4 Mar 2021

12 Things I Learnt In My 2nd Year As A Professional SEO

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

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

People

1. Women in SEO are still the best

This hasn’t changed from last year.

The women in our industry continue to make me think and push the boundaries even further. Within a couple of weeks at my new job, I was inspired to do things by a female colleague I wouldn’t have thought of doing before and I felt better for it.

Get more women of colour in every level of your business, make the working environment safe for them, and promote them.

2. Experts still aren’t experts

Another reiteration from last year. Expertise is a spectrum and nobody is at either end.

I hope one day we can break the celebrity culture that surrounds experts and just let people learn and educate without the pedestals.

3. You can’t rely on others to make changes in diversity

The death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests sparked a lot of statements from people and agencies in the marketing industry. Hundreds of people suddenly started following me, contacting me, apologising, DMing me. It was a lot. And then it all died. People started unfollowing, talked to me less, stopped talking about racial diversity.

It left a bitter taste in my mouth because I never asked for any of it. Nobody did. But it reminded me of something. You can’t rely on others to make changes like that, especially when they won’t face their internal situations.

And that’s partly why I started my Marketers of Colour project. I needed to take charge of the situation and promote those people and their resources. That’s my sole focus right now.

4. John Mueller is even more awesome

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.

Keywords

5. It’s still about topics

I’ve been using my SERP scraper/NLP analyser script well over a year now and I’ve seen a lot of success and great feedback from it. The reason it works so well is it combines the power of keywords and headings to form ideas for topical content. What should you cover when you target a keyword? Then think of that keyword as a topic. You don’t copy your competition, you “listen” to the crowd, cover the basics, and find the gaps to fill in their work.

Technical

6. Technical SEO is still my strong suit but I like my spread of expertise

When I started at Impression, most people asked if technical SEO was my strong suit and it is, even if I’m more of a “jack of all trades” in SEO (and that’s not a criticism in this game!)

I hope to get more into the technical side now I have colleagues that will help me. It’s where I want to be.

7. Python is still amazing but I need to get back into it.

2020 being 2020, I didn’t do much with Python besides using the scripts I’d already written. But I need to get back into it

8. I love Ahrefs

I wanted to use it for the longest time and then I gave up with it and now I have access and it’s so cool and I prefer it to Semrush even though I have more experience with the latter and this sentence has gone on for long enough but you get the idea.

9. I need to finally use a new API for a project

I still think about APIs and I have a list of them I want to use but I haven’t done it yet. Now it needs to happen. Maybe the PokéAPI. Something with natures. I don’t know. Help!

I remember my colleague had asked if I wanted to come over to the “dark side” aka digital PR and while I’ll never join them (Star Wars reference, not being rude), I do feel like getting better at link building will be helpful to my colleagues and for me as an SEO and blogger. I just hate writing the emails to ask for links because I hate rejection.

Misc

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

When you need guidance and direction and you ask for some, you hope to get it. Being told that responsibility lies with you and you need to “live and breathe” what you do isn’t it. The only things you should be living and breathing are life and oxygen. Marketing, in the grander scheme of things, isn’t so important that it has to consume your existence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve become absorbed in work after hours because it was interesting or I wanted to finish it. But that isn’t and shouldn’t be the norm. We have colleagues and higher-ups to help (or we should). I’m glad my professional situation is much better and I have the help and support I always needed. There’ll always be an element of stress to our work but it shouldn’t be the only thing we face.

12. I love writing for the Small Web

A few weeks ago, I realised I was a Commercial Web marketer by day and a Small Web Blogger by night. The former pays me to live, the latter keeps me up late and excites me. They’re at odds with each other because the Commercial Web pushes down Small Web content.

Oh, I haven’t explained what they are. Briefly:

  • Commercial Web = the stuff associated with and optimised for conversions, landing pages, sales funnels, and ROI.
  • Small Web = the old days of blogging where you wrote about stuff that wasn’t for SEO, posted links with no other content

Unless you have a strong following on social media or have a large and engaging email list, your primary source of traffic will be organic and unoptimised content won’t rank as highly. It’s that simple. I relinquished that control last year and decided to write exactly what I wanted without focusing too much on SEO. In some cases, I don’t care about it at all. And it was liberating. And I still got traffic.

When people ask me what advice I’d give to people coming into digital marketing, I always say “get a blog”. Make a space for yourself on the Web, test stuff, and see what works. Blogging is cool when you relax and let the words flow.

Shout outs

Thank you to:

  • Ruth Everett
  • Ronke Lawal
  • Rejoice Ojiaku
  • Sophie Logan
  • Surena Chande
  • Saffron Shergill
  • Azeem Ahmad
  • Tom Mortimer
  • Areej AbuAli
  • Tatiana Mac
  • Jamar Ramos
  • Olivia-Mae Foong
  • Lucy Robinson
  • Natalie Arney
  • Petar Jovetic
  • Dan Taylor

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