"Rankings continue to matter more and more for SEO." What is the importance of Rankings in 2015 as far as you're concerned?
Rankings are essential to understanding your progress in SEO relative to raw search traffic and pages receiving search visits. Without rankings, it's hard to know or quantify why search traffic might be rising or falling, and nearly impossible to understand what percent of opportunity you're capitalizing upon (vs. competitors).
Rankings are also a must-have from a competitive analysis and comparison perspective, which, along with the inaccuracy and unreliability of Webmaster Tools data, are why I strongly recommend folks use a third-party rankings tool.
What are your favorite strategies to get your site or content ranked in the Google SERPs?
I'm a big fan of producing content that will resonate with an amplification-likely audience, then sharing it with/getting it in front of those groups. This strategy takes time, but builds multiple channels for traffic and very safe, high quality links which lead to rankings.
What would you say are the 3 critical elements to be covered in an SEO site audit?
Strategic focus on whether the tactics and channels you're pursuing match the business goals long and short term (from a marketing/sales funnel, content, SEO, keyword, social, outreach, link, advertising, etc. perspective).
A technical audit to look at the missed opportunities, errors, and potential issues holding back the site from performing at its best.
A keyword and content audit to uncover the potential sources for SEO traffic and the content most likely to resonate with your audience and earn you those rankings
What features do you think are missing in mainstream SEO tools? Are there any processes you'd love to see automated?
So many! But since I'm at Moz, I try to work on a lot of these with our teams. One thing I would love to see is more diverse keyword data. Most of it today comes from Google AdWords scrapes, which, while useful, aren't very different from what you can get inside AdWords itself.