Welcome To SEO: Please Learn From Our Mistakes!
Written by: Nick LeRoy
Let me be one of the first people to welcome you to the world of Search Engine Optimization, more commonly known as "SEO". By choosing to enter our "world" you have chosen to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You will have to work hard to succeed in this industry and cheating won't be tolerated. If you care to press your luck and skip corners you will utlimately fail... Fail to achieve top rankings, fail to drive traffic, and fail to make money! But that's not it, if you simply decide the rules don't pertain to you, then you will need to answer to big daddy Google. You don't want to challenge the big guy - You will lose!
Welcome to the world of SEO! Which will it be? The red or blue pill?
With that said, there are a lot of SEO veterans that have already gone through what most hope to never have to go through. Given this, please learn from our mistakes! Seriously, there is a lot of bad information floating around regarding SEO and more outdated techniques then I can even begin to explain. I have started a list of tips that I would give to a brand new (yes that's you!) SEO for their first day on the job.
Please do our industry a favor by reading and embracing the following SEO tips.
Read As Much As You Can About The SEO Industry! - With so many free sources available no SEO has a valid excuse for NOT staying up to date with the SEO industry.
Participate In SEO Forums - Actively partipate but make sure you DO NOT pretend to be a SEO god. Please do not try to sell your services as you're brand new to the game and you don't know enough YET to sell your services. Read the "stickied" and recommended posts published by trusted members. DO NOT argue with the trusted members as they are truly trying to help you. Embrace their suggestions and if you disagree with them, come back with statistics, examples and tests that you have completed. Even the most experiences SEO's can be wrong and many of them can admit it... if proven wrong.
Learn Programming Basics - It's very important that you grasp the technology used to design and build websites. Now it's true that you don't have to be a web developer by day to succeed in SEO, however having a basic knowledge of HTML will help. To be an effective SEO you will need to be familiar with such on page optimization terms such as "title tag", "meta descriptions", "header tags", "image alt text", "hypertext link" and many more.
Install Site Analytics - Site wide analytics is one of the most valuable tools an SEO can have in their arsenal. This will give you an incite to where your traffic is coming from, what long tail keywords to target and a way to track sales/conversions.
While other options are available most people find Google Analytics to be the best tool available.
Build Content - There isn't one "right" way to succeed in SEO but the general SEO community would agree that content generation is very important. Not only does content building offer your site an opportunity to rank for long tail keywords but they also acquire "natural links". Remember one question when your writing, "Why would someone want to link to this?" If you can't answer this question with the content your writing then the odds that anyone will link to your content is slim.
Suggestions for content building include blogs, articles, news sections, and message boards.
Remember how I stressed that you need to learn from experienced SEO mistakes? Below are two to especially pay attention to.
Avoid The Scams! - 1000 links for $19.99 does sound mighty tempting and SEO's see this offer every day. Unfortunately I have yet to see anyone rise to the top of the search engines with any offer like this. Most of these "1000 links" include very low (if any) quality directory listings, link farms, and "no follow" social media links. "All in one SEO packages" are another scam to look out for. No program can complete your on page optimization, content generations and link building effectively. Please save your money, if it sounds like it's too good to be true then it probably is.
Realistic Expectations - Everyone wants to rank for very competitive one word keywords. The odds of you over taking Apple for the keyword "Ipod" is extremely small. I'm not suggesting that you never target competitive keywords but in addition target long tail keywords. These keywords may not bring you thousands of visits every day but the traffic is very qualified and it increases the chances they convert into a sale (or goal). The best news - long tail keywords typically are easier to rank for!
One Last Important Tip
SEO TAKES TIME! - Not only does everyone want to rank for competitive keywords but they want to rank #1 for them today! If that's how you want it to be then Pay Per Click is your best friend. However, I can attest to PPC getting expensive very quickly. SEO takes time, in most cases it can take six or more months until you see significant results. This is all based off your websites current link metrics, on page optimization, and the "trust" or "authority" your domain has already acquired. Being new to the game, you will want to be patient. Continue to bounce ideas off of other people and make sure to learn from SEO's past mistakes.
SEASONED SEO SPECIALISTS!
Can you elaborate on this list? Do you have tips/suggestions or even a story that you would share with a newcomer to the SEO world? Create a blog post/article and let's start creating a big list for these newcomers. Let all the new SEO practitioners learn from our past mistakes!