SEO is partly a science, but mostly an art. It differs fundamentally from most other digital marketing channels such as paid search, display and affiliate marketing – all of which depend far more on budget and ROI constraints. These channels are also far less creative.
As such, it’s important to keep up to date with trends, ideas and insights from within the industry in order to stay creative, fresh and engaged with the art of SEO. In this post, I would like to explore some ways that you can achieve this whilst still having plenty of time for the day job.
1. Watch talks and presentations from other SEOs and digital marketers
One of the easiest ways to get new ideas for your SEO strategies, projects and content is to watch presentations and talks in the area of SEO – specifically those presentations that involve people talking about projects they’ve worked on, ideas they’ve come up with, and the results that have followed.
I recently watched the videos from a recent ‘Learn Inbound‘ event held in Dublin, where three speakers gave great talks on various SEO and online marketing topics. During one of these talks, one of the speakers mentioned a technique that can help paid and organic search work together more effectively.
It wasn’t a new technique to me as it was one I had considered myself before – but seeing the speaker talk about how she had implemented it and how it had worked for her prompted me to revisit it and explore how we might implement it.
In short, watching and of course attending events such as these are great for keeping you fresh and keeping the creative juices flowing when it comes to innovating on your SEO strategies and projects. Make time to watch some worthwhile presentations each week – I find Friday is an excellent day for allocating some time (usually over lunch!).
2. Be your own mechanic
This one is pretty much a given. One key way to grow and develop experience as an SEO is to launch and market your own websites and projects. This is particularly important if you are just starting out in the industry or looking to secure your first SEO job – but it is also something to explore in your own time if you are currently in a role. Having your own sites and projects gives you a ‘playground’ to test out what works and what doesn’t, with the benefit of being able to apply what works to your day job.
For example, you may see that a certain page template style or call to action on your site is really helping to drive engagement or conversions (or possibly both). If so, you can explore how you might be able to work with your internal teams to implement such features and assess the results. Or, perhaps a particular content format is working well, or you have found a new tool that you can bring into your daily work.
There is no substitute for learning by doing – no course, book or teacher can replace this method (only enhance it).
3. Love the Data
Remember how I mentioned earlier that SEO is partly a science? This is because we can learn about what works by observing the data associated with our web properties, content initiatives and the other digital marketing channels we collaborate with (e.g. paid search, email, social, PR). We can derive insights from the results and statistics we observe and make recommendations for new initiatives, features and projects based on this data.
This includes both internal data from analytics platforms that we have deployed on our sites (e.g. Omniture), to external tools that provide insights into how well our content is performing (e.g. Buzzsumo). This data can then inform the direction of our strategy and provide guidance into the approach we should be taking.
A quick example would be content strategy – how do we know what types of content (formats and themes) we should be focusing on? Which topics should we cover on our blogs, and in our eBooks and infographics? The answer may lie in the data around what has worked previously.
We can use tools such as Google Analytics and Omniture to ascertain the traffic and engagement metrics for previous content assets, in combination with exploring tools such as Buzzsumo to see what has performed outstandingly well for other websites – including our competitors, both direct and indirect.
Can you create content that has worked for them – but which you feel you can do a lot better? All of this is possible when you start loving the data!
These three tips may be some of the most important considerations for any SEO – new or established. What else would you add?