If you’re anything like me you stumbled across SEO by accident and fell in love with it. The problem with love at first sight is that you are completely unprepared for it and are in desperate need of a haircut/computer science degree. For those of you who discovered what you wanted to do post education, here’s how I became an SEO and got a job at Dejan SEO in Brisbane.
Presumably you’ve got this covered but it’s worth mentioning. If you don’t love doing this stuff it’s going to be a long road. Assuming you’re not already working in SEO or doing some kind of web design you will be spending much of your free time learning about it. For example, I spent around 5 hours on top of the working day building websites, reading and blogging. It helps if you can find some projects to take on. Which takes me to…
Design and build a website. It doesn’t have to be good. Just get going. The great thing about web work is you can always start over again. My method has been to start something, break it and then fix it. By doing this I’ve learnt more than I ever could through tutorials alone. You have to get your hands dirty.
Build you own site, build sites for employers, charities and anyone else who’ll have you. Strive for perfection and come back to them later to make improvements if necessary.
Top Tip #1 – Find an host and install WordPress or some other CMS. It’s easier than you think and allows you to create multiple websites at a low cost. You can also learn by creating static web pages, though you’ll appreciate a good CMS in the long run.
Read about it. Then talk about it.
There are loads of great blogs out there and Inbound.org makes it easier than ever to find them. Once you’ve got into reading on a regular basis you’ll get to know the subject and see where patterns emerge and get an idea of what is missing from the conversation. This is where you make your contribution.
Initially writing can be a bit of a challenge. You need to find your niche, style of writing and figure out what people are searching for. Start your own blog and just get going. Chances are your not going to be Shakespeare right off the bat, but practice makes perfect. So keep at it.
Top Tip #2 – WordPress is a fantastic CMS which makes blogging easier than eating cake. I used Joomla for a while and was disappointing with how hard it is to write with.
OK. This makes me a bit of a hypocrite. I’ve not been diligent with my measurement. But I should have been. This is the difference between someone who wants to be an SEO and someone who is. Take the time to become familiar with analytics. It is a fantastic tool for tracking progress with your work. Set up some goals and then set a plan for achieving them. It’s much better when you get to an interview to be able to say: “I increased traffic by 200% with a 10% conversion rate”, than saying “I’m not sure how much success I’ve had”.
I also recommend taking Adwords for a spin if you can get someone to invest in your efforts. It gives you some insight into keywords and searcher intent as well as click through and conversion metrics and as there’s money involved it makes the challenge a little more exciting.
Start by locating and researching digital marketing companies in your area. See if they have a blog and follow it. Follow the principles on G+, Twitter, Pinterest etc… It may make me sound like a stalker but you’ll get to know the company, the approach they take to their work and hopefully you’ll learn something about SEO/Inbound Marketing in the Process.
Apply For An Internship
Take it seriously. Imagine your applying for a Job not an internship. DON’T try and fit your CV into an email form on the company website (I didn’t, honest). Try and come up with something unique. To give you an idea of how different/off the wall you can be check out my applications here and here (you’ll need any browser except IE to see it working fully).
I’m not saying you have to do it like I did, but SEO is an industry where creativity is appreciated and competition is fierce. Your applications might include video, slideshows, an entire SERP asking for a job. The world wide web is your oyster. My personal method of submission was to optimize the pages I created for the companies name. The companies in question picked up the pages in Google alerts for their brand name. This works two ways though, so make sure your content is ready before it gets indexed.
Ideas for free
I shouldn’t do this. I might be shooting myself in the foot but I’d like to share a some ideas for unique tactics. They’ll still take a bit of work and knowledge so feel free to use them:
- Try and influence Google suggest to bring up a selection of results that are listed in order with the titles of each page completing a sentence (eg: I’d . Like . A . Job. Please).
- Or a simpler version of the above for a simple search term instead of using suggest.
- A page targeted at the principle of the company for when they eventually Google themselves (I think this has been done and is a little stalker-ish, but worth a shot).
- Rank for ‘SEO [Your Region]’. I started off with less competitive phrases like ‘SEO Assistant’ to rank #1 in Australia. Same could be done with ‘Intern’, ‘Specialist’, ‘Student’, ‘God Send’. Then encourage a search for these terms.
Further Reading/Watching/Do the time warp
If you want to go one step further from just getting an Internship and actually getting a job, here are some fantastic bits of info to help you.
- Watch an old school version of Rand in his 2008 WBF on ‘How to get a job in SEO‘
- Do the same for Danny Dovers WBF on the same topic (2010) How to get a job in SEO
- Another fantastic blog post by Danny Dover which covers some of the points I have made here but in the context of actually getting a job.
- An open letter to new SEOs – Some tough love by Dr Pete.
What to take away
Love what you do. Know your stuff. Practice. Engage. Don’t be boring. Try and be creative.