If you read any articles involving top tips for SEO and social media, you will probably see a tip involving staying aware of your industry. While this is inherently a good practice to follow, in SEO there is a certain point where it stops becoming effective.
When most people promote “industry awareness”, they basically mean current events. In SEO, this means that you’re aware of search engine algorithm changes, webmaster guidelines, and other factors that affect the legitimacy of what you are doing. You also want to keep track of whether there are new techniques to improve on-site optimization and link building tactics. Keeping an eye on new SEO tools is also recommended, as you may be able to make your job easier and get more done in less time.
In Social Media, industry awareness basically means being aware of what new features are available on each platform. Media information regarding these topics are almost always speculatory or misinformed. The best way to stay aware of changes in social media is to regularly use social media and pay attention to admin announcements.
When Industry Awareness Becomes Pointless
The thing that makes SEO special is that it is unpredictable. As of yet, Google refuses to reveal all its cards when it comes to their search engine algorithm. This is apparently to stay ahead of spammers and those who wish to gain the system, but probably serves equally well to keep the competition in the dark. Because of this secrecy, most industry “experts” can only speculate on the future of SEO.
This means that any formulas to perfect SEO are pure speculation at best, and more likely lean toward black hat practices. So spending a bunch of time reading about what other people think about SEO isn’t necessarily the most productive activity.
As most of us know, the internet can become a black hole of information. If you spend too much time trying to keep up with what other people say about SEO and social media, you are likely to get stuck reading comment wars about keyword density and trying to translate robot-Indian-English into something that makes sense so that you can understand that most of these authors and commenters have no idea what they’re talking about.
What You Should Pay Attention To
Of course, the heart of the “Industry Awareness” mantra is still valid. You do need to know about your industry in order to be successful in it. This means that you should know what the major search engines are saying about what practices are recommended and which ones lean toward the dark side. After this though, spend your time on your websites and link building Chances are that you will learn a lot more from this hands-on experience than from reading other people’s guesses.
SEO is ever-evolving. Practices that worked last week won’t work tomorrow. The only way to see what works is to try it. Experimentation is at the heart of SEO. Sometimes a certain type of outreach will work to get you a link. Sometimes an article with a specific call to action will be effective. The best you can do is note what patterns you can and keep working.
Search Engines are always improving, and so must web site moderators. The best thing you can do is produce a quality website and content for users, and use practices that you have found to be tried and true to get the word out there. This is why in SEO, experience will always trump industry awareness, provided that you have a solid understanding of what you’re doing in the first place.