4 Mar 2022

12 Things I Learnt In My 3rd Year As A Professional SEO

Today marks the third anniversary of me becoming a digital marketer (read about my first year here and my second year here).

Here is what I’ve learnt in my third year as a professional.

People

1. Women in SEO are still the best

This still hasn’t changed from last year or the year before.

I’m especially grateful to all the women of colour in the industry continuously breaking boundaries and getting into spaces that are still reserved for white male colleagues or creating their own.

And a special shout out to the likes of Miracle Inameti-Archibong, Rejoice Ojiaku & Wilhemina Gilbertson-Davis of B-DigitalUK, Sophie Logan, Carla Thomas, Amanda Jordan, Krystal Taing, Chima Mmeje, Crystal Carter, Tasha Amponsah-Antwi, and so many more Black women I could name.

2. SEOs really love experts, huh?

Two things. 1) I’m honoured to be considered a person of high expertise in an industry I only officially joined 3 years ago. 2) I’m not an expert. That’s okay to say as it isn’t a binary construct of “OMG IMPOSTOR SYNDROME” on one end and “I AM AN INDUSTRY THOUGHT LEADER” on the other. We should perhaps move away from lists of chosen experts and more towards building open communities for industry members of all levels to learn, grow, and feel comfortable. Mentors are good but focusing on creating them over anything else is harmful. That’s how you end up with all-white (male) panels at conferences (still).

3. Many at the top don’t really want diversity, know what it is, or care if they do

I’ll be writing a follow-up to my piece on Being Black in Digital Marketing, looking back at the last 2 years and analysing if anything has changed. While I play my part to improve diversity and shine a light on the situation (I’m by no means on the level of Rejoice Ojiaku & Wilhemina Gilbertson-Davis but I do what I can), I can’t help but notice many individuals or institutions take their foot off the gas months after the 2020 protests and we’re back where we were as a community. I’m neither surprised nor too disappointed as I entered the industry knowing this was how things were (although I’ve had my eyes opened wider as time has gone on). But fundamentally, many at the top don’t really want diversity in SEO, don’t know what it is, or care about it if understand it. I just wish those people would say it with their chests instead of hiding behind annual statements. The truth shall set you free!

4. John Mueller has maintained his very high awesome level

John, if you’re reading this, I love you and I want to thank you for your patience, hard work, and spirit. Same as last year.

Technical

5. Technical SEO is still my strong suit but NLP, AI, and machine learning are my next steps

Since my last update, I was promoted to technical SEO specialist which was a career goal. I also mentioned how my expertise was still varied between content and technical. But my new favourite interest is AI, particularly machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). I’m not as interested about the kind of AI you see in the general media (which people often confuse with AGI or artifical general intelligence and those involved do little to distinguish the perception) but specifically how we can use NLP to help SEO and the Web.

I’ve also really got into ontologies and how they work so if search ontologist becomes a job, I’d love that one day. Manifesting!

6. Python is still amazing and I’m getting back into it.

I released my first proper Python project out in the open (not including the defunct WatSERP script that I will eventually reupload in the future). Read more about RALTS in its dedicated blog post.

7. I love Google Search Console

After three years of using Semrush and Ahrefs, my true love lies with Search Console. It’s all about that granular data!

8. I found a new API - thanks TextRazor!

Since moving away from IBM Watson for moral reasons, TextRazor has been my new favourite API. I love the entities and topics it can pull and how easy (for me) it was to get it all connected. There’s plenty more in it that I could use and I look forward to digging deeper.

Link building is for link builders and people who enjoy it. I’ll stick with the technical stuff. Ha!

Misc

10. You shouldn’t “live and breathe marketing”

There’s a lot of ego and posturing in SEO. People will say “don’t do this” and “you must do that” in equal measure and amplitude. My advice? Learn to code if you want to. Don’t if you don’t. Ignore folks who tell you MUST do one or the other. Coding has variables for a reason.

11. Outside of work, I’m a LESSEO

I will write about this in more detail but I am a LESSEO outside of my daily work. LESSEO describes my approach to Web writing where I don’t optimise my titles, might not even write a meta description, but I do take notice of entities and internal linking. My content isn’t completely unoptimised but not to the point where I’m focusing on ranking.

I chose this term over my old descriptor (anti-SEO) as it was more accurate. I’m not Bruce Wayne/Batman to the industry.

12. I love the Web, SEO as a discipline, and a select few people but I really don’t like the industry.

I tweeted that just over 2 years ago. I’ve alluded to some of the reasons in this post but there’s a lot of nonsense and noise out there that you have to sift through to get to the things that make sense.

Shout outs

Thank you to:

  • Ruth Everett
  • Ronke Lawal
  • Surena Chande
  • Saffron Shergill
  • Azeem Ahmad
  • Areej AbuAli
  • Tatiana Mac
  • Jess Peck
  • Lauren Roitman
  • Sophie Gibson
  • Sophie Darr
  • Dave Smart
  • Jamar Ramos
  • Olivia-Mae Foong
  • Lucy Robinson
  • Natalie Arney
  • Petar Jovetic
  • Charlie Norledge
  • Dan Taylor
  • Daniel Liddle
  • Marco Giordano
  • Chloe Ivy Rose

And loads of other people I’ve not mentioned who have made my third year as an SEO a great one.