How To Improve Your SEO Skills? Foreign languages.

We generally like to find meaning in life. It helps us believe that things happen for a reason and that there is order, if not beauty, in this world.

I've always thought that it explains religious people's need to believe in a higher power. In someone in charge, who know why things happen because really we can't stand the idea of things being out of control. Or the idea of pure chaos.

However, a Chinese Buddhist once told me that "pure chaos is also purely determined". Or in other words:

What we view as chaos is nothing more than an incomprehensibly large amount of determined factors weighing in simultaneously.

In that sense there is no such thing as chance. Everything is determined, even if it's by a giant boiling soup of elements we have no grasp on.

It's all about chatting

Glad to say I probably speak "half of the Internet", i.e. its biggest languages (Spanish, Chinese, French, English & Portuguese)

Glad to say I probably speak "half of the Internet", i.e. its biggest languages (Spanish, Chinese, French, English & Portuguese)

What matters however, what we have some degree of influence over, is how we react to these events. And it really surprised me recently to realise that I could view my rather chaotic ventures and path through life (translator, researcher, filmmaker, digital strategist and more recently web designer) via a prism that made it all look quite logical after all.

A lot of what I do is communicating. Communicating in different ways with different media. And one of the reasons I love being in the UK (as opposed to, say, France) is the cultural and administrative environments are perfect to allow me this type of experimentation and progression.

SEO and linguistics

Major levels of linguistic structure - all fed directly into search engines to help them understand how we communicate information.

Major levels of linguistic structure - all fed directly into search engines to help them understand how we communicate information.

Until recently I kept thinking it's a shame I'm not using my language skills anymore. Fluent in Chinese, Portuguese, French,  very comfortable in Spanish and should be able to get by in Korean.

I was a translator for Chinese documents for a couple of years but in the end technical translations wasn't really my thing and more of a fun challenge that brought me some nice pocket money.

My translation website even overtook lots of translators on Google in France who have all had to go after clients in order to find new missions. It was a bit unfair, I came from an SEO background and they didn't stand much of a chance.

Or did they?

I've slowly started realising that my language background (later complemented by a masters in new media) was a GIANT plus in learning SEO.

Semantics and language systems

Learning foreign languages can have unexpected upsides! In Chinese: the character for "forever"

Learning foreign languages can have unexpected upsides! In Chinese: the character for "forever"

SEO these days is all about semantics. About how search engines get better at understanding linguistic systems. In fact they always have been (or always should have been).

At least that's how I was trained. And it's only recently that I've realised how having studies many languages has been helping me all along. That and a passion for writing.

Being able to understand at a deep level how search engines work is . And the best thing in all that is it will come to you naturally. I see loads and loads of articles from experts racking their brains trying to understand abstract linguistic concepts that I don't really need to think about that much. It was already all embedded in me in my early years in university!

Learning languages has always been a real pleasure. I could do it for hours and hardly feel time go by. Now I may be more focused on cinematography and web design but the foreign fire is still there.

I love learning about other cultures, other ways of thinking, perceiving and understanding the world. It's learning to unlearn everything you take for granted.

Learning foreign languages is stepping out of your own world and preconceptions. It’s a radical jump into somebody else’s shoes.

I truly believe this is one quality that makes SEOs, webmasters, UX designers and other content producers exceptional. We care.

Compassion is the key

When we see a crappy page, it doesn't merely hurt our quality standards for design and copywriting, we empathise with the visitor and the pain they must feel when trying to get around the website and this particular page. In other words, we care.

Compassion in SEO is what makes us go the extra step. We may use statistics and studies to justify our decisions to higher management but at the end of the day we do what we must to make navigating your websites an experience that is as satisfying as possible.

Not even rewarding, but certainly not satisfactory. We need to show that we care.

Not only that we care about our visitors, their needs and worries, but also that we care about the same values and the same quality.

Creating multimedia, rich content

The best thing in hindsight is that I've always worked as a freelance filmmaker, and more recently as a photographer too - landing my first paid photo jobs within a year of picking up my pro camera.

Combine that with decent Photoshopping skills and you've got the perfect content creation toolkit. In the end, whatever I do, whether it's translating, filming, writing or designing... everything comes down to communicating with others. And communication is becoming such a key tool. I deeply believe that huge ventures and empires failed because of poor communication.

It’s not just about crafting and sharing stories anymore, but also about helping everyone make sense of an increasingly complex world.

This is 2016. Back in 2009 people had to ask me: "Which one is it going to be? SEO or video? Web or charity work?"

Well my friends, I recommend choosing everything - so long as it makes sense to you. Reminds you of something I said recently about our passions?

All the best,

Dario