Good day, my SEO warriors! What is an SEO nowadays, what with Google Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda? I get that question asked a lot when teaching for Search Engine Academy.

It’s a valid thing to ask. I’ve been doing SEO since 2004, and back then, I sure as hell didn’t imagine it being where it is now. I’m getting better at accepting that change is an everyday occurrence, hence my tagline “Semper Gumby” (always flexible). Here’s my take on what an SEOer is nowadays, with the caveat it’s going to change and continue becoming more complex – probably sooner rather than later, right?

An SEOer is:

  • A researcher – let’s face it, not only are we always on the prowl for keywords and phrases our target audience uses to find our web pages, but we also have to research those long-tail keyword phrases that are “topics of interest” to find information we can write about. In addition, we constantly have to keep up with the latest Google Analytics features that come rolling out and master those. Hell, the dashboard changes alone can keep you busy all the time. And I haven’t even talked about the amount of research that now goes into white hat link building; that’s a whole ‘nother topic right there.
  • A writer – more and more, I’m telling students that SEO copywriting can be very lucrative. Google’s algorithm updates and ranking changes are slowly forcing web sites to be better written on a page by page basis. If you can write reasonably well and apply SEO to critical web page elements, you can stay very busy. I oughtta know; I’m doing more writing, which is fine, because I actually like to write! My SEO comrades, we can write for clients; we certainly have to write for ourselves!
  • An analyst – I sat in my truck yesterday in the grocery store parking lot, talking on the phone to someone about their inbound back link profile. It could be a hot mess; we’ll see. As SEOers, we analyze how pages are optimized (or not!). We analyze our competitor’s websites for SEO weaknesses we can exploit. We sure as heck analyze our website data and performance measures!
  • An investigator – along with analyzing, we must also investigate website situations – Panda and/or Penguin penalties, negative SEO and spammy tactics. Sometimes getting to the bottom of a website’s problem isn’t easy, nor does it come quickly.
  • A counselor – I can’t tell you how many times I simply sit and LISTEN to someone pour out their woe and grief to me. Let’s face it, designing and implementing a website is incredibly hard work. It’s blood, sweat, tears, anger, discussions, arguments and much more. So many folks think the hard work is done once they’ve paid a web designer to create a work of art and publish it. But no…the hard work is now just starting – constant content creation (whoa…say that 3 times fast) is now the priority. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of web owners talk about the real monetary damage done to their sites because they outsourced their link building efforts and the firm they hired got them links alright…and a Google Penguin penalty to boot. So I listen.

What else are we? What have I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments, umkay? And until next time, keep it safely between the ditches – we want you to come back!

All the best to you,