Saturday, 8 October 2011

Seven (Non-SEO) Tips to Having a Successful SEO Campaign

If you ask people if they want to be successful, almost unanimously, they will say yes. But if you watch what people do, you'll see that they are neither interested in, nor committed to, doing the things that are required to become successful.

Most people look for ways to "succeed" by investing the least amount of effort possible. That's why the lottery makes so much money for the government. One dollar can make you extremely rich. If you're extremely lucky.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with looking for ways to become successful with the smallest amount of effort. Luck isn't random happenstance; it's being prepared when the right opportunity comes your way! I have a motto I use quite often when I'm not working, "I worked damn hard to be this lazy!" But the key here is that I worked. I didn't just get lucky and get to be lazy because of it - I earned it.

Over the years I've busted my butt to create a successful website marketing strategy firm. It's had it's ups and downs, not to mention countless long nights and weekends. And whenever I start to feel like I can relax, it seems something comes up, and we have a new push to get us to the next level.

Successful SEO can't be done in a vacuum of search engine algorithms, social media and on-page optimization strategies. There is something even more fundamental to being successful at your SEO efforts than the knowledge needed to carry it out. These are foundational issues that, when applied, will help you not only gain the knowledge you need, but the wherewithal to grow in your success, even through difficult and dry times.

Seven steps to making sure your SEO is successful

Daily Growth : SEO requires a constant education on what the search engines are doing, how that might affect your site, and what new strategies you might need to employ. As rapidly as technology changes, your SEO knowledge yesterday won't always carry you through tomorrow.

Value the Process : SEO isn't about the destination (top rankings) but rather the process that brings constant improvement to your site. Every day you should find some ways to improve your site over yesterday's version. Look for new keywords, opportunities for new content and ways to improve the usability and persuasion processes that will increase conversions.

Don't Wait for Inspiration : Inspiration most often comes after you have started doing something. It's the work itself that inspires thoughts, ideas and strategies. If you're stuck in an SEO rut and don't know what to do next, start doing something. Look at the analytics, read a blog or strike up a conversation with someone about the site you're working on. Do something to get the creative juices flowing.

Be Willing to Pay Now : There is a saying that says you can pay now or pay later, but you will pay. Be willing to invest heavily in SEO, especially in the early stages. In many cases SEO has to be done in large chunks rather than small bites. Be willing to invest in those large chunks of time. They often lead to greater rewards (sooner rather than) later.

Don't Focus on Your Limitations : There is no SEO in the world that can do everything greatly. Sometimes you have to know what you don't know and find qualified people to do what you can't do. Don't get stuck worrying about what you can't do and work with people who can provide strengths that compensate for your weaknesses.

Master Your Time
: SEO can often be an endless process. There is always something more that can, and should, be done. In order to get anything accomplished you have to manage your time wisely. Focus on areas that will provide the best results first, then move on to other areas later. Don't get bogged down in the inessentials.

Trade Up, Not Down
: When dealing with clients, developers and owners, the SEO often finds they don't get everything they want. Sometimes you have to make concessions. When you can't do everything, then look for trades that bring more value to you. Trade quantity for quality. Trade time for effectiveness. Trade rankings for conversions. You get the drift.
What's good for SEO is good for business

Each of the tips above can be applied to every area of our lives and in business, not just SEO. They are tried and true principles for success in any arena. It's just the application that varies.

SEO requires patience, determination, hard work and sometimes even sacrificing our perfect ideals. Everybody has a different definition of success. Many clients or SEOs look to rankings as the goal when they should be looking at business growth, conversions and profits. Determine what your real goals are and do what it takes to achieve them. Then you'll be successful at SEO!


How do you break into SEO?

If you are in this business long enough, someone will come up and ask the question. To some of them, it is the most important question in their lives: "How do I break into SEO?" I honestly get this question several times a month.  And each person that asks me is ready for my answer. Some seem ready to take notes. They expect that I am going to rattle off some kind of canned answer that will unlock the secret to their future career. But I don't, because it isn't that easy.

Some people readily accept that it isn't that easy. If it were easy, they wouldn't need to ask.

In fact many folks ask a longer question. "How do I break into SEO, because I don't have..."

    * ...a technical background. This is one of the most common worries. People believe that they need to know how to program or at least code HTML or else they are doomed.
    * ...a marketing background. Yeah, people who actually have a technical background worry that they need something else.

The truth is that almost no one breaks into SEO with both a marketing and a technical background. So, no matter who you are, you probably don't have all the skills required to optimize for organic search.

But as SEO grows, you don't really need all those skills anymore. There are plenty of jobs out there for folks who are specialists. They don't know everything about SEO--they just know enough SEO, that when coupled with other skills make them employable.

That's why when people ask me the magic question, I always ask them a question back. What do you already know?

People are always struck by this question because they don't expect the magic formula to have anything to do with them. But it does:

    * If you have a background in direct marketing, you can learn search analytics.
    * If you came from PR, you can come up with social media ideas or write blog posts.
    * If you understand copy writing, you can do content optimization or paid search copy writing.
    * If you are a programmer, you can fix infrastructure problems.

You probably get the idea.

SEO is no longer some kind of monolithic profession. where you must know every part of it to get a job. If you have any skills that border on organic search marketing, adding SEO skills to that mix make you far more employable.  And that is always the right way to break into SEO, by building on what you already know.