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Despite the danger of over simplification, I rather like the acronym D.E.A.D. as a reminder on how to approach modern, multi-signalled, SEO.
It's not really dead btw...
Data has always been important for SEO. Even now when we’re in the Renaissance Age of SEO with suitable focus on engaging content, clever social ideas, linkbait and outreach there are still many reasons why SEO experts are also Excel experts.
Although Google removing keyword data from analytics is a pain and a hindrance to the SEO service it has the effect of raising the value of data.
It also adds SEO expertise back into task of working out which natural search keywords are driving actions.
Modern SEO involves mapping PPC keyword data to Webmaster Console data to analytics landing page data, non-Google keyword data in order to show value and justify tactics. That’s just one example of the importance of data in SEO.
Modern SEO, I argue, is a specialised form of social media. With a social media campaign a brand will be looking to engage people (a group, an individual, a demographic, etc), earn and harvest from that engagement.
SEO today requires the ability to engage people and do it in a particular way that’s likely to earn the links and other signals search engines require, in relation to the specific pages and assets that a brand has, in order to target the right keywords.
The social media understanding is the basic approach behind an SEO campaign and the SEO expertise is the ability to engage in such a way as to achieve a ‘search engine objective’.
Examples of engagement being paramount in modern SEO are found with both outreach and content. SEOs need to be fully empowered and very good at reaching out to bloggers and other publishers with editorial opportunities.
Content produced with SEO in mind isn’t just relevant on a keyword level but able to entice the right actions from the audience; such as social shares, links/coverage or sales.
One of the most important questions an SEO must answer is; “Who cares?” This question applies to new content being added to a site with a search campaign in mind.
Before any content is created the SEO should have a strong idea of who the target audience for that content is, what sort of content they like and how that audience tends to react.
For example, there’s little point adding linkbait content for an audience with a very low propensity to link in the first place. Nor is it wise to add very commercial content when the intended audience tends to react badly to sales pitches, logos and adverts.
Equally, a fantastic understanding of audience is essential before starting any outreach campaign. The SEO needs to know what his intended outreach audience wants.
Do they want content? Are they bloggers with a good understanding of the difference between advertorial and editorial content? What topics will float their boat?
Lastly, SEO is about matching intent with discovery. The very nature of search is about discovery and SEOs need to master it. This means looking beyond the keyword and to the other ways in which users discover content from Google and other search platforms.
For example, Google+ and Google Now, AppStore recommendations and how Open Graph meta tags influence presentation, shares and clicks.
Modern SEO also needs to know how to use paid media in order to promote content and reward bloggers. Discovery platforms like Reddit, StumbleUpon and even sites like Buzzfeed are often hugely important for any content marketing for SEO benefit campaign.
That’s why D.E.A.D. is a pretty good way to remember modern SEO. If you’re always thinking about data, engagement, audiences and discovery as you plan your campaigns you’ll have a far greater success.