An excerpt from the much longer article, "White Hat SEO: It Works" by Randfish on SEOMOZ blog.
"I wrote a blog post back in 2007 highlighting why SEO is so hard. In it, I talked about the massive quantity of things that affect SEO and that number has only grown.
Today, a responsible SEO needs to be thinking about:
The business' overall product, marketing and sales strategy and where SEO makes the most sense.
- Keyword research + targeting (a process that requires tools, patience, intuition, testing and experience)
- Funnel optimization (CRO has both direct and indirect SEO impacts these days)
- Testing + optimizing content for users (time on site, bounce rate, engagement, etc. all matter directly + indirectly, too)
- Content strategy (which ties into overall business strategy at the highest levels)
- On-page optimization (black hats were actually some of the earliest to notice that Google's gotten so much smarter about on-page analysis than just keyword use and repetition, so I'm sure Kris knows how in-depth this process can be)
- XML Sitemaps (we recently gave a 90 minute webinar on this topic that generated dozens of questions; it's no fire-and-forget tactic)
- Analytics - visitor monitoring is just the start, there's webmaster tools, link monitoring, brand/mention alerts, social media tracking and more
- Alternative search listings (local/maps/places, video, images, news, blogs, shopping, etc. Just one of these can be a full-time job.)
- Usability + user experience issues (since these can have a huge indirect and possibly direct impact on rankings)
- Reputation tracking + management
- Competitive research
- Social media marketing (FB shares are the most highly correlated metric we found to Google's rankings. No SEO can afford to ignore social today, and that's a massive strategic and tactical undertaking)
- Syndication, scraping, copyright and duplicate content issues
And hundreds of others."