There appear to be some who misinterpreted my previous post regarding SEO consultation as negative toward the SEO industry as a whole. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love SEO. I think it’s fun. Then again, I’m kind of a geek. Luckily I’ve always been comfortable embracing my geekdom. I like researching terms…I like working on sites to make them more search engine friendly…I like copywriting…I like finding information on a subject so I can actually write some copy about it…I like learning about the power of social media to drive traffic to a site, while at the same time helping to increase that site’s ranking in SERPs…I like it all.
I was introduced to the terms SEO and Search Engine Optimization for the first time in late 2006 when I began working as a Customer Retention Agent at a small business website company. The timing could not have been better, as my best friend and I had recently launched a small pet sitting venture. I quickly learned that that there is A LOT of information…and even more misinformation…out there about SEO.
Ah…Sometimes I Long For Blissful Ignorance
Until earlier this year my understanding of SEO was pretty basic. By “pretty basic” I mean I knew enough to do an acceptable good job of optimizing for our pet sitting site. I thought I knew a lot. I actually chuckled out loud to myself as I typed that…really, I did. Since January I’ve really been much more focused on SEO. I miss the blissful ignorance that accompanied not knowing how many theories there are to test. I’ve learned a lot over the past several months.
Before venturing into the “SEO in practice” pool, I knew more than enough to help small business owners begin to understand how to take the first steps toward improving the on-page SEO of their sites…like optimizing titles, descriptions, headings, content, internal linking, etc. – and that’s more than what was expected of me. I’m doing more “hands-on” SEO these days…and learning that testing ideas isn’t just about trying the ideas, it’s also about trying my patience.
My Learning Curve
I’ve done some testing using a few new sites and started blogging for the very first time. Before going any further, I have to say this about blogging: I LOVE IT! You may not have noticed, but I have a tendency to ramble. It’s okay…don’t feel bad for me. The first step to getting help is admitting I have a problem. “My name is SEOAly, and I’m a rambler…”. In a blog, I can just go on and on…and when people get tired of reading, they can stop. If they have some extra time to kill, they can read keep reading. Those who agree can comment…those who don’t agree can comment. I just love the idea of one of my rants or raves sparking an online conversation. I’ve been known to drop tiny pearls of wisdom in among the rambling…you never know where they may be hiding. Has anyone else noticed a resemblance between the words “blogging” and “babbling”? Maybe it’s just me…I digress…
In addition to launching this blog, I recently began participating in discussions and commenting on existing blogs. I submitted a post to Sphinn…I’ve been hanging out more at Twitter…I’ve been actively trying to participate a bit more in the world of SEO. Over these weeks I’ve discovered something very important about the search marketing industry and it’s community – it’s awesome! No sooner do I ask myself the question, than I find the answer…either in a previously written blog post or in the midst of Twitter conversations I digitally eavesdrop on throughout the day.
Being An SEO Rookie
The support and encouragement I’ve received as one of many “new kids on the block” in the SEO world has been…well – surprising, to say the least. People in the search marketing industry seem unusually open, honest and willing to share their knowledge and expertise with anyone ready to ask the right questions. Those I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with are more than happy to point me toward the right information and/or steer me away when I’ve taken a turn down the wrong path.
The very first SEO I met, Josh Garner (a.k.a. “SEOFactor”), has always answered any question I could come up with. At first I thought it was because we worked for the same company and the more I knew, the less chance I would send him stupid requests. He kept answering my questions (and still does, despite the fact that we no longer work for the same company), so I quickly had to set aside the idea that he had something to gain by sharing his knowledge. For a while I thought he was just nice. In getting to know Josh a bit better, as well as getting to know those that know Josh a bit better, the “nice” theory didn’t hold up to the test of time either. Just kidding, Josh…HAHA!
I now realize that what I know about SEO isn’t what is important – it’s what I do with that knowledge. Josh knew, as do many of those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting online over the past several weeks, that for me to benefit in any real way from the information provided, I actually have to DO something. Experts sharing the right information is really the only way to put a stop to those intent upon taking advantage of people’s ignorance. I’ve discovered that the collaborative efforts put forth by the strongest members of the search marketing community are the basis for its overall success.
What’s The Appeal?
I love the blank stare I get when I answer the question, “What do you do?”. Is that wrong? I think that’s part of the appeal. It’s one of few professions that people often can’t even pretend to know anything about…or even know that “SEO” is an acronym. I used to think I enjoyed answering, “I’m a photographer…”, but I think I like “I’m an SEO…” even better. When people answer, “I’m a doctor…”, “I’m a lawyer…”, or even “I’m a rocket scientist…”, people have at least some idea what that profession entails. SEO, on the other hand, no one knows…even the people that think they know, don’t usually know.
I love SEO. Seriously. I find it refreshing that organic search marketing isn’t tied directly to the checkbooks of businesses that can afford to advertise. There are a lot of crappy companies out there with big bank accounts…and many of them built their empires by writing big checks for traditional marketing and advertising, rather than actually creating a quality product and providing it at a fair price. SEO helps to level the playing field for small businesses and gives them an unprecedented opportunity to expose their products, services and ideas to a national or international audience without investing so much financial captial to do it.
Creating A Market For “The Little Guy”
Thanks in large part to search marketing, an inventor in Topeka can sell his new purse light to a socialite in Beverly Hills without ever speaking to her personally. Exposure in the search results can be generated for little more than the opportunity cost of learning SEO and catching the social media wave. Internet marketing provides that opportunity to everyone equally and without bias or prejudice…and most importantly for many small businesses, without the large financial investment that kind of exposure would have cost 20 years ago.
Traditional marketing, and the potentially enormous price tags that come along with it, often excluded many small businesses because of the large initial investment required just to get the ball rolling. These days, an individual with the “best thing since sliced bread” no longer has to rely on word of mouth, direct mail, etc. to promote a new product in their local community. Instead, entrepreneurs can use their “take the bull by the horns” attitudes to take control of their own search marketing campaigns.