Dealing With The Increasing Complexity and Volume of SEO Tasks

  1. One thing that many SEO’s fail to do is help a business understand how they can start empowering staff to think about SEO when doing tasks they would do normally.

    Few examples include:

    Conferences: If speaking at a conference see if you can get a link from the speaker BIO.

    Press Releases: Sending out press releases to local news? Syndicate it online.

    Press Mentions: Keep track of people who mention your brand online but don’t link to it, reach out & ask for the link.

    Sponsorships: Make sure if you sponsor local businesses that the sponsorship includes a mention on the website.

    Just a few examples but SEO can be integrated so much more than people think, it’s all about a small shift in mentality (and a little bit of education).

  2. I love these sort of big posts well done Everett, I really understand everything in your article first hand! Especially about what makes a good seo (and that was just an aside!), spot on mate!

  3. ¡Now insn´t that a great excerpt on SEO 2012! Printing it out and laying it next to my bed for the bedtime read.

    A great way to go with industry is to keep sanity while creating a good foundation and not go crazy after every Google update/Industry novelty/Latest SEO craze. SEO can be as simple as 1, 2 3:
    1) Create great content (Like this post).
    2) Code cleanly and fashionably
    3) Converse with your industry influencers/clients.

  4. I am a former Social Media Manager in the Real Estate Industry and I have now transition to SEO Specialist(in training)for a prominent law firm in Atlanta. I appreciate all of your expertise and your constant reminder that we are ALL continuous learners.

    Wondering if you had any advice or suggestions for SEO relating to Legal Services

    Thanks Much!

  5. Everett, that’s a hell of a post! It well qualifies for a book, you know.
    SEO is indeed getting more and more complex, just as life in general. So, thanks for helping us SEO folks (newbies in particular) make sense out of the bulk of tasks one may encounter these days.

    I’d only like to add that, as far as international SEO is concerned, one of the challenges it poses is tracking progress in foreign (= personalized) SERPs. And it so happens that we have JUST added almost a dozen personalization parameters (city, region, country, language, Safe Search, etc.) to Rank Tracker which one can set when checking rankings.

    To the best of my knowledge, there has been no tool that does it so far. I also know that many SEOs have been on the lookout for a functionality like this, so, the information could be useful to your readers. More detail here –

    Thanks again for the post!

    • Alesia,

      I went back and forth about approving this comment, but decided in the end that you put some thought into it and the resource you’re linking to could be of value so I’ll let it slide. And thanks for the compliments on the post. I’m glad you liked it!

  6. Thanks for this article — I needed this to keep me focused and on the right track 🙂

  7. Impressive areticle, thank you.! yup sure aint short but you make a lot of very valid points, these days to be good at SEO you almost need to be a content writer aka a techie aka a marketer… and finding people like this is hard especially good ones.

    Loved all your references too.


  8. I usually don’t leave comments but I did read your entire post. Awesome job and thanks for sharing! Yes, I did actually read to the bottom 😛

  9. This is the single best post I have ever come across on SEO. Comprehensive, specific in all the right areas and a unifying theme throughout. Pure gold. Thank you!

  10. With so many different tasks to accomplish nowadays to perform a SEO work,what kind of management tools / SEO process software are available and really useful ?

  11. Excellent article Everett. Thank you!

    I handle the SEO for a large ecommerce affiliate site so this post is gold dust to me. Plenty of work for me to be getting on with! Thanks again.

  12. Just saved this to my desktop as “The Complete SEO Manual” Even if that isn’t completely true, it’s true enough. Thanks for this epic piece.

  13. Wow what a great article.
    You must have put a lot of work into that.

    As a small business owner who runs my own website it sort of makes you realise that getting seen on the internet nowadays is very hard.

  14. Really great post, may get the “Best SEO post of 2012”! One SEO task that is not really talked about is information architecture, done with SEO in mind. This is extremely powerful for very large websites, driving tons of long tail traffic if done well.

    One of the many tasks SEO have to learn now, with more to come!

