How to get into the SEO Industry

When I was at university, SEO as a job barely existed.

It was a thing some people were already doing – but not something you could really do as a viable career.

These days universities might feature 1-2 lectures over the whole semester about online marketing – when I was there, there were 0 lectures.

Today, internet is everything.

Everyone needs to be successful online, and businesses understand that.

Problem is, there are still limited opportunities to learn about it.

  • Universities barely cover it
  • Specialised courses are generally short and only cover basics
  • There is no official training or certifications recognised by the industry (There should be but that’s for another post)

Read

The internet can be a scary place, but it’s also the BEST place to get a free education.

With a plethora of online courses, videos, blogs and communities you can get involved in, or just lurk.

The free information time is now, and SEO being a constantly changing industry – online is the perfect place to learn 24 hours a day.

Some of the best resources I can recommend to someone wanting to get into SEO are:

Do shit

Being good at SEO isn’t about the theory, it’s about getting your hands dirty.

If you are looking to get into the industry, or still studying at university, that is the best time to start something to help your learning.

  • Start a website selling a product or service. This doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, but will be a website that you can test and learn things on a shoestring budget. Who knows – it might even take off!
  • Start a blog to write about your experiences or journey about learnings.
  • Do some pro bono work for friends and family to get some runs on the board
  • Offer to intern at a company in any way they might be willing to take you on.

Engage

Becoming visible in the industry is actually not a hard thing. It can be hard at first but by putting yourself out there a little you will make new friends and contacts, and gain some reputation points in a crowded market.

  • Engage with people on Twitter (Start following/reading/engaging with top SEO minds around the world)
  • Join some Facebook Groups
  • Join some Slack Groups
  • Attend some local networking events and chat with people
    • Hint: There are always recruiters and business owners at these events looking for people.

Be proactive

As with anything, being proactive is the key to starting out successfully.

Never wait for anything to come knocking – go get it.

  • Being proactive makes you stand out from 90% of other job seekers
  • A high percentage of people we actually hire are not actually applying for a role.

Generally people are good, and willing to help where they can.

Even if you are not looking for jobs, reaching out to people in the industry sets you up for one day when you might be contacting them for a reason.

I often reach out to people I admire for advice or to just say hello. If you are specific about what you ask for and don’t waste their valuable time – you would be surprised how successful you can be.

A great article resource on doing that can be found here: https://tim.blog/2008/05/19/5-tips-for-e-mailing-busy-people/

What now?

If you want to get into this exciting industry, all I can say is that SEO is a growing industry (SEO is not dead like some people will lead you to believe) and there are huge career opportunities for those who can become truly skilled.

4 Reasons I am pumped for Mozcon

I’ve decided to head back to Mozcon for the second year running.

I try to head to the USA for one conference a year to keep up with the latest developments in the industry. I realise there are Australian conferences too, but you just can’t get the same value and learnings in terms of quality of speakers and the networking opportunities.

I have previously been to Pubcon, Las Vegas for around 4 years running, and really enjoyed all aspects of it, but last year decided to make a change and ‘upgrade’ to Mozcon – and wwas not disappointed!

There are so many reasons I cant recommend Mozcon highly enough and I’ll try and reel off a few:

Speakers

Mozcon is a little unique where speakers don’t apply, you have to be asked. The speakers at this event are hand picked for the value they can provide to the entire SEO community, so you never have any fear you will end up listening to a sales pitch.

Some of the speakers I’m looking forward to:

  • Rand and Wil (Obviously!)
  • Oli Gardner – Unbounce
  • Daniel Russell – His talk “What We Learned From Reddit & How It Can Help Your Brand Take Content Marketing to the Next Level” has me listening already

Honestly, I just picked out a couple, but last year I don’t think I even had one session I tuned out on last year – the content is that great.

Networking

I am not super big into networking as a general rule. When we head to a USA based conference, networking is great to meet new people, but its rare for anything to turn into real business opportunities (Which is totally fine!)

Mozcon does a great job of having fun networking events, that are so well organised its unheard of at a convention.

