How Do You Keep Up With the Hockey Stick Growth of SEO Changes?

Our guest poster today: Ward Tongen is the President of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association (MnSearch), and a principal digital strategist at Medtronic Neuromodulation.

Hit With a Hockey Stick

A hockey stick graph is a certain shape – a graph showing sudden exponential growth.  Here’s how it looks (I added the hockey stick):

hockey stick growth

The hockey stick graph has been used (sometimes controversially) to illustrate the rate of global warming, population growth over time, etc.

The rate of change in growing and changing industries like search marketing feels pretty rapid even if it’s not exponential. I like to call it the hockey stick of change because getting hit with accelerating rate of change sometimes feels like getting hit with a hockey stick.

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

Karen Kaiser Clark

In years past you may have used the following to keep up-to-date with SEO changes in the industry:

I still go to the large trade shows and conferences, and still keep tabs on change ahead signmy favorite weblebrities, but in a different and – I think – more efficient way. These days you need a strategy to keep up-to-date in the search industry.

How about this? – Keep your inbox free and keep your go-to sources simple. Use Twitter as your main touch point to track topics and back it up with an RSS reader loaded with good informative feeds. Top this off with a personal presence at your local search marketing association to network with peers and educate yourself in real life (IRL).

Using Twitter to Keep Up With SEO

Build yourself a SEO Twitter list and drop in on that stream on a regular basis. You can also subscribe to someone elses Twitter list. For example I subscribe Danny Sullivan’s Twitter list (along with 847 others I might add).

Save your favorite industry hashtags and participate in hosted Twitter hashtag chats. A good hashtag chat should have two things: a topic for discussion and a moderator. Not only will you get a sense for what’s going on in the community, but you can follow links to online resources that you can then add to your RSS reader.

#SEO is a major general industry hashtag. The corresponding Twitter hashtag chat would be #SEOchat. Leah Beatty provides an excellent Twitter Chat 101 Guide for Inbound Marketers. The basics according to Leah:

  • The topic should be promoted via the hashtag on Twitter a few days prior, so all participants know what to expect. (Many chats also have websites or blogs for chat archiving, and will post the chat questions.)
  • A moderator is in charge of conversation flow and pace. They ask the questions and encourage conversation while keeping an eye on the clock.

Twitter is also the place to go when you want to follow what’s going on or being announced at a conference. To help keep up you should probably attend at least one major SEO conference a year but watching the hashtag stream from other conferences (#SMX, #SES, #pubcon…) can be valuable.

RSS Feed subscriptions

There are many blogs, videos and social media channels dedicated to search marketing topics, techniques and research. A great way to keep your inbox clean and keep up on a variety of search marketing topics is to use an RSS reader.

Google Reader was very popular for this but has since passed on. You will have to select a new reader. Here are a few you can consider:

  • Netvibes – popular and very customizable, but currently no mobile app versions
  • NewsBlur – syncs with android and iOS mobile app version
  • Feedly – A browser extension reader that syncs with android and iOS mobile app version

Some solid resources with quality RSS blog feeds to browse in your reader include:

  • SearchEngineLand – a news and information site covering search engine marketing, searching issues and the search engine industry
  • SearchEngineWatch – tips and information about searching the web and analysis of the search engine industry.
  • SEObook &SEOmoz– some good tools as well
  • All Google/Bing feeds (Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Corporate, Places, etc.)
  • Matt Cutt’s blog. Matt is the head of Google’s Webspam team, and he frequently answers SEO questions on his blog.

Local Search Marketing Associations

The large search marketing trade shows and conferences are fun and informative to attend periodically, but they are expensive and usually require travel and time away from your search marketing work. For these reasons and more I am a big fan of attending local search marketing groups. A great example of this is SEMpdx the Search Engine Marketing Association of Portland, OR. This organization was created to provide a resource for both local SEM professionals and area businesses. They are a great model to follow.

In the upper Midwest we have MnSearch, the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association. (Full disclosure: I should tell you that Conductor is one of the event sponsors for MnSearch.) They hold an evening event the last Wednesday of the month. MnSearch strives to help businesses and individuals keep a pulse on the latest news, trends, tactics and tools. I happen to be its president:

Search marketing is an art and a science. In fact, it's rocket science; it really is. It’s complicated and changing constantly. As a result, search marketers have special needs, and the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association was formed to address those needs. Learning from our peers is often the best way to improve our skills.

Keeping Up With the Evolving Search Marketing Paradigm

Each change leads to an evolution of the search marketing paradigm. How will you keep up in the future? What channels will you use? What device will you use? I don’t know – perhaps a philosophy would serve us better: “Don’t do search marketing for the search engines, do it for people who use search engines.” I like to think that Matt Cutts would agree.

All I really know is – the only thing that never changes, is change itself.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”

Henri Bergson


All guest posts are the opinion of the author and may not reflect the views of Conductor.

3 Responses to How Do You Keep Up With the Hockey Stick Growth of SEO Changes?

  1. C Jones says:

    Nice post Ward. Lately I prefer the RSS approach with my favorite blogs because you can see more of the article than just 140 characters or a small sampling of copy.

  2. Seth Dotterer says:

    Great article, Ward. Really like the Karen Kaiser Clark quote, too.

  3. Great post! I never thought of utilizing local search marketing groups. Thank you!