  15. What a great post! I think it deserves to win you, Everett, one more SEMMY award!!! I’d vote for it.

  16. A cup of coffee later, the jitters from too much caffeine or is it at feeling overwhelmed by the amount of tasks I have to handle for my clients, all I can say is thanks alot. Yes, it is a daunting task to handle this growing list of specialties for our clients, but they need our services all the more. Thank you for reminding us of the challenge, which is our opportunity to serve.

  17. Yep, my eyes did start to glaze over when I got to sitemap stuff. I’m a novice here and I would much rather be out there climbing and skiing. BUT, I pay someone to get it right. How do I know if they’re on the case? To be fair, how can anyone keep up with the Google monster? They’re turning the screws, before long it will be “Pay to Search”.

  18. Easily one of the most informative, jam packed an interesting SEO posts I’ve ever read… love all the useful insights and valuable links. If only the masses could fully understand that really good links are just the ones coming inbound. 🙂 Thanks for the great read Everett.

    There were parts that made my head hurt a lil’ but in a good way.
    Other parts of the post were downright fascinating.
    Then the classics:

    “In other words, search and social are married in the church of Google and they’ll be having a family soon.”

    “It must be similar to trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose.” lol

    Big-Ups to the Moz Top 10


  19. Holy cow! This is such an excellent article. I knew SEO was exploding, but I had never taken the time to put down on paper all of the tasks an SEO needs to think about. I knew the list would be huge… but I didn’t think it would amount to 11,500 words.

    Ha ha! Now I know why I have had a headache every week for the past 6 months. Thank you for diagnosing my “problem”. Time to specialize further…

  20. Just want to say thanks for this article. Just brought on a bunch of people to the team in the past couple months. Your article just became required reading for the team. The ‘must read blogs’ from the various links here are perfect for any SEO.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your discussion about SEO and Marketing convergence. Great post!

  21. Not done reading yet, but one of the best industry articles I’ve read for some time. Good forward thinking. Spot on.

  22. Wow, that’s a lot of good info. It’s no wonder SEOmoz gave this article the top spot in their list this week.

    I read through the whole thing and it’s all good but when you say “demographics” my company is mostly a demographic that doesn’t fit. We do SEO for small businesses and I regularly find little to no current information about current SEO trends for those types of companies. Maybe the Local Search article that is coming will help but here’s our problem. We know about how important social media and SEO NOW is (two years ago I was still scratching my head) but a lot of small businesses have a real hard time getting likes, fans, circle members etc…because well no one cares too much about who maintains your neighbors yard, who changes your co-worker’s oil, where your best-mate buys his comic books from, etc…There’s just TOO much stuff to care about and people I think are getting tired of caring. Even a really well traditional marketed company can struggle with social media because once again…who cares?

    Maybe I’m being pessimistic and for a marketer that’s not always a good thing but listening to my customer’s customers is a big factor of what I’m saying.


    • Justin,

      You make some good points. I can only answer some of your questions with an example. I live in a very small town called Floyd in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. When I was looking for a place to take my truck for repairs, I went with these guys and I’m sure you can guess why…

      They’re about as small as a business comes in a town about as small as they come (one stoplight in the entire county!). So if they can do it so can your clients. It isn’t easy, but that’s why it works. If it was easy everyone would do it and then it wouldn’t work.

      Good luck!

      • That’s a great example and congrats for them. Very impressive. I have a client that is similar and was savvy enough to get heavily involved in Places reviews three years ago. Their reviews are a center point in their marketing and I love having them in my portfolio. The reason they work is because their owner is web-savvy and only signs checks and networks online.
        One real obstacle I run into is that a lot of social networking can only be done by the person that is benefiting from the social networking. Back in the day you could (and I guess still can) hire an SEO to build your link network, do your blog posting, commenting, and forum posts but with social networking it’s very difficult for to hire someone to log into your Gmail account and through that account all over the internet. But the owner doesn’t have the time or the wherewithal or the knowledge on how to do that themselves. I’m sure in time that will change but by the time the majority of business owners/marketers will be doing this the rules will have changed again. We may not even be using Google at that time.
        I think Google is shooting themselves in the foot really. For SEOs the sale point use to be that placing an ad in the phonebook cost a ton and yielded little results. So having an optimized site and some off-page SEM would be cost effective and VERY profitable. Now however, it’s getting more expensive to market online and the phonebook is getting cheaper. Scary…

        Looks like you are going to have a busy day replying to all comments but that’s a sign of great blogging right? Thanks for the inputs and the feedback. I’d never heard of you guys before today but consider me a subscriber from now on!

