Our technical SEO consultant, Doug shares his career progression story from joining Yard as a graduate in the digital PR team to specialising in technical SEO.
Graduating to the world of work
Soon after graduating from University, I decided that my future lay in PR, despite studying History. PR had been regularly discussed and promoted at graduate events and I secured myself a month-long internship with a PR company.
I quickly realised the immense power of digital platforms when one of the stories I had worked on was first published by an exclusively digital publisher. It quickly gained coverage across broadcast, national and regional print as well as being picked up abroad.
As a direct result of this experience, I began looking into Digital PR roles and quickly discovered Yard. What appealed to me most about Yard was the unique Yardie culture and joined the next week as a Digital PR Executive within the Outreach/Digital PR team. However, while I had smugly claimed to have good knowledge of SEO (after all I’d uploaded a few ‘SEO-friendly’ blog posts during my internship) I had only scratched the surface of the ever-changing and evolving world of SEO.
Beginners guide to SEO
My initial role was largely focused around Outreach, the process of creating content campaigns and pitching these campaigns to relevant publications and blogs. While separate from traditional PR it has many of the same aims; gaining coverage and building awareness of the brand and their products.
Outreach campaigns also focus largely on link-building. High-quality relevant links are one of the fundamental aspects of SEO, as a healthy backlink profile will help improve a site’s authority.
In essence, a link to an external site says ‘these guys have created something you should check out’ it doesn’t matter whether it’s a new product or a swanky new marketing campaign, each link counts.
An education in creative writing
A key part of the role was sourcing and vetting high-quality content creators then working with them to create lasting relationships. For any content and outreach strategy to be a success, it’s vital to understand the unique needs of each client in order to create the type of content that is relevant to the client’s unique customer base. This is where our Content team comes in. As part of our collaborative outreach approach, there has always been an open invitation to creative brainstorming sessions where everyone is encouraged to pitch their own ideas for future campaigns.
Additionally, as part of my training and development, I was also involved in writing onsite content for clients. This meant completely reworking my writing style and encouraging my creative side to come out of its shell.
This was largely helped by the daily barrage of questions I had for my colleagues who helped me tweak my initial drafts into engaging copy. During this period I was lucky enough to be involved in ROX’s Art of Luxury Watchmaking which won Best Use of Content at the 2018 Drum Search Awards. Giving me an excuse to get fully kilted up!
Things started to get technical…SEO
Spotted for my Excel skills, I was given the responsibility of pulling together outreach audits to measure the success of each campaign. This auditing process was further improved when I helped the team migrate to a new outreach platform which allowed us to outreach faster and more efficiently.
While my day to day focus was on outreach, I also received my Google Analytics qualification and expert training in using Adobe Analytics. This allowed me to take on other reporting duties and see the wider impact of our outreach efforts on increasing organic traffic.
I’d also had a small taster of what technical SEO involved, helping out with on the odd project here and there so jumped at the opportunity to move into the tech SEO team. I had no idea what I was about to take on. To ease me in, Yard gave me the opportunity to have both my cake and eat it and let me split my time between the two roles.
Officially graduating as a techie
After just a few months of learning from Scott (our SEO guru) I’d gained knowledge in comprehensive keyword research, technical audits, website migrations, onsite optimisation, site architecture and so much more. Having dipped my toes into technical SEO I was ready to take the dive and became a permanent member of the team.
I’ve now been in the technical team for almost two years (time flies) and in fact, each day is still varied and throws up new challenges. No two sites are the same! As my confidence in technical SEO has grown, I’ve been trusted with taking on more responsibility, larger projects and developing innovative solutions. However, technical SEO in a silo can’t achieve results, fortunately I continue to work closely with the content, digital PR and Data Analytics teams, to constantly review and report on how our work combines to create brand success.
Commitment to learning
In order to get me up to speed with the latest SEO trends, Yard has also supported me in attending both Brighton SEO and Search Elite. Alongside this, I’ve represented Yard at Search LDN 8th Birthday and attended several local networking events.
As part of my continuous training and development, I’ve also been studying for my Certified Digital Marketing Professional qualification, supported by our dedicated trainers Andragogy.
Along with my development within digital marketing, I’ve also attended Kirtsy Hulse’s confidence and communication workshops where I was challenged to rethink my preconceived thoughts about effective communication and what it means to be confident. With this renewed vision and clear personal and business goals now in place for the next year, all I can say is watch this space.
Even Scott’s scarily accurate forecasts can’t predict what the future holds for my career or Yard. At the start of 2018, I wouldn’t have predicted my move into technical SEO and further away from where I previously believed my strengths lay.
It’s thanks to the willingness of Yard to support their staff in trying new things that I’ve forged a career where I’m encouraged to discover new skills, where I’m constantly being challenged and working on exciting new projects.
Indeed, Yard’s trust in their staff to provide cutting-edge solutions, their commitment to ensuring every client has brand success and willingness to help their staff develop, means that I know neither myself or Yard will be standing still.