Keeping up in the ever-changing race that is SEM

SEO Race


As digital marketers we work in what is probably one of the most volatile industries, which is constantly changing, adapting and reinventing itself. It can often feel difficult to keep up to date with developments and industry news, whilst juggling numerous accounts and workloads. It is however vital to keep abreast of the latest industry news, in what is now an “adapt or die” industry.


We’ve all seen it over the past couple of years; SEOs refusing to change, believing article and directory submissions are going to make them millions. News of another fallen agency almost seems weekly these days.


When I first started out I used to think two sites would provide me with all the SEM knowledge I needed- what was then SEOMoz and Search Engine Land. Now these are a good place to start and give us a general, nicely-worded insight into the world of search. Now this is nice, but let’s face it, if we were to take every word for granted, nobody would get anywhere fast. Use these resources as a starting point to broadening your understanding of the industry, but don’t stop there.


Here’s something I learnt quite late in the game… When you go to work each day, it’s highly likely that you’re surrounded by people in the know. Your colleagues are always going to have something interesting to share, including a different point of view on a new development and some knowledge or insider information that they have read somewhere on the web. Don’t be afraid to ask. The majority of the time people are willing to help. Even more so if you actually talk to them instead of sending an email.


If you take Marketing Signals as an example: David literally knows all there is to know about technical SEO. He’s pretty much the first port of call for everybody. Then there’s Charlotte, great with Analytics and report writing. Yasmin is your girl for PPC and then there’s the web design guys…. Well, they’re web design!!


Now, what I’m trying to say is that by chatting to these guys, not even in a formal setting, I’ve learnt tonnes of new things that I’m able to use in my role as an Analyst and Account Manager.


In house resources and training is key to a productive and successful workforce. Marketing Signals moved from a process-driven agency to a client-facing agency this time last year and a lot of our internal processes changed. Adapting and moving with the industry was a necessary step and we really wanted to get to the heart of what our clients both wanted and needed. As a result we became very Analytical and needed to show our clients that the work we were doing was producing a positive ROI. With this came learning. We sat down as a team at regular intervals to discuss where we needed help, and with these chats came support and training.


Whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, there are a great number of influencers and groups to follow specialising in all areas of search (both white hat and black hat). One thing I found quite pleasing is that the majority of people in search, even the ones that are pretty well known, aren’t idiots. If you tweet them a question, they’ll probably tweet back, and if you buy them a drink at a conference or event, you’ve made yourself a good friend indeed.


That brings me perfectly to networking. Tweeting and following is all well and good, and definitely does have a place, but there’s no better way of gaining some knowledge than by speaking face to face with people in the know. I was lucky enough to be at the UK Search Awards last year and I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to do a little networking. I had a hit list. A couple of clients and also a few people I had heard about, but had never had the chance to meet before. It worked well and I gained some great insider and industry info. If I had to give any tips in this situation: Just be yourself, and if you’re too nervous being yourself, be a slightly drunker self…after all SEOs like to drink.


The last thing I want to mention is the importance of industry conferences, shows and awards. Understanding the views and experiences of other professionals is really going to help you with your own clients. Hearing and attending talks on what’s working and how to emulate success again is really going to broaden your knowledge, make you the person to go to, make you employable and make you an integral part of your team and company.

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