How I Got Started in SEO
Hello, Patricia Skinner here. My introduction to search engine optimization, SEO, began years ago when I first took my freelance writing/editing business online. I can’t remember the exact date (lost in the mists of time) but it would have been 1995-ish.
I pretty soon realized that observing ‘best practices’ elevated a website above the ordinary. And let’s face it, looking back, 99 percent of websites were uncommonly ‘ordinary’ in those days. OMG I still shudder with horror at the tawdry color schemes, the ghastly animated gifs, and more than anything else, the frighteningly-bad copy that was the mark of almost the entire first decade of life online.
As a writer I hoped that sanity would win through. All those appallingly-written pages had to give way, at some point, to readable pages that would actually benefit the masses. Sadly, things were to get a lot worse before they got better. When people realized that you could get a higher ranking if your search terms (keywords) were sprinkled liberally on the page, we quickly reached a point where you could expect that 50 percent of the words on a given web page were keywords.
We’ve evolved. Now it’s increasingly the case that the page that comes at the top of a search for a given term is well-organized, easy-on-the-eye and–yes, even well written. I am in utopia. Almost. There are still uncounted websites out there that can stand some improvement.
I started out in SEO working for InfoSearchMedia where I was a senior copywriter for a few years. Those were good years and I am grateful to InfoSearch for giving my break into my chosen niche (although I didn’t know it myself when I first started working with them).
Next I worked freelance with Design People, mainly working on optimized copy for real estate websites.
Around the time I was working with the good folks at Design People I began to educate myself in earnest on all aspects of organic search. By far the best source of solid information back then was Dan Thies. I devoured his ebook, SEOFastStart. From there I learned to distinguish between best- and not-so-good SEO practices and began to take on individual SEO projects working directly with clients instead of through bigger agencies. And now, instead of just researching and writing SEO copy I was doing the whole thing–or close to it.
My first direct client was AndoverCG, which in those days had a Google PR of 6. I worked closely with CEO Mike Syiek creating copy and a linking strategy between different pages of the site, and the many different sections, among other things.
Created copy for a number of former-Design People colleague, Dominic Falco’s clients.
Worked closely with Adam Schultz creating copy for many of his clients.
Created copy for a project of Doug Heil’s (IHelpYou.com)
Working in cooperation with Amir Zaman of IPVestors on a fairly constant basis, creating WordPress blogs for his clients to extend their online presence and improve their search ranking.
I was honored to have been invited to contribute to SEJ.
Wallpaperisback.com: created this WordPress blog, installed plugins and created all initial content that predates December 2009. Is now maintained by the owner.
BosporusForwarding.com: conducted keyword research, optimized tags and created all content for this new site.
Early in 2010 I accepted an offer to go and run the Arabic publishing department for Elsevier Health Sciences Middle East. It was a dramatic departure from what I had been doing, and I feel I will never be the same again. My horizons were broadened and I became aware of a whole different side to my business personality.
In June I left Elsevier and went into business–back to my beloved SEO and social media. This time though, I am working with our team in the Middle East. We have a website for the purpose, MideastSEO. I have decided that maybe it’s a good idea to change the slant of Wellwrittenwords to business and entrepreneurism.
Some of my Personal Thoughts on SEO
So many websites fall tragically short of their true online potential because their owners have no idea about SEO. Worse, many website owners are actually misguided by the people they pay to design a website for them. Unnecessary code makes for slow loading, and elements like Flash and iFrames are disastrous to your SEO ranking. These kinds of Web design elements will not ingratiate you with the search engines.
My experience has proven that it’s far better to go with a simple, free CSS template for your website, whether that’s a static template or a WordPress or other type of content management system (CMS) theme, and spend your available money on making sure your site is SEO-compliant instead. This will be money well-spent and you can always pay for a dazzling new design later on, if you still think it’s necessary.
Even with the most beautiful site on the web, you won’t be achieving any of your business goals if no-one ever sees your pages. Without good optimization that’s about where you’d stand. Well, actually you’d be standing still.
To the contrary, even simple SEO techniques can produce astounding results. How can you afford not to even try with SEO? Many of the most successful businesses online got where they are because they took the time to find out about SEO, or paid to have someone to it for them.
The more competitive your niche, the more urgent your need for good SEO help.