Posted by randfish
With all of these changes, what's really to be expected from an SEO? What should you consider part of your day-to-day job? In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand digs into the ever-changing duties of an SEO in today's fast-paced, volatile world. Enjoy!
"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, as you can see, I am doing Movember. Hence, I've got my sideburns separated from my chops and no chin on my beard and all these kinds of things. I took the technical rules of Movember and tried to play them out. Hopefully, I think our team is going to raise something like $5,000 here at Moz for Movember, so I'm excited about that. Justin Vanning has been leading the effort from our marketing team. It's very cool stuff.
This week I want to talk a little bit actually about the job of an SEO. This is an interesting one, because what's going on is I see in the field this conflict, conflict between practitioners of SEO and people who are outside of the industry and inside of it discussing: Well, where should the SEO's job end? Which tasks should not be part of SEO? Which tasks should be part of SEO. What do we really have the ability to influence? hat should we be hands-off of? When does SEO lose its meaning if it gets too involved with other tasks in the business? Those kinds of things.
I want to provide my personal perspective. This is not the kind of Whiteboard Friday where I'm saying this is how things are, and this is the truth and you should only listen to me. Of course, no Whiteboard Friday should ever be like that. These are all just my opinions, but this one is special. This is my personal opinion on what the job of an SEO really should be about.
I actually want to step back. I don't want to create a big list. What I want to do is provide a framework, because I think that anyone's job, no matter what your position, is about being effective at accomplishing your goals. I don't care whether being effective at accomplishing your goals means that you are touching on principles and ideas and jobs outside of a classic job description. I think the whole idea behind what makes companies effective, what makes people effective is when they remove those boundaries, those artificial boundaries that hold us back and do what they're supposed to do to get the job done.
So I want you to start by asking: What are the marketing goals? Let me give you a couple examples.
Let's say that you are trying to market a recipe site and a specialty food site on the Web. Your marketing goals are: We want to bring in people who are interested in food. We want to build up our brand through our content, through our recipes. We want to establish a reputation. We'd also like to get direct customers who are going to be buying our specialty food product. We want to get chefs interested and influencers interested. We want to get the press interested. So our marketing goals are fairly broad.
You might also be working on the type of campaign that's much, much more narrow. For example, you might be hired as an SEO or you might be part of an SEO on an in-house team who's job is, essentially, well there's not a lot of search demand for the product we make. One of my favorite Christmas presents, Hanukkah presents this year is going to be the Sphero, which is by another foundry company. It's an adorable little ball that you can put on the floor and then you can control it. I have an app on my phone where I can control the Sphero and steer it around and play all these little games with it. It's super cool. It's a mechanized ball. You can watch a video of President Obama actually playing with one in Colorado when he visited.
Super cool, but nobody searches for "little electronic ball that I control with my phone." This just does not get search volume, despite maybe Sphero wishing that it did. But there might be lots of other interesting things that they could rank for. Really, their goal is not this broad expansion and this content strategy. It's just about getting people to the site who might potentially buy. They might be trying to rank for things like gifts for geeks and these types of things. They're obviously trying to control their brand and reputation and build up some press around themselves. Their SEO efforts are going to be much, much more narrowly focused, which is fine.
You should know the goals of your marketing campaign first. Then ask: How can search traffic and rankings help achieve them? How can the stuff from here, the things that happen inside of Google and Bing search results, inside of search results on other platforms, maybe you are doing SEO on Kayak or on the App Store or in Craigslist, wherever you are doing sort of search engine optimization, you want to figure out how do the search rankings actually affect and achieve the marketing goals, rather than just trying to get traffic. Everybody's trying to get traffic. We want to rank for things. Why?
Good. Now we know how search affects that. Then, we're going to figure out what inputs affect the success of your SEO, that particular campaign's SEO?
In the example of Sphero, it might be a, "Well, hey, we're trying to get more press, so we need more reporters and journalists to be coming to the site. Therefore, we need to make sure that anyone who types in any spelling of Sphero, misspelling of Sphero, anyone who searches for anything around us, or they think they're looking for us, anyone who's searching for geek gifts, or is searching for new electronics, that we're getting coverage in places like Engadget or a Techmeme or a TechCrunch, or those kinds of things, that we're reaching these influencers. Therefore, it's a little less about the direct search engine rankings for related stuff.
For the food folks, for the specialty food store, the metrics are a lot of the classic ones that we think about. It's rankings for recipe searches. It's rankings for food searches. It's rankings for the names of the particular products, all that kind of stuff, the generic search names as well as the brand stuff. From this, we can then derive the list of what should be included in the SEO's job.
The SEO's job, in my opinion, should have no boundaries other than what are the things that positively influence this cycle. What are the things that will help you achieve your goals? I don't care if someone says, "Well, UI/UX, that is completely outside the realm of SEO. Usability, that's outside the realm. Web page speed, page load speed, that stuff is in the department of software engineering and of web development. That's not an SEO's job."
Screw that. No, it is the SEO's job. If it positively impacts this process, it is now part of our jobs. Whether you get to have direct impact on that or whether it's indirect impact and you have to work with other people across teams, which is why companies exist, so that people can work across teams, then those should be the things on your list. If UI/UX is holding back the achievement of the marketing goals and the search rankings that can help get you there, then you need to work on that. Same story with speed. Same story with accessibility or responsive design, with content strategy, with branding, with press and PR, public relations. Maybe you are just doing classic SEO, the keywords and links and URLs, and these types of things and hundreds of other things.
It can include whatever it needs to include. I want to urge folks, because I feel so strongly about this, that the job of an SEO cannot be limited to what external people have put on the idea of what we think SEO is. What our job is, is to positively impact the items that are going to influence our goals. If we have to do things that are outside of the classic SEO job description to achieve a goal, we do it. That's what makes a great SEO, in my opinion. That's what makes a great professional in any field, someone who accomplishes the goals, not someone who checks off a task list.
All right. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We will see you again next week. Take care."
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