Industry Consensus – Why I Encourage you To Take the SEOMoz Survey

Every two years something special happens in our industry.  Thousands upon thousands of people voluntarily take upwards of 20 minutes or more of their day to pause from what they’re doing to offer their opinion, their experience, and their beliefs about the state of search marketing and how they go about their work.  The resulting data is then gathered, churned and presented back to us, for all who care to study.

I’m talking about the SEOMoz Industry Survey.

What The Survey is Not

This survey is not to be confused with the even more important SEOmoz Ranking Factors survey (which I had the honor of contributing to last year) that digs deep into the “how and where” of how search engines might work.

No matter how accurately participants answer the dozens of questions, no matter how carefully and considerately the Moz team convert that data into pie charts and bar charts and pretty infographs, it really isn’t ever going to be more than a platform for consensus on a narrow aspect of who we are, how we’re doing and how we go about our work.

Why The Survey Is Vital

There’s enough tidbits of value in this survey if you pay attention.  Both from a pulse of the industry perspective as well as a “how we might be able to do our jobs better” perspective.

Even with the limitations such a platform has, this biennial crowd-sourced knowledge dump is by far, the single most valuable tool we in the industry have to help gauge the general state of where we as an industry are, and where opportunities might exist for efficiency and productivity, and insights and answers that we may have not given enough weight to on our own.

As long as we recognize its limitations, just as we have a responsibility to do when analyzing ANY data in our industry, regardless of source, this one resource has the capacity to bring crowd-sourced based clarity to what is likely a laundry list of questions that many if not most of us have regarding at least some aspect of the work we do.

Over Dramatization Or Spot on Opinion

In 2012, Click2Rank is growing dramatically. We’re in a multi-phase hiring frenzy.  And we’ve increased our budget for outsourced vendor support services from a mere $30,000 a year to a quarter of a million dollars for the coming 12 month cycle. And that’s JUST for outsourced support services!

For some of you, the work you do may not involve millions of dollars of potential revenue increases for your employer or clients.  Maybe it’s only thousands.  Yet even then, wouldn’t you rather go to sleep at night knowing the way you do your work, and the things you focus on are the best possible?  Is it not enough that  you’ve made a commitment to your employer or client to provide the best possible service?

Its because of that perspective that as far as I’m concerned, since I give 110% of my passion for excellence, even the narrow focus of this survey is going to help me move ever closer toward that excellence in my work.

How We Do Our Jobs

One of the things I love about this survey is it opens my mind when I go about my work of deciding what tools, resources and solutions might help my team become more efficient, more productive and more focused.  A few years back, I was adamantly opposed to tools for automating my audit work, for example.  It was my belief that tools are imperfect, and no tool can pick up on the often subtle patterns that my  trained eye can see when looking at raw data.

When I got enough input from enough people in the industry that they were using various tools, with great success, I opened my mind.  And now, I can’t even begin to comprehend how I was able to be truly efficient without the tools I rely upon every day of my working life.

That I also now have an entire team relying on my guidance, my direction, and my recommendations, having a crowdsourced data point is even more helpful in my decision making process.

Perfect In Its Imperfection

Even though many people who take the survey are quite likely to be beginner or intermediate marketers, even though many who are seasoned will, themselves, be off-base in their own way of doing things,  the shear volume of data collected is itself at least a partial buffer from too much “questionable” or “shaky” data from causing survey results to invalidate the data’s usefulness.

How can I make such a claim?  How can I not take the position that if too many people provide inaccurate, half-valid responses, the survey is then useless, or at worst, harmful to our work?

We’re an industry of professionals.  We’re not, generally speaking, a bunch clueless hacks stumbling in the dark.  Enough people within our industry get enough results in the “positive” column, that collectively, we must be doing something right.

The Testing FailSafe

Just like any other input we choose to take in our research and learning of our collective craft, if you truly are professional, if you truly do implement best practices in your work as a rule, you’ll take what you think the survey is telling you, and you’ll test it on your own.  You’ll be responsible in your testing, and you’ll do so cautiously and consciously. Just like you do with more direct ranking and conversion based method choices.

Testing Begins With Assumption

It’s dangerous to make assumptions.  No. Actually it’s not.  Instead, it’s dangerous to make assumptions, then blindly make decisions that directly have the potential to negatively impact people’s lives.  In this case, it’s mostly related to efficiency and methodology.  Yet those alone can cause an agency or department to totally go sideways or off the rails.  So testing even in this scenario, is vital to the health of the work you do.

Assumptions Require Input

In order to make assumptions, we need input.  Either from our own past experience, or that of others.  The more input we get, is not necessarily better.  Too much input from too many people can, in fact, cause our senses to be overwhelmed.  So how then, is the Moz survey a good thing?

Consensus Based Input

The golden key to making use of mass volumes of data in our assumption making process is where that mass volume can be consolidated into digestible chunks.  In a form we can understand and make sense of without feeling overwhelmed.  And last I checked, no other organization in our industry goes to the lengths gone to by the Moz team, to both gather this data and then in turn, present it in such digestible chunks, let alone on such a massive scale.

Help Make Our Industry Better

If you totally think I am high as a kite in my logic here, that’s great.  Continue going about your work however you choose that you believe works for you.  If, on the other hand, you agree with my thinking, I highly encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take the time to participate in the Survey.  Those of us who rely on it to help formulate our assumptions (as one of many data points, thank you very much), will thank you for it…

 

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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