Stop Waiting for SEO Heroes and Make Great Stuff

I have six professional heroes presently – and I don’t mind sharing. In random order, they are:

Seth Godin – For telling me to quit dead ends and focus on being the best.
Edward Tufte – Guided me into information design, recognizing and avoiding chartjunk, and telling stories visually.
Jakob Nielson – For telling it like it is even when it’s totally unpopular.
Richard Florida – For drawing attention to what drives creative people.
Steve Wozniak – For his approachable demeanor as well as the desire to spread knowledge.
Steve Jobs – For his relentless passion to innovate.

I’ve met Florida, Tufte, Jobs and Wozniak. If only for a moment (they wouldn’t remember me.) I had no trouble making the list above. It came to me in 3 minutes. Each have contributed through a career of hard work with a real passion to improve things.

Have any heroes emerged in the SEO world? Should we expect it? As I sat in a meeting recently all eyes were on me to save the business. My answers about content creation, social media, and slow, steady growth were not superhero answers. Some are looking for the cape crusader to save old-school companies with new marketing feats of awe. People start looking for a mild-mannered SEO to burst from the phone booth and fix the problem. I don’t know why.

“SEO Building Permits” – An SEO’s Presence Throughout A Design Project can Prevent Expensive Tear-Outs

We can draw a parallel between SEO advice and building permitting. Pressures placed on any web development project can cause marketing goals to be conveniently ignored, just like marketing goals, building codes and standards. Paid search ends up the beneficiary when an “un-optimizable” site results.

5 Methods to Track Offline Conversions – and Plug Huge Marketing Budget Leaks.

One of the most difficult challenges is tracking paid search performance via telephone calls for the small business. While a few will spring for a new 800 number or IVR system to get some of that information and train phone staff in its use, many cannot due to the workaday reality. Often the busy office environment means metrics go out the window in favor of just getting the order out, so the company continues to guess.

The Amazing World of Navigational Searches

In the past few months’ time I’ve spent more than my usual amount of time watching others surf the web. I am always astonished by how poor people are at knowing where to type searches, or web addresses, or login information. When I ask someone to go to a website, there is genuine confusion about where or how. It’s no surprise to me that a thriving sub-economy exists based on navigational searches – which I define loosely as “typing a web site URL into a search box because you want to visit it.”

Most of the time it’s user issues that causes navigational searches IMO:

The toolbars have been dragged out of whack.
I don’t even think about, I just type.
Ambiguity between “search”, “find”, and “address bar” in browsers such as IE7.
Alcohol or Drugs, Senility, or perhaps Loud Children.

Some people have real reasons for it. Here are a few:

I don’t have to worry as much about typos.
I sometimes want to look at the cache
I get a quick glance at other sites referring to it (talk about ad-hoc reputation management!)
I’m a rebel, damnit, and you ain’t gonna change me.

A terrific article on navigational searches prompted me to begin a list of good resources on this matter. I also found this terrific write up by Jeremy Crane over at compete’s blog. It was also eye-opening.