Beginner’s experiences in SEO

Before starting my current occupation I had never heard of the term SEO. I began the project of marketing my cheap international calls website when I was told the true goal was “to reach the front page of Google”. I was completely utterly stumped, I had never taken the time to wonder how websites were ranked on Google, and part of me assumed wizards were involved.

I believe the first search I performed was simply “First page of Google”; my first discovery was that SEO had spawned an industry. A whole host of consultants who were willing to help your website rank better.  Of course at the time I had little to no budget, certainly not enough to hire anyone else to essentially do my job.  So moving forward I decided to take a DIY approach and began to educate myself. The colleague I took over from muttered something about link building so I decided to take it from there.

So I began my research into link building, it seemed simple enough at first, getting links to your site would help you rank better. It made intuitive sense to me, if a website is good and or useful other websites will link to its content.

This then begged the question “How do I get sites to link to me?” At first I started submitting to every directory under the sun simply assuming that would help me, after all they were giving out free links, what could go wrong.  It was at this juncture I discovered Google’s now infamous Penguin and Panda updates, this caused a shift in my thinking. Link quality came into question; beforehand I had assumed it could be thought of in terms of sheer numbers. My assumptions soon changed as I realised that one good link could quickly outrank hundreds from terrible sources.

I realised that rather than being a new development, SEO had become an established science, with plenty of prior back and forth between webmasters and the Search Engine Masters so to speak.

So this lead down a new path of enquiry, trying to understand what Google did and did not tolerate.

So now I had discovered a legitimate vs. illegitimate dichotomy to the world to SEO, out of pure curiosity I began to search the shadowy world of black hat SEO. I realised that legitimate SEO took the form of search engine approved techniques to improve your site’s quality and user experience. However like any system it could be gamed and cheated. Hidden text, cloaking and ridiculous linking practices caught my attention at first; I had a play round with the idea, debating it for some time.

Eventually longevity won me over, I quickly learned black hat techniques would not work in the long term, especially with increasingly sophisticated Google updates. Even seemingly untouchable large businesses aren’t immune, Google had removed BMW Germany for such practices.

So unfortunately I was back to the beginning, a new site and little to no way of getting links. I decided my first port of call would be optimising Temporarily putting links on the back burner I repeatedly tested, reshuffled, organised my internal links, filled in meta data and did considerable amount of keyword research. After a long process I looked at my site with considerable pride. Google Webmaster tools and Google analytics helped to no end, I was finally able to see the effect of my work and study from an appropriate vantage point.

However this work did not get me links, and your site simply will not rank without good links. The solution came to me when searching for ideas for my blog, guest blogging, it is this solution that brings my words to your eyes and ears today. Guest blogging follows a Search Engine’s number 1 code of practice, quite simply “Create good content”, do this and people will happily share it.

Subsequently I’ve been guest blogging whenever I have the spare time and I love it, it’s a brilliant way to get links and a fun way to spend your time if you enjoy writing.

I hope my advice to any of the beginners starting SEO out there; at first it can seem like a daunting task. Trying to master new rules, rules that are consistently changing with new updates. SEO is an ongoing process but overall a rewarding one.