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Jun 22, 2012

What Makes a Successful Search Engine Optimiser?

Before we ask what makes a successful Search Engine Optimiser, we first have to ask – “What is success?” What does success look like for a Search Engine Optimiser? Well, if we take the goal of SEO to be to increase conversions, traffic and ultimately, profit, for an online business, then success for a Search Engine Optimiser would be to achieve those goals for all their clients. But how is this goal achieved? Well, one might argue that there are many roads to success in internet marketing, but I would say that all recipes for succeeding in SEO involve the following things:

1) A desire to see people succeed

This is very important. For most of my career I’ve looked at success from primarily a restricted point of view – what can make me successful in my job, what can get me links, get me traffic. This attitude is ultimately self-centered, and will not get you where you want to be. It’s like the old adage, “A rising tide lifts all ships”. If I concentrate of making my customers happy and successful, then my success will follow as a natural result of this. The old maxim of “love thy neighbour” is as true as it always was; it’s as true in the business world as it is in the social world. Put others before yourself, and you can’t go wrong. 

2) A passion for SEO and the Internet

This is vital. When I came into the SEO industry I has no knowledge of SEO, but I had a passion for the internet as well as my trade. I saw the potential of the web in reshaping the modern world, and was determined to use it to my advantage and thus change my life forever. This has served me well in my career as a Search Engine Optimiser, as I went on acquiring knowledge about how search engines work, how web marketing works, and how best to market my clients’ sites. My passion for the internet as well as my trade also meant that I devoted my time and energies in reading articles on various aspects of SEO on the internet, learning the tricks of the trade, honing my skills and becoming more competent in my role as a Search Engine Optimiser.

3) A passion for Marketing

Pretty much given in SEO. Many people do not see that SEO is more a marketing discipline than it is a technical one. The role is ultimately about building relationships – with customers, bloggers, webmasters, fellow search engine optimisers and colleagues. It’s also a lot to do with the fundamentals of marketing – making something remarkable (great content) and telling people about it (outreach, and promotion of that content). Simple, really. 

4) The drive to succeed 

This is necessary for almost any job. Without a basic desire to do well, to prove yourself, and to succeed, you will struggle in pretty much any job, not least SEO. There is a story about wanting success – a master and his apprentice are by a river. The apprentice asks the master, “Master, what must I do to succeed?” The Master then takes the apprentice’s head and holds it underwater. The apprentice thrashes around for a while, then the Master lets go, and finally lets the apprentice up for air. The Master then says, “When you desire success as much as you wanted air just then, then you will succeed.” Says it all.

5) Hustle

This is a very practical skill for any Search Engine Optimizer, but an essential one if they are to grow beyond being a novice and become an expert practitioner. Hustle is basically the wish and ability to do almost anything to succeed, to get that link for your client, to reach your goals. Hustle means you do not stop and give up the first time someone says “NO” to you in your dealings. You go the extra mile, look for ways around your obstacle, think outside the box. For example, if you are looking to make a connection with a blogger, and there is no email address available on his/her blog, you do not just say, “Oh well, I’ll just have to move on.” Instead you do a WHOIS lookup, and possibly find their email address there. Work smarter, not harder.

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