I was recently invited by Ninja Outreach to participate in this SEO Experts Roundup. Some big names took part. The result is a hugely useful resource comprising the collective wisdom of 99 SEO experts.
I decided to try and interpret their opinions in a way that could be quantified, recorded in a spreadsheet and presented graphically to distil the enormous amount of content in the survey down to some key takeaways.
I knew that not all of you would have the time it takes to read the whole roundup post and being able to present an interpretation graphically might enable people to understand the essential elements of the results at a glance.
I tabulated all the data, including the experts’ names and links to their websites, in this publicly available spreadsheet in Google docs.
I’ve explained the assumptions I used in compiling the data and added my own commentary on the roundup below but, for those that don’t have time for the detail, here’s the result. You can click on the graph to get the ‘big picture’. The headline results shouldn’t be a surprise to any SEO expert. Content is the most important part of any SEO strategy. By a country mile.
In second place came links. In my analysis, I decided to record link development under a separate heading from link-building using off-site content such as guest blogging and outreach because link development includes internal links and also other forms of external links such as directories, local links etc. which can be acquired without publishing content on third party sites. But if you were to combine these two headings, you would get a score of 110 for links, compared with 178 for content.
Nothing else came close, not even user experience. And it could be argued that some of the other headings such as keyword research are really just part of the content ideation process which is just another part of content.
So, it all boils down to content and links. Or two-part SEO, as explained in depth by Eric Enge in The Two-Part SEO Ranking Model: Let’s Make SEO Simple. This was also confirmed by Google’s Andrey Lippatsev in the first few seconds of this video.
Of course, the other factors can’t be ignored. If technical issues prevent your site being crawled or loaded quickly, you’re going to have problems but, assuming these ‘givens’ don’t become showstoppers, content and links will be the differentiators that enable you to outrank your competitors.
Content Creation and Content Requirements
It’s clear from the experts’ opinions that not any content will do and that the bar is very high.
Content must have the following characteristics.
1. Unique. Don’t copy or plagiarise.
2. Useful. Add value for the user.
3. Relevant to the search query. Do your keyword research, decide what you want to rank for and plan it into your content from the outset.
4. Digestible. Is it easy and enjoyable to read?
5. Linkworthy. Ask yourself if or why anybody would link to your page or post. If you can’t answer that straightaway, you’re going to have to work harder to get links to that content.
6. Comprehensive. Try and cover your specific topic better than anyone has done before. If that is not possible with your first content idea, try and think of a new angle which hasn’t been covered before.
Of course, if you think about the Experts Roundup post itself, it satisfies all of the above content requirements.
Another thing that was very evident from the experts’ opinions was that, unless you’re a marketing superstar, you’re still going to have to give your content a helping hand to get seen by more people by actively promoting it.
1. Share it on social media.
2. Consider paid ads to drive more traffic and establish user engagement metrics.
3. Link to it from your other related posts and pages.
4. Link from it to other blogs and sites, if those sites are relevant and useful to your users.
5. Network on other blogs in your niche, ideally on a related topic and also sites like Quora.
Assumptions Made in Compiling the Spreadsheet
1. Scores were given to up to 3 factors cited by each expert.
2. The most important factor was given a score of 3 and the least important a score of 1.
3. If the expert did not express which was most important, I usually chose the first mentioned. For example if an expert cited “content and links” I scored content as 3, links as 2 and no third score if nothing else was mentioned.
4. If the language used suggested a different order, I had to place my own interpretation on their opinion and this means, inevitable, there is subjectivity involved and also room for error.
If you are one of the experts and I have misinterpreted your views and you would like me to change the spreadsheet, please inform me and I’ll amend it and update the graph above.
Afterthought. I always believed that you become an expert not when you call yourself one but when others refer to you as an expert. Maybe I earned my stripes!
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