The Evolution of an SEO – One Year in Internet Marketing Part 1

One year ago this week, I started as an unpaid intern in Internet Marketing with Blue Soda Promo.  With no experience and only three months to prove my worth, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task.  My only teacher was the world wide web.  The textbooks I was given were the Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz’s Daily Blog and Hobo’s SEO blog.

I was told the first two weeks were going to be pretty boring.  Just to read as much as you can, ask questions and we’ll go from there.  Today, the person that ultimately ‘taught’ me is now asking for my advice about SEO and how we should move forward.

Every decision I’ve made definitely hasn’t been the right one. I looked for quick results initially (I REALLY NEEDED A JOB) and never thought about how it could affect the site later.  My early naive decisions later became days of clean up.

However, instead of waiting till it was too late and getting bitch slapped by panda or teabagged by penguin we’ve seen a 300% increase in our organic traffic since I started in a pretty competitive market.

So today is as good of a day as ever to look back on some of my early tactics, big mistakes, successes and plans for the future.

The Internship

My first struggle was during the first two weeks.  It was incredibly hard to keep focus when your only responsibility is to read.  I mean its not like you were reading out of a hard cover book or had someone looking over your shoulder.  I was stuck in a cubicle reading blog posts on the Internet.

The Internet is the definition of procrastination and distraction.  Facebook, YouTube, the Chive and fantasy football, I thought I’d be lucky to get through a couple articles a day.  On top of that, this woman-owned company has plenty to look at when you take a break from your computer screen.

So after kicking myself  when asked, “How was work? What did you do today?” and having to BS my way through dinner, I actually turned on the Parental Controls on my computer blocking myself from anything I thought might be entertaining.

It was like a whole new world full of sentences that contained more than 140 characters, pictures that didn’t involve girls in bikinis and videos that had no one getting kicked in the nuts.

This is when I started absorbing everything I was reading. I began to realize how important it was to fill those HTML tags I had been coding in college with keywords that would help me rank and linking to relevant content throughout the site.

On Page

After my two week crash course in SEO, I was put in charge of writing content for some of the category pages of our site.  I was told the content wasn’t as important for the user, but for Google to establish what we were trying to sell.  250-300 words full of the keywords that would help us rank.  That’s not how I write though.  My editor would have kicked me off the school paper if I turned in something like that so it was a big change.

On top of that, these things weren’t the easiest things to write about.  Sunglasses, tote bags, koozies and stress balls.  In all reality they are simply cheap giveaways to help promote your business.  Yes, they are useful to a point, but you just begin to ramble about the same things over and over again.

Here’s an example of what I wrote for our sunglasses page.

Shades are more than cool. They’re a health matter. Protecting eyes from the sun can prevent cataracts and headaches, something that spells concern. Our promotional sunglasses and sunglass cases are manufactured with high quality and style in mind. Your customers will appreciate the tasteful application of your company logo to these custom sunglasses. Whether you choose printed sunglasses or custom sunglass cases to hold their own frames, your customers will appreciate a gift that looks great and protects, too. Whether you’re looking for our stylish Rubberized Sunglasses or our Aviator Sunglasses, we have the right selection for you.

Article Directories

The next logical step after writing keyword heavy content like that was article directories.  I analyzed the backlinks of our competitors and saw a large number of articles from free directories.  BOOYA!  Can’t fool me.  Yet, I had no idea why no one was talking about this.  Why would they though? That’s why they are in the #1 spot.  I found one author for a specific competitor that had over 280 articles.

I also got the green light from the man in charge.  It had even been something they had done in the past.  He gave me software that would automatically submit an article to hundreds of sites.  Writing those articles was even harder than the category descriptions.  I wasn’t writing 250-300 words but 500-750 now.  I was told to spin the articles, but make sure they would still be readable (HA, impossible).

Link Wheels

Link Wheels Examined (which I randomly still have bookmarked), pushed me into thinking that these Web 2.0 sites could have SEO benefits for our site.  Their theory of ‘chaotically’ tricking the search engines in order to not to get penalized was intriguing.  At this point I had no idea these strategies could ever harm our site.  So I jumped on WordPress, Blogger, Weebly and Squidoo (which is such a terrible site btw) and made tons of small posts, even updated them on a weekly basis for a while.

This post was obnoxiously long so I split it up into two posts.  This way I have double the opportunity for traffic with my keywords MUAHAHA and I may get you guys to read 300 words of two articles instead of never getting to the part where I become a top author on EZineArticles.  Read part 2 here.

 

Author Matthew Powers

Matthew Powers works as an in-house Internet Marketer with Blue Soda Promo. He measures out well at 6'8" 250lbs for the NBA, but his skin color and lack of athleticism has never held him back from lying about his career at the bar

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