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J.D. Flynn

Drupal developer by trade, geek by choice, getting stuff done in the Chicagoland area.

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So Much Information!

Working with the web in general is extremely easy to get into. There are a ton of resources available for almost any aspect that one might want to get into. If you want to get into web development then you can learn how to code HTML from any number of sources. The same goes for JavaScript, CSS, PHP, or a multitude of other languages, frameworks, or libraries. The resources to learn web development are out there and it really isn’t too difficult to get started in. If it was then there wouldn’t be billions of websites out there. However, it may be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. For example, a simple search of “learn to build a website” has almost a half billion results on its own. Fortunately, the first listing on my version of the SERP is Codeacademy which is pretty reputable and helped me along in my adventures in web development.

When I increased the specificity of my search, I got nearly as many results. CSS, JavaScript, PHP, everyting I searched for yielded the same results. A ton of responses on the SERP with no guidance to go on. Should I go for a personal blog, a question/answer forum, another online training course, paid, free, there are SO MANY CHOICES! Where does one begin? And after beginning, how does one keep up with ever changing standards? You can imagine how overwhelming it was to jump into a field that is never stagnant.

It turns out that SEO is even more frightening. Where web development standards or versions change every few months or weeks, I learned at SMX that the Google Algorithm changes around 800 times a year. That’s roughly every 8 hours. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, Google has changed its mind up to 3 times. That’s freaking crazy!

I am really clueless, just like this dog
I wish I had it together as this dog!

Sifting Through the Haystack for the Golden Needle

As I’ve said before, I am EXTREMELY fortunate to have met who I have met and to be able to call them friends, including several members of the elite SEO 100. By itself, that is worth more than anything I could learn on my own. Since I became interested in SEO and how it can work with web development, all those days ago, I’ve followed a ton of brilliant people on Twitter and networked on LinkedIn, but 140 characters at a time can only teach so much. So how does anyone get started?

Writers write. Musicians make music. Developers develop. SEOs optimize for search engines. I’ve learned that the best way to start is to just start. There are several blogs that are phenominal, and there are even more that are horrible. My personal suggestions are to latch on to Moz, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Journal. Also, check out that list from above and follow every single person on it. Read their tweets and follow their links. There’s a lot to cover, trust me. I have a 2 hour commute each way and it’s still not nearly enough time to get caught up on everything that gets posted.

Reach Out

One of the many things that the SEO and web development communities have in common is their willingness to share. If I write an awesome function or a bit of code that I think people can benefit from, I upload it to Github and share it with the world. If an SEO finds out something interesting about the algorithm or Penguin, Pigeon, or Panda, they write about it and they tell people about it so that they may benefit from it.

As I was told at SMX by one of my new contacts, “Even though [SEOs] are in competition, we’re not against each other. If anything, we’re all in it against the search engines.”

What about you? How do you decide what advice is worth taking and what advice should go in one ear and right out the other? Let me know, I’m dying to learn!