Knowing the latest from Matt Cutts or any of the prominent SEO bloggers is all fine and dandy but I truly believe that if you want to have a complete understanding of what SEO does and how it works then you need to stop relying on other people’s advice and create your own website. How can you confidently offer advice to clients if you have never run your own site? I don’t mean slapping together a WordPress or Blogger blog template in five minutes. I mean literally writing your own site from the ground up with HTML. Part of the site can include a blog of course. Blogging can be a great way to develop an audience and interact with them.
As you develop your site, try everything in the book to see what works and what doesn’t. Here are some ideas you can try to get started:
- Have a non-branded site initially then try creating some brand guidelines later on to see how branding affects your overall performance.
- Learn how social networking can be integrated into your SEO and overall business strategies.
- Try tweaking your title tags 20 different ways including copying the competition to see what happens.
- Write good link bait to see how organic linking works.
- Develop contacts by leaving quality comments on other people’s blog with a link back to yours.
- Develop a consistent voice that works for your site and blog.
You should try to set goals for yourself based on trying to sell something or give something away. Or if you have hobbies then try to create an audience for yourself. Check your analytics religiously. Trust me, that part can be addicting. Have you noticed an increase or decrease in site visitation? Are you getting more email inquiries or blog comments lately? If you can attribute any of those behaviors to anything specific, then that can be a very powerful weapon to have in your knowledge arsenal.
It may take several years to get any traction but having your own website is kind of like a business professional going to school to get their MBA. All working SEO’s have technical expertise in their own discipline but imagine how much more value you can bring to your clients if you knew how your work fits into the bigger picture. Having your own site is basically a big sandbox for you to develop your craft. Much like how the Sistine Chapel wasn’t Michelangelo’s first piece of art, your client’s site shouldn’t be yours.
While clients may have contracted us for SEO what they are really looking for is business advice, not just SEO tactics. Once a client believes that you are on the same page as them then it is much easier to sell them on your SEO strategies. After that point, what color hat you wear is irrelevant.
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