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In the past couple of months, I have been thrown headlong into an SEO position at my agency and my life has changed dramatically.

My nights are now marked by 2 or 3 hours of sleep, my first drink in a morning is at the very least 40% proof and I’ve got a constant cramp in my clicking finger due to RGRS (repetitive Google refresh syndrome).

It’s become so bad that my friends don’t talk to me anymore for fear that I’ll turn everyday phrases into a series of acronyms.
“Who wants a cuppa?” my colleague asked the other day.
“CWMAOS” was my reply; a prize for the first person to work out what that stands for (disclaimer – there is no prize).

I’ve read and I’ve read. Names such as Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan and Aaron Wall are now more familiar than Mum and Dad. But do I think I’ve learnt? No, not really. And this is in no way a detriment to the aforementioned experts.

Let me explain, I’m a copywriter/account manager for a mid-weight development agency. I have a basic grasp of how a website is designed and developed, and therefore I was a logical choice to head up our new SEO service.

My initial thoughts were arrogant in the extreme; ‘this is going to be easy; work two or three key-phrases into the copy, change the meta tags (ha), get the site submitted and Bob’s your uncle’. No he’s not. He’s ‘uncle’ Bob, the friend of the family who makes you sit on his knee every birthday… even when you’re a bearded 27 year old.

The jargon came first. Oh my dear lord, the jargon. When they decide to make the next Hostel film, they need not use knifes, drills and blow torches to torture the selected victims. Just give them a blog entry full of SERPs, ROI, PPC and long tail; that should drive them over the edge nicely.

Then came the need for another type of optimisation; that of the social media variety. I’m going to be totally honest, this still baffles me somewhat; as far as I can tell, in terms of SEO, SMO helps with ‘link juice’ and referrals in general. As I’m currently optimising my agency’s website (*cough* http://www.onlinedevelopment.co.uk *cough*), I’ve been at our developers to implement a blog section, if I don’t get it soon, it’s back to the acronyms.
“Good morning Chris”
“GMTYT Mark”

The killer blow was when I learned about directories. Here’s me thinking that we’re talking about a level playing field where skill alone would get you to the top; I didn’t realise that a bit of cash would grease the cogs too! As with any form of marketing, it suddenly became obvious that the more money you pay, the better results you are likely to have. Of course, the skill goes hand-in-hand with the amount of cash that a company spends, but still, it hurt.

So, what results have I had so far? Well, they’ve not been too bad. It helps that the clients whose websites we’ve optimised are not in overly competitive industries and therefore the key-phrases are likewise not too difficult to gain rank highly for. By concentrating on RLT (regional long tail - boy, do I love making up my own jargon), we’ve had a relative degree of success. Our clients are happy, and therefore so are we.

The next steps will be the hardest. We’ve only just learned to toddle; now we’ve now got to learn to skip to the toilet and pee standing up. In short, if you too are a newcomer to SEO, be aware that it’s far from easy. You (well, we) have got a lot to learn, and whole lot of AA meetings to attend.

Happy optimising.

P.S. If there are any SEO gurus reading this who would like to foster a 27 year old, house-trained, apprentice SEO, please feel free to get in touch…
Comments27 Comments  

Comments

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from Justin-Goldberg 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Dude, forget worrying over too much data/logs to analyze. Seriously, start using hittail :-)

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from Eavesy 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Coffee with milk and no sugar! I want 50 free directory submissions, your disclaimer is not valid.

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from DLPerry 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Coffee with milk and ONE sugar?

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from Ryan 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Heh... Looks like you just created a new term: http://www.noslang.com/dictionary/c#cwmaos

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from tomcritchlow 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Excellent post Chris :-) Looks like you’ve got the linkbait (or at least sphinn-bait) angle covered nicely! I’m by no means a guru but I’d be happy to answer any questions you’ve got, or alternatively I see you’re based in sheffield. I’m in Leeds at the moment so could even pop down for some training if you wanted ;-) Tom

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from asnider 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Haha! Great post. I’m in a somewhat similar boat--though I’ve learned not too obsess too much over the stats. They fluctuate all the time. I don’t bother to check them everyday. As long as there aren’t dramatic drops in SERPs, you’re (usually) doing okay.

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from bmcfarlane 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have to agree that i am a newbee to SEO and frankly speaking it is like opening pandoras box if you don’t know what you are doing; so to add to your sleepless nights here are some steller sites or google searchs to look for info; seobook sitepoint.com seofaststart

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from dmbfanatic 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ahhhh... it’s so refreshing to hear someone else’s beginner trials in the SEO world. I find sometimes I begin to go nuts with all the jargon and the ever changing landscape. Sometimes it seems like the same ole s--- but with such tiny twist it is important to read. CWMATS PLS as must... keep..on... truckin!

