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Notes on early work life, playing into the SEO cliche, ‘falling’ into the industry, and discovering data analysis and programming. This page also gives you a brief look into the clients I have working with.

Start in Search

There is a common theme to most stories involving how someone got their start in SEO. That being, that they ‘fell into SEO’. It’s a strange parallel; the phrase essentially calling every SEO’s entrance into the space destiny at best and fluke at worst. And for an industry that prides itself on preparation and strategy (often of the technical kind), it almost seems too good of narrative. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this description couldn’t be more accurate.

To keep it brief, my first real encounter with SEO came as a not-even-freelance writer. I say that not regarding my writing ability but more the monetary agreement set up with the online news site on which my articles appeared. Due to said set-up, and being a youngster who wanted to make a quick buck, I quickly realised that to get a decent chunk of change in return for the content I was dumping out to the ether, I needed them to rank—hardly a romantic story of admiring the craft. Instead, poorly, mind you, wanting to get paid. So rank, I did.

Data Digressions

A byproduct of working in SEO for most is a fascination with numbers. It may sound not very objective, but often folks who work in Search have a higher appreciation for data architecture, unlike other channels— moreover, they tend to focus more on the models that run the engine than the petrol that comes out the other end. The appreciation often comes at the cost of finding quicker wins. That said, in the long run, crafting an analytical mind is a far more vital, rewarding and valuable skill.

There are hundreds of data layers to get stuck into, so patience should always be applied when approaching any of them. You will not get an ‘ah-ha’ moment — seriously, never. One day you will look back and realize these components have somehow started to click. It’s a fascinating experience. When I first discovered this power, I was using R-Studio (R’s primary console; editor; environment.) First, it felt like I was in Photoshop, editing layers to reveal an image slowly. Then, after mastering the likes of dplyr, httr, ggplot, stringr, data.table, to more complex functions like predict, regressor, lm (and so on), the time it took for the image to get into focus reduced dramatically. Skip forward a few months, armed with access to API’s, testing and building models based on super-localized datasets; It forced me to keep learning. The up-and-downs; the game-esque level-up reward system, knowing everything to nothing, got me hooked. If you don’t mind feeling dumb for a few hours, I’d highly recommend it.


I have had the fortune of working with some fantastic brands, both global blue-chips and household known nationals. All of which have been a pleasure to work with.

List of clients Harry Austen has worked with.
(Left-right: Disney, Olympics, Esso, Zoopla, Budweiser, Dorchester Collection, Sarson’s, St John Ambulance.)