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How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love SEO

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Before starting at QueryClick I thought SEO was nonsense. I assumed that it was surely “just chucking in a bunch of tags” and “not putting in hidden text or spammy links at the bottom of the page”.

Before I go any further, I’d like to say I am no longer of that opinion. To prove it, I’ve launched a new site, which I’ll go into more detail about at the end of this post. But let’s just briefly consider my initial misconceptions about SEO.

I think most designers who haven’t had any experience of proper SEO work would feel the same way about it. In fact, not just designers. I expect a huge range of people who might benefit from a bit of SEO knowledge would be in the same boat. A boat with no paddles, adrift on a sea of rumours trying to chart the depths with a vague hand-drawn map of Basingstoke. That’s what it can feel like.


I’ll let you in on a secret. When I started at QueryClick everything I knew about SEO was pretty much nonsense. In my interview Chris (big boss) asked me what I knew, and despite being able to explain that I saw its benefits, I was really just going on what I’d frantically studied on the QueryClick website for the couple of days before we met.

Luckily, I wasn’t going for a position that required extensive knowledge of search marketing.

That said, since I started work here I have slowly but surely come to realise that the benefits of SEO stretch far beyond “just getting your site to the top in Google”. The knowledge and titbits I’ve picked up through internal training, meetings, whiteboard-Friday sessions, chatting with colleagues and asking my own (often stupid and sometimes even irrelevant) questions have made me realise some important things about search marketing:

It’s not a mystery or magic

It’s all grounded in fact and best practice. There are a good number of rules and instructions to follow that will do wonders to your website. No slight of hand.

It genuinely makes a difference

It took a good bit of convincing, but there are vast swathes of results that prove the value of search marketing. The proof is in that delicious pudding my friend.

Combined with good design and build work, it’s a force to be reckoned with

Being able to design and build a site is one thing, but fire all the juicy SEO knowledge into the process (from the very start through to ongoing SEO once the site’s been launched) and you’re basically unbeatable.

So now, instead of being the foolish schmuck who scoffs at the oft-ridiculed acronym, I’m the guy who’s trying to explain to people that SEO has real benefits. It’s not mumbo-jumbo, it’s not rocket science and for those willing to let down their guard for a minute, it’s a very good idea to embrace it.

Which brings me to my lovely new project.

Born out of a great frustration with the bad rep that SEO gets, I wanted to devise a way to make it easier to get into. I want people to realise that there’s no complex or underhand magic they need to employ to get their site ranking well and performing in Google. There’s no requirement to start dabbling in the occult, and there’s really no need to start nerding-out over the latest Google blog post about ranking factors.

It’s way easier than that.

And so I present to you “How To Do SEO – A Simple Starter Guide. (Plus handy FAQ)

It’s (as it says on the site) a simple language, easy to follow, basic starter guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

It’s free advice for goodness sake. Why on earth would you *not* want to check it out. It’s your first stop for SEO tips.

Not only that, but I’ve pretty much pledged to answer your questions about SEO (with help from the experts here at QC). So if you’re wondering if hidden text is possible when there are image replacement techniques in place, or if tabbed pages are a good way to present content, look no further. I GOT YOU BRO.

Go check it out. I’ll wait.

I’ll wait as you dance gleefully round the room and rejoyce in the fact that finally somebody had the sense to put all the proper advice in one place, and not fill your brain with rumours or speculation. Tell your friends, tell your family, shout it from the rooftops.

And then say with me, all together, like a cringe-worthy sales closer from a website where you’d have to pay hundreds for this free advice: “I have harnessed the power of SEO, and I’m ready to make it work for me!”.

Bam. There you go.

…You’re welcome!

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Alex Cowles

About The Author: Alex Cowles

A largely cynical and often sarcastic designer and front-end developer by day. Unknown international DJ & music producer extraordinaire by night (and at weekends). You probably won't like him.