*Deep breath in* *Deep breath out* I…am an in-house newbie. *whew* Now that that’s out of the way, the healing can begin. While I’ve been an in-house SEO for only four months, I’ve been working in the industry for a few years. I got my start at a previous job where I could only practice it a few hours a week. I know there is no such thing as “part-time SEO”, but this was a small non-profit where I had many more duties. But it was enough to get me hooked on search marketing, and I longed for more.
Long-story short, here I am. My first full-time SEO job. I jumped in head first without looking, mistake number one. The first task I was given was reviewing our current pay-per-click campaign and adding/removing keywords and rewording ads. Then I was asked to help with creating our new site-launch promo video, while I was also helping to restructure the URLs for the new layout during which I faced mistake number two. During this time I re-vamped our social media presence on Twitter and began building a fanpage community page, where mistake number three occurred. So at this point you may be thinking okay, what’s the big deal? What mistakes are you talking about? I’ll explain.
Mistake 1: Blind Leaping
I was so excited to finally get a full time job in this field I jumped right in without fully assessing the site. I got caught up in keyword research for the pay-per-click and working on promo videos that I completely forgot to take a step back and look at our site. I’m paying for it dearly now, currently I’m going through a massive site audit with a huge relaunch just over a month away. Everything will be fine, but I could have made it easier on myself.
Not checking out the site conditions immediately can cause some road blocks later. For instance, learning that the backlinks have never been tracked when a massive site-relaunch is days away is not a good position to be in. Even if your boss hands you a “to do list”, pencil in a site audit if one hasn’t been done already. While it’s great to finally get a foot in the door, it’s even better to know what condition the site is in.
Mistake 2: Not Educating, Re-Educating, Repeating
My very first meeting was with our IT and web development teams who were catching me up to speed on the new site redesign plans. One of the guys on the development team asked me what I thought about the URLs and if they should be restructured with more keywords to correlate with the meta data. I said it would be nice, but we would need to add more relevant content to each page if possible. I quickly learned that most of their SEO efforts had been focused on the meta data. While it can help, I explained how to best use it to compliment the pages.
If you are an in-house SEO, chances are you’re probably working with a development team in some manner or another. Or you may be presenting current plans to executives. Two things should become apparent quickly. Either they don’t know or they think they know something about SEO. This is part of your job that most likely wasn’t written in to the description. You must educate those who don’t know, and re-educate those who think they know. Then when members of the team finally understand it, repeat everything again. Educating those who are involved in the process may take some time initially, but once they grasp what you are doing the process becomes faster. Repeating the information will help others remember it, and it will help you when teaching others. With each repeat of information I find the explanation is just a little be clearer.
Mistake 3: Working when you should be working
I remember at one of my first meetings I spent it fixing the automated tweets versus listening to the details of the company name change. Thankfully I had a co-worker kick my leg to get me back into the meeting, but she shouldn’t have had to have done that.
I’ll admit, it is easy to get tunnel vision when working on certain projects. But don’t forget to lift your head up and look around from time to time. Especially when a meeting gets called that, as the in-house SEO, you need to be involved in. During a meeting when your expertise is required, it isn’t the time to think about other projects. Stay focused and BE LOUD. Talk, be proactive, get noticed during the meetings. Try not to let anything about the website go without making a comment on it. Even if the meeting is nothing more than to talk about the color scheme, be ready to talk about how it may impact usability. Being active in meetings shows initiative, passion and intelligence.
Experience is the best teacher, it has been for me anyway. If you’ve been in the industry a while or you’re just getting started what’s been a few learning curves you’ve faced? And what did you learn from it? If you want to read the full story on how I got involved in SEO check out the ‘About Me’ page.