Yesterday my good friend Jill Whalen posted her last High Rankings Advisor newsletter and is headed for greener pastures — literally. She’s now writing a blog about healthy living as well as all the spiritual changes she’s made in her life.
I made my first acquaintance with Jill way back in 2002 or something like that when I attended my first SEO conference in Canada. Jill was the SEO QUEEN. I watched her walk out of her packed SEO session with Shari Thurow (another SEO and usability goddess) and could only think, “Wow. To be that knowledgable and successful.”
Because I was a total newbie and completely unknown — except to maybe my 357 newsletter subscribers — I hung back in the crowd, too shy to introduce myself.
I had fallen into SEO by accident when this guy, Chris Jaeger, (who became a client and then a good friend) called me to say, “I found your website by accident. Did you know it’s not optimized?” and I replied, “What in the hell is that?”
Chris introduced me to Overture (precursor to AdWords) — and within three months, I was reeling in traffic — and gigs! — because with Overture I learned that no one was searching for “freelance copywriter” (which is what I called myself at the time) but lots and lots of people were searching for “marcom copywriter.”
It was an OMG! moment.
So I stumbled through learning SEO — the hard way. Everything I learned, I taught myself — including simple coding so that I could make my own HTML changes. I read books and learned all kinds of terms and coding tricks that made my eyes glaze over.
As I learned more and began seeing results with my own site, I started selling “SEO copywriting.” One day, a Fortune 500 prospect I had been courting for three years called and said, “I’ve been getting your newsletter and can tell I need to hire you. I just opened a PO for $45K. Is that enough to do SEO on our site?”
Cough, cough, cough. Let me sit down while I have a small heart attack.
“Yes,” I calmly replied, “that should be plenty.”
SEO has gone through so many changes since I first started practicing it in 2002. I’ll never forget the day I was sitting in a session at another SEO conference a couple of years later and Danny Sullivan said, “Content will be king. Content is what will drive search. Case studies, white papers, reports. Words. Content.”
I almost jumped up right there and said “OH OH OH! Pick me! Pick me!” Content — why he was singing my song.
And so, content became king. Now we have content diarrhea.
A couple of days ago, Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting posted a presentation on Google+ about how Google wants you think strategically — not just about SEO, but about marketing — and maybe even content. (You can see the presentation on SlideShare.)
Strategic. That’s a word that gets flung around quite a bit — but what exactly does it mean?
Here’s what it means: it means you have to start thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It means you have to take your customers into account when you do marketing.
For a long time now, I’ve been watching the changes taking place online. I don’t write about them much because plenty of other people — who are much smarter and much more well-connected than I — can give you a whole lot more insight.
But while I don’t comment too much on what’s happening, I’m certainly paying attention because I want to give the best counsel I can to my clients.
When I saw Eric Enge’s presentation, I said, “Yep. Bingo.”
His advice is exactly the advice I’ve been giving small business owners for the last year or so.
Be an expert at something.
Help others by communicating your expertise.
Ask people what they need and then give it to them.
Create a usable and functional — and dare I say it? UNIQUE — site that sets you apart from the thousands of other boring, bland and blah sites.
Build your own community — whether it’s 200 people or 20,000 people — and promote them and you through a good blog and social media.
None of this is rocket science.
With Jill opening up about her life changes yesterday, I realized that it’s time for me to come clean with my own.
For the last two years I’ve been on an intense personal journey and have made huge changes in my personal life. Some of them you can see reflected on this site.
But the one change I haven’t made — that I’ve wanted to make for a very long time — is to speak up more about marketing and to share my ideas.
Now that Google is putting big value on the “strategic,” I can see my time has come. That’s because “strategic” is all I’ve ever done.
So, to put my money where my mouth is, and because Jill said, “Just do it, Dianna,” I’ve got two downloads for you.
And, two, you can read the first couple of chapters of a book I’m working on — working title: “My Website Isn’t Getting Any Leads!” — about how to create a Website for your small business that brings in business for you.
There, now I have to finish it. It’s been on my to-do list for five years.
Jill, good luck with your journey. Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration to women — and to me — all these years. I’m honored to call you a good friend — and I can’t wait to see where you go with your new direction.