For the longest time, I did SEO (search engine optimization) because it seemed like the easiest way to get into digital marketing, especially if you don’t have much prior experience in marketing itself. I used to get annoyed at how long it would take for my efforts to bear fruit on the websites I’d help in the past. It felt like, “why in the world am I writing all this content day after day for businesses, even for people who don’t understand how hard copywriting can be and think they can do everything themselves?”
Well, I’ve had a major epiphany on the matter. I’ve come to realize that I love SEO more than I let on in the past. I used to dismiss my own bread and butter, but now I’m here to tell you why SEO can be one of the most satisfying things you can do in digital marketing. And it’s not about the money. It’s not about the fancy titles you get. It’s not about stroking your own ego and bragging to everyone that you’re a big-shot SEO Manager or Senior SEO Strategist or whatever floats your boat.
I’m talking about genuine passion for the craft. The ability to realize that SEO is a combination of art, data, and science fused together. It’s one of the coolest fields around and can be quite lucrative for a reason. And now I’ve come to understand why.
This field is so much hard work. Here’s why!
Like a Farmer, You Are Planting the Seeds on Various Websites and Solving Problems
I equate SEO to having your own farm. Think about it. There’s so much you have to do when you’re on a farm.
You gotta take care of the livestock.
Feed the chickens.
Plant your crops for this season before winter comes.
Ward off pests and annoying insects that can destroy your crop and make you lose massive sales.
Participate in barn raisings.
Milk the cows so you can have milk to sell on the market.
Slaughter your animals to feed your family and to make a bit of money, too.
And I imagine countless other things I’m yammering about. My parents came from the Dominican Republic, and much of my family still lives in what they call the “campo,” and when I was a kid, I would see how it was done. Those family members lived in a house with many chickens on the farm.
And one of my dad’s friends even has his own ranch out in Winder, where he raises chickens and sheep.
So I think I know enough about farming to make these analogies.
What the Heck Does Any of This Have to Do with SEO? Are You Crazy?
Yes, I am, and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of being able to draw insane analogies in what I do and other stuff in my life. I wrote “content” by the book for over 5 years, and I can finally express my true self and be as creative and outspoken as I want in written form, where I excel. What I may lack sometimes in talking as an introvert, I can make up for loud and clear in my writing, which is why I post as prolifically as I do, so nothing gets lost in translation. I want people to know I’ve been through the mill and have much experience and lessons to teach others. I want to play to my strengths and shine where I’m able to make the most impact instead of trying to be someone else.
Too many SEOs are so trapped in their insular bubble and don’t seem to have any interests or pursuits outside of this field. Well, I want to change that narrative and motivate you to do better.
Your clients and whoever you work with will thank you for understanding the big picture in life and drawing insights from so many other things, including your interests and life experiences. I think this makes you even more valuable of a digital marketer and something companies need to recognize and nurture.
Daily and Monthly SEO Tasks That Are A Lot Like Farming In My Humble Opinion
Like what farmers have to do every day, you also have many responsibilities as a search engine optimization professional. Think about everything you have to do daily:
1. Run site audits to ensure the sites are healthy and don’t have any error codes.
2. Diagnose problems with websites ranging from thin content, duplicate content, and even more serious issues like a complete collapse in traffic.
3. Find solutions to help other business owners get more leads and sales online. I’m going to keep saying this. Stop thinking of yourself as just an SEO. You are a MARKETER, but happen to focus on the organic side of the digital marketing pie. I’m so sick of people with this kind of limited mindset when it comes to this stuff. I’ve had to cut people off in the past for this reason. I have no more patience for nonsense and gimmicks and people who wish to take advantage of others and exploit them, making false promises, etc. I’m telling people the truth here on the blog, whether other SEOs agree with me. I am no longer afraid to speak my mind but respectfully and assertively.
4. Frequently check Google Search Console to see how your impressions and clicks are doing.
5. Also checking your favorite SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Screaming Frog and analyzing the data.
6. Preparing your findings to various stakeholders at the companies you’re helping.
7. Fixing issues with crappy meta titles, meta descriptions, and missing alt text.
8. Fixing more issues with landing pages not working correctly or looking right on mobile.
9. Figuring out the weird intricacies of tools like Google Analytics 4 and reading between the lines to figure out what the heck is going on?!
