Web design was a big part of my past history as a writer. My first job was working as Online Editor at Saturday Night magazine back in 2000 before Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was really a thing. Search engines were barely a thing (Lycos anyone? HotBot?)
I also designed over 35 web sites for other writers in an earlier phase of my business, before I decided to focus exclusively on my favourite skills of writing and editing. I taught myself HTML using that bible HTML for Dummies, started coding in notepad, and eventually adopted Dreamweaver as my tool of choice.
Before tools like WordPress, clients used to ask me all the time how they could update their sites themselves, and there were few answers back then.
I also used to try and educate clients about a little something called SEO, which helps search engines better find and list your web site. When I was building sites, few people cared about SEO. Now everyone knows about it.
The last time I wrote a post about SEO a couple of years ago, I started by this point to give some advice and best practices. I thought I still had knowledge to share. Then this past year, I attended a seminar on SEO, as a refresher I thought. Not so. Turns out, everything’s changed.
Okay, not everything. But most things. In my day (said the reeling oldster), elements like metatag keywords were the highest priority. Now I learn they’re hardly relevant anymore. The nice-to-have title and image tags are now essential, and analytics is where it’s at (I had gathered that, but my eyes were opened in terms of what to pay attention to).
Keyworded content is still a thing, but you must be careful there too, to balance engaging writing with your SEO aims.
Some things do remain the same: Google is still queen. But no tricks to fool Queen Google, she’ll find out.
Ditto, I think, the fact that SEO is a starting point, not the end. I’d always stood by the idea that a website is nothing without promotion, these days via social media, but also, I think through your email signature, and even the humble business card.
And keep your knowledge up to date by attending a seminar occasionally, so you’re not spreading around five-years-old advice in appropriately.