        • I think you have hit the nail on the head with social marketing. You can have multiple managers on Google Plus pages, but who in a small business is going to maintain it. It’s hardly a job for an external SEO consultant. They won’t know what we are doing day to day. I run training courses and I post photos of good sessions on our profiles (if I have the time). Most social media consultant will set up a page for you, but interacting every day. I can see how it could work.

          This difficulty faking it is why I think it will be an increasingly important ranking signal.

  23. Great post. I had to read all the way to the bottom in order to figure out why you kept showing pictures of blocks! I do agree, however, that it’s impossible to specialize in everything these days, and keeping the Jenga tower of SEO up requires blocks from many different specialists.

  24. Thanks for taking so much time to put together a really interesting post.

    As head of a very small internet marketing consultancy, only just able to start thinking about getting individual team members to specialise (there are only three of us so far), it is quite scary.

  25. As usual, this is all great stuff E! Especially appreciate your insights into PR and link building practices. A certain company we both know well needs to understand this 😉


    • In reply to @Really? …Sad that someone who thinks they are so smart doesn’t understand the importance of alt tags in vertical image search, especially for an eCommerce website. Think about the way people shop for clothes. Google image search is little more than a giant window-shopping experience for many and alt tags are still an important piece of meta data since robots still aren’t very good at “seeing” an image.

      Oh well… I always expect a few trolls to try and use an unfounded criticism of someone else’s hard work to make themselves sound smart when in fact they dont’ provide anything valuable to the community themselves and like to use fake names in their comments. Thank you for filling that role.

      • > Sad that someone who thinks they are so smart
        Never said or implied that.

        > alt tags
        Therein lies the problem. Countless SEO articles, most full of BS. Ont of the the ways to know which one’s to skip – the one’s that don’t use correct terminology.

        > I always expect a few trolls to try and use an unfounded criticism of
        > someone else’s hard work to make themselves sound smart
        Nope. Just pointing out the inaccurate phrase.

        > they dont’ provide anything valuable to the community themselves
        I provide to several communities. I just provided you with proofreading.

        > like to use fake names in their comments
        Sometimes, yes.

        > Thank you for filling that role
        You are very welcome. Any time.

        I’m done with you. You are a very grumpy person when you don’t like a comment.

        • @Really?

          OK So I said alt “tag” instead of alt “attribute” and you just decided the entire article wasn’t worth reading? I just want to make sure I understand the issue since you never really said what it was.

          I’m fine with constructive feedback, but your comment was not very constructive. Critical, unconstructive comments like that are the stuff of trolls and I get grumpy around trolls. Yes, you’re very right about that.


          • Thanks Everett! They have really done a great job with branding and SEO. I wish I could take credit for it! The SEO position I am in is relatively new (about a year).

            They have accomplished what they have purely by focusing on their users. As an SEO I love our categories and shopping guides (We are actually building a freakin sweet way to deploy infographics and other link bait there… coming soon!), but they didn’t even think about building those for seo. It’s all been about adding value to our customers to help them achieve their fitness goals. It was a great lesson for me to learn when I was hired on here.

            Thanks again for the well thought out article. See you around!

          • Dude, don’t even bother man. He has probably never even written an article 1/10th as helpful as this article.

            Haters gota hate! 😉

          • Hey Derrick! Man I used to pimp the heck out of the affiliate products when I ran a fitness blog. Great job on that site! The title tag alone should tell people that you realize marketing, branding and SEO don’t have to be separate things. Then you dig into categories and see the expert shopping guides and some great content… The store is set up great too. I love the connection of the reviews community to the product, etc… good stuff.

