My journey towards becoming an SEO representative or manager (as if) was full of regrets, mistakes, and unhappy endings. But it was not all in vain for I have learned many things as I moved along the path of SEO. As of now (date blog was published), I can say that the journey was all rewarding.
From my education background in Electrical Engineering, never did I imagine myself working in SEO nor in the digital marketing field even. It all started with a request, followed up by another request and so on and so forth.
I started working online as a technical representative for Verizon. The BPO industry was at large in our country back then, and being a college undergrad, I needed to at least make amends to earn money to support the family. Our family was going through a rough time that year so I had to sacrifice my education to give way. I even went on to become an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker). I really do wonder now why am I even working as an SEO rep?
Being an OFW was never easy and was never a fixed job. Some may be lucky to be regulars on a company, but luck was not on my side. In the months of unemployment, my sister often asks me to write articles for her online job and she would pay me for every article I wrote.
The articles came with a requirement or specifics on how to create them. I needed to produce a number of the same “keywords” per article. Sometimes I wonder if the article I finished even has meaning. I mean, I just spammed a word or a phrase over and over. Still, I get paid so it was not that bad of a deal.
Why would people pay for an article full of stuffed words? Apparently, it was called spamdexing or keyword stuffing. It was then that I began to familiarize myself with search engine rankings.
I was more of a Yahoo user since my email account was also Yahoo and YM (Yahoo Messenger) was the TOP messaging platform before. Until my email got hacked. Now I’m an avid Google user with a GSuite account.
My intrigue and curiosity about the “workings online” landed me a job on a company that develops websites. They develop websites for Food Catering Services. I was assigned to monitor their Zendesk chat account, compose emails if needed to, manage their customers’ lists of menu, and update lists per lists of lists. Although it was a monotonous job, it paid better compared to being an underrated OFW. I also get to work at the comfort of our home. It was not all related to SEO but I got to experience a full time online job.
As I work online, I studied HTML. I was interested in HTML tags because I found a side job related to link building, to SEO. It was also monotonous, look for website directories, put the HREF links tags, and look again, rinse and repeat. A time came when I had to stop working online when I was given an opportunity to finish my studies. I never went back to online jobs for 7 years from that moment on until I landed my first ever official SEO job title.
My sister (again) asked me to join or form a team to make a digital marketing team, and I was in charge of SEO. With a little bit of information about the niche (very little indeed), I confidently tackled the interview with my future boss for years to come. He and his wife were amazed, not because of my skills, but because the concept was new to them.
My knowledge about SEO was all search results from Google. What I knew before about keyword stuffing, HTML Tagging, link building by buying links, listing domains in different directories, were all either considered as blackhat or not viable anymore. I had to learn from scratch in order to compensate for the salary I was offered.
First month I worked, I argued mostly with their web developer. Why do this? Why do that? Why like this? Why like that? I was more concerned with the appearance and function of the website rather than ranking its contents.
Aside from the website, I also argued with how our team functions independently of each other. So I had to make some leeway before starting on SEO. Luckily, a friend taught me the basics in SEO after a month of being employed.
I was taught the basics. The lessons deal with sitemaps and robots.txt, meta tags, headings, alt texts, meta descriptions and the do’s and don’ts on SEO. I also learned about Google Search Console and also Google Analytics. But in order for me to complete installing tracking scripts, I was forced to learn WordPress. Since me and the web dev got off the wrong foot, it was unavoidable.
I had to learn more technical skills. Basics of HTML, CSS, PHP language were all just necessary steps that helped me a lot even up to now. More and more reasons piled up as to why I neglected practicing SEO. We even re-created the whole website and rebranded the company. My learning curve was pushed more to website developing and marketing automation rather than SEO.
After 6 grueling months of work, re-branding the company, fixing the website, setting up automations for emails, chats, checkout pages, landing pages, thank you pages, it was now then I had to seriously tackle SEO. It was a mess.
Being forced into learning website development, I neglected the basics of marketing, knowing the market first. Having learned a lot on WordPress does not amount to the needs I needed to learn more about SEO. The field was more on contents rather than being technical.
Our boss wanted results. And I have no excuses to give. Still, I managed to rank the website for its domain name top 5 globally, (1st before I left) which the site never did ever before. It was the first time our boss had seen the company name when searched on search engines. It even had that beautiful featured snippet on the side.
The domain was 3 years old but was never registered to Google Search Console and never had a robots.txt or a sitemap to begin with. The titles and headings are all over the place and the contents cannot even pass as a proper page. Luckily, we used the Yoast plugin (link to yoast). All my basic knowledge in SEO, Yoast helped me through. I even got a certificate from Yoast for successfully finishing their beginner course in SEO.
Whenever our team achieved results, I also yearned for more knowledge. Whenever we got a project from our company, my strategy was to incorporate it to social media immediately. We also do Press Releases on different websites. But later on, I realized we missed doing directory listings and properly building links to similar niches. Still, we managed to rank 50% of the site’s needed contents on pages one to three. I knew it was not enough so I had to learn more and practice.
I also learned inbound marketing from Hubspot. Got a certificate too. It was necessary. I needed knowledge in order to have an overview of what our team was working on. It was not just SEO that I needed to focus on.
I was frequently requested by our company’s CEO back then. Sometimes he would consult me early in the morning for ideas and strategies. In the end, it all came down to how much the company profits. It was or should have been what we as the marketing department should have worked hand in hand with the sales department and operations.
From the years I worked with the company, the problem was not on poor SEO, although it’s relevant, it should not have been the main focus. Our team was successful in gathering leads, but converting them wasn’t too successful.
The company’s process was simple. We passed leads to sales, their department will convert, then operations will take over. We were not blaming the company’s other departments, but the passion the online marketing department had, we never felt with the other department. More often, we got the blame, even if we hit the quotas assigned. It was a very good experience until it lasted.
Now we work with different clients, long-established and new contracts. We made sure to do it properly this time around. Although my knowledge and experience are still lacking in SEO to be called a manager, I plan to see it through.
I read updates on a regular basis about online marketing especially on SEO. I subscribed to Newsletters, attended seminars, enrolled in courses (mostly free), read and watched numerous guides, and even did coaching on the “Basic Skills Needed to Work on SEO”. It is a continuous learning process.
Our goal is to give our clients our utmost diligence and passion for no BS marketing. We give what we know and we do what we are paid for. Our team’s experience with the ups and downs of a company are truly worthwhile. It gives us meaning, not for the fee, but because of the growth we and our clients experience daily.