Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Search Insider: You CAN Handle These SEO Truths

You CAN Handle These SEO Truths

If you're looking to make sure you're covering all bases with search engine optimization, a good place to start is Rebecca Lieb's new book, "The Truth about Search Engine Optimization." You'll find 51 truths in this book, covering everything from link development to video optimization. They're bite-sized chunks, and if you feel well-versed in some areas but want some help with others, it's easy to flip around and read it in the order that matters most to you.

Lieb, vice president of U.S. operations for Econsultancy, was previously editor in chief of ClickZ Network and also ran Search Engine Watch during some of her tenure there, so she's seen quite a few truths emerge. You can find out more at RebeccaLieb.com.

Meanwhile, it's time to get to the truth behind "The Truth." We'll continue this interview next week, so if you have other questions, post them in the comments or e-mail me and I'll work some into the second round.

Search Insider: How did you decide on these 51 truths and techniques? Were there any you left off that you really wanted to include? Or did you come across a point where you wanted to stop at, say, 37 and the publisher said, "Give me 51 or no book deal"?

Rebecca Lieb: I'm glad to say that not only is the book about organic search, but the chapter count is totally organic too. That is to say, in writing it, I sat down and made a list of the topics people need to be at least briefed on to approach the subject of SEO holistically. The list totaled 51, and no one at FT Press gave me any arguments -- and neither did the book's highly knowledgeable technical editor, Amanda Watlington.

SI: Who needs this book the most?

RL: Anyone who needs to wrap their head around SEO. This isn't a book about how to code a Web page; it's a book about the concepts of being found online. Tons of people behind a myriad of Web sites are interested in that, from solo bloggers to Fortune 100 companies. It's not a book that's going to throw coding skills or high levels of technical expertise at you, but it will help you understand what makes a Web site "findable." That's useful information for someone not directly involved in SEO, but who's running, say, a marketing department and in the course of their job must have semi-coherent discussions with the people who are doing the nuts-and-bolts SEO stuff.

SI: If you had to write a book called "The One Truth of SEO," what would that one truth be?

RL: Content is king. But content covers a whole lot of bases: there's copy, there are title tags and meta data, there's local and vertical content -- even links can be regarded as content. Behind every great SEO initiative is a solid and sustainable content strategy.

SI: If content is king, where do links fit in the kingdom?

RL: Links point to content, and do so contextually -- at least, the best ones do. Implicitly, links say, "Hey, think this is interesting? Want to know more? Then look over here." A publishing analogy might be that links are the table of contents and footnotes all rolled into one. And links don't just say that to users, they convey the same message to search engine spiders as well. Well-executed and strategically placed links help spiders to better understand and index content. Links also help pave the way for spiders to find related and relevant content. Links are critical to the way you surf the Web, and search engines follow those same paths.

SI: You've been involved in covering this field for some time now. Is there anything that was really new or surprising to you as you put all this together? 

RL: You're right -- I've lived in this space for quite a while, since people were wondering what Google's revenue model was going to be! In the book I've worked hard to underscore the fact that SEO is a continually evolving process that's never done. It can always be improved upon. And that, of course, is because search is new and rapidly evolving. While writing this book, I kept a close eye on developments in universal search, local, vertical, video, and the other newer forms of search that are gaining in importance, both on the Web and to SEO strategies.

David Berkowitz is director of emerging media and client strategy at 360i. You can reach him at dberkowitz@360i.com, on Twitter at @dberkowitz, and through his blog at MarketersStudio.com.

Search Insider for Tuesday, March 17, 2009:

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