|State of Search doing great!
The summer has started. You can notice because of the weather, you can notice because of the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Tour de France which starts this weekend. And many site owners might be noticing it by the traffic.
State of Search however sees the sun, feels the warmth but isn’t missing out on the traffic. Since the last newsletter we have been growing rapidly in numbers and in attention!
In this second newsletter you will find an article by Barry Adams about "Nurses and Doctors in SEO", an interview with Jane Copland, which is part of our summer interview series and some general information. Have a good summer!
First a little bit of news about State of Search:
Another blogger: After Peter Young last time again we can announce a new blogger, making State of Search an 11 bloggers-blog. We are very happy and proud to have Richard Baxter on the team. Check out his first post.
Summer interviews: Ever wondered what the big names in SEO are doing in the summer time? Here’s your chance to find out! This summer we are asking several ‘hot shots’ about their summer activities. And off course we are asking more than that. Find out what they think are the ‘hot topics at the moment.
Article: Nurses and Doctors in SEO
By Barry Adams
I have come to understand that all professionals active in the field of SEO can be divided in to two categories: doctors and nurses. On the outside they both seem to be doing much of the same things, but underneath the surface there lies a big distinction.
Most SEOs are like nurses: they treat the symptoms of a disease by handing out medication and making patients feel better. These SEO nurses provide their patients – website owners – with the common SEO medication: keyword research, optimised title tags, structured content, linkbuilding, and so on. These nurses are effective at SEO, as they’ll make the patients feel better (rank higher) in nearly all cases.
The other type of professionals, the SEO doctors, seem to be doing the same things. The difference lies in the diagnosis: the SEO nurse treats the symptoms, the SEO doctor understands the disease.
SEO nurses know what they have to do to make a site score, but they don’t know why they need to do this. SEO doctors on the other hand understand how search engines work and thus grasp the true essence of search engine optimisation.
At first glance it’s not easy to differentiate between these two types of SEO professionals. Many SEO nurses seem to be as informed and competent as SEO doctors. But when you dig a little deeper the differences become increasingly apparent.
SEO nurses tend to stick to the basics of SEO and often rely heavily on linkbuilding, where SEO doctors aren’t shy to go for the invasive surgical approach and revamp a site’s entire information architecture. SEO nurses read a lot of online ‘SEO Top 10′ lists, while SEO doctors dive in to search engine patents. SEO nurses tend to come from marketing & PR backgrounds while SEO doctors are more aligned towards computer science and Information Retrieval
In the end for most small- to medium-sized websites it doesn’t matter whether it’s a nurse treating your SEO woes or a doctor, the end result is likely to be the same. But for the really complex and challenging SEO issues, you’ll want a proper doctor at your bedside.
A summer interview with… Jane Copland
There are many great search-experts out there. We decided we wanted to give some extra attention to some of them. Therefore we will be interviewing some of these experts for this newsletter and in the summer interview series on the website. Today: Jane Copland, search expert at Ayima in London.
1. Can you introduce yourself in one paragraph?
I’m Jane, I’m 26 and I work at a search marketing company in London called Ayima. I’ve worked here for a year and a half: before Ayima and London, I worked for two and a half years at SEOmoz in Seattle, Washington. I work solely in organic SEO, doing both on and off-page work. Outside of work, I’ve done a lot of competitive swimming, representing New Zealand (where I was raised) and Washington State University.
2. What are you doing this summer?
Aside from working, I’m enjoying what is (so far) quite a good British summer! I’m getting to know my new country better, doing some driving around, going to festivals and concerts, and generally taking advantage of living in the UK, which I’ve really enjoyed for the past eighteen months. The Internet never stops, of course, so every weekend away comes with a week of hard work once I get back to town!
3. What is the most hottest subject in search at the moment, what should every SEO be looking into?
We are noticing a lot more over-optimisation penalties and filters, almost exclusively related to sites’ backlink profiles. Some of these are pretty intricate, relating to both anchor text distribution, ratios of links to pages, and IP questions that contribute to how natural backlink profiles look. It’s now almost a given that mindlessly building optimised links to a few pages won’t work, or if it’s still working, the ground on which the site stands is shaky. Analyse your sites’ current backlink landscape and don’t neglect it. Google is only going to get better at this; they’ve taken big steps in the last few months.
4. What do you think is the "state of search" at the moment, is the industry doing good?
From the amount of time recruiters spend cold-calling our employees, and how tough it is to find good SEOs when you’re hiring, I would say that the state of search in the UK is very good. We are certainly very busy! I do see the industry maturing a lot during 2010 too, which is a good thing. People whose commentary is focused on professional subjects, rather than the mundane or the political, appear to be valued more now than ever before. Mainstream marketing and web dev’s heightened interest in search really helps this. We’re being blessed with the knowledge and commentary of people who bring new perspectives to what we do.
5. What is your favorite website, apart from your own?
For purposes completely unrelated to work, I’ll read Reddit and b3ta. I wouldn’t even say that my own website would be my favourite if given that choice, since I update by blog so infrequently (although I put a lot of effort into anything I do write there as well).
6. Can "social marketing / media" and search survive apart from each other?
Despite what is commonly believed, I believe that they can. They can help each other, but would one fail to survive without the other? Of course not. I do think that there is a strong argument that search engines take citation in social media is taken into account, and I would definitely look at what was shared on Twitter and accessible parts of Facebook if I were a search engine, as well as on a vast array of socially-focused services like Tumblr and Posterous.
If search engines are savvy enough to filter spam on the web as a whole, they are good enough to sort through spam on Twitter and in other social media centric locations, and find the quality links that people are sharing. Thus, if your content is being shared by trusted networks within Twitter, it’s likely beneficial. Is it essential when ranking for [mortgages]? No. Could it help if three hundred trusted accounts tweeted messages containing both your brand name, a link to someone you created and "mortgages", a misspelling of the word, or its singular form? It’s definitely not going to hurt.
Much of social media’s usefulness is also going to depend on the market in which you’re working. We have most definitely worked with clients for whom social media is important. We’ve also worked in sectors where our entire effort is focused solely on technical SEO work.
I’ve developed quite a reputation as being skeptical of social media, when my skepticism is more with how it is promoted as "where search is heading". It’s certainly convenient for someone whose technical ability is poor to deride traditional SEO as a dead discipline or one that should be left to some underpaid developer. I’m definitely less interested in it, but this is more because "marketing" is less natural to me than technical creativity and analysis.
Lastly, there is so much utter rubbish written about social media. Filter what you believe; filter it well.
7. What’s your search tip for the summer?
From a purely search perspective, make your site’s name synonymous with its goals. I’m afraid you’re going to have to work out for yourself what that means.
SES San Francisco, will you be there?
As you may have noticed State of Search now is an official SES mediapartner. This means we will be covering the SES events as good as we can. Therefore two of our bloggers will be travelling to the next SES in San Francisco this summer. We will be blogging, tweeting and doing interviews. For the first time SES is turning into a full online marketing event, now called the “Connected Marketing Week” with sessions throughout an entire week. Be sure to check it out.
But a media partnership also means we can offer our readers a discount on going to the event! If you register by July 30 you will get a 20% discount which will save you up to $639. Register and enter 20SOS for the discount code!