Saturday, 27 November 2010

Log analysis, SEO and where are we now?

I began by trying to find some independent reviews on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) software tools and drew a blank. Anyone have any pointers? Instead, I have found some reviews of the state of SEO today. This has burgeoned quickly in 5 years to become an industry in its own right with awards for companies that can prove results in improving web sites in specific ways for their clients. It has also migrated into the newer channels of Twitter and Social Media with SMO (Social Media Optimisation) as an acronym. Many web development companies partner with an SEO organisation and work with them in developing a site that behaves as the client wants.

As search and the way results are filtered, ranked and displayed have become more sophisticated (although some would dispute that), the optimisation techniques have had to change, driven by the increasingly powerful search engines such as Google. The changes leave bodies in its wake as SEO companies run to stay still. It's a tricky business working with moving goalposts! When search engines announce a shift in strategy it has serious implications for SEO companies that have based their offerings on other factors driving the search ... and so on. The medium develops, matures, takes some false steps, stabilises for a while and then moves on again. This isn't so new in our line of business. But because SEO is by its very nature measurable, an SEO company often takes the ongoing responsibility for reviewing and reporting the results to the client after the site has gone live. When the search strategy shifts, the SEO company needs to revamp – naturally.

It used to be easy enough and well within the control of the web developers when meta-tags and keywords dominated. Then the importance of links grew fuelling companies specialising in cross-linking between their clients. Now social media has expanded and has driven the perceived need of how to influence/reach more people, analyse data, refine search matches and so on.

If you're interested in the historical overview, The SEO Theory and Analysis Blog, by Michael Martinez, has a good outline of the development of SEO half way down the blog 17th November beginning How search engine optimisation has evolved

Tim Nash has a more techie and amusing take on an historical approach outlined at So you want to be an SEO.

The more serious stuff is found in The SEO Best Practice Guide, econsultancy April 2009, but you have to pay £250 for the full monty.

Finally, you might like an opposing point of view from the SEO Whistleblower, Steve Chapman, ZDNet, where he explains why any company promising to make you Number 1 in Google rankings has it wrong.

Whatever, interesting times in the SEO/SMO arena, eh?