For every one kick ass SEO in the industry, there are three or four horrendously awful SEOs and at least a dozen wannabe SEOs. While horrendously awful tend to burn their bridges in the industry (and get sites penalized) before they make it, wannabe SEOs can tend to make something of themselves if they work their asses off, which will again separate the wheat from the chaffe in the SEO world. Wanting to put the time and effort into being a good SEO? Here are some things you should do to NOT suck as an SEO.
Unless you have been in the industry for several years, are constantly reading on the topic, and pretty much eat, sleep and breathe SEO, take the time to fact check everything before you post or tweet. You want to amaze people with your brilliance not cause people to question it because you said something as fact that is false or were spouting out outdated information. After all, there was a time when it was considered a fairly safe practice to buy links, provided they weren’t from link farms or spammy sites. So make sure your facts are coming from trustworthy sources (link to ppl to follow on twitter) and current. If you can’t find a date on a blog post (like many do these days, to combat the appearance that some content is stale) find a second source.
Not a Jack of All Trades
Don’t be afraid to admit something is out of your expertise. Not all of us can be amazing writers or amazing link builders. Some are stronger technically while others are strong designers. Not everyone can be a jack of all trades in this industry, which is why many of us work with teams instead. If something isn’t your strong suit, suggest someone to your client that would be better suited to that particular aspect of their needs. It is better to have the client think you are awesome in your strong areas than for them to think you are only mediocre because your writing skills or your design skills were pretty lacklustre.
Take time to smell the roses
If you are looking at your analytics for less than five minutes a day, you are doing it wrong. Period. Whatever flavor of analytics you are using (although Google Analytics does offer a pretty awesome and comprehensive free analytics program) you can find out immense things about your visitors. Do you know what percentage of your traffic is from mobile devices? If not, you better look and see if you are missing the boat on offering a mobile-friendly website. What is your top landing page after your index page? What social media sends the most traffic? What forums have been linking to your site this week? What pages in your top ten have a higher than average bounce rate and what can you do to fix that?
Know your keywords
It is all fine and dandy to ranking number one for a 5 word keyword phrase, but if only one person searches for that a month, why does it matter? Make sure you are focusing on the keywords that can bring you in the most traffic and the most conversions because bragging to anyone about your #1 ranking for an obscure keyword combination will make you look like a clueless idiot.
Bigger picture tools
Especially if you are learning or not quite “an old hat” at SEO yet, tools can be your new best friend. There are plenty of tools out there, if you know them and can find them, that are designed to give SEOs an advantage either in time or scope. They can help you see the bigger picture of all kinds of data, then as you get more experienced you can drill down to what things are most important for each specific client or website. And then don’t forget to use the tools. We have all signed up for some cool tool and then barely used it for whatever reason.
Sure you might be writing the most brilliant blog posts of the year on your personal SEO blog. But if you only have three people reading it, chances are almost certain that anyone who really matters in the industry will never see it. So follow – and more importantly, interact – with people on Twitter. Guest blog at one of the many industry blogs that take guest posts. Pitch for conferences, even the smaller ones that might not have as many pitches. You want to do whatever you can to get your name out there and noticed, but get noticed in a good way of course! Which brings me to my next point.
We all screw up occasionally. Fortunately, some of us do it with only a couple people knowing, while others will screw up so royally that it will generate hundreds or thousands of tweets about it. If you screw up, particularly in a humiliating way that results in people calling you out and talking about it, fess up. Whether you are saying “my bad”, or have to release a full fledged apology on your blog, do it and do it quick. The worst thing you can do is fuck up and then be not willing to admit it, because people will remember.
So if you are stuck in that wannabe or “no quite an expert” SEO rut, consider adding things things to your daily “to do” list. Send out a guest blog proposal every day; make a point of @reply an industry expert daily; add a few new SEO blogs to your RSS reader; sign up for a new tool every week, even if it is just a free trial – and then use it. For every expert SEO you see, you can pretty much guarantee they did their time in the trenches doing all these things while building their reputation and client base.
Now, ready, set, GO! And don’t suck