks. However, given the quality of these sources, the time you spent waiting and working is time well spent. This is why real SEO will be labor intensive and most importantly credibility-intensive. This process can’t be reduced to simple guest posts or blog roundups or link directory placements or bookmarks or other spammy techniques. This will involve time, filtering, long term effort, and high quality placements. This means being very serious about return on effort. Pick your targets very carefully. Exclusivity is the name of the game and it is definitely worth your time, effort, focus, and attention.