Last year we had:

  • Pubcrawl
  • Ted Talk style event with food and drinks
  • Big end of conference celebration with drinks and bowling to finish off

To illustrate just how well they were put together, and it may seem like a tiny detail. but they had even organised different beer coasters at every location for each night of the conference. How is that for ATD!

Travel

One of the best things about attending a conference in an overseas country is the ability to combine my two favourite things – work and travel. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Portland on route to Mozcon. In addition Seattle was a city I had always wanted to visit, and one it turns out I loved. The opportunity to see places like this is something I am very lucky to experience.

This year, I am adding some family travel to the end of the conference and will be joined by my wife and daughter for a few weeks in New York and LA. What could be better!

Followup actions

Every conference we attend we come back with a huge list of things we want to start doing. Like everyone though, we NEVER do them all. What’s important though is we come back to a few very actionable things we can immediately change in our business, and without fail I can say that happens every time. While it may not always be something specific that is said at the conference, being out of our own office environment gives us time to sit back and think which always leads to productive ideas.

Will I see you there?

My Travel Wish List

As you get older, and you start to get more responsibilities in your life (Mortgage, relationships, cars, bills, kids…), travel becomes a little harder.

I was very lucky when I was younger and didn’t have any responsibilities that I was to travel quite extensively and experience many different places around the world.

Now, it’s a little harder to do, but I’ve still got a few places I would really like to see before I am too old to enjoy it:

japan

Japan

Ever since I was in high school I have wanted to go here. It looks like an amazing place full of interesting foods, sights and culture. I would love to visit during the cherry blossom festival.

Europe (Iceland, Greece, Spain, Italy, More of Easter Europe)

I spent an amazing extend period travelling around Europe when I was younger but it was what I call a ‘highlights’ tour. I went to the capital cites of each country for 4-5 days and jammed in as many countries into the trip as I could (It was an amazing trip!)

Now I am a little older, wiser, and drink a little less I would love to spend more time exploring each of these countries, and a few more of the cities within them.

nyc

USA & Canada

I head to the USA each year for work and usually try and see a few places before and after the convention. Generally when I head over there for work its to the west coast so there are plenty of cities in the east I would love to get to:

  • Texas
  • NYC (I have been here several times but always looking for a reason to get back)
  • Boston
  • New Orleans
  • Canada (Just the country in general)

Over the next few years I’ll try and knock off as much of this list a possible, but with a baby on the way – wish me luck!

Inbox Zero is Easy

Inbox zero is a concept that many think is not achievable and a great concept but ‘impossible for them to achieve’ These people are either lazy, lying to themselves, and procrastinators (That might all be a little harsh)

Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. According to Mann, zero is not a reference to the number of emails in an inbox; it is “the amount of time a brain is in the inbox.” Mann’s point is time and attention are limited and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers.

Mann identifies five possible actions to take for each message: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

The big advantages of inbox zero to me are:

  • A clean inbox equals a clear, stress free mind
  • Day isn’t ruled by thinking about all those emails you need to get to
  • A clean inbox means everything is either responded to, scheduled, moved on to someone else, or discarded: Organised.
  • Gets things done so you can move onto more important things

Email is something that in the current working environment, is impossible to get rid of completely (even though I know people have tried), so the best we can do is manage it well and not let it control us.

The rules I have for achieving Inbox Zero every day (This should 100% be the goal, not once a week, or every now and then…)

  • Be quick and to the point with replies. It’s very rare that it should take you more than 5 minutes to send or reply to an email. If it does perhaps a phone call is in order?
  • Action emails straight away as much as possible. If you leave it in your inbox to do ‘later’, you are really doing this because you don’t want to reply, your putting it off. Rip the band aid off as soon as you get it.
  • If you can’t or don’t need to respond/action to an email right away, use a tool to flick it back to your inbox at a later date when you will action it appropriately (Use a chrome plugin such as Mailfred or Boomerang)
  • Have good labels setup (And auto labels) in gmail to make finding mail easier (Although the search function is actually pretty good)
  • Unsubscribe from as many email newsletters as possible (Only keep ones that are super important) as these can be big time drains and add to the volume of emails you have

Don’t put it off!

Choose today as your first day of inbox zero, and then just start the habit. You will gain a reputation as someone who responds quickly, and you will escape from the handcuffs of your emails!

Guide to Pubcon for Overseas Visitors

Pubcon8

I now consider myself a Pubcon veteran after attending the last 3 events (Not sure if this has earned me that title, but I’m running with it)

The reason I make the LONG trip from Australia each year, is for the quality of speakers, the people we meet, and the chance it gives us to focus on our SEO knowledge, to improve our product for our customers.

So if you are headed to Pubcon from a far away place like I am, below are some tips that will help to make your trip just that little bit better:

Pack light and load up.

Don’t overdo the packing. You will end up wearing lots less than you actually take, and you can buy anything you need over there (As well as wear some of the swag you get throughout the conference if you run out of clean shirts)

A few t shirts, shorts, dress pants, few shirts, and a jacket will have you pretty much covered for all occasions that arise. The other pro to packing light, is you can then do some shopping to fill those bags on your way home.

Adjust to the time difference as soon as you land.

This is a general travel tip I use everywhere I travel. As soon as you land starting adjusting to the time difference. If you land at 4pm, it’s 4pm so do what you would normally do, and hit the hay at your usual bedtime.
This is the quickest way to adjust on what is sometimes a short trip.

Only pre book accommodation, flights, & conference tickets.

Don’t go crazy with organising every detail, but ensure you have your hotel, & conference pass. Everything else you can wing it once you get there. Shows, tours, dinners, can all be booked easily and often cheaper when you land at the last minute, and you want to allow yourself to go with the Vegas flow.

Keep an eye on twitter for events.

Before and during your trip, stay on top of the Twitter hashtag to ensure you don’t miss out on formal and informal networking events, which are always the highlight of every event.

pubcon-matt-cutts

Network online with people from your own country attending.

Meeting people from all over the world is one of the huge draw cards of Pubcon, but it’s equally as beneficial to networking with your fellow countrymen. These events can often lead to great business partnerships, and long term relationships with people very relevant to your business.

Pubcon generally has a decent attendance from Australia, and we’ve met some great people in the industry that we still catch up with to this day.

Get a Sim Card before you arrive.

This is my personal preference, but a must do for me. Order a US based Sim card before you arrive and have it shipped to you (Plenty of options on ebay). Doing this will be easy (You can have the phone live 10 minutes after you land), and will save you the hassle of hunting down, and signing up in a cell phone store, which can sometimes take over an hour.

Having a working local phone number and data is a massive plus in Vegas as it will allow you to use Google Maps, make bookings, and stay in touch with your new friends, just like back home.

Night-Strip-Tour-by-Gray-Line-Las-Vegas-3

If you forget something, you can get it in Vegas.
Don’t be at all stressed if you forget to pack anything such as clothes, medicines, & toiletries, can all easily be purchased at any of the local CVS stores or drug stores.

If you are flying home on the Thursday night after the last day of the conference, check your bags at concierge in the morning.

I usually give ourselves a few extra days either side to enjoy our trip, but if you are on a deadline and have a late flight on Thursday night, check your bag with the concierge and checkout in the Thursday morning before you head to the last day of the conference.

That way you can enjoy the last day of the conference, the last night networking event, and then have a seamless trip to collect your bags and get to the airport.

Don’t be afraid to take an hour or two off during the day to see some sights.

Not interested in every session block? Don’t worry, it happens. If you have a quiet patch in terms of sessions you would like to attend, don’t feel guilty about taking a few hours out to do some shopping, hit the tables, sit by the pool, or even go see the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. It’s all part of the Vegas experience.

Be prepared for the weather.

If you are coming from colder climates like me, October in Las Vegas is generally the opposite of your current season, nice and warm! With some cooler nights at times so bring shorts, t-shirts, as well as some long sleeves and pants

Grab food when you can…

Pubcon never really stops, and you will be pretty busy the entire time. Don’t forget to grab some food when you can. A quick bite before the conference starts, or a couple of tacos on the way to the next networking event, will ensure you stay on your feet through the day, and long into the night!

The place literally never sleeps, but make sure you do (At least a bit)

The conference runs from 8.30pm till 5pm each day, and to keep up that pace you do need a little bit of sleep. But you’re in Vegas right, so it’s a bit tougher to get to bed early. Just remember pace yourself, and catch some shut eye when you can – you are here to learn!

And a few quick tips:

  • You can drink booze on the street and it’s totally fine (If you are out walking, grab a beer from a local store or CVS to save some money)
  • Carry small change for tips with taxis, drinks, meals
  • If you want to catch a show or visit one of the buffets, visit halftix.com boothes on the strip for a great deal
  • A monorail ticket will set you up for a good week of getting around, and is by far the best way to the LVCC. Other options are taxis (everywhere), and more recently, Uber.
  • Don’t forget your conference pass for the networking events. It’s what will get you in, and acts as a nametag.
  • Stay at a hotel on the monorail. We always stay at the MGM as it’s got a monorail stop inside the casino, which gives us an extra 20-30 minutes sleep each morning.
  • Easiest way to pay for things is on Credit Card, so try and get one without international fees if you can.
  • Avoid taking out cash from the casino ATM’s, they will sting you $5 + for each withdrawal.

I hope this list of tips helps a few of you out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone there in Las Vegas.

Getting Hired

opt

Optimising has grown quite a bit over the previous 12 months, which has meant that I have been involved in recruiting for several positions over this time.

Finding the perfect hire that will both fit the culture and also have the right skills set can be difficult at times, mainly due to the way in which people apply for roles. With a bit little more effort on the applicants behalf will not only make them stand out from the crowd, it will also put the potential employer in a positive mindset when speaking the the candidate.

This blog post should make it easy for potential employees of mine to know EXACTLY how to get a job with me (if candidates are reading this, just follow these golden rules and you are in)

Cover letter & Resume

This is the first point of contact I have a with a candidate, so a great first impression is vital:

  1. PDF
    Resume and cover letter should always be in PDF format. No excuses.
  2. Short and to the point
    When I go through over 50 resumes for a job, if your resume or cover letter is too long, it won’t get read. Make it to the point and relevant. If you fit the bill, I’ll notice.
  3. Nicely formatted
    You don’t need one of those fancy infographic style resumes, or your photo on it, but having a nicely and neatly formatted resume is a must. Make reading your resume a good experience (if that’s even possible!)
  4. Relevant to the job
    Whatever is in the resume or cover letter, ensure that it pertains to the job. I am not interested in the work experience you did at the local footy club canteen when you were 14.

Do I call to follow up a resume?

This is a tough one. I get lots of follow up calls about applications. Now, I am not completely against it as a technique, but if you are going to follow up:

  • Have relevant questions/reason for the follow up call: Don’t just call for a random chat about nothing in particular
  • Keep it short: Everyone is busy – Keep the call short, to the point, and make a good impression.

Interview stage (Phone or in-person)

If you make it to the interview stage you are doing something right! Doing well at the interview stage should not be stressful, as I will already have a positive impression of you in my mind:

  • Show interest in the job and the company
    Do some research on the industry, our company, our clients, and the job. This shows your initiative and genuine interest in working for me.
  • Don’t argue or push your own agenda
    Generally it will not be your job to lose, it’s up to you to show us that you will be the best fit for the job. I am interviewing you (although I do appreciate some questions from candidates)
  • Don’t ask for the following…yet:
    • Hours (eg. can you leave early on Mondays, sometimes I need to take my cat to the vet on Tuesday mornings at 11am…)
    • Holidays you need to take (this is fine, but wait till we get a bit further into the process)
    • Things that may get in the way of your job…(leave drama at the door)

Bonus Tips

  1. Reply to emails fast
    This is one some may not agree with, but prompt replies to emails are pretty important. A reply that takes more than a few hours is a big no-no in my books.
  2. Email Address: Gmail, personal domain, university email only
    This might be a bit fussy, but internet provider emails, hotmail accounts, and email addresses like ilovecats@msn.com don’t scream professional to me.
  3. Be on time to your interview
    No brainer…
  4. If something is asked of you, like to provide documents or answers, make it a priority
    This shows that you the job is a priority and a real focus for you.
  5. Dress for the job
    Check out our website, see what other wear to work, and dress to that level. This will illustrate you already fit in.

Good luck future employees!