We all make resolutions at the start of a new year. After all, with 12 fresh months ahead, it's easy to look at the world as a blank slate. When it comes to your job in SEO (or in marketing, advertising, PR, communications, really anything...), there are definitely some things that you can look forward to and improve upon at the start of a new year.
In 2012, here are a few things that we should be doing and avoiding in order to make our jobs a little bit easier, happier, and more fulfilling.
What To Do
Think Marketing, Not Just SEO: We wear a lot of hats in our jobs and sometimes, it can be easy to get focused on one particular portion of what we do. In 2012, remember that it's all about marketing and communication - not just SEO. Take time to look at your campaigns and the other marketing channels being used to see where there can be changes or improvements. SEO is just one piece of the pie.
Test, Test, and Test Again: When it comes to tools, SEO best practices, marketing campaigns, or even what kind of coffee you like, you need to test in order to find the best result. This year, make it a point to test what you're doing to make sure you're spending your time in the right places. Are you putting effort in where it's needed? Are you wasting your time? See if you're doing something that really works instead of just doing something out of habit.
Don't Be Afraid of Data: I'll admit it. I'm not really a numbers person. Although I like to think analytically, it's difficult for me to stretch outside of my creative copywriter comfort zone and play the role of the data analyst. If you want to succeed in SEO, or in any form of marketing for that matter, you need to get friendly with data. Not just for the sake of your job, but for the sake of your clients. They need the data to make smart decisions in regards to their businesses just as much as you do. For the next 12 months (and hopefully well beyond that), cozy up with Google Analytics and start spending quality time with ROI.
Always Be Learning: We're human beings and creatures of habit. It's not uncommon for us to fall into a particular way of thinking and living. When it comes to SEO or how we do our jobs, we tend to stick to what we've always done. Insert keyword here. Structure URL like so. In 2012, look to learn more about what we do and what we have the potential to do. Stretch your comfort zone. Attend more webinars and actually think about what was said in them. Get into more discussions in the comments. Explore another discipline. We learn and it's fulfilling. Win-win, right?
Get Social: This is a resolution that's been on everyone's list for years. Social media is most definitely a part of a successful SEO strategy and if you haven't gotten to that point yet, well, you may be in trouble. The benefits of being social are many, but in this case, make it a goal to actually do social media the right way. It's not just about being present on the platform. It's about using it in such a way that you can truly communicate.
P.S. Getting social isn't just about social media. It also means having fun with co-workers and other connections. Go ahead. Set aside some time to go out to a movie together or have a drink. It's still networking and it's a good way to relax and relieve some of the stress from your workday.
What to Avoid
Time Sucks: Being on the internet all day does not make it easy to avoid distractions. My goal? Moderation. Unless there's cuteness involved, in which case there's always time for adorable cat videos. If you're concerned about getting distracted and wasting time, there are several nifty little browser add-ons that can keep you on task. They track your time and let you know how you're spending it. Also, some can remind you when it's time to get off YouTube and start writing. Or, there's good old fashioned willpower.
You need to mind your marketing efforts too. There are plenty of ways to eat up time and resources. Here's one example: 7 Social Media Time Sucks.
Missing Deadlines: This is a career killer no matter what industry you're working in. I tend to wait until the last minute to get some things done and before I know it, I'm overwhelmed with a to do list that's entirely too long. Not a good idea. In 2012, my mantra is: be conscious - not only of time, but of the work as a whole. Set up Google Calendar reminders. Set an alarm on your cell phone. Leave yourself post-it notes. Whatever it takes, make sure that you don't forget about what you've committed to do.
Taking Yourself Too Seriously: This drives me bonkers. I cringe every time I see someone declare themselves as a guru. This year, don't focus on the title you've made up or your Klout score. Focus instead on the work you produce and the connections you make. Those are the things that really determine your success.
Also, for a fun read, check out the Social Media Douchebag. You'll see what I mean about taking yourself too seriously.
Writing SEO Obitutuaries: I started off in SEO four years ago. In that time, I've seen dozens of blog posts with the same headline: "SEO is Dead." Clearly, that isn't the case. Instead of fearing change and declaring an entire industry obsolete, make 2012 a year of adaptation. If a search engine makes an update, learn and then react; not the other way around. We've done it before and we can do it again. Just don't get spooked the next time you see the letters S-E-O photoshopped on a tombstone. Remember - SEO is just one piece of the pie.
What will you be doing in 2012 to make your job easier? Happier? More fulfilling? What will you be avoiding?
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Mandy Boyle is the SEO Team Lead at Net Driven. She is also a published freelance writer and co-founder of NEPA BlogCon. She enjoys theater, not taking herself seriously, and adventurous eating.