The following is a guest post by Ellie Sans. For more information on Ellie, scroll down the article.
As a newcomer to digital marketing I was amazed at the amount of information available on the subject of SEO. The number of blogs, forums, business and tool sites offering advice is huge, so it’s not hard to find everything you need to know. The tricky part is filtering it, working out what is worth remembering and what should be ignored. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.
To further complicate things, there is apparently no consensus over what makes up the basics and there is plenty of conflicting and misleading advice for everything from traditional SEO to social media marketing. Alongside picking through mountains of inconsistent advice is the need to navigate obscure industry jargon. Without a translation you could be forgiven for believing that spiders crawl around the web, chasing long tails, wearing black, white or grey hats and drinking link juice.
I found getting away from the web and talking to an expert was the best way to get to know the basics of digital marketing and SEO. Being able to ask questions and get an immediate response was really beneficial, and as my confidence in the subject grew, the chance to discuss ideas face to face was invaluable.
When I was first learning about SEO I found both Google and Bing’s Webmaster pages surprisingly helpful, including information and advice for novices as well as those with more experience. Many of the other sources of information assume a better understanding than a beginner could have, making it easy to miss the pertinent points.
While Webmaster guidelines are great for the basics and some technical detail they don’t focus on the creative side of digital marketing. Imaginative thinking can be developed with a bit of research into what works for others and becoming familiar with the thought leaders in the field is key.
Reading around will make names of a few industry experts familiar such as Rand Fishkin and Marty Weintraub (as well as plenty others). There are many experts publishing information frequently on their own sites and as guests on others. Cast the net wider and find out who influences them. Take note of people and organisations they mention, see who they follow on Twitter and other social media and who is guest posting on their sites.
It’s always important to be discerning when looking for information online on any subject. But if you’re new to the industry how do you know that what you’re reading as been published by a reliable resource? Little things like how frequently the site is updated and the number of followers it has on social media are helpful indicators. As is audience engagement – are there real readers interacting with the site?
These indicators don’t necessarily mean that the site is infallible, but they can show that the site is well read, and that the content has value to its readers.
Finally challenge what you read. It can be hard to question something that’s been written by an authority, a phenomenon present in all industries. So read comments left by other readers to see what they think. Some of the comments may well be in disagreement with your favorite SEO or social media guru. This can inspire the confidence to follow your instinct and ask questions too.
Ellie Sans is currently working for Bespoke Digital, a UK-based digital marketing company.