  26. Very nice list, thanks for sharing. A lot of the work, in my experience, is figuring out which of these things work in each situation.

  27. Staying up to date with current information is one of the best ways to keep that competitive edge. We do VIP Services in Las Vegas where there is a lot of competition and we are moving up quickly by posting the most up to date event fliers.

  28. You don’t see many articles as detailed and comprehensive as that on the net very often, great work. It much reflects my own thoughts, the job has got harder and harder. For me it started in 2011 but 2012 has really gone up a gear again with the risks of getting it wrong much higher (penguin update). I used to pay slight lip service to the need to do ‘social media’ but now I actually believe it and have to cagoule and help clients achieve social engagement with the customers. The same with online reviews. The game has changed, I cannot see it going back to simple onpage SEO and a few good links.

  29. Thank you Everett. Great article, lots of clarification for me particularly around work on my E-Commerce websites, very comprehensive post.

  30. This is a seriously brilliant and important article that I will gladly share, thank you for taking the time to write this, a great read and a lot to think about, cheers, Stephen.

  31. It is a very long article. And a commentary on the best that’s ever read.

    Thank Everett Sizemore

  32. Thanks, this is a great post. i was looking for this info of ‘Rel=Author’ so many thanks. Hope i will get this thing fixed.

  33. Hi,
    I’m glad to see there’s still hope for hard working people (traditional marketing guys with brand, client, product and consumer insight) willing to learn that might not have a specific seo code specialist background.

    After all, common sense still prevails. Thanks for the enlightening information showing the bridge between technical seo and good old marketing principles in todays digital world.

  34. Sublime!

    And I agree that sometimes a wall of text is what’s required to convey much complexity with accuracy. OK, pictures are needed to get the juices flowing.

    SEO is dead? You’re spot on when you say that the increasing complexity increases the demand for specialists – ones that can work in teams. It’s easy to beat yourself up about gaps in your knowledge but it’s not possible to know it all.

    PS. Please tell me you didn’t rattle this off before breakfast.

  35. I’m truly impressed Everett. I’m a brand identity designer, so SEO is not where I’m best, but I’m always looking to learn more about the topic, specially because most of my business come from my online presence. I’ve been doing business online for a few years now, and this is the best article on the topic of SEO that I’ve ever land my eyes on. Thanks for taking the time to put this together, and more importantly, for your honest approach. Keep up the good work!

  36. As a small business owner this is a fantastic post. I really like the way you have pulled together so many of the current trends in Seo marketing. We rank quite well for our key words, but how can we pro-actively build a social following.i have looked at the sites that offer 200 face book likes for $49, but rejected this idea. I want to the liked / oned and tweeted by the people with reputation. My question is how to get this engagement. It has to be more than putting a button on every page.

    It’s an interesting question, any advice most welcome?

  37. Wow, long, but great SEO changes article.
    (also thanks David Wright for the Business Photos link)

    All these changes are easy to understand for us rocket scientists
    but our clients often feel confused as we told them one thing 2 months ago, and now somehing else.

    My outsoucer spreadsheet has also grown, and clients cant always be charged for some of the new tasks, so best to focus on the 20% giving the 80% of results.

    Thanks again
    Louis Slabbert

    Just one small typo: “The days of listing out keyowrds”

  38. Everett, that was quite an article. Just when I thought you would give up you kept on laying it all out for us. Thanks for the handy resource – Probably not what I am going to show clients about SEO OR maybe it is.

  39. Thank’s for great post Everett and great links in the post. One thing more… Everett do you know some site with serp analytics that show then some sites are on the top in the Sepr and these sites do not use paid link building?

  40. Not only is my head and eyes hurting, but my hand hurts from all the note taking.

    Small fantasy football sites like mine don’t stand a chance, or so it seems. But at least I walked about with the rel=”me” added to our author pages! Tomorrow I’ll work on the google filter piece about image search, which I know is big for us.

    Thank you for such an unbelievable article!

