Thanks to Rivka Fogel of AJ Madison for sharing her mentor story with me.
I cobbled together my SEO training. I’ve been in-house for over a year now, but in spring of 2011 I didn’t know what an SERP was. I Googled things a lot, and played with HTML in my work as a poet, and I had taught myself VBA because I thought it was fun, and why not get all that functionality out of Excel. But to optimize a site’s content and campaigns to up its rankings? No idea.
Soon I was managing full-scale SEO projects
Then consultants came along. Or, I should say, marketing in general. When I graduated Penn I was reviewing contemporary art exhibitions for an art blog. A few months later I was leading the charge on its advertising, because we had an audience to monetize. And then I started writing full-time as part of a start-up’s marketing team, which focused on SEO. Three weeks later I was directing the two company blogs, which included link-building strategy at these content machines. Soon I was managing full-scale SEO projects at any of the start-up’s 60 or so sites, including one that asked, how do we get people talking, on the web, about asset tags? (Answer: put the asset tag on a bike, and create a bike registry.)
I learned by observing, and asking questions
All this time we had weekly meetings with our consultants, in which I pumped Distilled’s John Doherty for information. I learned by observing, and asking questions that grew from A/B testing for email marketing and the relative benefits of iFrames versus infographics to algorithm updates and Matt Cutts; SeoMoz and Majestic; and the extent of EMD’s immediate impact on microsites.
In short: earlier that year I hadn’t heard of SEO; a few months into my talk-time with John, it was the most interesting part of my day, shifting with new ideas and algorithm updates and pieces of web gossip.
I learn by engaging
In retrospect, I was very lucky to fall in to SEO – but I was also lucky to have John and the Distilled team, and now to have the Twitter SEO community. #seochat and #seopub teach me so much, mainly because I learn by engaging, and I’ve never been one to be that quiet. And then there are the blogs and forums: Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch (Barry Schwartz et al), World Webmaster Forum, Bill Slawski’s SEO by the Sea, the occasional Rand Fishkin Whiteboard Friday at SEOMoz. I’m currently pleasantly mired in the co-citation (or lexical co-occurrence) question, (debatebly) first posited by Rand at the SEOMoz blog, then the subject of responses from Slawski (here and here) and a nice little summary over at iAcquire.
I have my mentors to thank, my fellow SEOs, for loving to talk
It’s a surprise, really: I like playing in Analytics, and I like identifying key metrics in keyword analysis. I like getting mileage and conversions out of social, and I like cutting down on SEM costs by fortifying the site organically with content and good, organized bot-facing and user-facing code. I studied contemporary poetics, and now I’m figuring out how to sell AJ Madison’s refrigerators and other home and kitchen appliances through blogs, social, on-page SEO, email, and more. And really I have my mentors to thank, my fellow SEOs, for loving to talk – and teach – digital.
I manage SEO for AJ Madison, with a focus on analytics and content. I also freelance as a writer-editor and web consultant. I’m usually a poet, and always a dork. If I don’t know it, it’s automatically more fun – which is how I got into digital marketing strategy in the first place. And why I’ll wrestle myself into king pigeon pose most mornings.