7 Things I’ve Learned In My First Month In SEO
One month ago, I joined the world of SEO aided with a degree in Computer Engineering, an MBA and a passion for marketing…but that still wasn’t enough! There was so much to learn which was both challenging and exciting at the same time. Here are some of the main things that I’ve learned in my first month in SEO:
1. Don’t believe everything you read
That was the first piece of advice my colleague gave me on Day One. The vast amount of information spread all over the internet is overwhelming and you tend to take a lot of it to heart; don’t! I’ve lost track of the endless blogs and resources I’ve read and tried to absorb during the past month, but I have concluded that there is no such thing as ‘matter of fact’ when it comes to SEO. The one way to confirm the authenticity of what you read is by testing it.
2. Learning is by doing
With SEO, you can spend all your time ‘learning’ it by reading all the books in the world but to no avail. The best way to learn all the right strategies and techniques is to implement them yourself. One trick I’ve used is to just use SEO in my everyday life! For example, in my first week of producing SEO audits, I made it a habit to check out the title tags, URL consistency and canonicals on all the webpages I visited in my spare time; even those that just have memes of random cute babies! The more you observe, analyse and experiment; the more it all starts to make sense.
3. Character limits are not as easy as they seem
At first, I thought the entire concept of sticking to the character limit for title tags and meta-descriptions would be easy; after all, I’m used to the 140 character limit for tweets! But boy, was I wrong! It’s not just about your title tags being too long. Another problem might be that they’re too short. Or sometimes they are the right length, but they don’t use the right keywords. Or perhaps they’re inconsistent in structure compared to the rest! I also found out about the significance of embedding long tail keywords in title tags in the process of on-page optimization and how that can rank higher in less time than competitive keywords. Yep, not as easy as Twitter.
4. Quality over Quantity
I use the word ‘keywords’ on a daily basis now and I’ve come across a number of websites that spam their pages with the keywords they want to be ranked for. From a user point of view, it looks ridiculous…from an SEO point of view, it’s a crime. SEO is about quality not quantity. It’s not about stuffing every possible keyword that you want to be ranked for; it’s about doing a thorough keyword research to target the right ones. Keyword consistency that is non-manipulative in nature is what you need. Steady, interesting and accurate information are the main methods to obtain better search results for your website. Avoid the negative user experience and being penalized by Google by using reliable relevant keywords on your website.
5. Content is King
I must have come across this expression in every content marketing book I’ve read but it’s the truth. SEO and content always go hand in hand; you can’t change one without changing the other. They need to complement each other at all times. It’s well known that homepage content is important because Google reads it to learn more about the company, but I was surprised by the number of websites that lack content on their homepage because they’d rather stick to visually appealing images or flash. Relevant, in-depth and high quality content is what Google and your audience are looking for, not just pretty pictures.
6. Put yourself in the user’s shoes
The best tactic to approach a new website for the first time is to take those SEO shoes off and put yourself in the position of the user. Let’s say this website sells vintage stationary; ask yourself: what would a user type in the Google search bar if that’s what he/she’s after? Remember, understanding the user’s intent should always be your starting point.
Once you’re on a website, browse it just like a user who’s interested in vintage stationary would browse it. How are those menu items looking? Is there enough content on the homepage? How many clicks did you need to do to reach a product that you want to buy? How easy is the checkout process? Not rushing this process and asking myself as much questions possible, truly helped me see things from the user’s perspective.
7. It changes all the time
There’s nothing stable about SEO. It’s always changing as it tends to evolve with the market which means you can’t get comfortable with a certain strategy and just stick to it. You need to stay updated with all the latest news on search to plan accordingly. A valuable lesson I’ve taken away after one month is I need to do my research before working on a new project to make sure that I’m up to date with all the latest trends.
What about you? What was your first month of SEO like? What are some key things that you have learned during your time in the industry? Let me know your thoughts below!