Hindsight is 20-20: How My View of SEO Changed During My Internship

Molly Bier June 5, 2014 Category Intern Blog Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Coming in as an SEO & Social Media Intern at Path, I was not a marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination.  I did, however, begin with a certain view and understanding of what I thought SEO was.  During my internship at Path, I have gotten a much more in depth and mature understanding of what SEO is and what techniques and practices are necessary to carry out a successful strategy.

It’s Not All About Rankings

Before beginning my internship at Path, when I thought SEO – I thought rankings. My view was simple: if you’re ranking on the first page for a keyword, then your SEO strategy was successful. Although ranking on the first page of a search engine certainly is a good indicator that you’re doing something right, it doesn’t mean that if you’re on the second or third then all of your efforts have been for nothing. Looking at other key factors such as quickly rising keywords can be hopeful signs that your strategy is working. It’s still important to remind myself that SEO is a long-term relationship: the small things you do today will be incredibly positive and beneficial in the future.

Big Brand Name Doesn’t Necessarily Mean High Rank

I used to assume large companies would most definitely going to rank highly in the SERPs simply because the strength of the brand and it being a household name.  What I’ve found is that this certainly isn’t always the case!  Even large companies like Costco that have thousands of products and SKUs can fall behind in rankings.  I imagined that Costco would rank within at least the first page for a basic keyword like ‘buy food in bulk’ however, much to my surprise the Costco website does not show up on the first page of Google for this keyword…or the second page…or the third.  What do appear in the search results are websites like Amazon, Allbulkfoods.com, and Dollar Days.  Clearly, Costco needs to step up their SEO strategy if they want to gain a stronger online presence.

Your Strategy Must Be Flexible

The original view I had on SEO strategy was that you decided on your keywords and target audience, put your tasks into action and kept working until you saw results.  What I’ve found is that an SEO strategy can never be set in stone.  If one tactic isn’t working, you must be ready to re-evaluate and adjust accordingly.  Many variables can affect your approach so strategists must be privy to industry news, updates in search engine algorithms, and the changing behavior of how users are searching.

Keeping Up In a Rapidly Changing Space 

Although I’ve learned so much in my time with Path my biggest “take-away” so to speak is that SEO and the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving.  Where once we thought short tail keywords were sufficient in capturing our audience, it now is increasingly evident that users are moving towards more specific long-tail phrases.  Even tactics like off-site article posting that we used just three months ago in our strategy are now being phased out.

With so many moving parts and variables, I’ve found that the world of SEO is much more of an art than a science.  Where one tactic may work wonders for one site, you may come up short with another. I’m sure my view of SEO even 6 months from now will be even more complex and different than it is now.  I look forward to what more I have to learn in the months to come and the challenges we will all tackle in the digital space in years to come – I just hope I can keep up!

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