Hmmm, you’re in SEO you say. What do you do exactly?

Hmmm, you’re in SEO you say. What do you do exactly?

The scene is familiar – you’re at a social gathering and you’ve started a conversation with some interesting looking people who seem to be enjoying the hospitality as much as you. You begin talking about the relative qualities of Champagne over Prosecco, but when the initial, convivial banter peters out you finally hear the words, “So, what do you do for a living?”

If you’re a police officer, dentist or even a banker, you’re likely to divulge the nature of your work with alacrity and your co-conversationalist is unlikely to need to ask much more. Your job title will provide your new-found friend with a fair idea about what you do. Generally, this information will bring forth a reaction and further comment perhaps; something along the lines of, “Ooh, a banker, eh? So how much did you embezzle in the economic crash? Ha ha ha ha.”

Yes, there are a lot of professions which will receive genuinely stereotypical and rather hackneyed comments – I’m thinking undertakers, gynaecologists, male strippers, that sort of thing. However, my job description always seems to get the same response, or one of two responses to be more exact.

When people ask me what I do, I say I work in SEO and digital marketing – plain and simple. This little nugget typically receives a tilt of the head and a dumbfounded look accompanied by, “Oh!” and a quick change of subject.

Or, the other response is “Oh, what’s that then?”

What is SEO and why do we do it?

Over the years that I’ve worked in pure SEO (search engine optimisation) I have developed a stock answer which goes some way to helping people understand why I write about car insurance, divorce law, building society savings accounts, etc. etc. and, moreover, why I can be found safely ensconced behind my desk at 8am surfing the web – and yes, the boss does know!

So, here is the boiled-down essence of my job that I offer up at dinner parties, client events and kids’ birthday parties (and, for the uninitiated, you get the best Prosecco at a six-year-old’s birthday bash):

“I write content for commercial websites so that when someone Googles a particular product or service, my client’s website will be returned in a high position on the search pages,” I say.

The usual response is “Oh!” again.

Or perhaps, and especially from the not-so-young, “It sounds terribly technical.”

And I generally say, “To do it well? Yes.”


Well, if you really want to know

In most cases I try to give an example of a search term and then how the spiders (yes, the significance of arachnids within the virtual online world does still need explanation to many) decide what to return at the top of the list. And then I try to explain what the spiders do and why savvy companies need to invest in SEO to benefit their online presence.

Gratifyingly, most people don’t even give search a second thought these days, they just take it for granted that if you put in a term – divorce lawyers in Cheltenham for example – that the search engine is going to point them in the direction of a pretty good law firm or, at the very least, a law firm with the business foresight to undertake a Pay Per Click digital marketing campaign.

Then, if my companions are still listening, I will go on.

A successful SEO campaign requires a highly skilled team of experts who know exactly what they’re doing: people who understand algorithms, analytics, keywords, and the importance of market-targeted linking and hierarchical URLs.

The BORN agency not only boasts some of the best SEO and web development minds in the country, but we also provide our clients with a team of experienced writers, social media experts, designers, UX specialists and, not forgetting, our beloved PR department. We know what it takes to create successful websites and we have been in at the start at some of the biggest and most innovative brands in a number of sectors, from car insurance to legal services.

If a conversation allows it, I will happily extol the virtues of organic SEO in relation to adwords (I am after all an SEO writer at heart), and I may even start talking about the role of social media in SEO and outdated notions of what is considered good or bad content. I can happily talk for 20 minutes about the unique challenges faced by online copywriters and why spam on your page is never a good look – ha ha ha!


Oh, I think my wife is waving at me

And by this point, it’s usually time for the other guest to attempt an escape; they will seek out another glass of wine, or perhaps the buffet will be served. And suddenly my new found friends, the teacher and the lawyer, will be moving on to discuss the temperature of the fizz with the estate agent and the insurance broker – because there’s no necessity for explanation when you work in these sectors.

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