After working in the SEO industry for five years, I foolishly believed that I had arrived. I had already built up what seemed to be a significant amount of expertise, launched my own SEO business, collaborated with well-known companies, and ranked websites in highly competitive areas.
But as I think about it today, I realise that I still had a lot of things to learn. My learning curve was beginning to level out despite the fact that I was in no way a major player at the time and do not currently consider myself to be one.
When I go back to that period, there is a great deal that I could have done differently to become an SEO professional with more success and to grow more quickly in the field of SEO.
In this essay, I’ll discuss the seven most crucial aspects regarding search engine optimization (SEO) that I wish I had known when I was ten years younger. At the time, I worked in an in-house job; nevertheless, the majority of the topics we’ll discuss today are applicable to agency roles as well.
Let’s plunge in!
Educate Yourself On How To Produce Excellent Content
At one time, I was concentrating so intently on the technical aspects of SEO that I had entirely lost track of how critical excellent content is to the accomplishment of SEO goals.
To make it even more difficult for myself, I was completely clueless about how to produce high-quality material since it had been so long since I had been actively involved in the industry.
I was aware of how to generate run-of-the-mill content ideas, what kind of heading structure to adhere to, and the most effective way to connect pieces to one another… but I could only go that far with it.
I spent much too much time contemplating the process of content creation and far too little time actually producing it. That is not the way to get organic website traffic.
What I’d want to advise my younger self is to have more writing experience under my belt by getting back into the fray. Begin by writing about what you are most familiar with, which is SEO.
Examine what approaches are successful and what are not. Figure out how to get people to see your material so you can gain feedback.
In the meanwhile, begin seeking out partnerships with competent copywriters in order to fill this void, and pay close attention to both the tasks they do and the manner in which they perform them.
Educate Yourself on How to Acquire Links
In the last ten to fifteen years, getting directory linkages was quite simple, and the power they carried was significant. You may be able to rank sites using them effectively in niches with low to medium levels of competition.
When it comes to link building, it was pretty much my general strategy, and I supplemented it with press releases.
This was successful to an extent for a while. And so I grew lazy. When I first started working in the media industry, I didn’t have a clue about what makes people tick or how I might convince journalists and bloggers to connect to me.
And then, all of a sudden, the efficiency of the linkages I had been used to constructing was severely diminished.
Because I hadn’t been working on expanding my talents to gain links, I found myself in a difficult position.
I wasn’t coming up with new methods to gain links, and as a result, I progressively evolved into more of a consulting job, in which I would just come up with suggestions about how to get links.
I had lost touch with what was really necessary to build ties in the last several months.
Forget everything you think you know about creating connections, since you don’t. That’s what I’d tell myself. Put yourself back in the line of fire.
Get rid of your negative behaviours and devote some of your time to learning what makes people tick and how you might influence other people to attach to you. Acquiring more experience and working in collaboration with PR professionals are both excellent ways to improve your link earning abilities.
If you are unable to learn it on your own, you might consider hiring someone who already has these talents.
Quit Writing Those 50-Page Search Engine Optimization Audits
It was a lot of fun for me to write in-depth 50-page SEO assessments.
When I finally sent one off to a customer, I thought to myself that it must have brought in a tremendous amount of value. It was a great feeling. What more could a customer want from their service?
I had devised a strategy for achieving first place on Google’s search engine results pages!
The fact of the matter was, however, that in order to ensure that my suggestions were carried out, I had to exert a great deal of work. In spite of the fact that they were aware of the issues with the website before I had finished drafting the 50-page audit that took me days to complete, clients seldom viewed it.
It became clear that these 50-page audits were functioning as an obstacle for me.
Forget about the 50-page audit, and travel to the location where your customer wants you to be. That is the piece of advice I would give to past-me.
Give them a basic one-pager that describes the desired outcomes, a prioritised work list, and a timetable for when to expect those results. The data should be supported up by spreadsheets for extra specifics.
