10 Questions to Test Your Holistic SEO Prowess

Do you consider yourself a white hat SEO? Or a holistic Internet marketer? Let’s put you to the test with these 10 questions. There are many more you could ask, and I would love to see your thoughts in the comments, but let’s see how you score with my set of questions first!

Tier 1 Questions

As you will see, I place a lot of weight on these two!

1. Are you passionate about the products / services you offer?

2. When you create new pages/sites is your first concern the user experience?

Tier 1 Adjustment Factor

Tier 1 Yes Responses Adjustment Factor
0 0.25
1 0.5
2 1

Tier 2 Questions

1. When you ask writers to create new content do you tell them what keywords to use? Score 0 for a yes, and 1 for a no.


This is a common mistake people make. Writers create great content when they are focused on creating great content. As soon as you alter the equation they work on solving a different problem for you, the result is … not so great content.

2. Did you create pages on your site solely to try and rank for additional search terms? Score 0 for a yes, and 1 for a no. There are many ways that people do this. One that I see often are sites that create thousands of different city pages for multiple product lines. Regardless of how it’s done, the result is a large number of pages where creating a quality site experience isn’t easily done.

3. Does your site have lots of pages on it that are not relevant to your market? Score 0 for a yes, and 1 for a no. I have seen people do this for the purpose of bringing in traffic in the hopes of cross-selling the visitors to their products. It also happens with people that have been aggressive in using infographics as a link building method. Also, if you paused in answering the question, then the answer is yes. Any page you feel you have to justify is by definition not relevant enough.

4. When you think about getting links to your site, do you also think about how it will build your brand? Score 1 for a yes, and 0 for a no. All link building efforts should result in links that help build your brand too. You can ask the question another way – would you be proud to show your child or spouse the page where you link appeared?

5. Does your contact at the site giving you the link actually value the page they are linking too? Score 1 for a yes, and 0 for a no. This is similar to number 4, but with an incremental twist. The point is to avoid manipulation in the process of getting links. Answer this question yes and you by definition have a link that the search engines want to value.

6. Do you measure the value of a link based on PageRank? Score 0 for a yes, and 1 for a no. We all know the metric, but it really dones not correlate well with ranking. It’s time to consider some new metrics for valuing links if you’re still over-attached to this one.

7. Do you think about ways that social media and SEO can help each other? Score 1 for a yes, and 0 for a no.


Most companies I encounter treat SEO and social media as separate fiefdoms, with little interactions and very different objectives. Shouldn’t they be working toward the same goals? Call it “SEOcial media”. Shouldn’t both of these also cooperate with the other PR efforts of the business?

8. Do you think social media success means more followers and/or fans? Score 0 for a yes, and 1 for a no. This is a sure sign that you are not yet seeing where social media greatness lies. “Audiences” mean nothing without engagement. Engagement means nothing if it doesn’t map into your business goals in some fashion.

Final Grade Scale

First calculate grade by taking your “Final Score” by taking the Tier 1 adjustment factors and multiplying it by the sum of your Tier 2 scores. Then reference this table to see where you stand:

Final Score Evaluation
0 to 2 Uh oh.
3 to 4 You’ve started the transition. Keep at it and good things are likely to result.
5 to 6 You’re already running strong and probably stand out in your market segment, or will in the near future.
7 Impressive. Come introduce yourself to me at the next search conference because I want to meet you. Seriously.
8 Congratulations! You get it, and are already a rockstar. Your strategy is set to weather the frequent turbulent changes that are coming in the market in the next 2 years.

In my view, we should all strive to score 8 on this test. SEO as we know it is being reshaped under our feet. Better web spam algorithms, the surge in mobile devices, and the explosion in social media are just a few of the factors in the process of blowing apart our collective vision of digital marketing. The process has only just begun.

A holistic approach to digital marketing (and SEO) is a key element in your survival kit. Regardless of the medium where traffic comes from in the future, or regardless of the way the existing mediums change, having people who passionately demand your presence is the best protection your business can get.

Related reading

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