Last week, Bill Hunt asked readers to decide what would be the most important task they could perform in 60 minutes — a great question which also set me thinking. No matter how many times I thought about the question, I have kept returning to the same answer — improving the knowledge of our people.
It’s actually one of the beefs I have about automated tools (only one of many, I might add); namely, that if a tool does it automatically, no one ever really learns what matters. And, no one really knows if the tool’s advice if correct, either.
Dig Carefully To Find Accurate Information
First, you have to understand the Atkins-Krueger law of online knowledge (humor), which states that “The number of sites which provide correct information is inversely proportional to the total number of sites which talk about the subject.”
So, if there are only a few sites which talk about the life cycle of a scarlet malachite beetle (one of the rarest beetles), then a large proportion will be factual. The same cannot be said for “international SEO,” where you have to dig carefully to find the accurate information you seek.
If there are so many words, and yet only a limited amount of useful and accurate information, then we need our people to be well trained and have a good knowledge of the subject in order to interpret what’s important and what’s just fluff.
International Search Marketing Knowledge
So, what are the six most important things to do to develop this international search marketing knowledge?
- Attend Conferences
- Identify The Knowledge Experts
- Get To Know The Experts
- Participate In Training Courses
- Network With Similar Professionals
- Test, Test and Test
Declaration of interest: my company runs the International Search Summit with SMX! My first ever conference was in 2003 in London with Chris Sherman and Danny Sullivan, and my second was in San Jose.
Conferences have changed the course of my career and business beyond recognition, and I cannot recommend enough that you should head out to one, or two or six.
The team at SMX are working very hard to try and provide tools that help you to justify attending a conference — but let me tell you, it’s very hard to do. When I first travelled to San Jose, I remember sharing with my team that I thought I’d be wasting the company’s money, but I just felt I had to go. I have never regretted that decision.
A wider point for global search managers is to do some travelling to a wider range of conferences in more far flung places and get a taste of the culture at the same time!
Identify The Knowledge Experts
I’m not sure how many people actually do this — but today, I’d create a list of the top ten people who specialise in answering the questions you need to be answering. I didn’t do this when I started (honestly, there were not that many people who could have helped back then). This will take some research of itself!
I suggest you approach as many people as you know in the industry or can approach and ask them to recommend who can most appropriately answer your set of questions. After a while, you’ll start to see the same names being repeated! That’s when you know you’re getting close.
Some years ago in a bar in California, five of us were having a discussion and realised that probably 5% of the world’s international SEO and PPC activities were connected to us in some way. That’s not true today — the market has grown considerably — but the reason for explaining this is to indicate how much people tend to be interconnected.
It’s interesting to note also the extent to which Google is emphasizing this with the increasing importance they give to authors!
Get To Know The Experts
Once you know who the key experts are, it’s a good idea to connect with them in every way you can, even if you’re not going to buy services from them just yet. They will often answer simple questions or point you in the direction of quality resources without charging you anything!
You can join their free webinars, introduce yourself at conferences — join training courses they’re running, listen to them speaking, volunteer to write blog posts for them, carry their bags at airports, etc. OK, I’m exaggerating somewhat, and I’m not suggesting you should stalk them, exactly. I’m just highlighting that there are a great many ways to make contact.
Participate In Training Courses
The range of training for international search marketers continues to expand. Declaration of interest, I run a school of international SEO.
There are some great courses run by the business school ESCI at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona — and there are many others, too.
Sign up for webinars, but exercise the same caution you do about online material, as webinars can also be responsible for repeating errors published elsewhere.
Network With Similar Professionals
Networking with like-minded people is also a good idea — but note that they need to be like minded — so you need to seek out people who are genuinely working in the international sphere, noting there are actually relatively few people who genuinely work in a ‘global’ capacity.
Test, Test and Test
I recommend that you and your organization create a test site or a lab where you can carry out experiments with code and with translation. It is trickier to carry out experiments that truly reflect what will happen on a global site, and that’s something really important, but you should still have your international multilingual sandbox to play with!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.