The last few months have been pretty busy for me. I’ve been doing Kate Toon’s recipe for SEO Success e-course. It’s a comprehensive online SEO course that teaches you how to optimise your site for search engines. Basically – how you get to the first page in Google.
 
I’ve known about the basics of SEO from an editorial perspective for a while now. I was in the search team at Yahoo7 and was the product manager on Yahoo7 Answers. At the time I was there (circa 2008), Yahoo7 Answers did really well in google and Yahoo search results. As product manager, we knew all about front-loading keywords to get our questions to rank higher.
 
A few years later, I jumped back into editorial and managed the frontpage and local News teams at Yahoo7. As one of the more senior editorial members, I even did workshops on SEO for the newbies to the company. In 2013 I really knew my stuff!
 
Yet, over the last few years, it felt like SEO had changed a lot. I tried to read up on it, but there was so much information and I felt a bit overwhelmed. If I wanted to run my own copywriting and freelance journalism business, I knew I needed to upskill.
 
I chose to do Kate’s Recipe for SEO Success course because everyone I know who has done it raved about it. I liked the fact that it was all online but there was lots of conference call and Facebook group support. The wait list approach worked well too and the fact that her previous courses sold out in 12 hours. Scarcity works wonders for getting people to act!
 
I knew I’d learn all about search engine optimisation from this course. Afterall, that’s what I signed up for! But, there were a few things I learned that I completely didn’t expect.

Learning 1 – What’s my unique selling proposition?

One of the first things we looked at was defining our unique selling proposition or USP. This is probably marketing 101. However, I didn’t study business, I studied journalism. When you marketing types were learning these useful skills, I was finding ways to write 800 words about my train journey. (True story, I still have that essay somewhere).
 
So my first lesson was to work out why I am different from all the other copywriters out there. After all, if I don’t know what makes me special, how is my audience going to know? I found this pretty difficult actually. It forced me to look at my experience in a new way and question what it is I want to offer. 
My USP is that I have journalism knowledge backed up with PR experience and digital editing experience. My breaking news experience means I write really fast and I know what people click on. Plus I get along with most people. Everyone wants to work with friendly people, right?!

Lesson 2 – SEO isn’t an overnight fix

One of the first things we learned in this SEO course is that we won’t see changes right away. Making a few tweaks to our website, optimising a few keywords and rewriting a bit of copy won’t have much of an impact right away. It can take months.

 

However, I have noticed a bit of difference already. At the beginning, my site wasn’t optimised at all (obviously, it didn’t really exist). In the last few months, Google has optimised it for hundreds of keywords. Admittedly, none of it is showing up on the first page yet but it’s still early days. There are lots more I need to do and I know that it might still take some time for my site to throw Kate Toon from her number one perch (ha I’m dreaming!).

 

Lesson 3 – There’s lots more to SEO than keywords.

Optimising for keywords is one thing, but you need to make sure your site is fast, mobile responsive and works properly. Once that’s all done, we were introduced to this nifty tool – Moz’s open site explorer. It shows you how much authority your site has. You get this authority thanks to links from other sites. I knew the basics of it but didn’t realise there was an actual way to see your own authority.
 
Considering I haven’t done much work on my site, my authority isn’t too bad. I’ve written for a few big players like SBS, Kidspot and Mamamia and they’ve linked back to my site. However, I know what I need to work on now – getting more of this backlink juice to build my authority.

Learning 4 – I’m a major nerd

I realised pretty early on that my cobbled together wordpress.com portfolio page wasn’t going to cut it. I needed a website I could customise, so I set up a self-hosted website with wordpress.org. I followed this free ‘WordPress in a day’ course to set up the basics. Hint: it was a great course but it took much longer than a day…
 
I bought the divi theme then downloaded the free copywriter layout pack. From there, I used it as a basic template to set up my website. I visited a lot of other sites and worked out which elements I wanted to include.
 
But, while I was in the midst of setting it up, I was OBSESSED. One night, I pondered whether to watch an episode of ‘This is Us’ or go back to my computer to work on my site. And I chose my computer.
 
WHO EVEN AM I???
 
A nerd, that’s who. I love problem-solving and building my website has allowed me to combine this side of my brain with my creative side. It’s still a work in progress, there will always be pages I want to add and more I want to optimise for search engines. But I’m pretty proud of the progress I’ve made in my 8 weeks.

Learning 5 – There is so much more to learn

It’s become obvious to me that there is so much more I can learn. But that’s life, right? No one knows everything so we’re all pretending to be as knowledgeable as possible with the time we have. 
I feel like this SEO course has given me a good handle on search engine optimisation. Although there are about a hundred other courses I want to do, I’m excited about the plethora of podcasts, newsletters and webinar I’ve signed up to. Online learning has definitely reignited the fire in my belly and I’m excited about the next step!
 

1 Comment

  1. Janet Camilleri

    I haven’t done Kate’s course – gained my knowledge before I came across her – but I have to agree that SEO is addictive!

    Reply

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