Advanced SEO – What Defines SEO “Expert” ?

by seoibiza on 7, December, 2010

A great post from Dr Pete on the SEOMoz blog on “Advanced SEO” that we feel bears further discussion here. We’ll quote bits by bit, then add our “opinions” to it, and then outrank them for their terms as always ;)

So What does differentiate expert SEO services from the rest?

This is a bit like saying

“what differentiates an authorized BMW service engineer in his place of work,  from a DIYer in his garage at home? “

Without meaning to sound condescending,  professional SEOs, ie those who make their primary living from working on other people’s sites or their own, and lots of them, for many years, (i.e. implying success and happy customers)  are likely to (and should) be at a whole different level of appreciation of the art than people with less experience. Over to Moz.

Dr. Pete What Is “Advanced” SEO?

November 23rd, 2010 – Posted by Dr. Pete

The problem is that “advanced” means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some of those meanings are useful and can inform our future efforts, but some are closer to myth than reality.

1. “Advanced” Means Secrets

Let’s start with one that’s closer to myth. To some, especially people who are new to SEO, “advanced” means giving away the secret sauce. They naturally assume that we SEOs are saving the best stuff for ourselves or will only part with it if the price is right. Unfortunately, the snake-oil side of the industry does its best to perpetuate that myth.

SEO Ibiza comment

Agreed there are elements who try to make out there is special magic available, deals with Google and the like, but there are also advanced techniques and approaches we have developed from years of experience with various clients, and which we are confident is not written about extensively on the web, nor practiced by (m)any of our (client’s) competition.  We are also confident there are others in the same situation, with perhaps differing ingredients in their special sauce.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know and have access to some pretty amazing search marketers. It’s true, on the one hand, that there are bits of information they don’t share with everyone. In most cases, though, those “secrets” are either short-lived (Google catches on), fit a very narrow niche, or are just high-level tactics that still require a lot of time and effort. I’ve never once heard a secret that would magically propel a site to the top of the rankings with no work.

SEO Ibiza comment

Again, agreed, this cannot be done with no work. There are however ways to make life easy for yourself and short cuts, again through experience, contacts, networking and resources, all areas a professional SEO will have invested a lot more time, money and effort into, and will benefit from the experience of much larger datasets over time than a DIY SEOer can ever hope to achieve.

2. “Advanced” Means New

Sometimes, “advanced” just means new or cutting-edge. Google’s algorithm changed more than 300 times last year, so keeping up with the latest can be important, and it certainly takes an advanced SEO (or, at least, a full-time one) to keep up with all the news. On the other hand, only a fraction of those changes really impact most people, so whether it’s important to always have that news instantly is open for debate.

some win, some lose, advanced SEOs win more than they lose

SEO Ibiza comment

Indeed, and while the debate rages, the advanced SEO is already seizing the moment and capitalizing on the opportunities presented.

As an example, while most were still debating the latest Google places changes the more advanced among us were reacting to the opportunity and jumping suitable clients 20-30 places with their new merged organic / places listings.

3. “Advanced” Means New to Me

Of course, “new” is a bit subjective. Even the TV tells us: “if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.” In SEO, that could mean content you simply haven’t seen before, or it could mean a content niche that’s complementary to SEO but isn’t discussed as often. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a good example – it’s relevant and interesting to search marketers. On the other hand, as someone who participates actively in the CRO space, I’m often amazed at what passes for “advanced” with an SEO audience. I have to step back and realize that, just because I see that content ever day, our readers don’t. So, it’s new (and useful) to some of you.

SEO Ibiza comment

“Advanced” must obviously be as compared to your peers, everybody is advanced compared to beginners?

4. “Advanced” Means Technical

If you like to get your hands dirty, you may think “advanced” means deeply technical tips, complete with spreadsheets, plug-ins, and code. It’s true that a lot of advanced tactics do require a deeper understanding of the technical side of SEO, but it’s often a challenge to cover that kind of content in a blog post or conference session. Either you can’t quite do it justice, or the topic becomes so niche that it only applies to a small segment of the audience. When you serve a wide demographic, this can be challenging, to say the least.

SEO Ibiza comment

Now we are starting to get to the crux of this, you can be advanced in your niche, in your geographic area, or in any one of the myriad aspects of SEO, through your own experiences, but to have that depth of knowledge across a broad base and cross section of different kinds of sites, and to have taken them from fledgling to internet success story, over and over again, implies a certain level of expertise, probably worthy of “advanced”.

5. “Advanced” Means Enterprise

Finally, some people equate “advanced” with large-scale, enterprise SEO. Like the technical side, there’s certainly some validity to that idea. Sites with 100,000+ pages definitely have unique problems, and the scale can turn even sometimes simple issues (like duplicate content) complex fast. Like deeply technical SEO, the challenge here is that any given solution or discussion probably only applies to a fairly small number of sites, at least once you dig into the details.

SEO Ibiza comment

Again, truly advanced SEOs will have dealt with and conquered these sites and issues, and seen these types of problems, issues and solutions before.

What Does “Advanced” Mean To You?

Of course, these are just a few examples, and each of them can be split apart even more. Here’s where I’d like to hear from you. What do you think “advanced” SEO is, and, in a perfect world, how would you want search blogs and conferences to cover advanced topics? Feel free to use the survey below and/or to reply in the comments section.

SEO Ibiza – What are our criteria for an “advanced SEO”?

All of the above are tools in the toolbag of the advanced SEO, along with  just good old time-served experience. The more experience there is to draw on, the more each of these individual aspects are able to shine in action.

Survey Results (11/29)

The graph below shows the survey results. There were 651 responses for options (1)-(5) and 73 “Other” answers. The big winner was “Technical SEO”, with 57% of the votes.

I left out the “Other” answers in the chart, because some of them were just people screwing around. Common other options included “All of the above” (or some combination), “Black hat”, “Experimentation”, “Holistic”, and “Strategic”.

Survey Results

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Advanced SEO - Content is NOT King - Site Structure & Architecture Is
8, December, 2010 at 10:04 am

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Jason Acidre 2, March, 2011 at 6:59 pm

It’s hard to choose from those given choices, by my heart tells me that it’s probably on the technical/engineering side. But to me, advanced SEO is being really “good” at the fundamental concepts of SEO, and perhaps reinventing what was known to be the basics in order to garner more natural results.

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