10. Reading all the latest articles on SEO to keep up to date with all the trends.
11. Learning the latest AI tools to speed up your workflow if you know how to do this correctly.
12. Speaking with clients on a monthly or weekly basis and providing them with valuable insights on what’s going on and what they need to do moving forward. A lot of this can be done through email, but sometimes there are occasions when you need to hop on calls or have company meetings with them. I’ve been through this, too and seen how it’s done at agencies firsthand.
13. Writing whole pages of content yourself sometimes and doing all the keyword research if you started like me as a content writer slowly moving into the other areas of digital marketing.
14. Working with people within the companies who are agency or startup clients. I had deep experience with this when I worked with the kind folks at ARKIVE many years ago. I’m still in touch with the old marketing manager from that time. Her name is Loren Kirkland, and she’s a sweetheart who wished me well recently. I give her a shout-out for being one of the best people I’ve met in this field over the years. And while I’m at it, I’m going to give a shout-out to my old CMO Hilary Murdock for being one of the most supportive, savvy marketers I’ve ever worked with. I am forever grateful for people like this who came into my life and helped me out, and showed me how much true potential I have as a person in this field.
15. I almost forgot this one, but making sure the website speeds are super fast and then doing as much as possible to get them down to under 3 seconds! Been there, done that too and spent hours figuring stuff like this out, especially on more recent projects.
(little fun old commercial to illustrate my point. I feel like I’m cutting the grass, trimming the shrubs, bending over backwards as an SEO Professional for people like this. As you’d expect from the 1950s, it’s outdated, but that jingle is catchy and the animation is excellent. I do NOT endorse these stereotypes, but am using this clip in a fair use, educational manner)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I can probably from the top of my head list at least 10-20 more things we as SEOs do all the time. My point is doesn’t this sound a lot like farming to you?
Look at all the different seemingly unrelated things we have to do to keep websites compliant with Google’s E-E-A-T standards. So much of this stuff seems to have crossover with other areas like creating content, knowing a little bit about web development and design, doing a bit of copywriting, you name it! It’s like a little bit of everything now. Like I’ve explained in a previous post, SEO has evolved into a mishmash of so many different things.
You kinda have to be a bit of a generalist to make it in this field. You can specialize in certain things like writing content and going the content marketing direction, or you can do Local SEO exclusively or work with e-commerce shops. I personally like on-page SEO and local SEO best, but I can write content as well.
It’s just like being a good farmer. You have to understand many different things to keep the business going in the long run. You must know when to plant your crops and how much water to give them.
You must be resilient like a farmer and know how to bounce back from an extreme season of either super hot weather, an extremely rainy season, or a snowstorm that screws everything up for the next six months you’re in business.
The Challenges SEOs Face that Are Akin to Farming
For us, our rainy seasons can include having a drastic fall in traffic or declining keyword growth. Or Google completely changed the game with one of their Core Updates! Thankfully, I haven’t had to worry about this too much since I always operate from the framework that if you understand the fundamentals and have strong knowledge of HubSpot-style inbound marketing, you can survive most algorithm changes anyway.
And this is another thing I’ve always wanted to express my opinion on. I don’t think there’s much of a point getting lost in algorithm update this, algorithm update that, wasting hours of your time you could be spending with your family or having fun just to lose your mind over what Google does each month. It’s just not the most productive use of time, and I’ve had people ask me before why I’m not so obsessed with knowing what the hell BERT is or any of that stuff? I do, but it rarely comes up in conversation when I’m helping people.
That’s not the point of why you’re an SEO. Anyone can memorize algorithm updates and names. You are there to provide value and service for other businesses and people. Results are the only thing that matters, and how you got them. If you can do that and fully explain step by step what you did and why it had the impact it did and formulate a hypothesis like a scientist would, you’re several steps ahead of every other SEO out there.
Be like a long-term investor when it comes to SEO. Stop reading clickbait headlines and Chicken Little-style doom-and-gloom nonsense when it comes to this stuff. It reminds me of all the folks who cry about how the US economy is going to collapse any day now, and it never happens.
Don’t even read half the junk that’s published on online SEO circles, either. Form your own opinions and come to conclusions based on real-world testing and implementation.
Stop falling for all the noise.
And with that said, I think I’ve rambled long enough. These are thoughts and opinions I’ve had for years but finally had the chance to express them.
And no, screw what Yoast SEO says about readability. This is how all my thoughts came out and I want them exactly as I wrote them live.
And with this said, we’ve reached nearly 2000 words without me having to look up a damn thing. Be the farmer of SEO and plant your seeds! Mic drop. Out.