By Clark Boyd
More than any other digital marketing discipline, SEO is a game of opinions. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy that guarantees success, and that leaves plenty of room for healthy debate.
Given how profitable SEO can be when done well, the industry has spawned a vast array of influencers, dispensing morsels of invaluable insight that businesses can apply to their own strategies. A few of these influencers have even gained something close to celebrity status.
It’s been a tough few months for the industry in that sense, with luminaries like Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan and Matt McGee announcing their respective departures from the scene in the near future.
These are all respected figures with a wealth of experience who essentially put SEO on the map. In their wake, there is a need for a new wave of dedicated SEO experts to conduct and share their findings with the wider community. Fortunately, there are plenty of worthy candidates.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bad advice out there. SEO provokes conjecture along with healthy debate, and following the wrong advice can have a negative impact on any business.
However, help is at hand. The below is a list of experts and resources that continually provide excellent, reliable, actionable SEO advice.
As the name suggests with minimal subtlety, the site is mainly about link building. This is an essential area of SEO, but yet also the one of the most difficult to master. With Google’s Penguin algorithm now functioning in real time, all SEOs need to make sure their link earning practices are squeaky clean.
Backlinko helps to bridge this gap by providing convincing evidence of the areas that drive performance, backed up by case studies and in-depth research.
The blog also contains exhaustive, permanent resources on non-link building topics, including YouTube ranking factors and a very long list of 201 SEO tips.
Backlinko provides a lesson for all SEO and content marketers. The site’s principal author, Brian Dean, posts as frequently as he has something substantial and of lasting value to share. This flies in the face of the received wisdom that content publication should have a regular cadence, but it seems to work.
For anyone looking to go beyond the usual SEO soundbites and find out what really works, this is an excellent place to start.
SEO by the Sea
SEO by the Sea is a niche blog, focusing on analysis of newly granted patents for companies like Google. It makes for a much more entertaining read than one might expect, with rare insights into the workings of the world’s foremost tech companies.
The site is run by Bill Slawski and provides more substantial information than most other SEO-focused blogs out there. Of course, not all of the patents reviewed see the light of day in product form, so we need to approach them with a modicum of caution. However, as a resource for understanding the technology and methodology behind retrieving and ranking search results, SEO by the Sea is unparalleled.
In combination with the corroborating evidence we can find on sites like Backlinko, this site helps provide a rounded view of how a search engine really works.
Lisa Myers is the founder of UK-based agency Verve Search, and is also a regular on the SEO conference scene. She has presented at a wide range of events; most of the presentations can be found here.
Lisa’s presentations have covered some fascinating topics, including the need for SEOs to inject some emotion into their content to cut through with audiences. Many of the decks are focused on how to attract authoritative backlinks through content, which is undoubtedly one of the most challenging and unpredictable areas of our work. Her most recent talk from MozCon 2017 is definitely worth reading for anyone that works in content marketing or influencer engagement.
Lisa Myers is also the founder of Women in Search, another great resource if you are looking for some SEO influencers to follow.
Dr Pete is the resident marketing scientist at Moz and he has for some time been a reputable authority on the inner workings of search engines.
Recently, he has focused on understanding Google’s ‘featured snippets’, which are another huge opportunity for SEOs, but not one that we can distil to an exact, simple formula. This guide is about as comprehensive a resource on the subject as one could hope for, and following the steps it outlines can help SEOs improve the likelihood they will show up in those coveted featured snippets positions.
You can also follow Dr Pete on Twitter, where he is typically very responsive to any specific questions from the SEO community.
Barry Schwartz is an industry veteran and is one of the most reliable authorities on Google updates. He runs the excellent Search Engine Roundtable, which is just about the best site out there for any breaking SEO news. Posts are short and to the point, containing the essential information as it becomes available. The sources for their news stories typically work in the engineering teams at Google, so it as about as reliable as we could expect to find.
This means that posts are typically quite short and to the point, containing the essential information we need to know. Search Engine Roundtable is therefore a little different to most other SEO blogs, choosing to report on very specific pieces of Google information, rather than in-depth studies. As a result, it’s a site that most SEOs should visit quite frequently to keep abreast of the latest news as it breaks.
Stone Temple Research
Stone Temple is an SEO agency and, like most SEO agencies, they have a blog. What makes theirs stand out from the crowd is their dedication to spending a huge amount of time preparing rigorous studies that tell us something new.
The recent study on how Google might rank videos differently on YouTube versus traditional search is essential reading for anyone in the industry. Past studies have investigated Google’s indexation of Twitter posts over time and the effectiveness of the various digital assistants.
Stone Temple keep a clear focus on content quality, backing everything up with a coherent methodology and a transparent view on their findings. As such, posts are relatively infrequent, but they are typically worth the wait.
So, there are lots of different guides and resources out there, but sometimes SEO questions don’t fit so neatly within these categories. Chances are, however obscure your SEO question is, someone has asked it already on Webmaster Central.
This Google help forum provides an opportunity for search professionals to ask and answer detailed questions. Everything from disavow files to international SEO is covered in a huge amount of depth, so this site is worth benchmarking in case you run into any obstacles. In all likelihood, someone else will already have encountered (and overcome) the same hurdle on Webmaster Central.
This is not strictly an SEO resource, but it is worth adding to an SEO reading list nonetheless. Marketing Experiments contains a trove of case studies, mainly focused on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) tests. User engagement factors are increasingly important for SEO rankings, so this is not an area of marketing that we can ignore. With the advent and subsequent growth of RankBrain, the worlds of SEO and CRO have converged almost entirely now.
Image via Pixabay
Marketing Experiments hosts a lengthy list of use cases that can provide invaluable data to shape our own hypotheses when it comes to testing landing page variations. The Unbounce blog is also a good place to stay up to speed with the latest in CRO.
You can bring all of this together, and add a lot more influencers to your own list, by signing up to Inbound.org. Inbound curates a personalized list for marketers based on their areas of interest, with options including PPC, SEO, Social Media, and Data Science.
Inbound highlights trending topics in organic search, but it also serves as a marketing community and forum for people to share ideas. There are always new voices in the SEO industry; this is a great place to hear them first.
Source:: Search Engine Watch RSS