white-hat SEO-able. But it can be done — and we do know Google and Adobe are talking (I am actu-
ally participating in this interview from the 360Flex conference in Seattle).
I think the biggest changes are again that balancing act between the visual and the content, and how
to balance them effectively.
But here is a radical thought — SEO may not be as important for a strong social site, whereas word of
mouth and viral marketing will be what delivers the visitation. Could social sites be able to thumb
their nose at the search engines?
Jerri: Are there any other coming changes that will affect SEO?
Well we think that Flex and other tools will become SEO-friendly. We hope people get it —
and write their sites to focus on the visitors, not the robot spiders. To my knowledge, no sales have
come from the spider . . . but they do come from the visitors.
We also are well aware of strong vertical search engines, and this may be an area where the rank-
and-file SEO specialist is not focusing — to optimize for vertical search engines that are within the
space of the client web site.
Jerri: Is there anything I haven’t touched on that might be important for small to mid-sized
organizations to know about SEO?
Cost . . . cost is a huge issue. Education is another. I spend so much time discussing main-
tenance programs and the need to keep doing SEO monthly. It is not a one-time thing. And of
course educating people that you do not need to pay people to submit your web site and that
no one can guarantee a top position on the top three search engines.
Again, back to cost. Small businesses have been educated that they need SEO, but they find
they cannot easily afford it. Even mid-sized businesses feel this way. The issue is that SEO is still
mystical — whereas they know paid-click programs work, or if it doesn’t work they can stop it
quickly. The snake-oil people aren’t helping.
My approach recently has been more common sense–based, as discussed earlier. When someone
asks me about SEO, I immediately ask them about their web site. Is it working for them? Then I
look to see if it is effective and usable. I also try to manage their expectations. I had someone ask
me to get them top-ranked for the word “diamonds,” and they ended up not hiring me because I
said they should consider more realistic targets like “quality diamond earrings” or something simi-
lar. Of course, for $100,000 maybe I could have gotten them top rankings [for such a broad term]
but they only wanted to spend $5,000.
I am coming up with a product called SEO Lite which provides basic usability and web effective-
ness, along with SEO best practices and education about what a web-site owner can do on their
own for optimization.
I do hear of major companies that have stopped their SEO initiatives. It’s all about results and costs.
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