I was recently asked to answer questions on the state of SEO and evolution of the industry. Answering questions like these can be a useful exercise. How do these ideas compare with your own? I'd encourage you to take the time to answer these types of questions every now and then.
This is obviously something that needs to be continually re-evaluated. It can be challenging to keep pace with the search industry, especially Google. (We love ya' Bing!)
What is your perspective on the state of SEO?
Today, SEO is more about users than it is about machines. It's more about visitors than robots (pro tip: it always has been). One of the errors companies and websites have made over the last several years is to put SEO above their users, their differentiators, and their real value and contributions online. At RKG, our approach to SEO can be summed up with these principles:
- First, make the best user experience possible. Contribute real value. Be compelling. Engage users.
- Then, maximize with SEO.
SEO makes a poor business model. But with the right business model, SEO can be a rocket ship and is truly one of the most efficient and cost-effective channels that exist in marketing today.
What are your SEO strategies and tactics?
Our SEO process follows crawl, index, rank
Our strategies and tactics depend greatly upon the site and industry, but generally focus on four primary concepts:
- The crawl experience: technical SEO
- Indexation: maximizing, controlling and optimizing what URLs are included in the indexes
- SERP visibility: how highly URLs rank, especially in comparison to competitors and for important keyword categories
- Off-page signals: quality is generally more important than quantity when it comes to link building, but specific strategies and tactics vary. Social media and AuthorRank are increasingly becoming strong off-page validation signals as well.
Within these conceptual areas, SEO teams must develop content strategies, work with public relations teams, social media teams, development teams, user experience teams... you get the idea. Mobile, microformats, pagination, faceted navigation, internal linking, the list of specific tactics is long. There is much more to SEO than these four bullet points; they are meant to be concepts.
The paradox of SEO is such that, while SEO is more about users than it is about machines, technical SEO remains a deeply important area of the work.
SEO is complex. RKG's example set of technical SEO factors.
What do you believe are the biggest threats to organic traffic growth?
The biggest threat to lack of SEO growth is lack of SEO implementation. Time and again, when we see companies fall short in their SEO programs it's because the SEO programs have not been given sufficient resources. It comes down to this: get things done. Recommendations are worthless without action.
How do you envision your SEO services/tactics evolving over the next 2-3 years?
Our SEO strategies are constantly evolving. The industry and search engines change almost daily, so evolution and adaptation is the rule, not the exception. There is nothing stable in SEO. That said, the concepts that have been tried and proven since Google came into existence still matter most: content is king, users are king, quality SEO is the only sustainable strategy, and buying links and using trickery and shortcuts introduce excessive risk and have short-term, unsustainable value. We do not take shortcuts. We invest in long-term strategies that keep our clients sheltered from unnecessary risk.
Let me go ahead and jump off this soapbox now...