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Future of SEO – #RankWatchChat Recap


On Tuesday, 13th October, we had our very first #RankWatchChat. We wanted to know what the future of SEO would look like according to you. The goal was to surface the winning strategies of SEO by diving into a conversation around the new possibilities, drivers and shifts. We received some amazing insights from the experts in our community which made the discussion even more exciting for us.

We were extremely happy to welcome Bill Sebald, founder of Greenlane Search Marketing, as our Guest Speaker. He has been involved with the SEO world since 1977 and online writing since 2008. Currently, he is helping many big brand enterprise sites, small and local businesses achieve their SEO objectives. 

We were really glad to see his enthusiasm while addressing all the questions asked by the participants and sharing his insights on the same.

The conversation started off with one of the key questions in our field:

Q1: What is the importance of Rankings today as far as you’re concerned?

Most of our participants agreed that rankings provide a basis to measure your progress organically and identify the Ups and Downs for your websites. Additionally, online visibility is important to make sure you reach your users earlier than your competitors and good rankings help ensure that. Another interesting point that our community raised was the shift from organic to social with the increase of social traffic.

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill Sebald – “@RankWatch A1: I still value them, but as a directional reference. They can signal problems as well as wins. Once you understand the variance between regions, personalization, etc., they can be useful. We still report on them here, but in a mix with many other metrics. I do believe if rank reports are all your analyzing or sending to a client, you’re doing a disservice.


Participants’ tweets:






Q2: Do you think the importance of inbound linking will change in the future? Why?

The topic received quite a positive response, suggesting that quality link building is still a safe and effective method of SEO. Most of the participants shared their views that the impact of links might reduce over time but it will continue to be a part of Google’s algorithm for rankings. Good links would always bring good traffic.

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A2: Google told us they tried ranking without links and the results were not good. An inside experiment. So, yes – I think it’s a part of the big algorithm for the foreseeable future, but the value sent through each link is clearly changing. Relevance and quality never mattered more than today IMO. I see a majority of links that once moved the needle substantially being negligible today. I personally take the approach of link building + digital PR. Get referral traffic wins too. Fill your funnel

Participants’ tweets:








Q3: What are your favorite strategies to get your site or content ranked in the Google SERPs?

Most of the participants agree that writing relevant content coupled with a strong multimedia presence on pages is the key to getting ranked. Some of the other favourite strategies our community voiced are link reclamation, broken link building, mention/image links, semantic markup, internal linking, strong social media presence etc.

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A3: You can’t phone it in now. Build big buzz digital marketing strategies. Tactics are the steps in a strategy. String them together with goals. Think bigger picture. Take a chance.

Participants’ tweets:

The so called Skyscraper technique





Q4: What do you think will be the impact of Social Media on Search Rankings going forward?

This question received a lot of enthusiasm from the participants. Some said this will, much like SEO, evolve with time. Some suggested that viral content ranks well and drops with the falling of social signals. One of the participants stated that Google does not have enough source of social data (which they are trying on), once this is done, social will be a signal. The conclusion that came forward was that social is an indicator, but will not become an influencer.  

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A4 I think this is a tough question. What they would like to use as a signal can so easily be gamed. I like the idea of pretending it’s a signal, not for rankings, but just for good internet marketing. I think it has to be one of Google’s hot issues – it probably has been for many, many years. 

Participants’ tweets:










Q5: What would you say are the 3 critical elements to be covered in an SEO site audit?

This question received a variety of responses with participants suggesting the respective package of elements, they think are critical to an SEO site audit. The elements covered included duplicate content, toxic backlinks, internal links and redirects, crawlability, link hierarchy, site speed, caching etc.  

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A5 Technical SEO is becoming important again as Google has gotten better at crawling. They’re learning what to purge.  1) bloated crawl paths, 2) canonicalization, and 3) flat architecture.  

Participants’ tweets:





Q6: What features do you think are missing in mainstream SEO tools?

One of the common features that the participants pointed out here was that the tools should give the right dimensions for the drop in rankings, a detailed reason report for the drop and the actions to be taken (taking in consideration the advanced algorithms) for increasing the rankings. Other points included an in-depth analysis of social presence, backlinks etc.  

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A6: Terms related to keywords as concepts, to appeal to the Hummingbird side of things. Not just synonyms.” He completely agreed with a participant pointing out that the SEO tools should also focus on the Google Knowledge graph and answer box tracking.

Participants’ tweets:



Q7: Tell us 3 ways in which you imagine mobile will affect SEO.

All participants shared the view that there would be more localized results with the increasing number of mobile users. The “one size fits all” approach will no longer exist and eventually app optimization will outcast search optimization.  

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A7: More users go mobile, more attention Google gives to the best mobile SERPs. Usability grows, speed, CTR (IMO)

Participants’ tweets:






Q8: How do you see the impact of Google’s Local Search to businesses?

This question received a lot of positive responses from the participants. Everyone agreed to the fact that local search will become more prominent in Google SERPs in the coming time. One of the participant voiced that local search is the fastest converting part of any SERP and would lay the foundation of everything local and mobile.

Guest speaker’s insights:

Bill – “@RankWatch A8 Surprised with local – the algo changes a lot, but the smarter it gets, the more reliance SMB will have for sure…so if you’re not taking it seriously now, it’s a pretty safe bet IMO.  Your competitors are there 🙂 ”

Participants’ tweets:






These are the various interesting discussions that came up during the chats:

Localization, Personalization and the Importance of Rankings

A discussion emerged around the role Localization and Personalization play in rankings. Bill elaborated that while searching for the same things routinely and performing local searches you will get different results than someone on the other side of the country with different search habits.

Check out the full discussion

Important metrics for reporting:

While discussing ‘What is the importance of rankings today?’, Bill Sebald mentioned that in their reports, they present rankings but, combine them with a couple of other metrics as well. To this, one of the participants asked him as to what metrics does he give emphasis the most during reporting?

Bill replied that the reports should specifically focus on what the client wants and if the client doesn’t have any goals set up, you should fix them. His report overall focuses on organic traffic, referral traffic and conversions.

For a detailed look, visit the conversation.

What about exact match anchor text:

While talking about “What are your favorite strategies to get your site or content ranked in the Google SERPs?”, a very unexpected answer from a participant: “I like exact match anchor texts and lots of it”. Bill replied with an intent of humor that he used the same tactic that lead to burning of his affiliate sites.

To see more comments into the topic, refer here.

Hummingbird loves flat architecture

While talking about ‘what elements should be covered in an SEO audit’, Bill mentioned “flat structure” as one of them. He suggested that you should consolidate whatever you feel is not required and keep the clicks down to a minimum. He further stated Hummingbird prefers holistic pages/topics.

For further insights into the discussion, visit here.


This is a recap to our first twitter chat on The Future of SEO. I hope you enjoyed it. Just in case you missed this one, you can receive updates for our upcoming twitter chats by joining our facebook event. Feel free to share any insights or comments. 🙂

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