• http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi Kerry-

    Interesting read. This is my take on SEO. I think there are plenty of average SEOs but not very many great ones.

    There is a foundation for SEO. I don’t think most SEO professionals know the foundation and fully implement it. (The difference between site navigation from an SEO and site navigation from a qualified information architect…ugh.) I think most people still believe that SEO is optimizing for search engines only. I think that SEOs tout usability but don’t know what it really is.

    Some of the companies you named in your article don’t know what usability is (or information architecture) yet still write about and promote these things in regards to SEO. Good to promote effective usability and IA. Bad if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I’ll believe there will a Golden Age of SEO when the “average” SEO is more knowledgeable than what we have now. We’ve come a long way. We also have a long way to go.

    Not everyone has SEO aptitude.

  • http://www.bradneelan.com Brad Neelan

    Nice Article Kerry and very good read. One of the features I have always loved about SEO is the inherent creativity involved in finding a solution. I completely agree that the SEO landscape has become more and more competitive, and the ways and means of earning position have grown quite complex.

    Despite this, even as search evolves and social signals become more relevant to SEO I will bet the veterans will be out there constructing innovative approaches to help sites win well into the future. After all, doesn’t every business want to be found by its customers?

  • http://www.derrickwheeler.com Derrick Wheeler

    SEO = Search Everything Optimization

  • http://searchenginemarketing.com Jamie Low

    @Kerry I agree, in terms of educating clients, that was definitely the Golden Age of SEO. I’ve used that exact phrase to explain how things have evolved over the years. There was a time when a good rank would stick based on simple fundamentals which were easy to share with others (and not bad for business either.) But the wild rides of gaming Infoseek and AltaVista are over, as are the years of rock solid stability in “set it and forget it” in Google. And that’s (mostly) a good thing for everyone.

    @Shari It seems to me that your interpretation of the state of our industry doesn’t really address what Kerry is writing about here. There are a wide variety of talents and skill sets that different people bring to the table within the realm of SEO; I really don’t see how trashing “most people”, “average SEO’s” or what reads as a wholesale judgement against everyone in the industry for being incompetent adds any value to this article.

  • http://vabulous.com Vania

    Change is constant, everything evolves or dies, this is the Golden age of SEO.

  • Devon Butler

    “I think there are plenty of average SEOs but not very many great ones.”

    So it’s like every other industry then?

  • http://www.sortedspain.com almorton2

    Entertaining, but by the time I got to the end, I realized that I had not learned anything. It is a bit like reading about the golden age of steam trains. Knowing about it is not going to make public transport any more efficient! The internet is changing and quickly, but who does not already know that? Everything changes, everything evolves! The comments show the extent of the problem in the SEO industry. Platitudes such as “there are good SEO’ s and there are great SEO’s” are just meaningless. Practically everyone I meet these days thinks they are an SEO expert, they want to tell me how to do my job better. No problem, but I can already hear the laughter from the Googleplex right now! We were all taken in by it. The only thing that matters is results. Tons of traffic is just fine, but if your website is trying to sell doughnuts, what is the point of having a ton of traffic interested in weight loss. Instead of reminiscing about the good old days, let’s start learning better ways to deliver focused, real value effective inbound marketing campaigns and for once do the job our clients are actually paying us to do!

  • http://uk.linkedin.com/in/bettsandy Andrew Betts

    Nice post Kerry,

    I have had similar thoughts myself – more from a marketing perspective than a technical one

    I see 3 trends

    Clients are demanding more openness and transparency from agencies and SEO’s alike
    Clients wants to learn more and the convergence of social and content media strategies foster collaboration
    Innovative SEO tools and Enterprise platforms act as further enablers to this collaboration

    Totally agree about the ‘Golden Age’ – those that enter have to adapt and incorporate multiple skill sets into their SEO strategies. Those that don’t, well….stay stuck in a dark age

    Once again – great post

  • http://www.turnthepage-onlinemarketing.com Robby

    This is a good post – I think now that it is clear: there is not a separate discipline for SEO which can be completely successful. To truly grow an online presence – It is all amalgamated under one umbrella. In order to be successful you have to position your client across the entire spectrum of online marketing.

  • http://davidviniker davidviniker

    Firstly, congratulations to Kerry on a well presented and relevant article. I agree that great content is crucial in SEO.
    At first, I was surprised that “Grow/buy some links” is given 6th position in the list of 7 keys to SEO success. Most optimisers agree that the value of incoming links is more important than content. As a result, there is an industry of optimisers and programs that disseminate ‘hundreds’ of backlinks around the net on the premise that a link is a link. Whilst that is true, a cheque for $100 is a cheque for $100 but it does not guarantee the bank will recognise it. Most artificially placed backlinks do not register in the Google bank!
    The key to SEO and keyword research is determining KEYWORD DIFFICULTY for each targeted keyword. In a recent article”Domain Authority: The Top Two Factors On Google: A Study of 50,000 Webpages in 5 Countries” it was shown that 94% of the top webpages were on websites with HomePage PageRank of 4 or more or the top webpage was itself the HomePage. This provides a realistic means to evaluate keyword difficulty and to target your best keywords that can achieve top positioning.

  • http://www.sennza.com.au Lachlan

    Great article, but massive props for the Transformers “Golden age of Cybertron” image reference! Yes I did pick it up :)

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    @jamie

    Hmm…Kerry is stating that there is a Golden Age of SEO in the 2000s, the time that is was popularized (my paraphrase and interpretation).

    I don’t agree with the “underground” comment, and I certainly would not label it a “Golden Age” when the industry still has a really bad reputation. I agree that SEO has been popularized. As for “Golden”? Nope, don’t agree with that label.

    My post is very relevant…because if you still believe that our industry doesn’t have a reputation and talent problem…well, I’d say that you might be living in an SEO bubble. I gave 2 examples to illustrate my point. And that point arose this weekend at World IA Day. Man, do SEOs have a bad reputation in other industries…really bad.

    I’ll believe in the label Golden Age when the reputation problem and skill levels are better addressed. But in the past 10 years? Nope. Didn’t happen then. Maybe in the next 10 years.

  • http://www.pmg.co Kerry Dean

    Hey everyone! Thanks for the comments! I still can’t believe how much attention this article received. What started off as a walk down memory lane turned into a conversation starter. I noticed that this post got a lot of old school SEOs tweeting and remembering the past 10-15 years in the SEO industry. It’s been a fun ride, and I think it’s only going to get more intense and exciting as the Internet changes even more. Cheers!