Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to SEO: what's in a name?

SEO is like a rollecoaster ride, everybody is on a steep learning curve.
Expertise comes and goes at the beat of an algorithm

Hello fellow surfer,
I wanted to call this blog SEO 4 Stupid but had to bow to optimization rules and choose the search friendly How to SEO. If, like me, you are an ex print journalist, you will get my drift - the internet is not “puntastic” (certainly not in titles, crossheads and image tagging, thank-you-very-much).

Web surfers search using simple, plain words. If you are looking for a restaurant that serves good food, you are more likely to use plain English (aka good restaurants in Milan), you are not going to type “mouthwatering meals in Milan”, unless you are pretty weird and like alliterations too much for your own good. But hang on, I did just that and got a mixed bag with mouth watering and mouth-watering and mouthwatering used all randomly (the subeditor in me curled up and died there). Predictably the search “good restaurants in Milan” yielded better websites, so there you are, just ignore those voices in your head and you will be fine.

Who runs How to SEO?
I'm an ex stupid (I hope), ex digital dummy, ex technosaurus.... call me what you like. For byte sake, I grew up using a typewriter, got my first PC at 29, started in journalism when there was no internet... Yes we used encyclopedias and the humble phone for fact-checking back then.

Basically I’m old compared to many surfers, but not past it. I started dabbling online around the time of the millennium bug (what happened to that, eh?) with a website hosted on the old trusty Geocities (RIP) called London Cheapskate (RIP and Amen). I became a blogger in 2005 and totally embraced digital in 2008. Why? Because I was a print journalist, the recession came and I had to do something else. So in 2008 I designed my own website altering a template. I spent less than £40 on it but hours of toil to learn how to optimize it, though. I wrote an article about the process for an US site in early 2011 ( A lot of things have changed SEOwise since then, but the basic advice still stands.

What are my credentials?
I’m self taught. I do have a degree but it has nothing to do with SEO (don’t judge, the internet wasn’t there, at least not for public consumption). I could say that I’m an alumni of the University of Google. I have found heaps of useful free tutorials and learnt a lot in the past four years. I learnt on-the-job too, having worked on digital marketing/advertising campaigns, run blogs and written digital features for online publications.

So here is a public thankyou for all the generous techies who share their expertise on the web. I learnt nearly everything I know from you. SEO is a fast moving, slippery to grasp, rollercoaster ride, so you can say I’m still learning – whoever tells you they know everything about SEO is lying. Nobody knows what will happen next, which social media tools will grab surfers' fancy (Pinterest now and perhaps troubled Yahoo’s Pipes later?), what piece of software will revolutionise web use – except tech innovators, of course. Sadly I’m not one and, like the hamster, my wheel is spinning faster to catch up.

Content is king, so what?
Finally! A marketing conference in London backed what all us scribblers already knew, that good copy is crucial for SEO. All those link builders and key stuffers got their fingers burnt when Google launched the Panda and Penguin updates. I have no sympathy for content farms, people who talk about SEO like it’s a dark art or self-styled SEO experts. How can you be an expert of something that moves at such a fast pace! Not even Socrates claimed he knew it all (being a classical Greek philosopher he was talking of knowledge rather than the web). So I do hope those dodgy link builders are being dodged and the key stuffers are getting stuffed.

Optimize to capitalise
So you have great content to offer your readers, what now? That’s where this blog comes in, explaining what SEO is and what it can do for you. I will share what I learnt and showcase really helpful articles (no mumbo jambo here) that explain in plain words what SEO is all about. I have started on a smaller scale on Twitter with my #TweetsforSEO, so follow @simonecas to nab those if your attention span is limited to 140 characters. I will be writing simple posts here but also throw in advanced stuff here and there. I will signpost these with a DEEP END WARNING. So if you are just starting out as a surfing SEOer, you can easily skip those hints till you are ready.

Disclaimer: Everybody is a SEO learner, myself included. I don’t know it all (my partner might disagree, but let’s not have a domestic here). So please comment if I get the wrong end of the stick and/or you have some great tips to share. If I had to tag myself, here are my keywords: SEO copywriter, marketing copywriter, journalist, editor, writer, newsletter designer. If you want to know more, visit

P.S. I hope you join in so I'm not talking to my monitor or, worse still, have another conversation with the voices in my head.

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