The Conversion Chronicles, resources for improving your online conversion rates

Getting Started With SEO


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Search engine optimization (SEO) is big business these days. If your company has a website, chances are good that you would like people to be able to find it when they're searching at Google or Yahoo for the products and/or services you sell. Many companies that have had websites for years had never thought about SEO before -- they didn't have to. Suddenly they are waking up to find that their competitors are gaining on them in the search results, and they don't like it!

Due to its rising importance, there's an increased demand for SEO companies and SEO consultants. However, there are also numerous people calling themselves SEOs who ha
ve just learned it very recently. It's true that SEO is not rocket science, and I firmly contend that it's very much a common-sense type of work. That doesn't mean that anyone can or should read a few SEO articles and then decide they can start charging people for their services.

Yet many are doing just that.

One of the easiest things to learn in this biz and probably many others is the right things to say to a potential client that will convince them that you know what you're talking about and can get the job done. The problem is that you can convince others of this before it's actually true! There are enough freely available articles and newsletters written about SEO which can teach a newbie all the right buzzwords. If they are even the slightest bit good at sales and marketing, we now have a dangerous combination -- someone who sounds credible and believable, but who cannot actually do what they say they can do.

This sneaky tactic isn't limited to one-person SEO consulting firms either. In fact, it may be even more prevalent with larger SEO firms who have huge sales teams in place. The sales force doesn't know anything about actually doing SEO or how to gain high rankings, increased search traffic, and more sales. But they do know exactly what to say to a potential client to convince them that their company can get them all those things. In fact, many large SEO companies have more people selling SEO services than actually performing them!

The hardest part of SEO is not selling it; it pretty much sells itself. The hardest part is doing it.

So how can someone new to SEO get started in the business in a way that will benefit themselves as well as the sites they optimize?

Aside from reading all the reputable information you can get your hands on with regards to SEO, you may want to attend a search marketing conference or one of our High Rankings search marketing seminars. (These are held approximately twice a year.)

After you have some basic education, instead of trying to set up shop on your own, why not seek out established SEO companies, marketing companies, ad agencies, and Web design firms who are already doing some SEO, and see if they need an extra pair of hands? (You may even find these companies at the conference or seminar you attend.) There's a good chance that if they are good at what they do, many of them could use some additional help. Don't get too excited though -- they won't need you for the "fun" stuff at first, but more likely they will want to use you for the grunt work that nobody else wants to do.

Unfortunately, stuff like keyword research, competitor analysis, link building, etc. are at the heart of a successful optimization campaign but can be awfully time-consuming. Most companies can always use help in this area, if you're willing to work at a fairly low wage in order to gain some great training.

Here are some of the benefits of approaching your SEO education and future job security in this manner:

* It will provide you with an opportunity to learn effective SEO techniques in a real-world setting, without making a client's site the guinea pig.
* You can be trained by qualified SEOs who do indeed get results for their clients. (Make sure about this before agreeing to work for
them!)
* SEO companies are growing fast and the most difficult part is finding smart, qualified people willing to work hard and do some of the boring fundamental work that is necessary in an SEO campaign. They will appreciate your help!
* It's a great way to work your way into the more interesting client work that you might prefer doing, such as copywriting, account management, etc.

If you follow this route, eventually, once you have learned enough, you may wish to break out on your own, and you will now have the knowledge, skillset, and ability -- as well as some proven methods -- to start taking clients on your own.

So don't be another in the long line of wannabe SEOs who talk a good game but who can optimize only for keyword phrases that nobody is actually searching for. There are companies all over the world who need you and would love to have you work for them in-house. Let them know who you are and how you can help them, and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to learn SEO from the ground up.

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Jill WhalenAuthor: Jill Whalen, SEO Consultant

Jill Whalen of High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and editor of the free weekly High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter