Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankees catcher, once said that "Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical." Do you ever feel like you spend 90% of your time researching SEO and the other half implementing it? I know I do! It often seems like there are not enough hours in the day, and there are times when I find myself struggling with a seemingly infinite a SEO strategies "required" to get my client to the top of the SERP heap.
On such occasions, I've learned a few techniques that have helped to lower my anxiety and maximize results – as in finishing what I started. This isn't a how-to article about the steps involved in successful SEO marketing, but rather a "study guide" on how go about your day-to-day SEO activities. Specifically, how to get your SEO work done with the least amount of anxiety and stress possible.
Reintroduce Yourself to SEO
Brittany Muller just rewrote Moz's beginner's guide to SEO. It's a good read, not only for beginners, but for experienced pros alike. Read it! It may teach you something new, and it will certainly help reintroduce you to important concepts you know but lost sight of over time. Now bookmark the link and re-read the article occasionally, maybe once per month or before you start a new project. You'll stay better-focused at the task at hand and find yourself more fluent when talking SEO to your clients.
Identify the Task
Ask yourself as often and in as many ways as possible, "What am I trying to accomplish?" (This is not the same as asking your client their goals.) Continue to do this as you expand on the task at hand. You may find that the answer changes over time, and that's great! Performing this simple exercise will allow you to "own the task". Owning the task provides focus and focus affords better and faster results.
Start with What You Know
By now you should have an SEO checklist of the general items you need to carry out for any project. Don't have one? Rand Fishkin, one of my favorite SEO gurus, has recently created a 9-point checklist for how to rank in 2018. Watch the video, copy the checklist, then use it and make it better! I have a great checklist that I've cultivated over time to make uniquely my own. Do the same and your checklist will become one of the most valued items in your toolkit; a virtual life-preserver when the SEO waters around you get rough!
Conservatively speaking, I search the web at least 50 times a day. The more I learn the more I realize I have plenty left to learn. If you are fuzzy on something, instead of traipsing through it half-brained, take a breath and do a little research first. As SEO professionals, we are constantly "in training" and should be working to increase our knowledge and perfect our discipline every day.
Don't "one and done" your information gathering. Take the time to read from a few sources. This will help you to:
- Weed out any poor advice.
- Avoid a narrow-minded view by engaging in a wider range of ideas.
- Help your brain absorb new information by ingesting it from several different formats.
Don't Let Perfection Kill the Good
Growing up, I didn't have to study much to get decent grades, so I didn't study much. Mrs. Parks, my 12-grade English teacher, put an abrupt end to my poor study habits. I remember receiving a "D" on the first paper I submitted. Boy was I angry. My teacher met my resulting inquisition simply with, "You can do better." Then, "You can always get an 'A' in my class, just keep revising your work. Revise, revise, revise!"
I learned a lot from my experiences with Mrs. Parks, but my biggest takeaway was that it's OK to do the best I can and now and then work to improve over time. Things in life are rarely perfect and we humans make mistakes. SEO offers the opportunity to recheck our work and make improvements over time. Remember, SEO is a journey, not a destination.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
That doesn't mean that you shouldn't pay attention to detail. The best SEO strategists are incredibly detailed-oriented, as required by the job. What I'm saying here is that it's OK to take a break, have a nap, go for a walk, or just do nothing for a while. Above all, stop worrying! Agonize over your work and it's guaranteed to suffer. A relaxed mind is a productive mind. If you can't have fun in your career, perhaps you should find another. Life is too short to worry.
Speaking for myself, I can say that learning how to relax and practicing relaxation on a daily basis has helped me become more productive while at the same time reducing stress. If you've never consciously tried to relax, you may find it difficult to start. Life Hacker offers some good advice on learning how to relax. Take few moments to read the article.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope you've found something helpful in this article. I enjoyed writing it. In conclusion, you can help yourself excel and be happy at SEO marketing by following some simple rules:
- Occasionally review the basics of SEO.
- Always have an intimate knowledge of the task at hand. Work to refine this knowledge as the task progresses.
- Start with what you know and expand from there.
- Continue to learn and relearn SEO.
- "Don't let the perfection kill the good." Are you moving forward at a reasonable rate? Remember that you can check and revise your work later.
- Master the art of relaxation.
- Have some fun at what you do. Work doesn't have to be miserable.