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blogsearchenginejournal.com27-Year Search Expert Shares 5 Steps To Boost Your SEO
, 27-Year Search Expert Shares 5 Steps To Boost Your SEO

27-Year Search Expert Shares 5 Steps To Boost Your SEO


In a recent Yext Summit, 27-year search marketing expert Duane Forrester shared advice on how to become a better SEO and develop the skills to better anticipate where search marketing is headed.

Who Is Duane Forrester And Why His Advice Matters

Duane Forrester is one of the rare search marketers who has experience on both sides of the search box. He has 27 years of experience in the search industry with almost ten of those years spent as a Product Manager at Microsoft. He helped build and launch Bing Webmaster Tools, wrote the original Bing Webmaster Guidelines and worked with the Core Search and Spam Teams, as well as the teams who built and maintained Schema.org, Robotstxt.org and Sitemaps.org.

Five Steps To Become A Better SEO & Predict Future Trends

Duane said that in 2022 nobody was talking about AI. Now it’s been just over a year and it’s all that everyone is talking about. He said that’s an example of how SEO is one of the fastest changing industries and said that this has always been the normal pace.

What’s going on in AI is just another change in a history of changes, not all of it visible to the search community.  Machine learning, neural networks, and AI have been a part of Search behind the scenes for many years, largely unseen and not always well understood, which underlines the importance of learning.

Duane said:

“…this industry requires a dedication to continual learning. All the time, there’s always something new. …Big steps, small steps, but it is constant.”

He suggested the following activities for attaining a strong SEO footing and maintaining it.

  1. Research 60 minutes per day
  2. Follow known experts
  3. Use official sources for SEO guidance
  4. The value of developer resources
  5. Anticipate consumer trends

1. Research 60 Minutes Per Day

Duane recommended setting aside time for research.

He explained:

“…dedicate at least 60 minutes a day, an hour, to reading new sources and the official blogs, heck even the unofficial blogs, get in and read those things.”

For some it might sound like a lot of time to dedicate to researching something that they already know, SEO. But Duane is right and I’ll tell you why.

In 2005 I was caught by surprise when a Google engineer revealed that Google was using statistical analysis to identify unnatural links. It was a mind blowing moment that made it clear I had to start reading research papers to stay on top of the search engines were doing.

I contacted Duane about it and he said that now more than ever it’s important to research everything because SEO is changing so fast that at some point it might be inadequate to call it SEO anymore.

This is what he told me:

“Man, if things keep going the way they are, we will ALL need to learn a new profession. It simply won’t be called SEO if it’s on the front edge of what’s coming.

Bottom line, if you’re not investing in the work now, there is not going to be a tomorrow. Sorry, this train is stopping. A new train will be departing the station shortly – I suggest you get on it.”

2. Follow Known Experts

Duane asserts that it’s important to keep an open mind and absorb what others have to say. It’s consider that this is a person with 27 years experience who is saying how important it is for him to read what others are saying. So if it’s important for him it should be important for everyone else.

Duane recommends:

“Follow known experts on Twitter and LinkedIn threads, Bluesky, TikTok, wherever they have an account, go find it. If it’s on medium, sign up. If it’s on Substack sign up.

Make sure you’re getting direct access. You don’t want to rely on what someone said they read. Go read these things yourself. It makes a big difference in your understanding. Listen to the podcasts, watch the webinars, follow their YouTube channels and acknowledge you will be drinking from a fire hose.”

3. Use Official Sources For SEO Guidance

Duane emphasized the importance of getting as much information direct from the search engines. For the normal sources of official information (Search Central, Developer blog, Webmaster Tools) he said to keep those bookmarked and ready to be checked every day. But he also advised to expand your sources of information to sources most people don’t go to.

This is what he said about alternative sources:

“So for SEOs, you wanna be looking for Microsoft, Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Baidu, and Naver. And before you say, but why Yahoo? It’s because they’re doing a lot over the last year with search and they are poised to do even more in the next 18 months. So pay attention to what they’re doing. They’re not investing in this because they don’t think there’s a reason to do so. They very much believe there is room for them in this market, and I bet consumers will agree with them.”

4. The Value Of Developer Resources

This part of his keynote is interesting because it’s about looking at where the industry is going to be 18 months in the future. Part of engaging with developer resources is understanding the technology but he also sees it as an opportunity to get ahead of everyone else by seeing where the consumers are going (because the money will follow them).

Duane recommended developer-focused resources at Meta, Amazon, Apple, TikTok, OpenAI because those are the companies that are developing the customer experiences that impact consumer behavior. He has a point. Shein revolutionized how clothing is marketed by sidestepping search altogether by targeting consumers on social media in ways that appealed to them.

Duane said:

“I also urge you take a look at what’s going on for developers, and there’s a very important reason for this. META, Amazon, Apple, TikTok, OpenAI, they all have dedicated locations for developers to come in and engage with our latest products and services…

The reason it’s important to pay attention to this is because these are the companies that are developing the customer experiences and understand how those customer experiences impact customer action and behavior. These are the official sources where those experiences are rolled out, talked about, and developers can engage with them.”

5. Anticipate Consumer Trends

One of the things that I found interesting was how he kept returning to how technology affects the customer experience and their behavior. When he talks about Apple or Meta it’s in the context of how they’re influencing customer behavior he also ties that to how money follows the consumers.

For example, in our conversation he mentioned the prospect of an ad-free AI search and said that we have to think about where that advertising money is going to go.

“This is leaning towards “staying on top of your game” and we have to talk about how “search” is being expanded across new platforms (ChatGPT, Perplexity, etc.).

So knowing how they’re thinking about business models and such becomes a very important part of the game. If ChatGPT launches an ad-free search experience, and their current consumers adopt it (100 million active monthly users), how does this affect current search models built on top of advertising? How does this affect how teams are tasked with work inside of brands, which skills are in demand, where does ad money move to?”

Do you see what he’s doing there? He’s looking at technological trends today and then thinking where it is headed and how that affects which jobs will be in demand and where advertising and consumer spending is headed.

I’ve known Duane for almost twenty years and he’s always doing that kind of thing where he puts context on what’s happening now and what it means for the future. Those questions he asks show how to anticipate where the industry is headed .

His Yext keynote ended with a hockey analogy:

“You do not want to skate to where the puck is. You want to skate to where the puck is going to be. The greatest hockey players who have ever played the sport knew that and acted on it every time they took to the ice.

Skating to where the puck is is a sure way to miss the point and fall behind. Skating to where it will be is how you stay in front and on top of things. And you can get there by being curious, learning continuously and building a robust network.”

Watch Duane Forresters’s keynote:

How to Keep Up with SEO Best Practices

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Artem Samokhvalov



by Search Engine Journal

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