"Rankings continue to matter more and more for SEO." What is the importance of Rankings in 2015 as far as you're concerned?
Talking points about the "importance of rankings" is redundant - everyone knows how important they are. They can make or break a business. Search rankings are moving from a marketing tactic to an actual asset for many businesses, because good rankings equate into profits. The key is finding the right rankings that drive actual customers and value to the business.
What are your favorite strategies to get your site or content ranked in the Google SERPs?
The most exciting strategies involve seeing really great content take off and go viral. There is a lot of hard work that goes into putting together a killer article, video, or info-graphic, and then seeing it shared hundreds or even thousands of times across social media (and getting those priceless links from bloggers) is very rewarding. Google wants to see signals that real people are sharing your content.
What would you say are the 3 critical elements to be covered in an SEO site audit?
Right now my 3 critical elements involve site speed - making sure that your site is loading under 3 seconds. Next would be looking at the pages that Google is indexing, and removing any pages that don't make sense for a user - you don't want to see Google removing those redundant or useless pages on your site. Another would be duplicate content/making sure you have enough quality content on your web pages, titles, meta descriptions - you want people clicking through to your site, staying there to read your compelling content, and taking some kind of action. My auditing process isn't based on a purely SEO standpoint, it covers every element of visitor interaction.
What features do you think are missing in mainstream SEO tools? Are there any processes you'd love to see automated?
There's a lot of awesome tools out there, and the competition continues to heat up. What I'd like to see is better reporting for the small business owner - one that calculates the value of ranking for a keyword into a dollar amount. Like I mentioned before, rankings are important business assets but many business owners don't quite understand that. I don't care about showing my clients rankings reports - I want to show them how much money they are making and where the potential to make more of it is. If we could take PPC data and a small businesses own sales and ROI data, and crank a report out, it would make both client relationship and even the sales process a lot more fun.