When I first transferred from the world of television to the world of marketing, I imagined myself to be something like Don Draper, or at least Peggy from later seasons - writing great copy and drinking spirits.
However, as it is not the 1960’s any more I found myself surrounded with an overwhelming number of acronyms - PPC, CPC, SEO, DA, UX, SERP and so on. So, just like Peggy, I decided to enter the brave new world and feed the beast.
My learning curve of SEO and digital marketing, in general, consisted of three main stages: First I had to learn how to use the tools - pass Google Analytics Individual Qualification; get all the certificates for AdWords; learn the basics of SEO and even though I got all these certificates within a month or two, this was only the beginning. Yes, I knew where to find reports and how to set up campaigns but had very little idea of what those reports actually meant.
The second stage was understanding the world of metrics, really understanding what they meant and then came the advanced stage - basing decisions on the metrics you find. And little did I know that this was the tricky part.
In the world of digital marketing people either assume that you know nothing at all, or that you are the super ninja hacker able to break into the Pentagon's systems. There’s not a lot of information for those who consider themselves at an intermediate level and this is why you get stuck on this stage for longer then you would like.
BEST PRACTICES VS YOUR EXPERIENCE
When you first start dealing with SEO or other aspects of digital marketing, most of what you do is based on what you’ve been taught. You see examples in Google’s guidelines and read about them in the blogs and you just do the same, or as close as you can get.
There is nothing wrong with that, but SEO is very complex. There is no one perfect solution and more importantly, SEO strategy has to reflect and support the rest of your marketing efforts. You cannot run search campaigns without considering SEO, you can't do copywriting without it. All of this has to come together and work in perfect unison.
On the intermediate level, you get to take your first steps in putting together a unique strategy and there are no guidelines for that.
It’s a complex process - you need to decide exactly where you want to hold your focus. Is it the technical health of your website, or on-page optimisation? What are your goals, who are the SERP competitors etc. These are tricky decisions to make and are part of your own strategy.
TRIAL AND ERROR
What I just described above is almost impossible to do without trial and error. Guidelines and best practices are good, but each website is different, each industry is different and each business has different goals.
The best SEO professionals out there will confirm that they had to try and fail many times and that is the only way that you get better.
Yes, you have to be careful because you could damage your rankings if you do something really wrong. However, if you’ve reached the stage where you are considering your own strategy, chances are you know what you’re doing so shouldn’t do anything to damage your website. So make sure you don’t do things that have big red flags on them and keep trying.
USE THE COMMUNITY
Joining the SEO community can be scary for a newbie as they know all those terms you don’t and they can seem a bit patronising and intimidating. But guess what, it’s not true at all. In every industry, there are people more experienced than others and the SEO crowd is very patient when it comes to newbies.
Join Facebook pages and groups that you can use to share your ideas and ask advice on. Be careful not to get into spammy SEO groups (there are loads of them) where advice will be generally black hat practices, but they are easy to spot. Make sure you follow the big SEO tools on social media, you will meet interesting people in the comments sections on their feeds, and most importantly, be confident!
You’ll get there, we all do eventually.