SEO has moved on in the last 5 years (considerably some might say) yet I still see the same skill requirements and the somewhat vague job descriptions in job listings. It isn’t easy to hire for the role of SEO if you’re not an expert in it, so word of mouth does go a long way. The thing is that the evolution of the profession means that it has even outgrown the confines of it’s name.
At one point SEO was all about:
- Getting a #1 ranking on the search engine listings (well, mainly Google)
This created a culture of “Them and Us” (the search engines and the SEO’s). SEO’s battled it out to tweak sites to manipulate the rankings for their clients and the search engines worked hard to protect the validity of their listings for their users. It was kinda ugly really, but this “battle” created a lot of wonderful innovations as well.
Today things have changed considerably. Being #1 in Google and invisible across the rest of the channels is not really going to get the most out of what you have to offer (not to mention all of the personalised results issues, but that’s for another day). The key now is maximum visibility. Your “Visibility strategist” knows:
- Which channels will work for you and your product
- What you need to do to achieve it
- Who you need to reach in particular
- What to say to them
- What to show/give/share/provide
- How to do all that
The coming of age of social media, social networks, web 2.0 and web 3.0 tools and services as well as better news and information management have led to search engines no longer being the only touch point for people looking for things online.
- Facebook – 175 million users every 24hrs, 350 million active users globally (65 million through mobile)
- Twitter – 75 million user accounts, 1.3 million tweets per hour
- Linkedin – 50 million members
- Flickr – 4 billion images
- Blogs – 70% of bloggers talking about brands
(I got some of these here, there are plenty more, but you get the picture)
Other touch points:
- and so so so many more…
Added to these we also have the opportunity of interacting with data more efficiently as we begin to embrace the semantic web.
What this basically means is that the “Search Engine Optimisation expert” title isn’t really very convincing. SEO’s are no longer at war with the search engines, they’re at war with everything on the internet. Only kidding! It’s no longer a game of who is #1 for a search space on Google, it’s a question of how visible is my brand/product/website/photo/footage/whatever across all of these channels, in fact across everywhere the people I’m trying to reach go. Nobody is at war now, rather “visibility strategists” have become key in helping technologists start new trends, develop new habits, spread new ways of doing things, understand spaces and explain things back to businesses and users.
I pulled this list of required skills from a random ad for an “SEO analyst”:
- Writing meta tags
- using search engine research techniques (I don’t know what this means either)
- Link building
- Log file analysis
- Traffic reporting
- Submission to search engines and directories (!?)
- Site development
- ROI analysis
- Web usability
- Keyword research
- Content optimisation
- Hands on optimisation work
I see a few key things missing for our new breed “Visibility strategist”:
- Information Architecture
- Social media expertise
- Metrics development
- Online community architecture
- Persona development (a usability expert should take care of the full usability side)
- Data management
- Semantic web technologies & methods
- Video optimisation
- Researching developments in key technologies (RDF, Microfromats, OWL, HTML 5…)
- Researching user trends
- Researching language use online
- and more I’m sure…
The idea is to no longer to only worry about search engines but also how to get every drop of goodness out of the client’s project. It’s also sometimes about turning any big-to-microscopic drop of negativity into an opportunity. The bottom line is that you don’t just want to rank, you want to reach the right people. Your “Visibility strategist” will know how to do just that.
Where can you find them?
I suspect there are a good number lurking under the guise of SEO, but you’ll also find a fair few in web development, coding and other hands on areas too.
Do you want one?