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Takeaways From My First Month in SEO

No follow, 301 redirect, anchor text, SERP, long-tail keywords, meta data…

Before my entrance into the search marketing industry I saw the world of SEO as a foreign language. A complex enigma that was used by a sophisticated species of coders and web geeks in a land far, far away. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with this removed perception of what SEO is and how it works. From afar, it can seem very overwhelming. Almost as though it’s the closest version of the Matrix where we are in an ongoing battle of man against machine. We, as humans created the ever-changing algorithms that we are constantly trying to adapt to and align with.

In my first month as a Search Marketer, I’ve learned that it’s not so complex and scary and that Agent Smith isn’t peering out of his dark tinted shades making sure you don’t crack the code. I’ve learned that it’s a matter of good research and analysis, relevant content, and consistency between page attributes. And that, just like everything else, the more you expose yourself to the appropriate steps, language and strategies, the more it makes sense. Here, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned my first month as a Search Marketer.

It’s difficult writing 150 character meta descriptions without using abbreviations

Having a max character count is much easier when you’re able to use abbreviations, slag and just downright awful word cuts. If you’re in the SEO world you probably know that meta descriptions should be around 150 characters. Aiming for that magic number without abbreviations means you just have to be a lot more creative.

Don’t be hasty with your keyword research, it will pay off in latter steps

Keyword research is the first, and one of the most important steps in the SEO process. Yes, it can be time consuming and redundant but it pays off as you move forward with concluding steps. Doing a thorough job, looking at every page on the site at hand, analyzing their competitor’s use of keywords, etc., will ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords- it can also bring new keyword opportunities to the forefront. There are a lot of resources out there that can save time too, like keyword tools and phrase-building sites (such as These are both great to bulk up that list but be sure that you are still using keywords that are relevant to the site at hand.

If you think social is becoming more & more obsolete, you couldn’t be more wrong

After the Facebook IPO fail, many people out there seem to think that social sites have past their prime and are on the way out.

The folks at Google obviously disagree and to prove it, they’ve added social shares into their search algorithm for (at least) logged in searchers and potentially as a Panda quality factor. This means that social signals from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ now correlate with higher rankings in Google’s index.

Think semantically

The ability to think semantically is a crucial part of being a successful search marketer. Semantic keyword research involves thinking about what people actually mean when they type in a certain keyword. For instance, if a user types in tree planting, what are they really hoping to find? Some options could be:

  1. How to plant a tree
  2. Organizations that plant trees
  3. Tree planting ceremonies or events
  4. Tree planting permits/ zoning
  5. Volunteering opportunities to plant trees

Exploring all the possible meanings will help you to identify the right keywords based on the users intent.

You might not like creepy crawlers but be spider friendly








Google loves Google+ and wants to make you use it

Google works hard to make the web a more enjoyable place for users. Most of what they do is focused on improving the overall search experience. Sometimes though, Google fails (Orkut). If we’ve learned anything about Google, it’s that they’re resilient and Google+ emerged from their buoyancy. To avoid another flop, they’ve intergraded services such as Google Places, now Google+ Local, and encourage authorship with author rich snippets to improve ranking of blog posts. Google will never be the next Facebook, but it’s ok Google, we love you just the way you are.

You’ve heard it a million times before but content really is king

Having fresh, engaging and sharable content is more important now than ever. One element here revolves around quality content, content that is engaging and people want to share, reply to, comment on, like, retweet, etc. The other is quantity, frequently updating and adding new fresh content that people come back time and time again for.

Flash sucks








‘nuff said.

Keywords aren’t gravy and you shouldn’t poor ‘em over your whole Thanksgiving dinner- use them strategically, quality over quantity

Keyword stuffing is an all-to-frequently used black hat tactic which involves “loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking” via Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Tactics such as these result in a negative user experience and Google and other search engines are getting increasingly better at finding keyword violators and penalizing their ranking. Avoid the shotgun approach and use 3-5 keywords which are relevant and appropriate to your sites content.

In conclusion…

My first month in SEO has been an eye-opening reality check and I’m sure glad I don’t have to choose between the red or the blue pill. There’s still so much to learn and I feel we’re just scratching the suface of what possible on the web.

Now, I’d like to open it up, what were your initial impressions of SEO?


Ashley Stuart

Ashley Stuart - Search Analyst

Ashley is part of the SEO team and loves helping companies increase their visibility in organic search. Along with her affection for SEO, she also has passion for social analytics and analysis and utilizes her knowledge in SEO to implement strategic and tactical social strategies. Appalachian State alum, rock climber, micro business owner, and IPA lover.

15 Responses to “Takeaways From My First Month in SEO”

  1. Paul Shapiro

    I lol’d, I commend you on a very humorous take on SEO.


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