10 Differences Between a Good vs. Bad SEO

If you’ve ever been a part of any online SEO community, you’ll most likely notice a pattern of threads that are posted quite frequently. It doesn’t matter if it’s Reddit/r/SEO, DigitalPoint, SEO Chat or any other forum – there is almost always the same combination of complaints, questions, theories, emotions and sentiment toward the philosophy & process of search engine optimization, which can lead to division and frustration. This happens so often, in fact, that it inspired an internal inquest about what would distinguish a good SEO from a bad SEO.

Now, while “good” and “bad” could be a matter of perspective, this guide (we believe) is a valid point of reference for anyone who could be falling into the trap of doing bad SEO. There are at least 10 points of difference we have gathered from our research into these communities that separate the good from the bad.

Let’s see what they are!

Bad SEOs complain about search engines not punishing their competition for questionable promotion strategies.
Good SEOs realize search engines are continuously working on improving their results and will eventually reward them for their adherence to the webmaster guidelines.
Bad SEOs develop their sites for search engines.
Good SEOs develop their sites for users.
Bad SEOs expect to see rankings immediately.
Good SEOs accept the fact that SEO is a long-term strategy which will take a significant amount of time to develop and ongoing effort to remain competitive.
Bad SEOs are always looking for the next link scheme.
Good SEOs focus on creating great content and building an audience to leverage their link building efforts.
Bad SEOs obsess over vanity metrics like word count, domain age, text formatting, crawl rate etc.
Good SEOs concentrate on delivering value for their visitors and don't stress over trivial data points.
Bad SEOs panic when their rankings fluctuate.
Good SEOs recognize ranking fluctuations happen quite often and are a result of competing with others for visibility, search engines altering their algorithms, robots crawling sites at different intervals and a host of other miscellaneous reasons.
Bad SEOs look to 'gurus' for advice and guidance.
Good SEOs understand 'gurus' have limited knowledge, don't always have your best interest in mind and the ideal way to learn SEO is to experiment with your own website.
Bad SEOs worry about search engine algorithm updates.
Good SEOs interpret each major algorithmic update as a step forward for the internet and the industry. If they are doing everything as they should, there is never any reason to worry about them.
Bad SEOs don't want to waste money on SEO resources.
Good SEOs invest in themselves at any opportunity in order to learn and increase their value as a person and as a member of their organization.
Bad SEOs only care about ranking #1 for their target terms.
Good SEOs want to create a real company that will serve them, their colleagues and their customers for a very long time to come.

Wouldn’t it be easier for SEOs if there was a simple axiom to which we could adhere to? An approach we can take to ensure we’re doing the right thing and not getting caught up in the constant minutiae of digital marketing fluff and filler?

Well, in the same spirit of RCS (Real Company Shit), a term coined by Wil Reynolds over at SEER Interactive – we would like to take this opportunity to present our own term – one we have adopted and propose all SEOs do so as well: JMACS.

Just Make A Cool Site.

When we say a “cool” site, we mean a site that delivers extreme levels of value – a site that matches the intent of the user with great accuracy – a site that satisfies the users request and then some.

Succinctly, a site that is worthy of ranking at the top.

It’s a simple idea, but not necessarily an easy one to execute. If it was easy, all SEOs would just do it without any complaints and speculations.

We SEOs seem to always want the quick hack that will shoot us up in the ranks, negating the question as to whether we even deserve to be there in the first place.

Just Make A Cool Site.

Would it not be better to earn your way into the SERPs, confirming to yourself (and the world) that you actually deserve to be there?

Inherently, we already know that delivering the most amount of value to the greatest number of people is what will help you stand out from the competition. We don’t want to do it though, because it requires a lot of hard work and even more patience than we’d like to bear. But it is the most proven way, the most effective way, and the most sustainable way.

Just Make A Cool Site.

Yes, there are many tips and tricks we can take advantage of in order to maximize our SEO efforts. But those are only a supplement to the work you are doing – not a replacement.

The golden rule of SEO has always been to make a website for users, not search engines. This message isn’t new, but we find it imperative now more than ever to reiterate it in a new way in order to potentially reach more people.

By adopting this mentality and methodology, we can weed out the low quality junk out there and make the internet a much better place — one site at a time.

About the author


Sebastian is a veteran digital marketing expert with 23+ years of experience across hundreds of brands, and curates a weekly marketing newsletter.