How to Survive as an SEO Newbie
Congratulations, you’re hired! You’re now officially the new kid on the block… but when is it that you stop being considered the “newbie”? Well, some say it takes an average of three to six months for a new employee to truly understand their duties and tasks to optimally perform what is expected from them. Others say it can take up to a year for a “newbie” to become completely integrated into the work culture and finally start making a real difference.
The truth is that there is no correct answer to this question. It really all depends… but what exactly does it depend on? Each and every one of us is different. Some people adapt quickly, while others are slow to adjust. If you’re currently going through this transition, you might be asking yourself…
“How much time is it going to take for me to be officially considered part of the team?”
There’s no stock standard response here, but listed below you will find some useful tips from someone who was once an SEO newbie himself. Me! Hopefully these tips will help make your transition from newbie to team player a swift and enjoyable experience. So listen up!
While this should be obvious, it’s not so obvious for many apathetic newbies. If you really want to be successful in the SEO industry (or any industry for that matter) you’ve really got to have the drive and determination to learn and be bold about learning. Ambition is not something you can learn in school. No teacher, or anyone else for that matter, can teach you how to be ambitious.
Ambition is not a skill. It’s something that must come from within you. Either you are ambitious and want to succeed or you don’t. Word of advice… you must be passionate about what you do. Ambition will come with an innate passion for Internet Marketing technologies and the industry as a whole.
Work Hard, Work Smart
It’s no secret that one of the formulas to success is hard work. If you’re new on the job, nine to five won’t cut it. Working a standard eight hour week is a luxury an SEO newbie simply cannot afford. If you make a little sacrifice and initially put in the extra hours, you will minimize the time it will take to bring yourself to a comparable level with the rest of team.
Also remember to always have a clear objective in mind. Work not only hard, but smart, with a crystal clear goal of what you want to accomplish in your career. This is essential if you want to be one the top dogs in the game. As an Internet Marketer (SEO specialist or consultant) being on top of your game, acting fast, and delivering results is a must at all times. It is essential for you to be familiar and proficient with the best tools used among your fellow professionals. Learn how to effectively use the right set of tools from the get go and it will save you a lot of time and headache in the future.
It’s often said that there are two kinds of people: those who get results and those who make excuses. Generate results and don’t make excuses for why you can’t accomplish what you set out to do.
As said, resting is not a privilege “newbies” can afford. I’m not saying that you must become some kind of crazy workaholic (kind of), but at least, for the first three to six months you must be willing to sacrifice weekends and late nights to develop yourself. Unfortunately I can tell you from personal experience that the more time and effort you put into learning new things, the more you will feel like you know nothing! This will be a frustrating feeling given the amount of time you are putting into learning; however, you can’t stop and must persist until you reach a level of confidence to know you are producing tangible results, benefiting your clients.
Stay Up to Date
There’s possibly no other industry as dynamic and fast paced as the Digital Marketing industry. You must be aware of the constant changes in the industry as they can adversely affect your clients. Are there any new Google algorithms / updates that might affect the traffic to your client’s sites or their page rank? What kind of tools are available for me to improve performance and get better results? What is the latest social media platform that my clients can start leveraging from? These basic but essential questions can make or break you when doing SEO.
This is essential. Business owners are looking for proactive new employees. A proactive person is one that anticipates what they have to do, when they have to do it, without being told to do it. They anticipate what will be necessary and act accordingly. They are responsible, organized and assertive.
For example, as a newbie, you may realize that a certain aspect of your client’s website is affecting their traffic. The proactive employee digs in and comes up with a solution. When the solutions are not immediately available from within, the proactive individual, doesn’t just let it sit; rather he seeks assistance until the solution is defined and clear.
Unlike ambition, proactivity is something you can learn (even if you’re shy). Talk to your team and ask them about their experiences, what things they watch out for, and incorporate that into how you handle your accounts. It’s important to build this foundation now because you’ll (hopefully) be expected to handle more complex clients and projects in the future. If you don’t know what to look out for and how to prioritize, or how to get hands-on when you see a client’s traffic take a nosedive, there could be serious consequences for you and your client.
If you’re not a proactive individual, you need to become one or internet marketing will overwhelm you. Think of it this way. In the future you will be expected to handle much more complex clients and projects that will drive you crazy if you don’t prioritize, organize and act accordingly
Never be Afraid to Ask Questions
When we your younger,we were always told never to be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. But let’s be honest. How many of you are not afraid of asking a question in a new work environment? It can be intimidating, even for the bravest among us. It’s just human nature to avoid any situation where we feel inadequate or just unsure of ourselves. We don’t like to feel ashamed, ridiculed or put in the spotlight for not knowing something. But really, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Something that seems stupid and obvious may actually not be as stupid and obvious as you thought!
Besides, you’re new. You’re not supposed to know everything. Asking questions is a sign that you’re interested and that you care. And in this industry especially, one small mistake that was made because you kept quiet can have significantly negative consequences.
Even leading Internet Marketers ask questions – that’s how they stay on top of their game. New technologies spring up so quickly that it’s impossible for anyone to be successful without asking questions. The only difference is that industry leaders have the tools and experience to know how to answer their questions. So, ask those questions you need answers to from the those that do!
