Monthly Archives: January 2009

SEO is dead – if you give up

Over the past 2 years I’ve read countless articles and posts about how SEO is dead. Let me tell you, it’s very much alive and kicking. If you want to think that it’s dead, go right ahead and move on to do something else. Because that’s a defeatist attitude and you’re obviously on the verge of giving up.

I’ve been with my current employer for about 18 months now and since then I’ve done a lot of work to improve things in various areas. On one of our sites I’ve grown traffic approx 6 times. I’m not talking from 10 to 60 visitors a month, I’m talking in the scale of millions of visitors a month.

This is with whitehat, search engine friendly, long term, futureproof SEO techniques.

I can’t spell out everything I did, but I can tell you that what I did was pay attention to the direction of where the search engines strive to be. I went to conferences and heard first hand about the goals of the search engines and tried to look at the site through their eyes.

I worked closely with my development team, as well as managers and content people to ensure that they understood the big picture. Through educating my team members and showing results, I gained their trust and respect and because of that, the SEO function has now become an integral and top of mind consideration for almost everything we want to publish.

Next I worked with the development team to obtain some key reporting tools and custom reports from Omniture which let me analyze certain trends and statistics. By paying close attention to detail, I often uncovered problems which were most oftentimes quick and easy fixes. More importantly I also was able to discover areas of opportunity and put plans in place to exploit them.

Traffic is no where near peak, we still have a long way to go and are forging ahead with some great new site features and plans for content. The budget for 2009 is showing that organic search engine traffic is set to continue to grow to new record levels.

The other thing that’s surprising about this issue is that most often the issue of knowledge and analytical skills that most SEOs possess are completely overlooked. How many times on various forums do you see site owners panicking about lost rankings/traffic/pagerank, etc. When something goes wrong with a site, who do they turn to? SEOs, yeah, we’re also detectives.

But we’re also consultants. The other type of questions that are commonly overlooked are the ones about site redesigns. The site owner is on to a good thing but needs to freshen up their site. SEO consultants (external or internal) are the people who can guide a site redesign to ensure minimal loss in rankings/traffic. I just completed this process for one for one of our big sites. We radically redesigned our main product page, adding a lot of extra functionality and changing the page layout. It was a process which was quite involved and required 3 or 4 iterations before I gave it the green light for launch, but had I not worked on that project, site traffic would have tanked almost immediately, then the typical mad panic would have set in and then all kinds of rash decisions would have been made.

So when I sit back and think about the people that are blogging and writing about how “SEO is dead”, I can’t help but wonder if these people are actually doing any serious SEO, working hard at it and paying attention to detail.

As one of my college professors once told me: “Work hard, play hard”

Google PageRank Definition Pet Peeve

For some reason it really grates me when I read people’s definition of PageRank being “the quantity and quality of inbound links”. To me, “quality” is fairly subjective and doesn’t really accurately describe it. I prefer to use “value” instead of “quality” since PR is just a numerical value. See, there’s that word again, value.

The PageRank value assigned to a URL is just the result of a numerical calculation. A higher value does not necessarily signify importance or quality. It just means that it has a large amount of PageRank being passed to it. This could be from one high value link, or multiple low value links. Google uses other means to determine relevance, quality, importance, spam, trust, etc.

What do you think?