I’d like to start this post off with a couple of points from others because the way we at High Peak Media view SEO is an aggregation of several of these perspectives with our own sauce that makes our recipe pretty unique. All of these points makes up our seo philosophy.
One of the people in the online media industry that I have great respect for, Peter Horan, likes to say that SEO is a combination of science and of art. I absolutely agree with him on this front.
SearchEngineLand has 3 key components of search that they consider to be the most important factors in SEO rankings. 1&2 – Links and Content. 3 – RankBrain.
Moz has several factors that they deem important in gaining great rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). To name some of them (in their order): Domain-level link factors, Page-level link factors, Page-level and Key-word-level and content factors, Query level factors, etc.
SearchMetrics has a high level list that includes; Content Relevancy, User Experience, Key Terms, Backlinks, etc.
These are (in my opinion) the three most important sources for information regarding what is driving search result positioning. The 2 later ones are very scientific in their clinical approach to interpreting the information that they create. SearchEngineLand (SEL) leaves the discussion at a fairly high level and puts equal emphasis on 2 of the components that they mention with the third (RankBrain) being an additional “appendage” so to speak.
I like the way that SEL describes this because it’s easily adaptable to Peter’s perspective. Items 1 and 2 are what I would call old-school SEO, not to give the impression that it’s passe, but these 2 really are centered around what Peter would call the Science of SEO. There’s things that drive interest and it’s really all related to the content that the site/page is presenting. RankBrain is definitely an outlier since it’s the newest big piece of the Google puzzle. In statements from Google, their employees are publicly saying that even they don’t fully understand how it works. While that might be true (the people saying it don’t understand it) my thought is that the designers of the AI engine behind RankBrain know exactly what it’s doing — it’s changing the science behind SEO.
This is where the art comes in. While the SEO community works lots of hours to understand how RankBrain affects how results appear on SERPs we are actively working with our clients and our own sites to implement and track tests to see what kinds of affect that we can have on our placement. The creativity that we are employing is definitely where the art comes in. I’m sure that Moz and Search Metrics will come up with some great data that I’ll definitely use in my thinking.
In order to stay ahead of the curve in creating growth in the organic search channel we can’t be afraid to try something different. This has always been a key component to how we approach SEO. Lot’s of experimentation around things that haven’t made it to the “SEO media” yet. Once things appear out on some SEO blog (like this), it’s typically a fairly well documented and successful approach to take for some of our clients. Staying ahead means experiment (based on data), test (creating new data), assess (analyze the data) and most importantly — look for and exploit momentum.
This is how we approach our SEO growth tactics. We try to create new opportunities for our clients through content and create pockets of momentum (growth). Once we find established momentum trends — we NEVER want to interrupt that momentum so we continue to look for new pockets of momentum. We have found that when you do things that will alter your momentum and you lose that momentum, it’s difficult if not impossible to get that momentum back, for whatever reason. One of the most important elements of our philosophy is that everything starts and finishes with content. When people go to Google to enter a search query — they are looking for your content NOT your site. It’s not to say that all of the technical elements of SEO are not important, absolutely not, they are critically important. If your content stinks and doesn’t earn links or users back out and click on the next position in search will definitely drop, so the content is critical.
So just to quickly summarize our philosophy on SEO and organic search traffic:
- everything starts with content
- use data
- exploit momentum
- always try new things
This approach has worked incredibly well. We used this approach at a recent employer to move the company from #3 in comScore in our vertical up to #1, fueled almost entirely via SEO. Another prior employer we were able to maintain a top 10 position in comScore along with significantly reduced demand for the content in the vertical and grow traffic during this period in a completely different vertical.
In the next post we will talk a little more about our approach — the above piece relates how we think about the things that created our approach.