I recently graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, where I majored in psychology and minored in music. I now work as a Digital Marketing Research Analyst at Canada's largest internet marketing firm, Search Engine People.
With no prior industry knowledge, I underwent standard SEO, PPC, Google AdWords and Google Analytics training within my first week on-the-job. I experienced a bit of information-overload somewhere between remarketing, link building and traffic sources while simultaneously wondering "why the heck does everyone keep talking about penguins and pandas like they're some kind of monsters? I love Pandas!" It was a whole new world with foreign languages (XML, PHP, …), and I quickly realized I had a long way to go before becoming a SME.
The good news? I wasn't alone! Well…I actually was at the time…but I was soon reassured that many others once felt the same apprehension. Really, where else do you get a truly good understanding of search engine marketing? I began to view my new position as a challenging and exciting role in this constantly evolving industry, where opportunities for learning are endless.
Here are a few tips for those of you who are new to the industry and perhaps even a refresher for those of you who aren't:
Walk the walk. You can try to wrap your head around the theory behind SEO and SEM, but at the end of the day the best way to get up to speed is to start walking the walk. If possible, obtain access to your company's AdWords and Analytics accounts and practice understanding the metrics and features and pulling data. Google AdWords and Google Analytics also offer FREE learning centres where you can work through a series of modules to get familiarized with these platforms (and get certified!) Check them out here:
Ask questions. Yes, you've got your search engines, but newbies sometimes don't know how to formulate a query in a way that yields the desired search result. What would my search query have been when I wondered why people at work talked about being hit by a penguin? Take advantage of the valuable resources around you, namely humans! Who knows, even as a newbie you may contribute something valuable to a conversation with a vet!
Don't overthink it. Especially when you're new and ill-informed, it's easy to let your imagination run wild when trying to understand what a certain term or metric might denote, or exactly how an algorithm might work. Try not to get too caught up in the pieces of the puzzle at first, think high level and focus on the bigger picture- eventually you'll drill down to the nitty gritty's.
Read. There is a ton of great material out there that can give you some frame of reference. The more you read up on industry basics and news, the sooner you'll be talking the talk. Ask your HR rep or manager for a reading list. Here's a list to get you started:
- Why Knowing Everything About SEO Doesn't Mean Shit
- Google Basics: Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages
- The Beginner's Guide To SEO
- What Is Social Media Marketing
- 78 Resources For Every Internet Marketer's Toolkit
Keep in mind that Google is constantly updating its algorithm and new tools are introduced every day. Check out these sites regularly to stay in-the-know:
Test. Once you learn the basics, don't stop there. For example, if you're PPC, test one ad vs. another, conduct search query reports to identify any keywords that are triggering your ads but shouldn't be, and add them as negatives. Continuously optimize to foster traffic, leads and conversions.
Talk the talk! If you don't already know, you'll find out soon how influential social media really is. Create work-related Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Google+ accounts and follow others in the industry to expose yourself to even more content. Then once you're comfortable, start posting content of your own! Good content to post can be industry-related news, new tools, software or features, case studies or re-posting ("curating") others' content like blog posts.
These are some of the things I have done as a newbie, and in 2 months I've done research projects on website traffic, written ad copy, optimized campaigns in AdWords, prepared reports for clients using data from Google AdWords, Google Analytics and other social platforms, and learned a number of different pieces of software. I have been learning something new every day, and before I knew it I began to feel comfortable in my new role.
New-comers: take a deep breath, don't overthink it and get excited about internet marketing!
If anyone else has any tips or tricks of the trade, feel free to share below
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Brittney is a Google AdWords Certified Paid Search Specialist on the PPC team at Search Engine People. Brittney is passionate about digital media, blogging, philanthropy, music and fashion.