The Evolving Challenge of SEO

Guest Post: Bas van den Beld, Editor – State of Search

The job of an SEO is not getting easier, but they can handle it.

One thing I often proclaim is that people should start looking outside of their websites when trying top optimize for search engines. Branding and marketing are becoming more important on places where people exactly are and search is going to play a much bigger role in branding than it did until now. I’ve written about that several times and I’ve even talked about it many times.

One thing I always have to watch out for when I’m saying these things is that people think they can ignore all the on site elements except for linkbuilding and that life has just become a lot easier, because you don’t need SEO anymore.

Here is where my story hits a ‘dangerous’ area. Because I do not believe that you do not need SEO anymore. In fact, SEO is the basis for becoming successful in your marketing and branding efforts. So on site SEO should be step 1, off- site SEO step 2. And though opportunities are growing, it is definitely not becoming ‘easier’ to optimize. The job of an SEO just got a bit more difficult again. But the SEO professional can handle that…

The job of an SEO evolved more or less from the job of a programmer. What you can see is that many programmers caught the “SEO-bug” and started working on optimizing websites from a code-perspective. Trying to make sites rank better based on things they can change in the code. That slowly changed when the technical parts were not the only ranking factors anymore. In came the textual part. When search engines decided a page was going to be ranked based on the content, all of a sudden SEOs were forced to think about text. And that is not always easy for a technical person who sometimes rather “talks-in-code” than in text.

But the SEOs got the hang of it and now had two major things they were supposed to do: optimize a website based on text and optimize the code. Or wait, is there more? Yes there is. Remember the idea Larry Page once had,.. Pagerank? This algorithm meant that another huge ranking factor is links. Links from other websites. So the SEO needed to do three things: think about the content, optimize the technique and get links. They could get links
technically by simply building a lot of sites but they should also get in touch with other website owners to ask them for links. In a way they were ‘selling’ their own sites to get the links.

Maybe the fact that SEOs are not sales people has something to do with some of the crappy link-exchange requests we get daily?

At this time an SEO combined three jobs in one: a technical programmer, a content writer/ editor and a sales person. And don’t think that each of the jobs they have to do is simply following a list. With the ever changing search engines the way things work within all of these areas can change from one day to another, just look at all the local aspects. Must be hard to do that within 40 hours. But hey, the SEO did it!

So that was the job of an SEO. And in comes web 2.0. Social Media, websites like Slideshare, Scribd, video sites like YouTube. You can all use them to get your brand out there and make a name for yourself. For that you need to first find out which are the places you want to be. Then optimize for that specific place and then get it all back to the original place you were optimizing for: your website.

This last change, the one I keep on talking about to many people is a change which also is added to the job-description of the SEO. They now have a fourth job to combine: marketer. And you know what? They just do it.

I don’t think you’ll hear of many jobs who have four that different jobs hidden inside one job. With the latest change, the SEOs job just got a little bit more difficult. But the SEOs can handle that, trust me :)


Bas van den Beld is a Web/search strategist, international search specialist, trainer, and well-respected blogger. Bas keeps up to date about all facets of online marketing worldwide and especially Europe.

Bas is the owner of He is also the owner of NetTraject, a Dutch company that advises on international search matters and provides training in search engine marketing and project management.

Bas is also a regular speaker on different marketing and search events. He’s also host of several podcasts, including a weekly show on a WebmasterRadio.FM. Bas also publishes on his personal blog,

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