20 Years of SEO: Battled-Tested Strategies with Bill SebaldRead Time: 4 minutes

SEO is dead.

That’s what Bill Sebald has read a million times in his 20 years of SEO experience. He knows better. SEO is alive and well and as competitive as ever. As founder of Greenlane Marketing and as a professor teaching SEO, Bill shares his insights on how to execute the best SEO strategy. On the episode, he explains how to move from SEO tactic to strategy, why SEO is different for different industries and why competitors’ SEO techniques are valuable.


Where do your SEO tactics end and where does your SEO strategy start?

Not sure? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

“A lot of people struggle with switching from tactics to strategy because it’s not what we’re used to,” Bill explains.

Tactics are a means to an end, such as writing guest posts or adding alt-tags. But, they cannot answer the question of your overall SEO goal. A strategy outlines what the goals are and the plan to achieve them. It requires stepping back from the noise and doing the homework to develop a real SEO strategy.


To achieve the SEO strategy, SEOs have to wear a lot of hats and work with a range of people.

SEOs combine technical, link-building, and content in their own work. It’s a busy job on its own, then you need to add coordination of people on the team. SEO techniques require coordination from UX, developers, content strategists, and more — not to mention, the needs of the client or the boss.

To do the job right with this much coordination, a clearly identified strategy is needed.


With the strategy in place, there are a million places to start putting it into practice. The first place Bill recommends starting?


Look at where your site is ranking compared to your competitors. Do an audit to determine the gaps in terms of rankings and estimated traffic.

Competitor backlinks have serious value. Not in comparing volume, but by investigating their source. The sites that are linking back could be useful resources for your own content and can indicate what is popular in your market.

Bill shares these tactics with a key question to always ask yourself: “Does that make sense for our business?” Look at your competitor’s work for standards and ideas, but always ensure it suits your brand.


When it comes to improving SEO, you have to be on top of your game.

Google has over 200 signals and they’re changing all the time. Being search engine optimized is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ that can add to ROI. In today’s world, it’s simply a must. If you’re not sure how your site is doing, drop your URL into Sure Oak’s free SEO tool.

Bill explains, “What’s the ROI on alt-tags? There isn’t any. It’s a defensive play.” Standard SEO crawlability and basics have to be in place. You need to check as many boxes as possible.

Then, you need to go after the factors that will differentiate you. Google optimizes industries differently. “There are some signals that mean more to you in the financial field than to those in the apparel field.” Research how your competitors are ranking as well as industry-specific SEO guidance and leverage that information to see the best SEO lift.

SEO strategy is no small task. If you’re looking for expert support to get eyes on your page, Sure Oak offers SEO strategy services.


  • SEO tactics are not enough. Tactics must be part of a larger SEO strategy to be effective.
  • Audit your competitors. Competitor site stats and backlinks will inform your SEO tactics.
  • SEO ROI requires all the basics to be tackled and industry-focused tactics to be employed.


  • SEO cannot be done alone. Collaborate with UX, developers, and content strategists to roll out the best SEO strategy.
  • Google has different signals for different industries. Know your industry’s signals.
  • SEO isn’t dead. In 20 years, Bill has seen many articles say so. But SEO is alive and growing.


Bill’s 40 Tips Presentation from C3

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