  41. @ D – Thanks for making an exception to your commenting guidelines. I agree that it doesn’t cover even close to everything, which is just crazy isn’t it? I’ve been that in-house person before and know how difficult it can be. All I can say is to find an evangelist as high up the totem pole as you can. The day the CEO started evangelizing SEO things really turned around.

    @ Matt – If you read this on an iPhone you deserve a medal. And a pair of glasses. I’d love to hear more about your Schema markup experiments on eCommerce pages. I’m specifically interested in how product markup on a category page affects SERPs and what type of aggregated data is included in that markup. Thanks!

    @Kevin, Kyle, Jurgen, Boris, etc… Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  42. Awesome article Everett. I guess I should have checked where my scroll bar was at after 5 mins of reading it on my iPhone, scroll, scroll, scroll. I found that if you integrate micro data directly in eCommerce page templates, dynamic data will always have rich snippets included.

    I’m interested in learning more about Local SEO.

  43. While probably the best assessment I have seen regarding an SEOs coverage amazingly it still omits plenty which highlights how much we have to cover as SEO’s.

    Try getting this implemented in an organization of 10s of thousands and 50 departments – the education and political hurdles a single Inhouse SEO has to navigate is immense…add reporting, planning, budgeting and integrating it all within the companies goals and you’ ll find the actual SEO excellently covered here is 10% and the remaining 90% is hurdle jumping.

    I rarely leave comments but had to here for such a great post…thanks!

  44. RE: Google PageSpeed Test

    If you click on “Reduce request serialization” report, you will find these errors:

    Suggestions for this page
    The following requests are serialized. Try to break up the dependencies to make them load in parallel.…/ads?……/expansion_embed.js…/ads?……/expansion_embed.js
    … and so on

    All are “made by Google” scripts!

  45. Thank-you for the great informative article.
    This would have to be one of the best posts on the subject.
    How does refreshing your web page affect rankings? I have a competitor who refreshes their page daily.
    I have used a monitoring tool that cannot pick up what changes are made but it appears daily in the change log?

  46. Loved reading your article! Thanks for that. SEO is alive and kicking… for those companies that think SEO is too expensive… well go do it yourself! 😉 You won’t, that’s why you hire people who love SEO!

  47. A very well laid out massive amount of information. Thank you for sharing. SEO is not dead, it has become more technical, creative and sophisticated.
    The sad thing about all this is that the quality SEO is becoming more expensive because of the workload involved. In this economy not every business can fork out enough cash for a SEO pro since SEO automation is killed by Google. And you know what? I haven’t noticed much improvements in Google SERPS, except big brands are winning.

  48. Everett,

    I’m blown away by how much you’ve covered here. Great read, well referenced and very up to date. Kudos for your hard work, and I even jotted down a few areas where I’m lacking that you mentioned.

    You are so very right; when I started doing online marketing full-time back in 2005, it was far, far more simple.

    It is quite frustrating for most folks who are breaking into e-commerce for the first time. Most of the consulting I do today is with individuals who are simply overwhelmed. They simply do not know where to start, when to do things, or in what order. There is a lot of confusion over what is important. I divide everything they do into three simple groups: 1) Getting traffic. 2) Getting conversions. 3) Communicating with customers. From there, the rabbit hole goes very, very deep, but it helps to guide the conversation.

    Obviously, the better armed you are with the RIGHT data, the better off. *(not provided)* is the bane of SEO, and probably the worst thing that has ever come out of Google Analytics.

    And as you have pointed out, things like UX and Page Speed (which are traditionally conversion factors) have moved into the realm of good Search Optimization.

    /streamofconsciousness. I’ve bookmarked this and I’m sure I’ll be back. Great job. If we cross paths, you deserve a beer. Or six.


    • Adam if you’re at Search Exchange in Charlotte, NC next month I’ll take you up on all six of those beers. Otherwise your great response is more than enough. Thanks!

  49. Wow, Fantastic. Thank you for validating that ever-increasing sense of complexity I’ve been feeling in my SEO work. I thought it was just me! Thank you for everything it took to pull this together.

