My SEO Journey: Maggie McCombs from – There’s no substitute for hard work & thoughtful communication

Author: Maggie McCombs
Date Published:
Reading Time: 5 minutes. (964 words)

My SEO Journey is a series where entrepreneurs and Indie makers share their honest SEO Journey filled with failure and success, and most importantly, proven results. Episode #151 features Maggie McCombs from Redfin.

Maggie McCombs from share her SEO journey

Hi, my name is Maggie McCombs, and I’m the managing editor at Redfin, leading up content for brands like ApartmentGuide, Rent. and also the flagship brand, Redfin. I also have a freelance job where I rebuild resumes and Linkedin profiles, though I haven’t expanded much beyond working with friends yet. 

When I’m not working, I’m traveling with my husband, Anthony or hanging around the house with our three wonderful pets.

We live in Lexington, Kentucky, which many people know as bourbon country (though I personally prefer vodka.) 

Stumbling into marketing through content

I reached my dream career through multiple lucky accidents.

To start,  I studied linguistics in college and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. 

The first happy accident came after two years of miserable work in call centers, where the sales department at my job opened a position. Though I was (and am) far too introverted for a sales role, I applied to see what was out there in terms of internal promotions. 

The sales VP cut the interview after what seemed like only three minutes and told me about a marketing department opening at that company and encouraged me to apply. That copywriting role became my first content marketing job and the start of my career.

I admit I was always drawn to communication as an art and a science, first and foremost, not as a practical skill that could be applied to marketing. I learned with that first content marketing job that I needed to know SEO, though, if I wanted to make a meaningful career. I watched course after course and earned SEO certifications to get that necessary start. 

Leadership and link-building

After having a couple of entry-level content marketing jobs under my belt, I switched to freelance journalism for a while to sustain myself during a particularly stressful period of my life. 

Another accident happened while I was looking for part-time jobs to supplement my freelance income: I applied to a full-time job by accident. My ADHD mind must have overlooked that important detail, and here I was applying to a full-time position, the antithesis of my career goals then. 

Once I realized my error, I gamified the process just to see how far I could get and eventually I accepted the job. Only nine months later, I moved into a leadership role at that company — a first for me.

I have served in leadership roles since then in other companies. My next big break was an expected integration that positioned me to head a new link-building team. Reflecting on it now, link-building is the culmination of many of my other professional competencies, from written communication to content marketing and PR. I can now take my love for writing and meld it with the skills I’ve developed in SEO, relationship-building and leadership over the past several years.

What I’ve learned in my SEO journey

I’ve learned that there’s no substitute for hard work, thoughtful communication and asking humans to do some things and not just AI/robots. To be clear, I’m not afraid of AI and I do use it when I get stuck. But there’s an element of relationship-development, diplomacy and understanding of human psychology that we can’t find an easy hack for. Or at least, not yet. 

There’s more…

Now it’s time to discover the other 102 steps that will get more organic traffic flowing to your website. Get the SEO Checklist here.

Want to get a sneak peek of what it looks like?
Enter your email and get a free demo version of the SEO Checklist.

What SEO tools do you use for your business?

All the classics: Ahrefs, Moz, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush. 

Can you share your efforts related to Link-Building?

Keeping this top secret. 🤫

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My go-to learning resources

Hubspot has been my go-to, for many reasons, some of them admittedly a little odd. Not only do they have outstanding courses to take, but they offer certifications at the end of the successfully completed course: That’s a major value-add for someone trying to demonstrate expertise on a particular subject.

I almost took a job with Hubspot early on in my career, so selfishly I was plugged into their content because I had to get up to speed for an interview several years ago, but then their Academy learnings stuck with me because they’re just that helpful. 

What’s next in my SEO journey?

Continual learning! I’ve been refreshing my existing knowledge by taking certifications. Participating in this coursework has also allowed me to hear perspectives from other writers and SEOs and challenge what I previously thought or practiced. 

Along with ongoing learning, there’s a general need with SEO to work through changes. Sometimes that means experimentation, and sometimes it involves doing more of what works – knowing which strategy would be most effective in driving your business goals. And as anyone in SEO also knows, that means making those decisions while weathering Google’s semi-frequent algorithm updates. 

As far as specific tactics go, I hope to learn more about the “ranch-style SEO” that aims to center individual perspectives and create content tailored to help answer the end-user’s questions at every stage of the customer journey. SEOs and marketers that place helpfulness at the forefront of their strategy might finally be positioned to win – but that’s for the future to decide. 

Where can we go to learn more?

If you want to check out some of my work, take a look at my portfolio, any of the blog pages from the Redfin brands – including Rent., ApartmentGuide, Redfin and Rentals. If you like poetry and short stories, I write some on Medium too. 

And if you want to reach me more directly, I’d love to hear from you via email at [email protected]. But if you prefer to get ignored, reach me at my cell, 706-980-2028. 

about the author
Maggie McCombs

Editorial Manager at Redfin

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Maggie McCombs is a managing editor at Redfin, leading a team of talented content writers and link-builders. Outside of work, Maggie spends time playing video games (especially anything Zelda!), competing in trivia contests, listening to audiobooks, writing poetry, exploring new cities and relaxing with her husband, dogs and cat. She currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

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