SEO Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa / Father Christmas / Saint Nick / Kris Kringle / Santa Claus,

I’ve been a good SEO this year. I tried my hardest not to contravene any webmaster guidelines, I trained my organization to do things according to best practices, and we worked to improve the quality of the pages on our sites in order to improve the user experience.

So, being a good SEO, there are a few things that I’d like to ask for – not just for me, you understand, but for all the boys and girls out there in the big wide world of SEO.

Could We Have Our Keywords Back?

Many sites have reported “not provided” showing up in their analytics in double digit proportions since the October 19 search encryption change. “Not provided” is now the top traffic driving keyword for many site, and as more and more users move to Google+ or other Google products that require a sign in, the numbers are only going to head further North.

Giving me my keywords back allows me to see what’s working and what isn’t. It helps me to do my job, and by doing my job I’m helping to improve the relevancy of the search results.

Could We Please Get Some More Data?

Imagine you’re responsible for a site that’s in Google News, and you’re asked to determine how well you’re doing. Just look in your analytics for Google News referrals right? No, that’s just giving you the traffic from Google News, not from news oneboxes in universal search.

Giving me some way to differentiate that data from the regular organic traffic would really give me an insight into what’s working in Google News. Of course, I’d need my keywords back first.

Budget for a Train… session or three for everyone around the world who wants to learn more about SEO. Whether it’s in-house, at their local establishment of higher learning, or at a dedicated online marketing conference, the more you know, the better your chances of doing well.

World Peace

Well, OK, a little bit easier than that. I would like all of the boys and girls in organizations around the world to get together, communicate, and understand the value of SEO to their organization. If they’ve done that training from the item above it’s going to be a lot easier Santa. Just saying.

Lots of Toys

Who doesn’t want more toys, with flashing lights and bells and whistles? Sure we’ve got lots of toys now that tell us how well we’re doing, where our problems are, where opportunities are, etc. But if you have some fancy new toy that makes our jobs easier, or more information that can be displayed within existing tools, you’ll make our day.

Make Your List and Check it Twice

Now I know you’re going to have your hands full delivering coal and stuffed pandas to all the black hat SEOs – you know, the ones that are doing their best to damage the reputation of SEO for their own shortsighted gain, but if you could see your way clear to delivering on the items above, we promise to be good again next year.

Oh, and we’ll have some milk and tracking cookies waiting for you as an incentive / bribe / motivation / consideration...

About the author

Simon Heseltine is the Director in charge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at AOL Inc. In this role Simon and his team are responsible for organic search and training across all AOL and Huffington Post Media Group properties. He has also visited the UK office on several occasions to consult and train the AOL-UK teams on SEO best practices.

In his previous position as Director of Search at a Washington, D.C., based agency, Simon was responsible for developing and implementing organic search and social media strategies for companies across several industries. He also developed and delivered training programs for clients, including a large U.S. media company, to enable them to best take advantage of the opportunities available to their companies through both organic search and social media.

Simon is a frequent speaker at conferences in the U.S. and UK on topics ranging from SEO to social search to reputation management. He also teaches SEO at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as part of their Digital Media Management program.

Simon has a BA (Hons) from the University of Humberside, and a Masters in IT from Virginia Tech.