10 Questions with Alli, REQ's New SEO Associate

Alli Lawrence recently joined us at REQ as a new SEO associate leaving her old job and her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A 2010 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Alli previously worked at University Bound. When Alli started looking for a new job, she knew she wanted to be in a city and stay on the East Coast. She was drawn to Washington, D.C. by the city's numerous networking and career opportunities for young professionals. For Alli, REQ stood out against other candidates because of its wide range of clients and unique team dynamic.

As a journalism major who never took an SEO class in college, why do you think schools are taking so long to incorporate SEO education into their curriculum?
To be honest, I think that a lot of university administrators are unaware of the multitude of SEO and marketing-related jobs now available to young professionals with computer skills. Universities are still basing their curriculum on traditional print marketing and haven't fully taken into account the role that the Internet now plays in marketing. For young people who grew up on computers, we're way ahead of them and want to learn about SEO, digital marketing and computer programming, but we don't have the opportunity to do so at the college level.

How has your journalism background helped you as an SEO associate?
Writing is essential to SEO and my journalism degree taught me the different uses of language. Journalism encompasses all sorts of professional business writing, so even though I'm not a news reporter, I'm able to effectively communicate in different kinds of settings. Journalism writing also teaches you to be very straightforward. The basics of journalism writing, the who, what, when, and where, form a template for a keyword-enriched and optimized article.

What is one thing you wished you had learned in college that you think would help you today?
I wish I had learned more about computer programming and website basics. Had I known more about web development or HTML, it would have been immeasurably helpful when starting my career. Instead, I had to learn on the go at my first job.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to college students who want to pursue a career in SEO?
I would encourage them to pursue it, because there are a lot of opportunities in the field of SEO for young, smart adults to get ahead and be successful in a career that wasn't around 10 years ago. I would tell them to keep learning and don't be afraid to take on something like this. They're going to have to create their own SEO degree by taking a well-rounded selection of journalism, computer science and business marketing classes. One day, universities will finally make an all-encompassing SEO major, but not yet.

What is your greatest SEO moment to date?
Any time I see results, it feels like a huge accomplishment. Sometimes with SEO you can work and work and work, and nothing happens. But when I come into work and check the rankings for a difficult keyword and see that my site made a significant jump, it all starts to make sense. Those little successes build up over time and that feeling of accomplishment is why I love this industry.

What is your favorite Excel formula?
Since I write most of my title tags in Excel, I find the character count formula to be extremely helpful. It allows me to play with and tweak tags more easily than having to copy and paste my work into an online character count program.

What do you like most about working at REQ?
I plan on working for small companies for the rest of my life. In small, start-up companies, you get to do and be exposed to so much more. I much prefer spending my time working with a team of two or three individuals than a team of 50. Plus, at smaller companies you're not lost in a sea of cubicles spending half the day preparing for meetings. At REQ specifically, I feel like each employee is given a lot of freedom. We are encouraged to use our brains, to be creative and to dream up new ideas. Even better, we're allowed to pursue those ideas past the conception stage and we can actually see them become a reality.

What is one thing on your bucket list now that you live in Washington, DC?
I went down to Old Town last weekend and had lunch overlooking the river and decided that I need a boat, or a friend with a boat.

Please join in the REQ office debate: Diet or regular Coca-Cola?
Diet.

How many times have you gotten lost since you moved here?
97.