Today is (unfortunately) the last day of my internship here at Wpromote before I return to USC for my senior year. I’ve had the opportunity to intern at a wide array of companies during my time in college, but this has been an experience like no other. I’ve never been one to accept a given role without, in some way, tweaking it until I am happy with the value I am adding. Often my attempts at changing and improving my role were met with mixed reviews from leadership. In spite of past experiences, I had every intention of continuing to push the expectations here. To my surprise, outside-the-box thinking was not just accepted at Wpromote, but encouraged.
Here, I have been given wide latitude as an intern. While I’m yet to take this to its extreme (the goal is to get a full time offer, after all), it has made this internship unlike any other. While I could elaborate for hours about the remarkable company culture – read: Mondays Suck Less – I want to focus on interning in this industry instead.
I’ve always been interested in online marketing because of its relative youthfulness. I recall a particularly inspiring quote from our COO at the internship panel where I met him. (Sorry if I butcher this, Block.) He said, “One of the reasons I love this industry so much is because of how new it is. I’m not an old guy and still, no one can say to me, ‘Hey I’m right, I’ve been doing this for longer,’ because that’s virtually impossible.”
Lo and behold, I start working for Wpromote, ready to take on the digital marketing space. Because, hey, the industry is young, the leadership is young, and I’m young.
Upon entering the workspace, I would soon learn that I am, in fact, not young, but rather an infant in this industry. SEO moves at a ludicrous speed. There are people that have been immersed in SEO since its beginning. There are people who got their start just a few (long) years ago. And then there are (sometimes) interns. We have read an outdated book, maybe taken a class, and come into our roles eager and ready to learn. We scour the Internet, read everything Rand Fishkin has to say, and yet, this dynamic industry allows for constant innovation despite your background, title, or tenure.
The fact of the matter is, nobody knows everything. That’s the point. And that’s the game. So what makes great SEO? What have I learned during my time here? I’ll summarize in a few quick hints that are rooted in SEO, but that I feel should have a role in every marketing campaign.
1) Google is smart. Make your users’ lives easy and Google will do the same for you.
That’s not to say technical details don’t matter. In fact, they matter tremendously, but SEOs can easily get lost in the technical aspects—page speed, for example. I do not care that page speed is a “ranking factor.” That is not why page speed is important. Page speed is important because if users have to wait more than three seconds to see your webpage, they’re going back to the SERPs and clicking on your competitor. Goodbye sale. Goodbye lead. Goodbye conversion.
2) Don’t build links, earn them.
I have seen far too many clients come in with penalties because of linking tactics, yet today we still hear about agencies and in-house teams using questionable means just to fill a report with “acquired links.” Sure, links factor into rankings, but remember why links were originally factored in? They were meant to be votes of confidence expressing the authority of your site. Getting your link on a cringe-worthy blog shows little value to your users and even less to Google. I think you forgot to read point number one.
3) Make great content. Don’t say, “make great content.”
If you’re reading this post, then you’ve undoubtedly heard a million things about the need for great content. Well, here’s a million and one. My biggest issue with the rush to create content is exactly that—the rush. Crafting content relevant to your demographic should be a no-brainer, but it has to go further than that. We need to make content that will blow their minds.
Don’t search BuzzSumo or Google Trends for what’s been popular in the past; make something new! The audience of your skateboard shop doesn’t want to read “The Top Ten Tricks You Need to Know!” They know them all. They want to discover new music, find new spots to skate, or have the ability to customize a board on your site. Generic content doesn’t drive traffic, but content with clear intent does.
By no means is this a comprehensive guide to SEO, but rather an effort to share some of my biggest takeaways from interning in this rapidly evolving industry. The truth is, as an intern, you never know what you’re going to get (typically, it’s coffee). But every once in a while, you land a gig where you truly feel you’ve made an impact, and I’m (hashtag) blessed to have found one.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work at Wpromote and I hope I will have the opportunity to come back. Thank you everyone!