A lot has changed this year in SEO. Google's algorithm has always had changes, but this year ushered in perhaps some of the biggest and most important changes that will segment SEO professionals right down the middle. This isn't about the old white hat versus black hat division either. This post will fundamentally redefine what a 2012 SEO professional should look like while identifying the cause of the division. So, what is causing SEOs to be divided into two camps?
On the surface, the above individual updates might not seem like a big deal. However, collectively they throw a monkey wrench into the work of the traditional "Technical SEO" professional.
Due to the above, aggressive link building becomes much more risky. Content lacking brand and social signals becomes less important. Duplicate, poorly written and keyword stuffed content become pariahs. Content lacking freshness is less likely to rank well. Lastly, tracking SEO results have become more difficult due to Google's SSL rules.
These are the traditional SEO practitioners. The people who owned the first page of the SERPs for most of the last 10 years. Many of them still own the SERPs today. However, it's becoming much harder to maintain and they're seeing their high rankings begin to fall. The Technical SEO is an expert at all things on-page and off-page.
They also tend to be experts on the programming side of search engine optimization and can rattle off dozens of obscure, yet tiny, algorithm-effecting technical tactics. In some regards, their tactics can be considered "gaming" the algorithm. They're also experts at reading analytics.
A subset of The Technical SEO is the black hat practitioner and most of these folks don't subscribe to content is king values.
The Inbound Marketer is a hybrid of three disciplines - Technical SEO, social media marketing and content marketing. Gianluca Fiorelli coined this SEO practitioner as the Inbounder in his SEOmoz article, Wake Up SEOs, the New Google is Here.
This new 2012 breed of SEO practitioner is best prepared to take advantage of Google's changes mentioned above. They are best positioned to achieve the highest rankings for the largest number of keywords for the campaigns they work on over time.
Dan Zarrella, in The Science of SEO, recommended to companies not selling pills, poker or porn to hire content writers and producers in lieu of technical SEO practitioners. This recommendation bolsters the SEO camp of the future - The Inbound Marketer.
Which camp will you fall into in 2012? Here's a better question - As a company, which SEO practitioner will you hire in 2012?
It is very important for you to vet any and all SEO vendors in the future to determine which camp they reside in. Otherwise, you may burn through your marketing budget for very short-term ranking results instead of building momentum for long-term sustainable rankings. Worst case, you may wander too many deviations from Google's algorithmic mean and get banished from the SERPs altogether.
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