Real Life Optimisation – The SEO’s Motivational Soap Box

Real Life Optimisation – The SEO’s Motivational Soap Box

How do you begin a story again? Oh yeah…Once upon a time, I started my career in internet marketing as what people refer to as an SEO (Search Engine Optimiser). Much like many other disciplines on the internet, regulations (what regulations) and best practices (what best practices) had been embryonic to say the least. The dark, super geek (wanna be cool), acronym filled online forums were the birth placed for what is now (and what I would like to consider) a respected craft.

For those who don’t know what an SEO is, well it’s the guy (or gal…I’ll try to keep this p.c.) who can ‘get you into Google’, in the natural listings, those search results in the middle of the page when you ‘Google’ that holiday to Mauritius or try to get the skinny on your blind date.

So what’s the big deal then? Well every business since the dawn of time has had a cost associated with acquiring a customer, client or a sale. I mean shoot, even when Jesus, I mean Obama was selling himself to the voters, all that campaign money was buying him exposure which indirectly augmented his support (political dude and dudettes please don’t start a fight with me, it’s just an illustration, and literary scholars yes I just made up the femaine for dude, completely aware of back to the point of this ramble)

With SEO, once you’re ‘in Google’ and the search engine returns your website or web page for a query, let’s say ‘cheap mp3 player’ this isn’t something you pay Google for (except the sponsored listings at the top and down the right hand side of the page). However, if you happen to sell those ‘cheap mp3 players’ the searcher is looking for, then guess what, yes you’re on the ball, they may well become a customer and grease your palm with electronic silver. You get the picture…SEO, organic listings, ranking, getting into Google, search engine listings…whatever dirty name you like to call it, is pretty much the golden fleece of internet marketing (arguably second to word of mouth, but hey even if they hear of you by word of mouth but can’t find you in their favourite search engine then what’s the point right – your stuffed!)

Going back to my early days of SEO, it was something that sadly (or not as the geeks would argue) is something I really enjoyed. I consider myself to be one of those people who are both creative and technical at the same time, but to be honest would not really like to go to either extreme. SEO allowed me to both exercise my techie monster and creative muse. Why and how did it do that I hear you ask (at the same time seemingly in stereo)? You see, I like to think of not just SEO but any internet marketing related activity as both an art and a science (ok now get ready for the science bit, just like those shampoo and anti ageing commercials).

“Whilst leaving your website feeling invigorated by the natural rankings, SEO’s advanced formula uses the latest in search engine technologies so you don’t have to”.

In all seriousness though given that SEO is really about directing both the search engines and the searches you’re audience makes (based on Google’s extensive guidelines of course) towards your website and not the competition – it takes both some Tesla and Angelo to get the job done.

Great Julian, great, but what does this have to do with ‘Real Life Optimisation”? Ah Ha well if we rewind 231 words in time, I was reflecting on my early days and falling in love (ahem) with SEO and the challenges it brought. Now, the question is why? What drew me towards SEO, why did I like the balance of art and science it delivered? Sitting comfortably with your instant hot chocolate? Let me tell you a story. As a young boy I was obsessed with two things … art and science. I loved to produce art of all kinds, from those which required a paint brush to those that required a microphone stand (but that’s another story). However, as freeing as my muse allowed me to be, I also loved the strictness of science and technology. The security it gave you in being able to follow a set of instructions (albeit sometimes very complex) to achieve your goal. A thought process where one would troubleshoot in a logical step by step fashion knowing you could come up with a solution based on an overall understanding of that science or technology. Sure it wasn’t entirely cast in stone, but providing you knew the principles involved you had a fighting chance.

This became ingrained in me, with almost everything that I did. I was not even 10 years old when I would ‘optimise’ the living room when my relatives would come over. Or ‘optimise’ my computer games or 12”collection of Electro, Beat Street, 3rd Base and Demon Boyz (what happened to them) vinyl. I would regularly re-arrange the living room until it worked ‘just right’ as a living space not just looked right. Sorry, what’s that you said?

Oh you think I mean tidy up, keep organised, well presented and clean. Yeah it sounds like that, but nope I was “optimising”

Definition (time)
optimize –verb (used with object)
1. to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible.
2. to make the best of.

I realise now that I was subconsciously making sure that every area of my life (then only physical but now mentally and spiritually) was optimised for the task it was designed for. Goddamn it if my living room was a place of relaxation then I was gonna make sure it did that task optimally! It hit me one day last year as I was (for the 100th time) clearing the clutter from my live/work space and I realised that the same way I run my home is the same way I run my clients web projects and marketing strategies. 

The attention to detail, knowing where things should be, putting everything in the right place, never losing anything, scrutinising the space everything took up and asking that glass, piece of dust, item of furniture – why are you there?, should you be there?, are you better off somewhere else?, how well do you perform your function? Hey, justify your existence or you’re outta here buddy!

It’s the same thought process I take when optimising websites or marketing campaigns and be it O.C.D or the genes from my mother’s similarly over-organised self; it’s something which has provided me with a purpose in life and in business. Here is the suggestion dear reader; don’t just optimise to your website or your marketing, but your business, your life, your family, your relationships, your spirit and soul. Why? Because deep down well all want to be in that place that gives us the edge over everyone else, that place where we are the best, or at least one of them. That place where you just know you’re a bad mother (shut yo’ mouth). However dear reader, what prevents us from getting there is the same things that prevent my clients from getting into Google. Things are out of place and some things just shouldn’t be there at all – blocking the way, blocking the flow.

All it takes is a number of well adjusted tweaks…and viola! Remember in those old kung fu movies where the students would get their ass kicked in the masters absence, then when he returned would simply poke a few pressure points on the wounded and as if by magic they we’re right as rain. I’ve realised that for most of us, that’s all we need. No, no, no, I’m not the master, you are! The only caveat is that; is that you are (9 times out of 10) the only one who can solve that problem (not reality T.V). In the same way people complain about their businesses when almost all the time their a few tweaks and recommendations from that expensive consultant you hired a lot of the time solves the problem.

So in summary dear reader, business is life and there is certainly the business of life to which we must all attend. Optimise your life or trust me someone will do it for you, be it your life partner, your parents, your boss or your enemies! (Cue Boris Karloff). Now in case this all seems a little too idealistic, I mean I’m not suggesting you attain perfection (that’s far too philosophical for this article) however you can take the positives out of that super anally organised “American Psycho” character (you gotta love Christian Bale!) without the killing spree of course.

So remember optimise or be optimised! Don’t say I didn’t tell ya!

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