Concentrate On Your Long-Term Customers
We were ready and willing to collaborate with everyone that came to our door, and it didn’t matter who it was.
Because of this, the majority of our business consisted of one-off projects for customers who were unable to make a long-term financial or time commitment to us.
After some time had passed, we were able to determine which customers would become our long-term customers and which would not. But we still lacked the intestinal fortitude to turn down the project-based money even though we knew it wouldn’t go on beyond the first project.
We reasoned that if money was coming through the door, you’d have to be insane to refuse it, so we asked ourselves:
- But the truth is that we shouldn’t have agreed to do it.
- Because of a number of factors, these initiatives are:
- Were less enjoyable to work on than others.
Because you had to do everything perfect on the very first attempt, the results were not particularly impressive very often. In addition, you were unable to go on to the next stage of the SEO plan.
Had very low profit margins in comparison to their long-term obligations.
These projects were not beneficial to either ourselves or the customer in any way.
What I would advise my younger self is to prioritise working with clients that you believe have a strong possibility of becoming long-term customers.
Those are the people that will allow you to have the greatest fun while you’re working with them. They will provide you with the most valuable education, in addition to the highest possible profits.
Put Money Into Building Your Own Personal Brand
I never put a significant amount of effort into developing my own brand. Despite the fact that I often came across incredibly intriguing circumstances that others in the SEO community would have enjoyed hearing about, I did not write content nor did I share the things I had learnt.
I wasn’t certain if other people would find these things fascinating, so rather than adding stuff, I simply hung about and observed what was going on.
As a direct consequence of this, the number of people who follow me on social media is rather low. Very few individuals were even aware of my existence.
What I would advise my younger self is to begin building a following on social media by sharing what they find fascinating and what they learn. Get back to writing and also spend some time in the “real world,” but also get back to writing.
Start by giving talks at small, local get-togethers and work your way up from there. Whatever decision you make in the future on your course of action, it will prove to be really useful. This investment will more than cover its costs in a thousand different ways.
Don’t Let Clients Obsess About Rankings
My customers were preoccupied with rankings, much like a lot of other customers.
You don’t want meetings to be about why a term moved from position 6 to 7, even if rankings are plainly crucial in search engine optimization (SEO).
This was a conversation that I found myself having much too often. It was my responsibility; I ought to have assisted my clients in seeing beyond rankings and focusing on the greater picture.
What I’d advise myself to tell myself is to explain to customers that they need to look at trends and concentrate on more relevant metrics such as organic traffic – and ideally, leads and revenue as well.
In this approach, you waste less time on debates that don’t amount to anything meaningful and instead have more time to enjoy discussing ways to further expand the firm.
Devote less of your time to accounting and report-writing.
I considered it a point of pride to maintain a comprehensive weekly checklist that I went through for each and every customer. I was able to see every problem and adjustment, no matter how little or significant.
On the other hand, it had a significant impact on the client’s monthly budget. The same applies to reporting.
When I look about it now, I believe that I spent around 30 percent of our time auditing and reporting.
I was unaware of how excessive that was until today. That 30 percent could have been reduced to 10 percent if I had automated the monitoring of modifications, used Pareto’s 80/20 rule to the manual auditing chores, and made the reporting process more straightforward.
The time I saved might have been used toward improving the results I provide to my customers, which could have had a considerable impact when you take into account the compounding nature of search engine optimization (SEO).
What I’d advise my younger self is to focus my time and energy on the activities that would provide the greatest return on investment for my customers (and thereby for yourself). Spend it on the front lines, actively working on SEO, and minimise the amount of time you spend auditing and reporting.
Because I do not have access to a time machine, the version of myself that was ten years younger will never get the chance to read this.
But you just did!
You will hopefully be able to shorten the learning curve and advance more quickly than I was able to by using what I’ve learned and sharing it with you. This will allow you to avoid making some of the errors that I’ve made along the road.