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What To Focus On This Year

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What To Focus On This Year


As the ball dropped in Times Square at midnight on January 1, 2022, many search engine marketers were tempted to check their analytics and rankings.

It appears that Google has replaced Santa as the purveyor of the “Naughty or Nice” list in the online world.

Some sites receive the gift of better rankings before the New Year.

Others are cleaning the coal dust out of their stockings, running frantic analyses on why they were put on the naughty list.

Holiday core algorithm updates from Google are nothing new to veteran search engine marketers.

And I don’t know who needs to hear this, but next year the update will be there after Christmas.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a few days off.

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Take some time to think about how you can be even better in the New Year.

That’s what I did.

Below is my list of SEO resolutions for the New Year.

1. Remember To Have Empathy

In my experience, most search engine marketers are very “left-brained.”

Sure, there’s a ton of creativity in the search engine marketing world – but most search engine marketers would rather figure out why a piece of code isn’t loading as fast as it should versus trying to understand the intricacies of a searcher’s mind.

Don’t get me wrong, the technical aspects of SEO and paid search are essential – and without technical savvy, what we do doesn’t work.

But technical fixes are not enough to show continued improvement in your search engine marketing results.

I believe that the best tool any marketer can have is empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others.

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If we as marketers can understand the feelings, motivations, intent, and actions of search engine users, we can create webpages and content that not only provides value to visitors but also increases our site’s bottom line.

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I have always prided myself on my ability to empathize with searchers.

But with every core algorithm update or IT person screwing up a site, I find it very easy to put my empathetic impulses on the back burner to chase technical fixes.

Those technical fixes are for Google, not the searchers.

I need to remember to spend as much – or more – time understanding those who make a query as I do looking at ways to improve a site’s performance.

The dividends that come from empathetic marketing practices are usually greater than those gleaned from technical fixes.

All of us in search would be wise to remember this.

2. Automate All The Things

In the last few years, many prominent SEO professionals have touted the advantages of using the Python programming language to automate rote search engine optimization tasks.

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Python, in the hands of a competent programmer, is a powerful tool that can cut the amount of time required for search engine optimization significantly.

Python can help you scrape data to come up with content ideas, analyze common on-page SEO issues, track and analyze issues in your backlink profile and much more.

Those interested in some of the possibilities with Python should read this article: How To Use Python To Analyze SEO Data: A Reference Guide.

As I’ve stated in the past, by definition I am not a coder.

However, I’ve been around code for so long I know what to look for when I’m analyzing how the code will react with the search engines.

For those like me, I encourage you to dig in and learn the basics of the Python language.

No one is going to care if you master the intricacies of the code.

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In fact, I would argue that spending too much learning the language is a waste of time.

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For me, the end goal of learning about any new technology is to learn its full capabilities and limitations.

If you understand what a piece of software can do, you can then plan what you need and either figure out how to program just what you need or hire someone to program it for you.

It’s almost impossible to hire someone to automate your SEO tactics if you don’t understand how Python (or any other software) can help you achieve your goal.

My goal in 2022 is to learn everything python can do.

If you are a freelance python developer, feel free to hit me up around May, as I suspect I’ll have some projects by then.

3. Get Your Tracking Right

The introduction of Google Analytics 4 has thrown a wrench in a lot of sites’ tracking codes.

Many went from somewhat high confidence that their analytics data was correct to uncertainty.

When you don’t trust your analytics numbers, you can’t make proper decisions.

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You can’t plan properly.

We often have prospects that show up with poorly executed tracking.

This has become so much of an issue that we recently implemented a policy where we don’t move on to any other work until the tracking is set up.

And it needs to be set up so everyone in your organization trusts the data.

If you increase traffic by 140% but the boss doesn’t believe the numbers are accurate, no one will get credit. There is a good chance that the tactics used to achieve the increased traffic won’t be approved again in the future.

Why would anyone approve activity that, based upon their worldview, isn’t effective?

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On the other hand, if traffic falls and no one trusts the data, it will be almost impossible to accurately diagnose what is causing the traffic decrease – at least in a way where the whole team is on board with the diagnosis and action items to fix the issues.

4. Embrace The Grind

Good SEO is a grind.

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In many cases, we are implementing tactics and must wait several weeks before we know if our efforts worked or not.

We’re a lot like farmers – planting our seeds in the code of our sites, watering and caring for the code while knowing that storms from Google or drought from lack of consumer interest may mean a disastrous harvest.

Successful SEO pros embrace the daily grind.

We work on content to bolster our authority.

We check the code daily to make sure nothing is broken.

And when Google announces an upcoming update, the net looks like a town that just heard a storm is coming – SEO professionals work to batten down the hatches, even if we aren’t exactly sure what to do to prepare for the storm.

All-in-all, SEO becomes a list of daily chores.

Those SEO pros that embrace this daily grind are successful.

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Those that look for magic bullets and quick fixes end up chasing their tail.

Embrace the grind.

It’s how you show long-term, sustainable SEO success.

In Conclusion

If you’ve read this far, I’d love to hear your search engine marketing resolution.

Feel free to post your SEO New Year’s resolution on Twitter using the hashtag #seo2022.

I am looking forward to reading all the new year’s resolution inspiration I’m sure the readers of Search Engine Journal can provide.

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Featured image: LanaSweet/Shutterstock

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Read More On SEJ

Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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