Until recently, I was just a novelist, which is a rather simple concept for anyone to grasp. Tomorrow, however, I’ll be celebrating my three-weeks-versary as a full-time SEO copywriter at DashThis, a job I didn’t fully fathom myself, well, three weeks ago.
I’m on my way to my grandmother’s home, lost in thoughts. My family has this annual tradition, which dictates my grandma give everyone a box of homemade cookies in exchange for an afternoon spent with her. I love my granny and obviously often visit her cookie-lessly, but I’m nonetheless very fond of this ritual.
Today though, as I’m driving to her old country house to get my share of those edible gems, I can’t help but worry about the way our conversation is gonna play out; how the heck will I explain my new job to my 89-year-old granny, my mouth full of cinnamon-crispies?
My Kia pulls into the driveway and I’m already struck by the exquisite smell. My grandmother’s hearty welcome warms me in spite of the bitter cold as I step into the familiar house.
“So, how are things?” she asks while pouring us both a cup of chai tea. “How’s work and all?”
The tea burns my tongue and waters my eyes.
“Well, things have been moving. I have a new job.”
“Yeah? Aren’t you writing books anymore?”
“I am, I just felt that I could also take up a new challenge. I’m a SEO copywriter for this company named DashThis.”
And just as I’m ready to dive in, the oven bell rings as if to declare the readiness of my very own cookie batch.
It’s even harder to think straight with those ginger-chewies taunting me on the kitchen table. I stuff one into my mouth to buy myself some time.
“So DashThis, huh? What do they do?”
“Well,” I start, swallowing a bite I wish was neverending, “they’re the geniuses behind a marketing reporting software that creates data dashboards used for digital marketing purposes.”
Granny stares at me blankly for a sec, before slowly enunciating:
“I don’t speak Mandarin, dear.”
All right, we’re in for a bumpy ride. I look around, as though hoping for someone else to leap to my rescue, but it’s just me, my beloved grandmother, and cookies. Delicious cookies. Bing-to-the-o.
“OK, Grandma. Marketing reporting. Let’s look at it this way: you make the most delicious cookies in town, right?”
“Obviously. What’s your point?”
“Now imagine you wanna make a business out of this and have a monopoly of all cookie sales.”
“Why would I do that?” she asks, puzzled.
“I don’t know, to get rich?”
“See, Grandma, once you start selling your biscuits all over town, you’re gonna need certain information about your customers’ behaviors, in order to see if something needs to be changed about your product.”
“Nothing needs to be changed ‘bout my cookies, what are you saying?!” she exclaims, offended.
“‘Course not!” I reply quickly, worried for a sec I may have jeopardized my future annual treats. “What I mean is, for each family you sell cookies to, you might wanna know who eats the most, which flavours they prefer, as well as which ones are less popular, so you can bake more of the ones people like most. Get it?”
She nods, focused on my explanation.
“Now, marketing reporting works the same way. A business can have an online presence on various platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, which all serve different purposes. Those platforms are like the families you sell your DELICIOUS biscuits to. A marketer would need to track his customers’ behaviors on every platform, in order to see what works best and what doesn’t.”
“Well, that’s just obvious stuff, sweetie.”
Phew. As Barney Stinson would do, I celebrate this first small victory with a well-deserved imaginary self-five.
“Now what DashThis would be doing in this cookie-selling context is regroup the data about every family and showcase it in a simple, visual, and easily understandable report.”
“Nah, I don’t believe it.”
“What do you mean, Granny?” I ask, already reaching for my fourth of fifth chocolate-dippy.
“Nobody has enough free time on their hands to go door-to-door and collect information through a whole town, let alone the whole Internet! Heck, I can’t find enough free time to read me the latest E.L. James’!”
Whoa boy, didn’t hear that.
“That’s the modern-age magic, Grandma. Nobody needs to go door-to-door. Everything is automated. Easy as cookie.”
“Automated? Meaning I’d have nothing to do to get all that information?” she inquires, astonished.
“That’s brilliant!” she exclaims, excited as a child.
Well I mean, it is, isn’t it?
It’s not even 3:00 pm yet and my granny is now a marketing reporting and DashThis expert. This conversation is going so well it makes me feel invincible. I decide to push my luck and give a shot at explaining SEO copywriting. Daring, I know. Do not try this at home.
Grandma stands up to boil some more water. This gives me time to gather my thoughts. My gaze wanders across the small kitchen and lands upon a handwritten note on the fridge.
“Keep your volume down, I have no interest whatsoever in your boring soaps.”
“Wow, who wrote this to you?” I ask, surprised.
“Ugh, Mary,” my grandmother spits. “She stuck this on my front door a few weeks ago, and I hung it there as daily reminder to keep on hating her. You know she also steals my tomatoes every summer? That b- I mean witch.”
“Whatever. So, tell me ‘bout that job of yours then, what is it exactly that you do?”
“I’m a SEO copywriter. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.”
Her eyes are shining with a glare of curiosity.
“What does that mean?” she wonders.
“Well, you know what a search engine is, right?”
“Sure, like Copernic or that new one, what’s it called again…? Bing!”
“Yeah, exactly. Although we mostly work with Google.”
“Oh I only know the main ones, honey.”
I smile amusingly and go on.
“Right. So my job is to write content that ranks well on search engines, so that the most people get to access this content and learn more about DashThis.”
“And how does that work?”
“Well, imagine you have competition for your cookie sales. There are 20 other amazing bakers out there and the most popular one is none other than Mary the witch.”
“Now we don’t want that, do we?”
She shakes her head vigorously.
“So you’re gonna have to advertise your product. However, you don’t have the means to create more leaflets than all of your competitors.”
“No, that’d be way too much.”
“My point exactly. So instead, what you wanna do is create advertising content that’s better than everyone else’s. You wanna find the right words, so that when someone thinks “cookies”, the immediate association their mind makes is “Granny’s cookies”. You wanna rank at the top of everyone’s mind and sell more cookies than Mary does, just like I wanna make DashThis rank high on search engines so that people find out about it. You also wanna get people to talk about it, so that the word spreads, just like I want other websites to talk about DashThis and link back to it. This all helps me rank higher on Google, or Copernic, for that matter.”
“How do I know I’ve found the right words?”
“Well, certain tools can help you with that, but it’s mainly a game of trial and error. And that’s the beauty of it all.”
“Fascinating! You should ask me for advice, I play crosswords every morning!” she says playfully with a conniving wink.
I laugh and squeeze her warm hand in mine.
“Enough with work. How have you been, Granny?”
The sun has long set by the time I get back home, a huge grin on my face. That was a lovely day, to say the least. Explaining SEO, marketing reporting, and DashThis to my 89-year-old grandmother turned out to be way easier than I’d imagined.
I reach for my cookie box and grab one last macadamia-nutty out of pure gluttony.
I notice a note has been stuck inside the lid of the box.
“Love you. Keep on rocking the Internet.”
Will do, Grandma, will do.
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