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SEO Consulting in 2013: What the Pros Know that You Don’t

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Warden. – Enjoy!

SEO

photo credit: SEOPlanter via photopin cc

SEO is changing, and for the most part, the life of an SEO consultant is getting better. Gone are the days of open keyword data and mass link buying, but we’ve been lucky to gain a few things too. Most notably, we’ve gained the ability to justify the cost of good SEO and shown that a good SEO consultant is worth the additional expense in easy to understand terms and ideas such as ROI and lifetime value.

As in all walks of life, it seems that the pros are always one step ahead of the amateurs and the hobbyists. What separates the pros from the amateurs in 2013 isn’t going to be a self-proclaimed “expert” title in their bio on LinkedIn. In 2013 it’s all about strong content and quantitative analysis to determine what’s effective and what isn’t.

Here’s what’s really important in 2013, and beyond.

Content is king. Really, we mean it this time.

Google has been telling us for years that content was king. Somewhere deep down inside, I think they really meant it.

SEO experts knew that content was important, but the only benefit to good content over bad content was the potential to get it shared, thus building more links in the process. Other than that, content was content. If it were indeed king, it was the king of a place we’ve never heard of.

Now, Google has shown the world that it means business. The “new” search results are going to favor brands – whether personal or corporate – to low-quality, niche-specific, here today gone tomorrow websites or those that just build massive amounts of low-quality content (I’m looking at you eHow) in order to spam the search listings with as many of their indexed pages as possible.

Maybe content was king all along, and Google just found the right algorithm change to weed out most of the bad content by sending it to the depths of the search results. Or maybe Google held on to the idea for far too long that links were absolutely the most important tool in SEO; even though what they really wanted was good and relevant content, even though they didn’t have a quantitative way to measure what good content and bad content looked like (other than human review). We’ll never know.

What we do know is that bad content is a thing of the past, at least if you plan to build a site that generates a decent amount of organic search engine traffic.

Backlinks are losing ground to stronger rankings metrics.

Backlinks are still the most important metric when it comes to ranking a site, but they’re quickly losing ground to other – more modern – metrics such as social indicators, citations, and instances of co-occurrence. In short, SEO is becoming more and more similar to PR every day.

Pro tip: If you’re a PR guy (or girl) it might be time to add a bit of SEO knowledge to your repertoire before you’re completely obsolete.

Content doesn’t mean blogging (necessarily).

Every SEO consultant or person who happens to rely on content in order to drive traffic, leads or sales dies a little inside when we talk about content with clients only to hear about how they’re “already blogging.”

Content is writing. Content is also video, podcasting, design (infographics, presentations, etc.), and social media posting. There are quite literally dozens of ways to produce content and writing it in  a blog is certainly not the only way. Depending on your business, it might not even be the most effective way.

In essence, content is a way to express thoughts or ideas to other people. Writing is but one of may forms of content, and it is certainly something you should educate your clients to understand.

Integrated strategies are the new one trick pony.

In the last few years, the Internet marketing community has grown very segmented. With the rise of segmentation within our industry, we’ve come to rely on several one trick ponies – or people who specialize in just one thing – to get the job done.

The future is made for the strong generalist within all of us. SEO in general is switching from building backlinks, analyzing keywords and optimizing pages to an all-encompassing medium focused on everything from social media strategy to content production.

SEO consultants of the future don’t necessarily have to be good at everything, but they certainly need to be aware that SEO is more than linking and optimization, which is largely what the past generation of SEO revolved around. The good SEOs of the future understand that SEO is a mix of research, optimization, link & citation building, content production, social media and data mining. SEO can’t stand on its own anymore. To succeed in the future, you have to understand the importance of integrated marketing strategies and how to implement them for your clients.

There’s no better time to be (or hire) a great writer.

Anyone who calls himself an SEO consultant – or SEO expert – knows 2013 is the year of the writer, thus making it the year of content. We’ve been building to this point for quite some time, but the time has finally arrived where the best writers – or those that know how to find and retain the best writers – are going to leap frog over the outsourced link builders and the automated software. In short, this is the year the SEO consultant that plays by the rules is really going to shine.

For the first time in the history of search engines, we’re starting to see sites with established and authoritative writers ranked better than those that aren’t as high on the food chain. For example, Rand Fishkin is always going to have better ranking content on the subject of SEO than me, no matter how good I am at SEO. The reason for this is due to the perceived authority (deservedly so) that Rand has achieved within the SEO community.

The same goes for your business, or your clients. Better writers are beginning to show greater returns on investment than the $25 articles from no-name writers we’ve been purchasing from freelancers for the last decade.

It’s time to really dive in and learn all you can about producing great content, or to find someone who can. Good content runs in the range from $75 – $350+ for a blog post, but those that are producing the best content are those that are going to be rewarded with the links, shares, and recognition within the industry.

Cheap content is dead and gone.

There is no more room for shortcuts.

Automation software and overseas employees used to rule the SEO game.

Those days are gone. SEO is now an art form that needs micro managing and near constant supervision.

When your clients ask, can you tell them with 100-percent confidence that nothing is going on that is going to get them penalized by Google? Of course you can’t. And if you can’t be sure that you are providing value to your clients, you shouldn’t be in this business in the first place.

Conclusion

Good SEO consultants are constantly on top of the changes that happen (seemingly daily) within the industry. The main thing that separates a good SEO from a bad one is education. Educate yourself, and stay on top of trends in order to provide your client with the most bang for their buck and you’ll stay relevant no matter what changes the SEO world faces in the future.

Warden_HeadShotChris Warden is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO. Starting his entrepreneurial career at age 19, he has performed in numerous capacities owning and managing both offline and online companies. Chris now serves as CEO of Spread Effect, a leading content marketing and publishing company. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and often writes on topics of content marketing, SEO, and business development. He’s passionate about building and mentoring world-class teams and loves to chat with like-minded individuals. You can connect with Chris via Linkedin, Twitter – @ChrisWarden_SE, or Google+.

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