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Personal Websites – Why every SEO should have one

John Doherty —  October 30, 2011
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I think that every SEO should develop their own website. I don’t care if it’s an SEO blog, a travel blog, a site about your cat, or a tribute to Metallica.

My argument is:

In order to be a decent SEO and to be able to stay current as SEO becomes more and more technical, you need to have a place to test out ideas that you otherwise may not be able to do on client sites (for ethical or practical reasons, such as making changes yourself/quickly).

You Will Learn New Skills

To be good at SEO, you have to be constantly learning. In our industry, change is the only constant and our work is only getting more complicated, so you need to be at least competent in most areas. By developing and then having your own site, you can learn skills such as:

  • Learning how hosting works and the frustrations that come from it;
  • Implementation of and/or writing code;
  • Appreciating how difficult it is to keep up a website and put up quality content.

Since I have had this website, I have endlessly tinkered around with the CSS and HTML. I’ve learned to better hack PHP (for example, the Social Me widget on the top of my right navbar has been hacked to use the rel=”me” microformat”), learned about site speed and how to increasingly optimize that, learned more about building and maintaining sitemaps, learned how to plan out my architecture and what works and does not. It’s been quite a learning curve, but has ultimately made me much better at my job!

You Will Test New Ideas

If you work with clients, one of the major rubs can be not being able to try out new ideas and strategies on their sites. Often we don’t have direct access to change anything on their sites, and we also do not want to take the chance of something breaking on a client’s site. If you have your own site, however, you have a testing environment.

Since I started this site, I’ve done the following (and much more)

You Will Learn to Explain Complicated Ideas

SEOs often are required to explain complicated topics that we know like the back of our hand to people who know nothing about SEO. Clients often do not understand what a “SERP” or “title tag” is, so we have to learn how to communicate these in coherent ways. What better way to do this than by blogging or maintaining your own site?

I do not care if your site is about SEO, puppies, or cooking. Learning to explain your thoughts and ideas in a coherent, formatted, and concise way will help you out in many areas of life, especially with clients as you put together reports that you want them to use to affect change, not collect dust on their desks.

Personal SEO Sites to Inspire You

A lot of well-known SEOs have their own sites. Some are updated frequently, others not as much, but I bet all of them would say that having their own site has made them better at their jobs.

Here are some that I know of:

Ross Hudgens (rosshudgens.com)
Kate Morris (katemorris.com)
Justin Briggs (justinbriggs.org)
Tom Critchlow (7bks and tomcritchlow.com)
Rand Fishkin (randfishkin.com/blog)

Go. Learn. Have fun. Learn something new every day.

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

4 responses to Personal Websites – Why every SEO should have one

  1. Well I couldn’t agree more with all the points you bring. I’m constantly looking for new ways to get the measures I recommend done. An insight to the client’s challenges helps to understand and adopt your measures. Insight also means technical insight. I don’t think SEO in general is getting more and more technical. Search engines work on having better and smarter bots. Think about it: Does Google want to have the page with the cleanest code #1 or the one with the most precious information on it. I agree with you in all other point

    • Pete –
      Thanks for your comment! I really appreciate it.

      Is your question not one that we can answer? I think Google wants BOTH solid code AND great content. This is why SEO is a challenge! We have to do so much. We can’t just point links and a site will rank. Onsite and offsite are both important. I think we need to learn both. This is why I write on here AND on other sites!

      Thanks so much.

      John

  2. John, I completely agree. If you are in the digital marketing industry in any sort of way, it’s imperative to have your own blog.

    It’s our playground, our laboratory, and our sanctuary,

    It’s MY place. No one else’s. I get to blog for fun, experiment, and work problems out,

    • Thanks for the feedback, Kevin! For example, I just redid this site in the past 2 days and had to hack the theme quite a bit. I’ve learned so much!

      Writing can be so great. I’m glad you enjoy it as well! I’ll be sure to check out your site.