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Great read, Chris! I remember the feeling well when I was getting started, and that was ages ago when we didn’t have so many acronyms to learn. Looking forward to more posts from you....

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from Meg 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I echo Matt - a delightful read, Chris. What you outline is so true of the learning curve and it seems the more you read the more you *need* to know. It can appear never ending. While it mightn’t seem like you’ve learnt, believe me you have. And you’ll realise the extent when you start blogging. CWMATSAK (That’s kahlua ;) )

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from todd 2597 Days ago #
Votes: 0

nice post, here’s a story with a good crash course of googl PR and SEO in general... http://sphinn.com/story/1178

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from ChrisOD 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks for the comments, sphinns and advice everyone. Glad the post seemed to have been received well. Cheers for the offer Tom, I may well take you up on it. It’s always good to have someone to bounce ideas off - I’m keeping my eye out for an SEO network in Yorkshire at the moment. (oh and well done DLPerry, the disclaimer still stands though, sorry...)

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from tomcritchlow 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yeah - I’m also looking for something SEO-related in yorkshire, or even just the north! There’s various meets and events in London but nothing much seems to happen up here. Drop me a line if you want to chat more (my email add is in my profile, or head on over to www.distilled.co.uk)

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from dannysullivan 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Tom, if you get one going, remember that you can add an event to the calendar here, then other people can link themselves to the event to say they are coming.

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from tomcritchlow 2596 Days ago #
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cheers for the headsup Danny - I’m still finding my way around all the features of the site. I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

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from ViperChill 2596 Days ago #
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Tom be sure to let me know if you get anything sorted. Would love an event up north aswell Yorkshire isnt ideal but its better than london ;)

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from DavidLaFerney 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Regional Long Tail - Multi word term containing city or other regional name. That is actually a pretty good concept to name and quantify. Good work. I’m putting it into my lexicon of SEO Jargon right now.

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from Lyndon 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

If you want to pop down to Cornwall, we are meeting in the Kasbah, Truro tonight. Buy me a pint of the blackstuff and I will tell you a few places to drop a link or two ;)

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from ChrisOD 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I was only in Newquay... well Crantock a couple of weeks ago. In terms of the networking, it’s something I’m looking into for Yorkshire at the moment; it’ll be nice if there are some funds available. I’ll make sure to update everyone as soon as I know more. And David, I take a royalties every time RLT is mentioned ;o)

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from MLuirette 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Awesome post! Reminds me of the time my wife decided we’re going to "do the website thing" full time and quit her job. Three-martini lunches were a sober day! It’ll all come together with time, and the AA meetings will be averted ;). Best of luck, and congrats on the popular post, good job.

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from Rhea 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Chris, I really enjoyed your post. I had a similar story years ago and appreciate seeing others struggle. I’m not sadistic, but it upsets me when programmers/designers think this stuff is a cinch because they were able to rank on a longtail, localized keyword. As you’ve discovered that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Keep it up and I look forward to reading more articles from you, you have a nice writing style. Very engaging... that’ll take you far, afterall SEM is an extension of marketing and having a way with words REALLY helps. :)

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from 2Wicky 2596 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh, I can feel your pain. Blissful, isn’t it? Like you, I’m relatively new to SEO (about one year under my belt). The learning curve is finally starting to level out. There’s a plethora of SEO information out there - all of which is changing on a daily basis. But isn’t that half the fun - keeping your finger on the pulse? Great post!

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from PattiTacardo 2595 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hey Chris, great post! I’ve been there myself. My only bit of advice is to remember to enjoy yourself throughout the learning process. It’s so easy to get caught up in the current trends that you forget about the basics. Oh... and get some sleep. I look forward to reading future posts.

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from NeO 2595 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Great post Chris! keep your chin up, it does get easier as you test new tactics...You couldn’t have picked a better place to get started IMO :D NeO

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from ANOnym 2594 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good post, Chris. Best of luck with your SEO learning. I am guessing, if you read the articles from the Sphinn homepage, you’ll be pretty much covered. It is when you start reading articles that those posts link to where you can get addicted. P.S. I’d advise relaxing a tad and enjoying what you do. There’s always more things to do, but if you limit your working hours, you’ll wake up with a desire to do and learn more every day, instead of longing for a Sunday on Monday.

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from JasonBarrett 2594 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Chris, I like your style man! You should take up blogging. I have a feeling your stuff would be enjoyable to read.

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from chrisgtl 2593 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Wow, it’s so refreshing to know there are others in the same boat with me. I started as the SEO specialist for my company in March. I’m still sorting through all of the information, while trying to stay on top of the new information on SEO.

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