No, not really. I just spent ten minutes thinking up awful, topical titles so I chose to go with a completely unrelated one instead.
My first post as an SEO-Chicklet (or Guest Blogger, for those of you who like proper titles) and I’ve sat here for two commercials with my fingers on the keys, unsure of what to write. Since getting into SEO eighteen months ago, I’ve only ever written for one SEO site. It’s like I’m leaving my favourite bar for the first time and stepping into a new one. How to you talk to people here? Do they like the same jokes as you? At least I’ve started off my tenture as a Chick well: talking about booze. Hi, Lisa and Julie!
Just in case you missed Lisa’s introductory post, I’ll recap who I am and why I’m writing here: I’ve been working at SEOmoz in Seattle for the past year and a half. I’m from New Zealand, moving to the U.S. in 2002 in the typical style that my family tends to embrace: because it seemed like a good idea at the time. By the sheer grace of God and relatively good social skills, I landed a job at SEOmoz in September 2006 after enduring the most inventive and completely horrifying job interview process known to the Internet. My only previous experience with SEO was the complete delight I experienced as a college Junior (Third Year) when a classmate explained to me how the Googlebomb worked. I remember sitting in my apartment and thinking, “Christ, that’s awesome.”
In case you’re not interested in reading the very long article about how SEOmoz hires people for entry-level jobs, here’s a run down of how I came to be an SEO: the six finalists for my position had to write blog posts that were published on SEOmoz’s blog. Readers voted on which one was best, and they also commented on them. I knew enough about online communities to truthfully believe that I was going to be torn apart. I didn’t know how to blog. I knew how to write upper-level English, History, Political Science and Sociology papers. I knew words that only existed in Roget’s Thesaurus but I didn’t know how to talk to people, rather than write at them. The post I wrote is cringe-worthy. It isn’t badly written and its contents aren’t awful, but it’s the work of someone who knew she was in over her head. People who are now my friends commented on it and said much the same things that I’d say now if it had been written by somebody else.
Given that I knew next-to-nothing about SEO when I first took my seat in the offices, I am the typical one-company employee. I brought nothing with me and thus learned the SEOmoz way of doing things. Less kind individuals may say I drank the Kool-Aid. However, coming into the industry with no experience and figuring out everything while I worked has been a fantastic way to learn.
Obviously, I learned a lot very quickly about search. I distinctly remember the moment when I learned that underscores didn’t serve the same purpose as hyphens. I remember the first time I heard the term “duplicate content”, and I didn’t immediately realise that I’d hear it again every day for the rest of eternity. I learned how to write basic HTML in about two and a half minutes after finding out pretty quickly that it was easier than expecting Dreamweaver to do it for me. When you’re learning something that’s quite foreign to you, you go through phases of thinking that you’ve gained no knowledge at all. Then, out of nowhere, you realise that you have acquired more knowledge in three months than you did over four years at college.
Just over a year ago, I wrote a post titled The Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know and I’d like to update those ten bullet points now to include things I’ve learned about SEO and the Internet Marketing industry in the past thirteen months.
- Most “penalties” are nothing of the sort. I hear a lot of questions about people’s sites experiencing “penalties” when their rankings have dropped two or three places. Most recently, the “-6 penalty” had webmasters up in arms. I was quite proud of my guess that it wasn’t a penalty, but an unexpected result of bigger changes.
- The best defense is not a good offense. It’s knowing when to close the comment box and proverbially STFU.
- Google is great at eliminating spam, unless your search term contains the word “lyrics.” I want to be the person who does SEO for abc123lyricsmp3sfreedownloads.com. They could spam mattcutts.com and not be penalised.
- PageRank doesn’t really matter to you when yours drops. Pah! It’s not even accurate. How silly to get upset about such a ridiculous little piece of Google propaganda.
- PageRank matters a lot to you when yours goes up. You knew those whitehat efforts would pay off at some point.
- It’s a good thing when people spell your name incorrectly… if they’ve written something unflattering about you. Google doesn’t have a “did you mean?” for Copeland versus Copland
- People whom you see on the Internet also exist in real life. Those of them who use weird screen names and odd avatars also expect that you’ll know exactly who they are when their human form bowls up to you and says, “Hi! I’m John!” when they should say, “Hi! I’m herbo_29 from the blog. My picture is a squirrel riding a German Shepherd.” Then you’ll not just stand there with that look of stupor and embarrassment on your face.
- Nofollow has many purposes. Siloing. Editorial discretion. Comment protocol. Pure spite isn’t a great reason to nofollow something. Unless it’s a link to Wikipedia, and it’s not like they need it. Some social media sites don’t nofollow anything. It’s not spamming: they should just know better.
- Each search engine is very very different, but when people ask your advice, use your consulting services or comment on your writing, they only talk about Google. I’ve seen instances where people really don’t care that they get next to no traffic from Yahoo! and only a small amount from Live. Learning more about how Yahoo! and Live work looks to be a great idea: you may well be one of a small number of people who really pays them the attention they deserve.
- Jericho just came on the TV. I’ve been waiting for this series to come back for about a year so this list is one point short. Although Jericho is still kind of relevant to what we do: it was teh internetz that brought the series back! And the ads are telling me to “keyword search “Jericho” on my Sprint mobile phone”, just as a commercial last Friday advised that I should “look it up on Yahoo!” Cute.
Thanks for letting me join the SEO Chicks community, everyone. Until next time, enjoy those meta tags.