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If you're not "living and breathing" search engine optimization, it can be easy to latch onto old SEO trends and metrics and focus obsessively on them, especially those few hot-button issues that get the most attention from the press or from your CEO.

It takes time and experience to stay on the cutting edge of SEO, and more than likely you don't have that kind of time, considering your other marketing efforts. So here's a quick update on what's hot and what's not in the world of search engine optimization.

What's hot:

  • Becoming a trusted contributor on social news/content sites like Digg, Propeller, Reddit, Mixx, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia, and Knol
  • Building your personal and professional network in online communities like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, MyBlogRoll, and the blogosphere in general, and then taking advantage of the residual network effect
  • Link baiting—posting humorous/fascinating/contentious/controversial content that is a magnet for links
  • Truly understanding and leveraging the power of "Long Tail" dynamics

What's not:

  • Obsessively watching search engine indexation numbers and rankings on trophy keywords (like the one you know the CEO always checks first thing in the morning)
  • Worrying yourself sick over duplicate-content penalties
  • Relying on XML sitemaps to fix your indexation problems
  • The old-fashioned link exchange

Speaking of what's hot, a new generation of SEO metrics exists so you can keep track of your progress once you've abandoned the old thinking and adopted more modern strategies. Gauging your success solely on your positions in the search engine results is old hat.

New SEO paradigms, such as the "Long Tail," universal search, and personalized search, call for new key performance indicators (KPIs).

In addressing "Long Tail SEO," consider the following KPIs:

Brand-to-Nonbrand Ratio

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image of Stephan Spencer

Stephan Spencer is the founder of Science of SEO and an SEO expert, author, and speaker.

LinkedIn: Stephan Spencer

Twitter: @sspencer