Dispatch from an SEO Novice

I joined Elliance about a year ago with just a layman’s knowledge of SEO. The Elliance search team gave me a wonderful primer during my first week, and I’ve continued to enjoy my own learning process through the work we’re doing on behalf of our clients and in support of our own objectives. There have certainly been some eye-openers along the way. Here are some things that jumped out at me.

1) It’s even more powerful than I thought. In my personal work and life online, I search just as much as anyone else. I’ve taken a fair amount of pride in my ability to find what I’m looking for more quickly than expected. But from a business perspective, I had no idea just how important search could be. Whether for a college or a bank, I’m amazed at the number of visitors generated by effective search practices. It can add up to a significant portion of the traffic to a site, and that means a significant portion of customers, or applicants, or donors, or other really critical audiences.

2) It’s even more complicated than I thought. As a search beginner, here’s what I knew: content on the page matters and links to the page matter. I’ve learned that those are both true, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The secret recipe for search success also includes a generous helping of social media posts and comments, video and image assets, page names, metadata, author and domain authority. And just to keep us all on our toes, the recipe changes, mysteriously and often. I’m grateful to my colleagues on the search team for staying ahead of it all.

3) Smart search marketers have more control than I thought. Having worked with online communications for more than a decade, the existence of search marketing practices was not a surprise. But I have been surprised by the amount of influence a good SEO firm can have over search rankings. Over the course of months – not years – savvy search marketing can pull a once-obscure site up from the third or fourth (or tenth) page to the all-important top positions on page one, for relevant and competitive keywords. Put that together with point number one, and you’ve got quite a powerful tool.

In truth, I will probably never understand search as clearly and wisely as the true SEO professionals that I work with, but it has been an interesting journey so far. And seeing the results that we’ve been able to achieve for our clients is inspiring. I look forward to learning more. If you’re just diving into the search world: what have been the biggest surprises for you?