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That's sort of my point. I mean, getting links to your site isn't exactly a secret, this has been key since Google first came on the scene. Sure, it's hard work to have a reputable site and to promote it correctly, but it's not rocket science. In fact, it's pretty typical common sense.

I get the point about duplicate content, that's something I had heard but not really delved into because, well, decent architecture usually means not having that sort of stuff around.

The more I hear SEO "experts" go on about things, the more I think it's a bit of a scam. Scam is probably the wrong word, as I'm sure many SEO people are well meaning, but the more I look the more it all seems like snake oil.

I think what you're getting at is that the majority of SEO is pretty straightforward - I know what you mean about rarely discovering something new from SEO sites. The final x% is a bit more challenging.

At one point I put together a pretty basic site with one backlink and barely any attention to content and accidentally ranked #1 in Australia for "make money". One particular page on that site is four paragraphs I threw together and it's made $24k in four years for no effort since. I've had a few other events along those lines too, mostly leveraging the past property I built up and using that as a backlink.

You might be looking at the wrong places or listening to the wrong people...

There are plenty of great search resources out there. I would suggest to start at http://searchengineland.com to get a better sense of the landscape, especially everything Danny Sullivan writes

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