When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of things that need to be looked at. Do you carefully choose your on-page content? Do you guest post? Do you share everything on social media or try content marketing? The typical answer is that you have to do all those things and more.

In fact, if you look at this infographic explaining nearly every ranking factor, you will see that the traditional approach is a many-pronged one.

A Better Way?

I felt that there had to be a better way. A simple shortcut that could be applied time after time to ensure SEO success. After all, there are thousands of books out there that promise to get your traffic up to thousands of views per day by following their blueprint.

So, considering that there was this wealth of information out there, I bought a few of the books for myself. What did I learn? That the secret to their success was simple – they wrote books. Now, while some of the advice that I gleaned was helpful, it wasn’t anything new.

They were simply rehashing everything that you have heard a thousand times before. Most of the tips were things that I’d already implemented. So, with that area of research relegated to the discard pile, I dived deeper online.

What Were Other Marketers Saying?

I looked at what other marketers viewed as most important in terms of SEO. Take a look at the graph from Marketing Chart below.  

Source: Marketing Charts

Is Social Media Marketing The Magic Ticket?

As you will see, the main SEO priority for most marketers was social media marketing. So, is social media marketing the way to SEO success? Is it the shortcut that we have been looking for? You would think that if it were, a lot more marketers would see it as a priority, wouldn’t you?

And while social media can undoubtedly drive traffic to your site, what do you post about? According to standard marketing practice, you need to follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to social media – only 20% of the posts could be sales related.

For the rest, you would need to provide great content that would be useful to your followers. You could curate content from around the web, but creating your content as a way of thought leadership is also an effective tool.

It’s so effective that it would be a waste to squander the opportunity. This means that social media is most effective when paired with a solid content marketing strategy.

So, Content Marketing Is The Key?

According to 15% of the respondents, it is a definite priority. And it is a tested strategy. Content marketing is valuable in a few different ways.

  • It offers a good branding exercise: It is one way to get the company’s name out there without it being an outright sales pitch.
  • It allows you to set yourself up as an expert: Create content that shows off your expertise in the field. That is going to help convince people to sign on with your brand.
  • You can use it as a thought leadership exercise: Let’s say that your company is selling a brand of software that could revolutionize the account payments industry. Before you can sell it, you need to convince people that the current systems are inadequate. Before you make a sales pitch, you can start introducing the idea that account payments should be a lot easier.

Content marketing is a useful tool. In fact, it is a tool that our friends writing the SEO blueprints guide also drew upon. And it can drive traffic to your site; there’s no question about that. Is it the key to SEO success?

Here we have a similar problem as we did with social media marketing. This is not a tactic that will work in isolation. You can publish content to your blog, write guests posts, etc. but you still have to do some work to promote the content.

In the blogosphere, there are literally millions of blogs. In fact, according to Statista, only Tumblr sat at 425.7 million of blogs in July this year.

On-Site Optimization

This was second on the list of the most highly-prioritized tasks. It makes sense – your website is what you want to be found, after all. In fact, if there were going to be a single hack for SEO, this would surely be it. In theory, you should be able to garner plenty of organic traffic if you get this right.

And in practice, once your site has been going for a while, you will certainly attract more organic traffic because it appears more credible. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Google looks at factors like bounce rates and the site visit duration as well.

So, in addition to the site being optimized, you need to make sure that the content there is top-notch as well. Again, this is old news, but you still need to include this in your content marketing strategy. What about posting thought leadership articles on your site as well?

The problem that I have with on-site optimization as a strategy is that you are putting all your eggs in one basket. What works for the search engines today might not do so well tomorrow.

Search engine rules change regularly so organic traffic is somewhat unpredictable. For the best results, you will need to partner this strategy with something like content marketing or social media marketing so you can have more control over your traffic.

Link Building

Interestingly enough, this is a strategy that all of those blueprint books mention. But if we look at the information collated above, this strategy was the least prioritized. Is this because it’s not worth the effort?

It has probably more to do with the fact that quality links are more difficult to come by. Search engines judge not only your site’s quality but also the quality of the sites that link to you. So whereas before quantity was more important, quality has now taken over.

I do think that we can all generally agree that link-building is a far cry from a standalone policy. It is a useful one for sure, but not one that can be relied on by itself to provide the boost in SEO that your business needs.

Local Search Optimization

This is something that has been a big buzzword in the industry for a few years now. As far as SEO techniques go, this can be important to focus on, especially initially. The holy grail here is to make it into the Google three-pack for maximum visibility.

But ranking well locally is a process that requires some ongoing commitment. It requires that you pull in a few different tactics together. For example, optimizing your Google My Business Page, getting client reviews online, and also ensuring that the language that you use is something the local people would use as well.

So, this is not a single strategy either. It ties what is essentially a type of social media marketing in GMB, on-page content, and a client engagement strategy.


So, as it turns out, there is no one single magic bullet answer when it comes to SEO. We all wish it was easier, but unfortunately, it really isn’t. You can either resort to hiring a professional SEO agency to devise a strategy for you, or take take a shot at it yourself. In that case, your best hope at doing well when it comes to SERP is to come up with a tailored, multi-prong approach. By following a multi-pronged approach, you are in a better position to weather any storms.

The traditionalists had it right all along – there really are no simple shortcuts in this area. The good news? If there is no set formula to cheat the system, then no one has an overwhelming advantage when it comes to ranking.

About the Author: Hristina Nikolovska is the Marketing Manager at SEO Tribunal, part of Tina’s daily engagements involve raising awareness of the importance of digital marketing when it comes to the success of small businesses. As her first step towards this journey was in the field of content marketing, she’s still using every opportunity she gets to put her thoughts into educational articles.