  50. Wow. Just wow. Probably the most comprehensive post I’ve seen in quite a while. This would have taken me a month to assemble! Kudos! I am sharing with our team and may make this required reading for interns and new hires.

  51. Time to update my SEO checklist with all those great items featured in this post. Thanks for all the great tips and links shared in this article.

  52. Just to add to your list of to-do’s, writing epic blog posts. I gotta say, this is an excellent overview of the increasing responsibilities an SEO now has to account for. This also offers up many reasons why I’ve been less inclined to strictly limit myself to even referring what I do as SEO any more. Before, I had trouble explaining what SEO was, now I have trouble defining what it is. Not losing sleep over these semantics just my roundabout way of letting you know that this is my fave post this year.

  53. I hope you remembered to visit your wife and kids when you wrote this.
    An put out the fire on your keyboard!

    Now all you or some kind soul has to organize this in level of importance. I remember The Periodic Table of SEO was interesting.

    Perhaps its time for an Infographic of tasks. (Pyramids, flow charts, Venn Diagrams?)

    Make one for Social/Blogs/Platforms (FB, WP, G , LI),
    One for E-Commerce/Product Pages,
    One for Local Marketing,
    One for Mobile subcategory,
    One International/Language markets.
    One for Video/You tube
    One for Directory Sites/Review Sites

    (Can’t think of anymore)

    Don’t forget every Pyramid would come with a side order of Speed/Technical SEO & Ethical Linking Juice.

    When and where, how to organize these elements? and when to implement or ignore?..would take one heck of a project manager or dictator. SEO is not a one man show. SEO is not dead..It’s a Zombie Apocalypse! It just won’t die!


  54. Great post. It’s comprehensive and covers a lot of bases in quite some depth but, while I appreciate the message, upon skim reading the post again afterwards and asking myself the question “how many of these things are REALLY new to SEO?”, I was left with few candidates…

    • Butler,

      Thank you for reading and thinking critically about the content. I appreciate that not everything is “really” new to SEO and that people have been preaching some of this stuff for ages when it comes to how to build quality links, build brands and write quality content. However, while people have been preaching brand building and quality links, a lot of others have made a LOT of money by doing the exact opposite of that. What’s new is that this stuff is really not working anymore, or at least it carries enough risk to weed out most of the folks who were earning a living that way.

      Also things like facetted navigation, schema markup, rel author, rel canonical, rel href lang, rel next / prev, video XML sitemaps, Google Shopping changes, social signals, changes in the social landscape, several of the biggest algorithm updates in Google history, the death of pagerank sculpting with nofollow tags, the rise of tablet devices, adaptive design… In my experience these are relatively new things we have to deal with. In fact, there were at least a half dozen places within this document where things changed so fast I had to rewrite or add to the section before I was even finished writing the article.

      So while I appreciate your viewpoint, I have to generally and respectfully disagree with it.

  55. Gianluca,

    You make some very good points. I too see the value in a generalist perspective. As a whole, our societies are getting more specialized and I don’t know that this is a good thing from a holistic humanist view or from any sort of spiritual viewpoint. Additionally, the ability to see things from above is definitely needed in Directors, entrepreneurs, investors and executives.

    However, for the typical SEO tasked to deal with all of this stuff I think it is overwhelming and too much to ask of them IF you expect them to be “experts” at it too. Even the smartest people in our industry will admit that they fall behind in certain areas sometimes. SEOs end up playing catch-up the day we get a client with that issue, like how I recently had to catch up in international search for a client after falling behind in that area.

    Thank you for a great comment!

    Matt McGee,

    Thanks man. That means a lot coming from you.


    I’d love to read more about Master Language versions, as that is what I recommended to the client (e.g. .com/ global English and .com/us/ for US) for their particular case since they couldn’t get the CC TLDs. Thanks for sharing!


    While I don’t like to think about PR and Marketing in terms of taking advantage of fears, you do make some great points – as always. PS: I can’t wait to carve out some time to check out your latest keyword research strategy.

