Active vs. Passive SEO: Seth Godin

Ian Lurie

Seth Godin - SEO: Active vs. Passive
Seth Godin has a post on his blog about active versus passive search engine optimization. In a nutshell, he says passive SEO is about tweaking your own web site for better rankings. Active SEO, he goes on, is about building other sites or build links, etc. to generate more traffic.

I divide it up differently. SEO is comprised of:

Creative: Editing or developing content and then leveraging that content for better rankings. You might do that by adding an article to your site, or by getting an article published on another site with a link back to you, or by adding that article to a secondary site you’ve built as an ‘authority’ site to drive traffic back to the primary one.


Technical: Modifying the HTML code, and often the underlying database-driven application that generates that code, to build the most SEO-friendly site possible.
I’m not sure it’s just about where you work (your site or another site). It’s more about the type of work required…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. Good point!
    Active/passive, or on-page and off-page, or creative/technical are all useful as a framework for getting started, but at the end of the day, it’s all about quality content, relevance, and giving the search engines what they want.
    Sadly, THAT in itself is a continually shifting landscape in which to operate, especially if you get too far into the technical side. Thus, I come back to content, content, and content as the best “insurance” policy for SEO.
    — David

  2. 100% agree. SEO used to be very technical, but now I think we’re seeing just how much it resembles traditional marketing and PR. I, as with the previous commenter, tend to refer to them as on-page and off-page. The off-page isn’t really just “SEO” – its online marketing. Those links help bring traffic, awareness, etc. in addition to search rankings. Looking at creative ways to increase your exposure as just being SEO would be too narrow a view IMO.

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay