Introduction to SEO
I first learned about SEO and Internet Marketing in 2003, when I was earning my Master’s in Internet Business from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York.Before that, I worked as a quality control specialist in the pharmaceutical industry doing computer audits and validations. However, I was fascinated by the Internet and decided to go back to school to learn more about the worldwide web.I started my own pharmaceutical job board in 2006 and needed more traffic so I sought help from an SEO company.After watching them optimise my site, I learned how interesting and complex it was. Fascinated to learn more, he inspired me to start doing more for myself.I landed a job as an SEO specialist at Digitgrit (now Zeta Interactive), built a successful SEO practice at Havas Media, and the rest is history.
A typical day in SEO leadership
As a senior leader in the agency, I do a lot of business development: leading presentations, creating strategies, showing how SEO works with other channels, for example.I manage the team to ensure we have the right tools, resources, people, processes, and services to manage clients and leads, as well as generate thought leadership materials.
I also read a lot to see what’s going on in the industry. It is important to be aware of other perspectives and new technologies when collaborating with global suppliers and international teams.My master’s in e-commerce helped me get the basics of how the Internet works. It has changed dramatically over the years, but I have learned that understanding the fundamentals will help you understand and appreciate more deeply the history and backbone of how things are connected.Being in the industry for so long has also taught me a lot, especially on how to work with national and international clients.
Finally, I also realised that you should always do your due diligence and dig deep. Focus on the expensive articles and strategies that will drive business results.
Many agencies offer similar services. Why should a client go to your agency instead of the other 5-10 that are in an RFP?Always differentiate yourself. Listen to your clients and make sure you understand their goals and objectives, challenges, key performance indicators, and what they expect to get out of an engagement.Plan to show who is doing what and set realistic expectations upfront so there are no surprises later, i.e. things not being implemented, etc. Create compelling case studies and offer unique perspectives on SERP updates and changes.
Manage SEO challenges at the executive level
Managing SEO in a global agency is not an easy task with clients and SEOs in different time zones, different languages, multiple search engines at stake, and more.Prioritization, communication, and strong processes are vital to success.The ability to take into account cultural and linguistic differences, as well as determine which countries will offer the best return on investment, is critical.Another challenge for executives, particularly at the business level, is that some clients have incredibly complex needs.One day you might be dealing with a failed migration when you were working with a previous agency.A new customer might lose a lot of traffic and revenue after being negatively affected by a major update.
You could be working with limited resources, etc.
I once had a client who insisted on using a bunch of keywords that were used within the company but not by his audience. Educating the customer on why that wasn’t a good idea was key, and that requires tact and people management skills.When working with web developers employing some brands, we are often forced to use techniques that go against common SEO wisdom, and therefore solutions must be found.SEO in principle has a fundamental approach, but each new client brings their own touch.
That’s the beauty of working at an agency with strong leadership and a focus on training and education. It means that they frequently encounter challenges and are constantly developing solutions.
Find inspiration and thought leadership
The person in the SEO community that I admire the most is Mike Grehan. Mike is a pioneer in space and a great visionary. 20 years ago I was talking about things that are now coming true.The other people I look up to in the industry are Brian Dean from Backlinko. They offer amazing content and conduct impressive research studies.I also have a lot of respect for Hamlet Batista, who sadly passed away. I learned a lot from him in a short time and we had plans to do some meetings together.I am also a huge fan of Jim Boykin from Internet Marketing Ninjas.I advise that all SEO professionals keep up to date with the latest technology. We live in a dynamic world where automation is key. There are some great platforms and solutions that are making a lot of noise in the space and really helping to streamline the SEO process, so we can focus more on strategy.
Evaluate them to see if they can help you achieve your KPIs internally and externally.Also, evaluate and test different methodologies to see what works to drive overall business goals and objectives, and most important of all, conversions.If you’re not doing that, it’s time for you to refocus.SEO is about driving potential traffic to a site that converts customers..
Don’t be afraid to fail and accept new challenges; that’s part of being innovative and complete.Do your own research. Try to get as much experience as possible with paid search, programmatic, social media, and analytics, but don’t forget to develop team-leading skills as well. You need to see the big picture, as everything is connected at the leadership level.
Tips for Potential Leaders in the SEO Industry
To be successful as an SEO executive, you need to be able to hire and build a strong team, listen to and accept feedback, and motivate those who have the potential to become rock stars for your company.Provide a creative and consultative work environment and establish a clear path for your employees to advance in their careers. Let them work on different accounts in various verticals to broaden their expertise.
Always be humble and include your team to get their views on each topic, whether that’s why they feel traffic may be low, how to improve rankings, how we can win this release, etc.
No man is an island. A great leader is only as good as the team he leads.Remember also that numbers don’t lie. Always show results and keep delivering innovative ideas to clients and prospects, even if they sound outlandish.If you want to move up the ladder, you also need to be able to demonstrate how your leadership translates into business results.