In “Mary Poppins,” it took months for the weather vane to change directions, indicating that it was time for the practically perfect nanny to look for a new assignment.   In real life, online entrepreneurs face changes so rapid it makes their heads spin.

But owners and consultants with a decade or more of experience also know that many basic principles remain unchanged.  Success, they say, lies in both joining the revolution and staying true to proven strategies.

Press Releases and Link Building

As recently as June 2013, press releases were touted as a good link building strategy, something online retailers could rely on in the wake of Google’s May Penguin 2.0 update that penalized 2.3 percent  of English U.S. queries.

But weeks later, on  July 30, Search Engine Journal reported that press releases should not be used to build backlinks.  Google, they said,  considered press releases containing do-follow links — the kind of links that Google recognizes as authoritative — to be a link-building scheme.

This means that press releases produced purely for the purpose of back links are no longer useful.  Press releases, which can cost several hundred dollars to distribute online, are a waste of a website owner’s money if used as a link-stuffing device.   They could prove even more expensive  if they result in penalties for the website owners who use them.

But the old-fashioned purpose of press releases — to generate media attention — remains valid.

Hard Work:  A Business Constant

Another traditional business practice — hard work — remains as necessary as ever, says Sean Rollinson, marketing manager of, an online travel services company.  Rollinson, like many online business owners, has struggled to adjust to changes in his industry.  What remains unchanged is the “time, dedication and long hours” necessary for success.

“Running a business is always challenging and requires constant adaptation, especially in the online environment,” Rollinson said in an interview.  “It’s a constant evolution and, if you’re not moving forward, you are moving backwards.  There is always someone else trying to do better than you and if you are not doing the same, then you are moving backwards.”

What’s Good for the Customer is Good for Business

Gordon Simmons, a consultant for Business Web Strategies, says his 30 years of experience in customer service have helped him bridge the need for change and the need to uphold business practices that will never go out of style.

Simmons had barely completed a webinar this summer about new link-building strategies before he questioned whether the advice he’d received remained useful.   How many old-school SEO techniques, he wondered, remained valid?  Ultimately, he looked to his customer service background to help him weigh good and bad link-building practices.  What was good for the customer — relevant links that helped them — was good for his business.

“The mechanics of SEO have changed over the years,” Simmons said in an interview.  “Social media engagement used to be a strategy separate from SEO, but now social is an inseparable part of overall SEO strategy. What has stayed the same, or maybe come full circle is the emphasis on good old customer service.  So customer acquisition techniques evolve over time, but the need to wow your customer to keep her attention is still as important as ever.”