    Everyone else – Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m glad you liked it and I promise my next post will be SHORT, but still useful. I had anxiety about this post. Was it too long? Is the wall of text thing more than people even want to “start” reading? Does me mentioning who I go to for expertise sound like namedropping instead of what it was meant to be: Giving props to those whose opinions I respect and illustrating the importance of being part of the greater SEO community to balance out what you don’t know? Do I rant too much? Did I leave out some important stuff? Does it even make sense or does it just seem like chaos (because it IS chaos sometimes)?

    All of the comments, tweets, emails… I’ve received bout this have laid most of these anxieties to rest. Thank you.



  56. Brilliant article! – I really like how you mentioned the effectiveness of Branding and PR. Good branding and PR is so effective with SEO that it’s almost cheating.

    IMO – One of the main problems with search marketers is that we’re too analytical. However… Not everything that counts can be counted and Vice Versa.

    Sometimes it’s important to understand the psychology behind how irrational your target market really is so you can play into it and use it to your advantage.

    In reality… People aren’t very rational when it comes to purchase decisions etc, but search marketers seem to work under the false assumption that they are.

    Sure… For some purchases you’ll look at the costs and benefits and make a cold and calculated purchase based strictly on the numbers. But that’s not the way it typically works.

    However scary, strange and unintuitive it may seem to the typical search marketer… People ARE NOT driven so much by rational decision making as they are by the irrational fears and selfish desires that they don’t even know they have.

    Everyone is subconsciously trying to compensate for their sexual inadequacies, social anxieties, parenting failures, etc, and they base their purchase decisions on those factors.

    Who is your audience/customer? What terrifies them more than anything?

    Is it being rejected by their children? Growing old and lonely? Public humiliation? Being penniless? Looking like a fraud of their piers? Some other inadequacy that they don’t like to think about?

    How does your article, landing page or product play to those fears and selfish desires?

    Does your article or product act as a conversation starter? Will sharing your article make someone look smart or prevent them from looking like an idiot? Will it make them look good or help them get a girlfriend? Will it inspire envy in others? Will it make their spouse or children love them?

    It’s completely irrational sometimes so these things take a lot of creativity. Most people simply can’t imagine how to equate a bar of soap with good parenting skills, or how to equate a stapler with success, wealth and prosperity, or cheap plastic furniture with physical attraction.

    But sometimes that’s exactly what your landing page needs to accomplish to be successful.

    Sometimes… It’s not so much about the attributes of product itself… Sometimes it’s more about how the product is framed to glorify a lifestyle that the target consumer aspires to have. Sometimes it more about what the product or brand represents… However irrational it might be intellectually.

    Getting that stuff right isn’t easy. It’s complicated. People are complicated.

    Anyway… I highly recommend watching a four-part documentary series called “The Century Of The Self”

    Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who took what he learned from his uncle about what truly motivates people and used that knowledge to create a new and amazingly effective marketing technique that he called “Public Relations” back in the 1920s.

  57. I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately at how many balls I have to juggle, and how many minor details need to be addressed every step of the way. I’m not a person who can naturally & comfortably ignore details. This post made me feel better for two reasons: 1) it confirmed that things really are that crazy for everyone and 2) it gave gave some concrete ideas for tweaking how our team approaches all this work. Thank you for sharing.

  58. Great post. I agree with your points on PR vs. Link Building. Have been thinking about that a lot as of late. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

  59. Hi Everett,

    What an awesome article! Everything a SEO needs to know about what his job should be and that in one page? Truly awesome!

    I just have one small addition when it comes down to the Canonical Language Tag:

    At our agency I mostly work for corporations who do have a global web presence and thus many different country websites. Naturally the introduction of the Canonical Language Tag is a great ressource for preventing country domains to cannabalize each other in local SERPs (especially for same-language pages)

    When using the tag there seem to be some extra, and not so publicly known, rules and I also measured the effects on them on different projects:

    – Cross-domain usage:
    Googles spiders gotten quite confused in the past and normally the tag should only be applied within the same domain (like,…). Naturally this will not work for many clients since they will have a lot of different hosted domains for their regional and country-based divisions. I spoke to Pierre Far from Google (who is in charge of the Canonical Language Tag implementation at Google) and it seems that now they have updated that somehow and it works better: the tag can also be used on a cross-domain basis

    – Unique language content
    Pierre also stressed that the different language versions should also contain SIGNIFCANTLY different content: the more diverse the better the canonical language tags will work

    – “Master language version”
    This is something that I discovered myself and seems to work quite well: let’s say the corporation has their US-Site as the main site ( and has further country pages in English, in some countries they are not present or the main information can be found on the main site. In this case the definition of the main site as the “master language site” works quite well and will also give visitors from countries where the corporation has no websites a main point of contact.

