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I’ve had a busy few months on the SEO side of my job. I was fortunate enough to attend Blueglass' SEObarcamp (a networking event for in-house SEO managers) and the three day SES conference.

I’ve also been conducting an agency review at the same time, thus picking up some interesting thoughts and tips, and meeting some great folk along the way.

Here's a short round-up of things I've learnt along the way....

1 Use analogies

A cute tip I picked up from the Telegraph’s Julian Sambles (who spoke at SES) was to use analogies to help you get buy-in from your senior managers and/or IT department when you’re trying to get work or resource signed off.

This isn’t a particularly new idea, but I thought it was a good one that got me thinking about how this could improve the requests I make to IT – i.e. trying to better communicate (in plainer language) WHY we’re requesting a piece of work.

A quick search for ‘SEO analogies’ uncovered some crackers like ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ (to describe how links to one part of a site can help other parts of the site rank).

2 ‘A rose by any other name is still a rose...’Part one.

Sticking with the analogy theme, one of the funniest things I’ve noticed this year is that agencies are seeming more nervous to admit that they still build links, despite the fact that most SEOs still class links as one of the most important ranking signals.

At the same time there’s increasingly a cross-over between content, PR and SEO, so agencies are now calling their link building teams 'promotional teams', 'off-page teams', 'campaign teams' and of course 'outreach teams'.

Do you have any more funny names for what is essentially still link building activity?!

3 ‘A rose by any other name…. part two’

So 2012 was the year when over-optimised links (too many 'exact match' links, not enough ‘brand related links’) were bad and more 'natural' link profiles were good. So I’m enjoying the irony of everyone now seemingly changing tack and optimising their link profiles to make them look less-optimised!

Some SES attendees were even talking about targeting links like ‘click here’ as more natural-looking links… I was left speechless!

On a more serious note, this is a good change for the industry, focusing on quality over quantity of links and more natural-looking brand and long phrase-match type links.

As one SEO wise man recently said to me: 'chasing links makes you do weird things that your brand wouldn’t normally do'

4 ‘Ask not what your agency can do for others, ask what they can do for you’

I really enjoy agency reviews, and it was great to see so many good examples of great work and results. However, as a relatively ‘mature’ client I’d like to see agencies focus more on what they can do for clients, as opposed to a cookie cutter approach of what they’ve done for other people.

There was lots of chatter at the SES after-party about the role of agencies (e.g. all-encompassing vs. specialist) and how they should approach SEO+ PR/content/conversion optimisation.

Every client has different needs and a different set-up, agencies would do well to remember that and focus on what they can do for that particular client J

5 Future-gazing:  Buying people, not links?

People are starting to talk about AuthorRank and what it means for rankings. While the debate rolls on, it’s wise for publishers and brands to start using Authorship so that they’re in a good position if and when it starts being used as a ranking factor.

The most interesting conversation I had about it was at SEObarcamp with Danny Denhard from Vouchercodes.co.uk and Bart Platt from Easyjet holidays where we discussed whether companies will eventually start buying people, not links?

And how companies will cope with highly influential authors leaving – will strong employee retention strategies be enough? Or should we all start building strong authorship signals now ready to cash in when we can?

Heledd Jones

Published 18 March, 2013 by Heledd Jones

Heledd Jones is Digital Marketing Manager at Confused.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

10 more posts from this author

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Jude

Great memo. I love your comment about agencies who focus on their past clients more than you. Nothing is more exhausting than spending 90% of the pitching process to hear about the agency and their past clients. That leave you without any knowledge what their views are about your business. Even worse, they forget to listen you as they are too busy to talk about themselves, lol

over 3 years ago

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Jonathan

Thank you for a very astute and observant piece.

I agree that most agencies I know are very afraid of building links right now as the 'Google Goalposts' seem to move on an almost daily basis and whilst Google still actively promotes businesses with higher numbers of links it presents an obvious disconnect between 'what we say' and 'what we do'.

Authorship, whilst not perfect right now, does at least allow a business to build a profile and yes, this might lead to the creation of 'key' authors in an organisation, but more likely it will lead to the creation of ghost profiles, contributed to by an army of bloggers.

The problem with all of this though is that far too many people still just create dull sites which do nothing to engage the end user. The focus is all on links but the key is of course in gaining customers.

We've long held the view that SEO will become what it should have been all along; strategic marketing instead of technical wizardry, as starting with a coherent plan and executing it will, in the long run, be the most effective way of promoting any business.

over 3 years ago

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David

lol - I BUILD BACKLINKS, and I am an SEO. There, is that so hard to say?

over 3 years ago

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Eddie May

Nice piece and great to see a client thinking about SEO alongside PR and content. These are the areas we're working hard to bring together since merging our PR agency with a digital marketing business. Early days but we think it's potentially a very powerful blend of skills.

over 3 years ago

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Michael Neuendorff

I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. I'm an SEO layperson who's just attended one event in the past few years. I did apply what I learned there and it did help my site to rank better for a few keywords in my local geography. I just focused on onsite optimization and blogging and am proud of what's been the result. It's taken a few years because I just did it the old fashioned way. Relevance and supporting content.

over 3 years ago

kenstarr haber

kenstarr haber, co-founder at www.filamseo.com

don't sugar coat link building is the truth

over 3 years ago

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