Five Years of SEO: the most important part of an SEO’s Job
Search Engine Optimisation

Five Years of SEO: the most important part of an SEO’s Job

22nd December 2014


As you can read in all the other articles around the five years of SEO there have been a lot of changes. These changes of course impact how an SEO works. Five years ago an SEO’s job was mainly to focus on links. And then there were the ‘standard’ strategies like content creation, technical optimization and other tactics.

These days an SEO’s job is different. But what does it exactly look like? I asked a group of experts on their views of what an SEO’s job looks like these days and what the most important part of the job is.

Michael King, Digital Marketing Leader, Thinker and Doer

“SEO is largely about helping to create things that have visibility. That is largely a role of choreography to ensure that many different teams are doing their part to support the initiative. In a lot of ways SEO is a subset of UX and Content Strategy. In other ways it’s full-blown Digital Strategy. It all depends on the context.”

James Carson, Founder at Made from History:

“Difficult to say because SEO is multi skilled and it depends on the context of the client. The four core disciplines of analytics, information architecture, content marketing and social / PR are all vital to me, and I wouldn’t want to put special emphasis on any one of those because they work best together.”

Anders Hjorth, MD at AZNOS:

“Planning has become so much more important. You need long term strategies to succeed and executing them requires planning. Obviously, monitoring and data handling goes with the planning and finding the right ideas in the first place also go with the planning.”

Nick Garner, Founder of 90Digital:

“Thinking beyond SEO and treating it as a component of a bigger thing: helping a brand/client be a valued part of the Internet.”

Barry Adams, founder at Polemic Digital:

“It’s hard to point at a single most important aspect of SEO as so many different factors combine to do good SEO: content, IA, links, brand, UX, social, technology, etc. SEOs also need to stay on top of Google’s fickle whims and adapt tactics accordingly.

If there was one single aspect of an SEO’s job I would identify as the key to successful SEO, it’s defining the strategic vision that a website’s SEO efforts should be built on. Without a solid long-term foundational strategy, SEO is just a collection of quickfire tactics that are just as likely to harm a website as to improve it.”

Joe Hall, Senior Marketing Analyst:

“Advocating for digital marketing strategies not typically associated with SEO. Google is trying very hard to favour sites that have strong branding and public relations. If a site has a strong brand with an effective PR strategy, then SEO is mountains easier. Which means that SEOs can’t just be advocates for SEO. Instead we must now advocate for all types of promotion.”

Kaspar Szymanski, SEO Consultant at SearchBrothers:

“SEO consulting today overlaps to a large extent with evaluating and at times re-inventing the business model of a client. The data aggregated sometimes leads inevitably to the question, what is the unique business proposition for the users. Answering that question can be difficult but only businesses capable of reinventing themselves will be successful over time, as their environment, their users constantly evolve. Helping clients to maximize their sites potential in search today is all about understanding their audience and streamlining the user experience marking accordingly.”

Kate Morris, Director of Client Strategies at Outspoken Media:

“Reporting – getting that right for clients and learning how to report for other marketing verticals.”

Bastian Grimm, VP Organic Search at Peak Ace:

“Be a good communicator; you actually need to be able to explain things to different people with different backgrounds, most likely from different departments and sometimes even from a totally different culture. This is incredible hard doing it just right. But – on the other hand – if you master that you’ll have open doors to actually get (SEO-) things done.”

Russell O’Sullivan, Snr Digital Marketing Manager at Legal & General:

“Wow – hard one… looking for opportunities and keeping the client informed. Not crumbling to the clients needs when they say, wheres my ranking report. Ranking #1 can be done, but is it driving the right kind of traffic?”

Marcus Tandler, Cofounder at

“1) The technical SEO part, making sure your site is properly OnPage SEOd, easy to crawl and understand by search engines crawlers.

2) The creative SEO part, coming up with relevant and engaging content that attracts new users, leads to people sharing your content and satisfies the search needs of people finding your site in the SERPs for any given query.”

Debra Mastaler, President and owner of Alliance-Link:

“Making sure your webpages offer what your audience is looking for.”

Arianne Donoghue, Account Director at The Home Agency:

“I think the most important part of an SEO’s job, or where they can add the most value is almost as a project manager – co-ordinating all of the elements that combine together to deliver the greatest possible value. They possess the knowledge and it’s up to them to make sure that all of the outreach, technical elements and content creation are implemented as best as possible.”

Andre Alpar, MD at AKM3

“In order to achieve excellent levels of SEO, integration is key. SEO is more versatile than ever, so the number of persons that need to be involved in order to be successful with SEO is growing accordingly. The challenge is becoming even bigger as more and larger established (brand) advertisers are trying to bring their SEO efforts to a cutting edge level.”

Kevin Gibbons, Managing Director at BlueGlass

“SEO is now very much about building a strong user experience for people. That may sound obvious, but it hasn’t always been that way – and search engines are now secondary towards engaging with and building your audience, which is how it absolutely should be.”

Lisa Williams, Digital marketing strategist, speaker, networker & columnist

“The biggest change to an SEO’s job is that we can no longer work in isolation. It used to be that we could make or share necessary technical changes needed for accessibility, or share a page document with meta data needed to provide relevance or drive link building that impacted authority. Now we need to work with other teams to drive collaboration across teams that impacts a more sophisticated model of accessibility, relevance and authority.”

Razvan Gavrilas , Founder & Chief Architect at cognitiveSEO

“Nowadays SEOs and Digital Marketers need to be ahead of the game by trying to “guess” what Google is going to do next and be prepared for it.Here I am referring to ample concepts such as Image Reading, Image Object Detection, Semantic Content Interpretation and Entity Detection. When a search engine will be able to “read” you content, whatever the form of the content might be: text,image or video image the way it will start to rank it and how you will no longer be able to easily manipulate it.

Digital Marketers should focus on creating a happy user experience and generate campaigns that create interest and boost share ability. While doing this you will not only receive good traffic from search engines, but you will cover the entire spectrum of places that send you traffic such as Social Media Platforms and Referrers. It is important to not be 100% reliable on one traffic source, whatever the source is. Diversification with a strong focus on what works best if key when it comes to Digital Marketing. But always try new things. You never know what new digital marketing methodology that works on your particular case you may find.”

What do you think is the most important part of an SEO’s job these days? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter.

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Be sure to read the other articles in this series:


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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