FrustrationFor those of you more interested in SEO techniques, visit our SEO Blog for a relevant article. For those that really want to dig into SEO, either to become an optimizer or build your own in-depth campaigns, stay put.

I’ve dabbled in all aspects of website optimization, from SEO copywriting where I got my start, to understanding web analytics, which is where I’m headed. I’ve butted heads, stared for endless hours at statistics and read endless blogs/articles about every topic I could get my hands on.

If I’d only known what I know now…

Isn’t that always the thought? Once you start digging in, these tips may help make it a little less frustrating for you, and bring a little more fascination into the picture:

1. You have to love SEO. If you don’t at least like it from the start, you’ll quickly learn to hate it. Because of the time involved, hating SEO is the hardest place to be in as an optimizer, webmaster or SEO dabbler. Puzzles, numbers, statistics, writing, marketing – it’s all a part of website optimization. Best part is I surround myself with people who love  it, and don’t mind doing the “grunt” work. I stay with theory and brainstorming… the beauty of working with a great team.

2. You have to ask questions. There’s so much to learn, you can’t possible learn it all without at least a little guidance from your “elders” in the SEO industry. For instance, the SEO Dojo is a great place for learning and asking questions, as well as SEOmoz and SEO Chat. Of course, you can always post your questions here, as well.

3. Take all advice with a grain of salt. The SEO industry is a cocky, all-knowing industry. Each optimizer knows what works for them, and passes this knowledge down as the way to go. No amount of “but this works, too” will change their minds. However, SEO isn’t a “cookie cutter” program. What works well for one site may not work well for another, with a few exceptions.

4. Testing and tracking is vital. When you get advice, test it. Track it. Follow the campaign to find out whether the techniques you’ve implemented work, and then build what does work for your particular site. Don’t completely discard the techniques that don’t work, just put them aside for a different campaign/site. Even when you know a technique works, however, never stop tracking, testing and improving.

5. Download and bookmark everything. If an optimizer offers a download of an Excel file for tracking, take it. If you find a free eBook on SEO do’s and don’ts, take it. If you read a great blog, bookmark it. If you come across a helpful site, bookmark it. Why? One of these days, you’ll think of something you really want to do. You’ll remember that you read how to do it somewhere “…you know… in that… blog… what was it called…” You may miss a fantastic idea just because you couldn’t remember where you found the information and will never be able to find it again.

The key is, don’t give up and don’t get frustrated. If you think SEO is interesting in the first place – interesting enough to dig in and get dirty – you’re already halfway on your way. Next thing you know, you’ll be arguing with optimizers, waving your blogs around and telling everybody the way to optimize.

I love SEO – I like the industry, I like the people, I like the blogs, articles and websites. Despite the remarks above, you just can’t find a nicer set (for the most part) of people, genuinely happy to share what they know with the masses.