Nerding Out: My First SEO “Eureka” Moment

Event tracking success

Have you ever gotten that nagging feeling–deep in the pit of your stomach–that someone, somewhere has developed a more efficient way of handling a time-consuming task than you?

Have you ever read something, only to come away from it convinced that it could apply to your everyday tasks– but lack a specific ability to implement it?

So is the existence of a newbie SEO/SEM professional. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a fascinating article, only to be left bewildered or perhaps utterly confused as to how on earth I am supposed to apply its “simple” steps to my own work.

Although this is my typical frustration with areas that are new to me, something about my dilemma last week felt different. Somehow, things were starting to seem a little clearerIn my earlier posts, I’ve talked about how the world of SEO/SEM is an entirely different culture in and of itself. And despite my love of culture, I’ve never had much of a knack (OK, none!) for other languages. Unfortunately for me, SEO definitely comes with its own lingo.

Earlier this week, I was given the task of writing code for PDF event tracking through Google Analytics. Simple enough, right? Although it was great to start doing anything with coding on my own, it was a little daunting at first. Once I got the system down, I began to realize just how time-consuming this process truly is. I thought “What if we want to track PDF downloads for a website that has 100 PDFs? Do I literally have to write event tracking code for EVERY single one of them?”

That question was what lead me to my new, most favorite article of all-time. Basically, the author is a genius and figured out how to implement a script to automatically pull PDF downloads into Google Analytics with only one code. It also pulls newly added PDFs that might be placed on the site after the initial code is installed, AND it labels each PDF automatically. After finishing the article, I was convinced that I had to try it out for myself. My only problem? I only recently learned what JavaScript IS. Like…in general. On top of it, I had never actually dealt with it in any kind of “real” SEO way.

As any anthropologist maneuvering through a strange world that speaks a strange language would, I enlisted the help of a local translator to help me overcome my barrier. Colleen Hofmann, HMA’s real-time communications pro, happens to know a good deal about JavaScript (lucky me!).

The next day, I couldn’t wait to share the article with her. I asked if she thought she could figure out how to implement it so we could save ourselves a ton of PDF coding hassle. After a bit of practice on a test site (to my utter delight) she managed to get the code working! I believe it was my first, full-on SEO nerd freak-out…and boy, did victory feel good!

What was also awesome about this moment was the realization that it could not have been possible without some major HMA teamwork. Although I was able to find the article and realized that it might also work for HMA, things would have quickly stopped there without Colleen’s coding skills and knowledge of JavaScript. Working together, we were able to learn something new AND significantly boost our workplace productivity.

Although at times the world of SEO and SEM can get a little overwhelming for us beginners, it’s important to realize how many resources are available to you. There will ALWAYS be people (like article author Adam Buchanan) who will be smarter than you, and figure out cool tricks before you do. But more than anything, that is what I am most thankful for in this field– you are never truly learning alone. And if you work at HMA, there will always be co-workers ready and willing to help you out.

If you work in SEO and/or SEM, what are some of your favorite time savers? Where did you or do you go to learn coding languages, and which methods helped you to progress to the next level in your career?

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