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How Agatha Christie led me to SEO

Before you read this post, I’ve to make it clear you will not learn tech stuff from it. I usually don’t write personal posts, but anyway I felt I had to put down into words my SEO path, one day, at least for myself. So, that day has come and if you want here it is…

A terrible year

My SEO life probably starts in 2003 when, one night, exiting from a discobar I was run over by a car. I was 23 years old at the time. And I went very close to die. I had my left leg and arm broken, and almost every facial bone too, that was the worse thing. I had to stay one week the recovery room and 45 days in a hospital, with four surgeries (out of a total of seven) in that period. Several months passed before I was able to walk again and my mouth was able to chew properly. Definitely it’s not been the best year of my life. But it left me something.
A renewed way of looking at life, for sure, having touched real troubles and known in the hospitals people that had been less luckier than me.
But it isn’t only this. That year left something else too…

The writer wannabe

During that period in which I was forced to stay at home, I had a lot of spare time to dedicate to something I had always liked but never tried to do seriously: writing. And this how Agatha Christie comes into play…
Since when I was thirteen I loved reading crime novels and detective stories. I also tried to write short tales, but it was only after my accident that I started writing seriously: maybe I wouldn’t have become Stephen King, who had a similar experience, but at least I wanted to try. I liked it and I had the time, so why not?
To receive some suggestions and opinions, and to learn how to write better, I started visiting a website named Latelanera (“the black cobweb”) that offered writing tips and had a very vital forum in which I could share my things with other wannabe writers. That’s been another piece to my SEO patchwork…

The webmaster wannabe

After a few good results in horror writing contests, in fact, I started collaborating with Alessio Valsecchi, the webmaster of the site, and after some time I told to myself I had to own a blog for my own stuff. In 2007 I didn’t know almost anything about HTML. But I was close to a master degree in Electronics Engineering: I would have learnt. I wanted to do it and I had enough brains.
So I started my own website on blogspot, then learnt how to setup WordPress and moved the site on a second level domain, ThrillerCafe.it, where I published my books reviews, interviews with known writers, writing tips from the pros.
Lot of good posts.
But only a few people, those ones who already knew me, reading them.
I had to grow an audience.
Maybe ranking better on Google would have helped. Why wasn’t I at the first spot searching for thriller novels? I had to understand how to be the #1.

The SEO wannabe

In 2008 I started reading about something named SEO. It looked useful and I had success with it: ThrillerCafe jumped at #1 on Google for a lot of keywords. I became interested, I tried with other websites, I continued reading ebooks, started paying for courses and conferences.
But I was an Electronics Engineer, I had little time to improve my knowledge. I applied to SEO during the night or while travelling to work. My horizon was limited, unless…

A hard decision

I started fancing of leaving my job and move to a SEO fulltime position, but it wasn’t a simple choice. I had studied a lot to graduate and quitting the electronics industry seemed a crazy step. But I was unhappy projecting military circuits while every day I was more in love with SEO.
Then February 2010 arrived, and my girlfriend left me. For a lot of reason, but also because I didn’t know what I wanted from my own life.
A couple of weeks after that, I decided to leave my job and accept an offer for an SEO specialist role.
My family wasn’t able to understand my choice. I was an engineer, final grade 110/110, why on earth I was deciding to become something else? And moreover, an SEO specialist: what the hell was I talking about? If had I left my work field for a too long time it would have been unlikely to come back to it, even if I had wanted. It could have been a no return decision.
Anyway, I took my way, told my boss I was leaving them and joined a little web agency. I felt I was doing what I had to do for myself.

Moving to Rome

So, I started doing SEO on clients’ websites, and suddenly it seemed not so great. The agency didn’t have any expertise in the field, sold ignorant promises to more ignorant people and thought that two work hours were enough to have a site ranking in “the first top 30 position of 12 search engines”…
That wasn’t my vision of SEO, of course, and I start thinking I had been wrong in my choice. Maybe I had to rewrite my CV as an Engineer and start searching for a new-old job. Or maybe I only had to work in a better agency.
I built a little professional experience and continued studying and learning at home. In a few months I had the opportunity to move to Rome to join one of the most well known Italian SEO agencies.
I didn’t miss the opportunity, left my little town and went to the capital.

Happy (not) Ending

I’m still in Rome. I’m still an SEO specialist and I’m happy of being it, moreover considering the incongruent sum of things that have determining my career:

  • A very bad accident.
  • A passion for detective stories.
  • A horror webmaster.
  • An ex girlfriend accusing me of being indecisive.
  • A call from Rome before it was too late.

I don’t know if this is the strangest heap of facts in the SEO industry, but I know a few things for sure: I’ve walked through hard times in a physical sense and in a psychological one as well, but I’m a lucky person.
At the end of the day, I’m doing a job that I love. And the fact that I’ve earned it with sufferings only makes it more attractive.
I still have to work hard to be a better SEO, but I want to. And I’ll do it.

Further readings

If you liked this post, maybe you’ll like these ones too that are quite similar in some points:

FYI

  • Yes, I’ve published some stuff as writer (several short tales and a long essay); more at GiuseppePastore.com.
  • Yes, Alessio Valsecchi is still a good friend of mine.
  • Yes, ThrillerCafe.it still ranks #1 for “libri thriller” (thriller books).
  • No, I couldn’t have success in having my ex back but I don’t think of her anymore.
  • Yes, my family has (almost) understood what an SEO specialist is; maybe they aren’t so sure I did a good choice, but they’re happy that I’m happy.

Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show (David Gerrold).

And if you love your job like I do, you’ll probably well understand me now if I say: “Thanks, Mrs. Agatha Christie!“.

Be cool, share!

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