Five Strategic Steps for the Modern SEO

In the course of judging the SEMMYs, one of the great posts I read was The SEO Playbook – Welcome to the Rabbit Hole Alice by Stuntdubl (aka Todd Malicoat). It’s a great post because it helps outline how SEO is expanding in it’s scope. There are those that might suggest that SEO shops are losing their value (thanks to Kevin Heisler for pointing this out).

It’s all really a matter of definition. If by SEO you mean twiddling metatags, doing keyword research, and fussing with title tags and on page content tweaks, yes I agree that this will lose its value over time. However, I predict that this will happen MUCH more slowly than people think. We just published an SEO case study that showed a 4.5 X gain in search traffic for a site primarily based on “technical SEO”. Think people will pay for that? Ayuh (Mike G, if you read this, that’s a technical American English term, you know, the real English, meaning “Yes”).

In addition, as a crusty old veteran I have seen this story many times. The first time was when I was told that Fortran would disappear as a language. After I first heard that it took a decade before it really fell off as a programming language at all. And let me tell you something, these are MILLIONS of Fortran programs still in use in corporate America today (and COBOL programs too). People who know how to program Fortran or COBOL get paid BIG bucks.

Nonetheless, there is much more to SEO than just the traditional technical SEO tasks. Top tier SEOs know that you need to address the content of the site and the promotion of the site. In fact, this is a major strategic role for the SEO, and here are the major components:

  1. Determine where the opportunities are for promoting the business of the site, and size all of these opportunities
  2. Evaluate the current site content quality – would someone link to it?
  3. Find out what the client is willing to invest in content development
  4. Determine if there are any “brand” related restrictions (e.g. the company does not want to produce videos that poke fun at the use of their products)
  5. With these points in mind, decide where future content development resources will be invested

This whole process involves seeing the bigger market picture and is the type of discussion that inherently involves the CMO/VP of Marketing, and in some companies, the CEO. This is not twiddling a few bits in a dark corner of the back room. It is driving the process of determining the entire strategy for the web site.

So I know that Mike knows everything I have said here, and his article was really pointed at pure technical SEO shops. Yes, those will fade in value. Want to make sure that your SEO shop does not lose value over time? Then expand your role. Become the strategic visionary for your client’s web sites.


  1. says

    I like #5 in particular. The future of SEO may very well be the dawn of the first C-level copy writing position. The art and science will continue to battle and at the next level, the dream teamers will be the ones adept enough to write for both man and machine. Any screenwriters out there looking for a plot for Terminator 4?

  2. says

    Agreed completely Eric. In fact, with the move of Yahoo this month to incorporate Delicious into its search results, and the possibility of ultimately interpreting that information derived from social media as word-of-mouth references amongst friends … many social media sites are likely to become an integral part of seo of the future.

    Think of it for a second; word of mouth incorporated into search results, and the results reordered according to the recommendations of friends. This is the ideal since WOM accounts more for our purchase decisions than does any other variable.

    All that to say … SEO is definitely expanding in scope!

  3. says

    FYI – I can assure you that Walmart’s service won’t even cover basic technical SEO, let alone the points discussed above.

  4. says

    Great points Eric:

    I am in favor of SEO being seen as much more than the old on page tweaks, tips and tactics.

    I agree, it really boils down to having a solid content development strategy that coincides with the real goal of the brand (more targeted traffic, more conversion, more readership, etc.)

    SEO is only starting to show it true potential as it embraces, advertising, content and promotion as opposed to just ranking higher in search engines.

    If the content is weak, what is the point of having that as your doormat to new clients? unless you want to encourage higher bounce rates, that is.

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