SEO Newbie: The New Kid on the Block

Picture of a boy bandAs everyone knows by now, SpyFu’s spiffy, new Recon Files Ranking Report is live. What many don’t know, though, is that this awesome new SEO reporting tool isn’t the only new-kid-on-the-block here at SpyFu. The company has been growing, and as Mike Roberts mentioned in a recent interview, that growth included hiring an in-house SEO specialist. And as it turns out, I’m the guy who landed the job. Lucky me, right? There is one plot twist, however…

I have no experience with SEO.


Though Mike makes light of it during the interview, the irony of an SEM software company not having a strong organic search engine presence isn’t lost on him. Like so many other companies, though, it came down to the reality that the continual process of implementing SEO is a resource-intensive endeavor and requires far more planning, integration, and maintenance when compared to a paid search campaign. So while they focused on developing the Recon Files reports to help SEO’s do their jobs more easily, SpyFu’s own SEO largely fell by the wayside.

On my side of this equation, I continue to be overwhelmed by the vastness and complexity of the search marketing world, but I’m in good company. As challenging economic times persist across a diverse range of industries, many workers that continue to be unemployed or restless are daring to try their hand in the world of tech, including web marketing.

For many of these would-be refugees, however, learning a programming language from scratch is a daunting proposition. Rudimentary JavaScript skills might be a nice perk on a resume, but to make a living by writing code is another matter entirely. For starters, there is a steep learning curve to overcome before becoming ‘useful’ as a programmer. On top of that, as the industry continues to mature there is ever-increasing pressure to possess formal education and pertinent prior experience. I believe that taken together, these two realities are the driving force behind the recent explosion of new faces in the fields, feeds, and forums of the established SEM community. Consider SEOMoz for example, which saw the user-contributed blog entry entitled “An Open Letter to New SEO’s” shoot to the front page and garner mass appeal.

Seasoned SEM’s might scoff at this notion as they are only too aware of the many unique challenges their industry presents. But it begins to make more sense when one considers that starting out in search engine marketing doesn’t demand upfront familiarity with a programming language nor does it require standardized accreditation. Whether conscious of these facts or not, many career-changers have come to see SEM (and particularly SEO) as the ideal way to segue into tech. The anecdote of my own transition serves as a perfect example because it’s the field of SEO, after all, that provided me the opportunity to escape corporate accounting and trade in my debits and credits for zeros and ones.

So here we are, on the cusp of an adventure. Whether newbie or old, like all of us making our way in the tech universe, my success will rely on my ability to be resourceful and flexible, to learn quickly, and to seek out and put into practice the best advice I can get my hands on. Accordingly, my intention as a contributor to the blog is to share the tidbits of knowledge and experience I gather along my adventure, explain how I use SpyFu’s tools to measure and report on my in-house search engine marketing efforts, and compare those tools to others on the market. Perhaps most importantly, though, my intention is to literally put myself in your shoes, the shoes of our customers and supporters who make SEM their business every day, and by doing so experience what your day-to-day challenges are and how we at SpyFu can make your life’s work better.

Continue to Part 2: Handling Information Overload