Ok, so you don’t have to be super computer savvy, but you must have some computer skills in order to be successful in SEO. Most SEO results are driven by how people use the tools available for tasks such as market research, data collection, data analysis and more. So yes, SEO and the Internet Marketing Industry are all about technology and innovation. The best example of this can be seen from some of the important players in the industry. They have been successfully adapting to changes in technology, and as result, have innovative and new products that SEOs love. SEOMoz and Hubspot are perfect examples of what I’ve just said. They have been successfully anticipating changes in trends and develop their new products accordingly. You adapt, or you perish.
Learn the 6 Basics of SEO
This may be the 1000th time you will see these “basic” suggestions when it comes to SEO. Good! Make this the 1001st time you see them then. These are the things you should just know, without having to think about them. You should know them so well that they are coded in your DNA; that you dream about them when you sleep at night.
These are 6 things you MUST start with as a base when carrying out any SEO strategy:
1. Easy to Crawl Web Structure – In other words, build your site in such a way that search engines find you. Things such as Site Navigation, Internal linking and URL structure are essential here.
2. High Quality Content – Relevant, informative and up to date content that your target audience finds useful.
3. On Site Optimization – Optimization of your website tags, meta tags, meta descriptions etc. to ensure that your website can be indexed by search engines.
4. Off Site Optimization – promotion of content, relationships with other “authoritative entities” on the web that will help you increase your website’s rank and authority.
5. Strong Backlink Base– Increase exposure, authority and page rank by earning powerful and authoritative backlinks from other web sources.
6. Conversion Optimization – Optimize conversions i.e. leads, sales, form submissions, phone calls, etc. from all your site traffic .
If you build your SEO Strategy using these six steps, the probability for success is really high. This isn’t all there is too it; however, you are clearly on the right track with a solid foundation to build from.
Write and Promote
As an SEO newbie you’ll want to make content the core of everything you do as it is vital for the success of any SEO strategy. The first and most important thing when creating content is the quality. High quality content is a must if you want search engines to make it visible on page 1 of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for a particular search query.
Creating high quality, relevant and engaging content is just half of the battle. You must promote your content. The way to push this content may vary depending on the industry, the type of business, or the specific goal you might have for a particular piece of content.
Some of the most popular and effective ways to promote content over the Internet is through social media platforms and press releases. A good piece of content can generate quality backlinks. Quality backlinks improve your link profile and your link profile drives authority quotients. The higher your authority quotient, the greater your visibility; not just for an individual keyword, but more likely for a range of keywords (keyword theme).
Know What´s Bad Practice
One of the first things you must do when starting in SEO is to identify and learn the best practices in the industry. This is the easiest way to know the kind of things you must stay away from, and not do…ever. Things like buying links, over optimization, swapping links, duplicate content, and cloaking can get you into serious trouble, making you vulnerable to an algorithmic hit by Google that can destroy your visibility and traffic.
I highly recommend you read the following beginner’s guides: Google´s SEO Starters guide and SEOMoz’s Beginners Guide to SEO. These are two resources that I found invaluable during my time as a newbie and will give you more in-depth information concerning best and worst practices in the industry.
Build your Online Authority
What is your online authority? Essentially, online authority is determined by how reliable (relevant and credible) the online community and people within your industry think you are. When I say people in your industry, I refer to both the people looking for your services and others doing the same job as you (aka your competitors).
Why should you work on building your own authority? Simple! -To increase the chances of your company ranking better on search engines. The best way to accomplish this is to write and constantly publish quality content on your company´s blog. This will boost both your personal authority and your company´s domain authority… not to mention the probability of obtaining quality backlinks in the process.
Ultimately, your company must be seen as the “go-to guys” in the industry and your knowledge as a newbie, no matter how limited at present, is invaluable towards building your personal authority and that of your company.
Be Your Own Critic
At this early point in your career, it’s only normal to look up to more experienced SEOs – but don’t be too hard on yourself. You may be tempted to compare yourself to them, but this is not a fair comparison and it will only discourage you. Of course, it will seem like you are light years away from them, and this is perfectly understandable as some of them have been in the industry for ten plus years.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, why don’t you compare yourself against the only person you are competing with… yourself! Ask yourself the folloing questions.
1) How much have I progressed since the first day I started working here?
2) Am I learning something I did not know yesterday?
3) What else can I do to improve?
4) What are my weaknesses?
5) What are my strengths?
6) In what areas can I improve?
7) What else can I be doing that I’m currently not?
8) Am I getting more projects?
Answering these questions is an excellent way to track your process on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Don´t berate yourself too much on the things you don´t know. Remind yourself that at some point in time the experts were in the same position as you are in right now. There will always be a learning curve but keep up the hard work and you will one day be on their level.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Last but not least, this is something all newbies must understand and overcome. Never, ever get discouraged by not knowing something or for making mistakes. It is normal at this point in your career to not know things and make mistakes.
Relax, its okay.
You are just starting and trying to understand everything being directed at you. The important thing here is to learn from your mistakes and improve everyday. It is better to try and do something wrong, than not do anything at all. Every day is a new day to learn more.
I work with great professionals here at Optimum7. I am learning everyday and I am proud to be on this team. If you are a site owner, please contact us because we can do really do great things for you online.