    A sample syntax can be found in the source code of

  60. Very nice article! you certainly were not kidding about the cup of coffee! 🙂 I particularly liked your reference links to each category. speaking of seo has anyone been noticing the strange behaviour of Google these past few days? read this article today over at Seomoz The Bigfoot Update (AKA Dr. Pete Goes Crazy).

    Again nice work will have to forward this to some clients.

  61. Damn, Everett … really, really great. Love this article. However long it took to write and put together, it was worth it. Well done.

  62. Ciao Everett,
    first of compliments for this sort of Bible I will surely save for future references.

    Your description of the actual complexity of the SEO discipline is perfect, and the lenght of your post somehow is a metaphor of that same complexity.

    SEO is so complex and faceted into so many aspects that actually we should talk of SEO specializations. Nowadays the “Man of all trades” is almost utopic. No, now we have Local Search Experts, SEOcial specialists, On Site Optimizers, Forensic SEOs, International SEOs, Link Building Agencies and so on and on.

    Surely that is an obligation and the correct way to go (especially if you are a freelance SEO), but I cannot but preach the need of a SEO figure who can be all the contrary: a generalist or, maybe not the best definition, an Online Marketing Strategist.

    Specialization is needed, but it can lead to a “loss of side view” in SEO terms, which is a deadly sin in such a synergistic discipline as SEO it is now.

    Therefore some sort of “renaissance” SEO is even more important, IMHO, because the only one who can think and direct a strategy and coordinate all the specialists in order to succeed and obtain their common purpose: make your site win the Search game.

  63. Holy Schmoly I love this post. I stumbled across the brand building sort of by accident but when I noticed my company name was increasingly a suggested search I added a bit more gasoline. Reading this reminds me to push the pedal more for 2012-2013.

  64. Some excellent, truly excellent stuff here. This is almost a JD for a SEO (whatever a SEO is these days) and as a one-man band is kinda scary.
    What i think is interesting is that from Google’s perspective by ‘forcing’ this on us – don’t do it or your dead folks – it enables them to maintain market dominance. Which, in the wake of Social (i.e. FB) stuff is how they a) differentiate and b) keep FB at bay.
    If 80% of your traffic and hence your business comes from Organic Search Rankings, who are you to disagree?

  65. Gianluca Fiorelli of brought up a really great point via email: People at the Director Level still need to be able to see the bigger picture, and for them breadth may be more valuable than depth. I totally left this out except for the one sentence saying that non-specialists will have to know who the specialists are. I was talking about Director-level SEOs there and should have made that more clear.

    The violinist needs to know her instrument like it was an extension of her own body. The conductor needs to understand how all of the instruments in the symphony work together.

    Thank you for reminding us of that Gianluca.


  66. What about Google Business Photos? As a fairly new program it seems to really score points with Google’s local search results. As a Google Photographer I’ve seen clients take a jump from pages 3 or 4 (on organic local searches) to top 5 on page 1 in a few days. Not all are that responsive, but would love to hear your insight if you have any experience on how this affects local businesses and what kind of value can be placed on this service for just SEO purposes.
    see for more info

  67. Everett, you’re secret about not linkbuilding so much and using offsite PR is spot on. I did this with a website a year back and found mine front page of CNN and on most daytime TV talk shows. One of those little secrets you keep in your bag for the big projects and forget about linkwheels and reciprocal linking for a while. 🙂

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A photograph of Everett Sizemore sitting on a rooftop in Denver.

Everett Sizemore (Alumni)

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