Global Demand for SEO is Exploding

According to an article recently published at MediaPost.com, companies will be spending $65 Billion on SEO in 2016. This is up 300% from 2008! To put a twist on Mark Twain – the news of SEO’s death has been greatly exaggerated. As professional SEOs, we are in a massive growth industry with tremendous income and career opportunities. This is true whether we are working for an agency, a Fortune 500 company, or as a sole practitioner. I’ve always defined success as preparation meeting opportunity. On that note, here’s the $65 Billion question:  What are you doing to get your piece of the Search Engine Optimization Pie?

1. Decide that Being a Good SEO Isn’t Good Enough

Simply put, if you decide to be the best, you will move heaven and earth to do it.

2. Decide What You Want to be When You “Grow Up”

There are so many aspects to SEO, and it’s a difficult feat to be expert at all of them. Whether it’s Technical SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, Social Media, or Content Marketing, pick something that you enjoy and that matches your skill set and become an expert. Then, you can expand your base.

More importantly, write down your career goals, and build a plan on how to get there, including a timeline.

3. Make a Commitment to Learning

My mother, the 5th grade English Teacher, drilled into my head: “Those who don’t read are no better off than those who can’t.” Everything you need to know to become a world class SEO is somewhere on the Web. Set aside at least an hour a day reading blogs and watching Youtube Videos to perfect your craft.

4. Try to Think Like a Search Engine

Understanding how search engines work is the first step on the path to enlightenment. (That’s really corny). Dig into the inner workings of Google and Bing, and learn where SEO is going. Don’t just optimize for the present. Optimize for the future.

5. Don’t Believe Anything You Read

There’s a lot of SEO Snake Oil being sold out there. If you find something exciting, try and find corroborating evidence before you jump in. Go beyond the “what” and find the “why”.

You also need to make sure that your information is current. Check the publish date. Don’t put much stock in anything older than 18 months.

6. Read and Learn the Top Annual SEO Correlation Studies

The annual SearchMetrics Ranking Factors Reports have nuggets of pure gold backed up by solid data. Also bone up on Moz’s Search Ranking Factors. Moz publishes correlation studies (Global and Local SEO) similar to SearchMetrics as well as an expert survey.

While you’re at it, read the Google Quality Raters Guidelines. Google has thousands of employees globally that spend their time surfing the web and rating websites. This document gives raters the guidelines for ranking your site. The rater data feeds back into the algorithm. See the Web through Google’s eyes.

7. Understand the Difference Between Correlation and Causality

Correlation is when the results of 2 events appear to be synchronized. For example, SearchMetrics found that high ranking pages had a lot of social shares. From the data, it would be wrong to conclude that social shares increase rankings. What if top ranking pages naturally get a lot of social shares?

You would need data to prove that Social Shares=>Top Rankings and not the other way around before you dive into a social media blitz.

8. Know the SEO Authorities You Can Trust

As stated earlier, there’s a lot of SEO Snake Oil being sold, and it’s advisable to be skeptical even with the top industry authorities. Even the legendary Rand Fishkin has been off base once or twice. It’s the nature of SEO – we are working with incomplete information. You need to decide for yourself whom your credible SEO resources are going to be. Here are a few of mine in no particular order:

  • Josh Bachynski
  • Bill Slawski
  • Rand Fishkin
  • John Mueller
  • Bruce Clay
  • Neil Patel

That being said, I’ve gotten some really solid strategies from relatively obscure sources. I just made sure to research the hell out of them before I made a commitment to implementation.

A while back, I spent some time reverse engineering bruceclay.com. I may have learned more from that exercise than anything I’ve done in a while.

10. Build and Protect Your Personal Brand

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it…

You may be an SEO rockstar, but if nobody know about it, how do you advance?

Whether you are working for yourself or for a large company, build your brand through Blogging, Social Media, etc.  I really struggled with this one. I value my privacy, I’m suspicious of big government, and I like to live “off the grid”.  Call me a late bloomer.

There’s been plenty written on how to create an on-line presence.

Just as important, protect your brand. Don’t get into flame wars, and don’t do anything stupid. Before you post anything controversial, sleep on it before you click that mouse.