The Big SEO Learning Curve

  |  December 3, 2007   |  Comments

Work with a large international company offers some insights on optimizing search across borders.

Putting to one side the search-engine-optimization-isn't-rocket-science debate, I had cause to ponder over just how broad and deep the SEO (define) discipline is. The occasion: I took part in a two-day intensive workshop/training event with a large client.

European Directories is a vast yellow pages organization with operating companies in the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Poland. Each one of these Web properties can easily be described as huge. And each brings its own complexities.

A team of experts, headed up by me and SEO innovator, Thomas Bindl, gathered in London with representatives from both the technical and marketing sides of each operating company. The event's agenda was nearly as long as a roll of wallpaper. As I reviewed the course modules, item by item, I realized just how much data one needs to absorb in this game.

Not only that, international SEO brings a unique set of nuances and cultural differences. Stir some of that into the general SEO pot and you're getting close to data overload.

The SEO project manager, on the client side, has been laser-focused this year and has become somewhat of an expert himself. Like me, I imagine most practitioners appreciate the huge benefit of working with a client who speaks the language and knows the territory.

The excellent two-day agenda he prepared was based around four modules and well worth breaking down here. The sessions kicked off with the first module based on content. With IYPs being very much locally targeted, long-tail terms are what they're shooting for. So search term research, use of title tags, best practice on page optimization and copywriting guidelines took up the morning session.

The second module was based on structure. Here the group covered design, internal linking, link building (the concept of link juice), and old sites versus new sites. Of course, you couldn't cover structure without a lot of tech-talk creeping in. So there was lively discussion about JavaScript, Flash, Ajax, and other technologies you need to get your head around.

And, of course, it being a best practice course, there was a good smattering of what not to do (spam) and sticking to search engine guidelines.

Day two kicked off with some practical hands-on stuff. Playtime with SEO cool tools and toys is always a fun kind of session. And boy, do we have tools and toys to choose from. Analytics tools, ranking tools, link analysis tools, site maps, and Google Webmaster Central, to name but a few.

Working in groups, each table chose a specific tool to experiment with and then presented their findings and discoveries to the group.

The final module covered trends and the future. In my 90-minute presentation for this session, I started with social media such as YouTube and FaceBook, and then social bookmarking and tagging with and Digg. After that, a lot of time was spent discussing the use of video.

A new ecosystem is swelling around local search with small production companies creating videos for local advertisers. Web 2.0 certainly has changed the marketing landscape and small businesses can now afford to promote themselves online via promotional videos. Just take a look at these sample video ads at

Of course, touching on the video subject then led to the new SEO opportunities on the horizon with Google's Universal Search, Ask's 3D and the new Yahoo Search, for example. These surely are exciting times.

Following a Q&A regarding the future of search, each table then made an action list of practical things they could head back to the office with and put into practice right away.

I talked with many attendees on both the technical and marketing side. And all agreed that they had learned a great deal. And all agreed that it was a huge amount of data they had to take on board in such a short and intensive period.

More interestingly for me is all of the new data I acquired. This is such an interesting industry and the saying "you never stop learning" applies here.

Working for a huge organization such as European Directories, it's easy to slip into working in silos. Perhaps the biggest thing that registered with me last week is the importance of bringing everyone together so SEO knowledge can be shared and improved group wide.

Nope, it may not be rocket science. One thing's for sure: if you're just coming into the SEO game, be prepared for one huge data dump headed your way.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Mike Grehan

Mike Grehan is Publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ and Producer of the SES international conference series. He is the current president of global trade association SEMPO, having been elected to the board of directors in 2010.

Formerly, Mike worked as a search marketing consultant with a number of international agencies, handling such global clients as SAP and Motorola. Recognized as a leading search marketing expert, Mike came online in 1995 and is author of numerous books and white papers on the subject. He is currently in the process of writing his new book "From Search To Social: Marketing To The Connected Consumer" to be published by Wiley in 2013.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora,, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...