SEO foundations (or lack thereof)
Prior to fully immersing myself within the professional realm of digital content, and indeed digital marketing as a whole, I possessed a very limited knowledge of SEO. My real experience lay in writing; primarily, through articles crafted for a handful of established websites and blogs who were happy to publish my passion-driven, enthusiasm-filled work. Secondly, via a role in reactive social media for a leading British retailer, who adapted a very ‘anything goes’ approach to their service-focused content. I also underwent a concise introduction to marketing at university, which rather ambitiously attempted to cover all areas of the discipline in one singular 10 credit module (kudos indeed for the optimism!). Despite all of this however, SEO had, surprisingly (or should that be alarmingly?), remained largely untouched and unacknowledged by my publishers, lecturers and employers alike.
The hardest working background character
Of course, I knew ‘of’ SEO, but in a very buzzwordy-sense, like the way I know Dani Dyer won Love Island without ever having seen the show, or that BTS are dominating the music scene and we’ll all be K-Pop super-fans by 2020 without being able to tell you any of their songs. My relationship with SEO was pretty similar; I knew of its existence, and I knew it was important. I’d also worked around the field in which it dwells long enough that I SHOULD have possessed a much better understanding of its’ benefits. However, this learning opportunity simply never arose, and so I remained a total SEO dummy, with the practice staying almost a complete mystery. Like a little mouse at the back of the room, quietly working away doing what I was certain was a super significant job, albeit in an incredibly stealthy, almost silent fashion. With SEO left in the dark, I therefore continued to happily type away at my keyboard, creating what I thought was the best quality content that I could.
This all changed when I began my time at Zelst (1 week ago; Hi, I’m Rachel, the new Content Exec. by the way! 😊). 5 days of training later, which essentially encompassed diving headfirst into the fascinating world of SEO & Keyword Research, and I’ve discovered that little mouse is actually a colossal mammoth, doing more behind the scenes to drive traffic and add value than I could ever have imagined. A quick run-through of some of my previous articles re-affirmed this considerably; whilst the content was good, the hits were low, and no question about it, the under-optimisation I’d utilised was most definitely the culprit. Whilst some practises I’d employed naturally, particularly in terms of quality, without properly understanding and applying even the fundamental tip of the SEO iceberg (let alone any more advanced techniques), my work had started off on the backfoot. What’s more, it had no clear path or plan to catch up!
For a brief overview of the advantages of Keyword Research (a major player and imperative starting point in SEO), please check out our concise summary of the practice, which acts as a great simple starting point for total newcomers. If you’re after a more in-depth yet approachable guide to its’ workings, which I’ve found both highly useful and readable from a beginner’s perspective, I’d highly recommend Neil Patel’s Guide to Keyword Research. A comprehensive three part series covering everything you need to know, from setting up a spreadsheet to the best keyword tools available, from Patel’s guide you’ll garner a solid foundational knowledge of the practice.
A first impression like no other
Over the span of a week at Zelst, covering only the very basics, I’ve consequently been introduced to what feels like a whole secret layer of the web. Like going backstage to a play, I’m now raring to get fully under the bonnet, venture past the iceberg’s tip, and wholly understand exactly how this practice can best be used to optimise sites, showing off all the pretty content in the process. To conclude my first impressions of SEO? Let’s just say our first few dates have gone great, and I’m feeling very optimistic about the future of this relationship!