I had no idea what I was doing or even that it might vaguely be considered SEO.
My first interaction with SEO began as a sophomore in high school. With some basic knowledge of HTML and a superficial idea of what keywords were, I used Adobe GoLive to compile content and create a simplistic yet functional website for my dad’s business. I had no idea what I was doing or even that it might vaguely be considered SEO. I was just trying to help my dad out while doing one of the things I loved — tinkering with the Internet.
…in Yoda-like fashion (sans pointy ears) primed me to create and manage the new interactive division of HMA.
Fast-forward seven years and a professional writing degree later, I was working at Leisawitz Heller, a law firm in Wyomissing, creating another new website. Through brief interactions with the internet marketing agency the firm hired and my eureka-like discovery of SEOmoz, I taught myself the basics of SEO. After plugging away for a year or so, I stumbled on a SEO/writer position at Howard Miller Associates. Drew Dorgan, the president of the global advertising agency, saw something in me and in Yoda-like fashion (sans pointy ears) primed me to create and manage the new interactive division of HMA. Not only was I challenged to master SEO, PPC and analytics, I poured my mind into the B2B realm and conquered the technical lingo used in the chemical and industrial manufacturing world.
No one was more surprised than me to discover how much I enjoyed all the intricate technicalities.
It’s been a wild ride, but looking back I wouldn’t have wanted to learn it any other way.
Even as I step into a role more focused on content strategy and real-time media at HMA, Drew continues to guide me through challenging situations. Her bull-in-a-china-shop demeanor and the sink or swim rites of passage at HMA are sure ways to build character. It’s been a wild ride, but looking back I wouldn’t have wanted to learn it any other way. Her wisdom as a strong woman and, more importantly, a successful business owner (not to mention a great sense of humor and an abundance of Dorganisms) helped me navigate difficult problems, better communicate with clients and think fast on my feet. After working with Drew for nearly two years, explaining the relevance of analytics and SEO to a client’s key business leaders (most with doctorates in chemistry, mind you) seemed like a piece of cake. She might tell you what to do, but most of the time she leaves you to figure out the how, and I love that.
While Drew remains one of my more influential mentors, there’s no way I could go without mentioning two other inspiring individuals — Danny Laws and Saurav Rimal. Much like the electric shock from a defibrillator, these two kickstart my SEO heart, depolarize and reinvigorate when needed.
Have you ever met someone and wished you could download pieces of their brain and upload them to your own?
I definitely feel this way about Danny Laws. I first met Danny, president of DaBrian Marketing Group, while volunteering on the marketing committee for Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce. Smart and energetic, I was impressed at how fast he could talk and even more impressed with his experience with internet marketing. After conversations with him I often find myself thinking, “I never thought of it that way before.” He continues to motivate and inspire me to explore new possibilities within SEO. You can explore some of his insights over at the DaBrian Marketing blog.
His actions and willingness to offer advice inspire me to dream more
Every time I talk to Saurav Rimal, I get kid-in-a-candy-store excited about SEO all over again. Bonding over a pint of Victory Golden Monkey, Saurav, SEO at SEER Interactive, has an infectious passion for SEO. Not only is he incredibly relatable, but he is pretty brilliant too. His actions and willingness to offer advice inspire me to dream more, learn more and do more. Saurav tends to keep a low profile when it comes to posts and publications, and in my opinion, his wisdom is best served up in person and over a pint of beer. (Editor’s note: I agree 200% with this paragraph, especially the end.)
A critical skill needed when starting out in SEO, and the search industry in general, is learning to qualify information sources and identify mistruths. Answers are everywhere – the good, the bad and the outdated. The key is asking the right questions to uncover the best answers. The Beginners’ Guide to SEO from SEOmoz is like an encyclopedia for SEO. It’s an indispensable resource if you’re new to SEO, and SEOmoz does a great job of keeping it up to date. But more importantly, you need a mentor, or at least someone to bounce ideas off. He or she doesn’t even need to be in SEO; some the freshest perspectives I’ve ever received were from people not in marketing. What matters most is having someone out there to give your life and career some kind of direction.
I lead content development and strategy at Howard Miller Associates in Lancaster, Pa. We’re an interactive and full-service advertising agency serving up SEO, PPC, analytics, real-time media and traditional advertising for a variety of chemical and industrial companies. You can read my internet marketing accounts on the HMA blog, or for random and often unrelated musings, check out my personal blog ColleenHofmann.com. And if you happen to love technology, craft beer and malapropos humor, please say hi over on Twitter.
Do you have a mentor story you want to share? I’d love to hear it!