Meet the copywriter – Raymond Peytors

Welcome to a new feature on the blog, Meet the writer. Here we’ll talk to Copify writers about their 13788daily routine and how they got into the weird and wonderful world of copywriting. This week, it’s the turn of Raymond Peytors, a writer with over 25 years’ experience.

Q) Hi Raymond tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into copywriting?

A) I have been writing various types of material for about 25 years. I started with small articles for local newspapers and magazines, copy for events and exhibitions followed and that led to an early introduction into copywriting.

Q) What does a typical day look like for you?

A) I usually start working at around 9am on projects that I have already accepted. Then I work until the orders are completed. The day ends when the work is done. I usually work for around six hours every day, except Sundays.

Q) How do you get over writer’s block??

A) I walk around, listen to music or engage in an activity that has nothing to do with writing. I love cooking and sometimes peeling vegetables can cure the block and get my brain working again!

Peeling veg can cure writes block, who knew?

Peeling veg can cure writers block, who knew?

Q) Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?

A) I have been freelance for 30 years. Working for myself ensures that I actually get on and do something. Working for others is just too limiting.

Q) What do you like about copywriting?

A) I love the creativity and the fact that I learn so much about different subjects. One reason I enjoy writing for Copify so much is that I never know what my next assignment will be.

Q) What frustrates you about copywriting?

A) Sometimes I have a great idea for an approach to a job only to find that my idea is out of line with the brief. Briefs can also cause frustration if they are unclear or ambiguous. Having said that, one learns to interpret what is required.

Don't thank me, thank the Microsoft Office family

Don’t thank me, thank the Microsoft Office family

Q) What tools do you use every day to get the job done?

A) I use MS Word and I also have good dictation software. I find I sometimes produce better material when I am walking and speaking rather than typing.

Q) Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?!

A) Very necessary I think, especially for most website owners. Copywriting is not as easy as many people think it is. Paying a professional is undoubtedly preferable to publishing poor quality in-house material.

Q) How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?

A) I know quite a lot about SEO and, as everything ends up on the Web nowadays, SEO unconsciously affects almost everything I write. Knowledge of SEO is essential in my view.

Q) Who would be your dream client to write copy for?

A) The Guardian newspaper, if they were brave enough to publish what I write!

Will Self

Selfie

Q) Who are your copywriting role models?

A) Will Self. He’s brilliant.

Ask an SEO – Matt Beswick on automation with APIs

Matt Beswick

Matt Beswick

Automating some of the tasks that are carried out as part of an SEO campaign can give you a competitive advantage and also help those who are stretched in terms of resource. But with Google seemingly cracking down on any form of scalable, relatively easy form of link building, is it still possible to automate tasks by using APIs?

I put this, along with other questions to an SEO and API fan Matt Beswick.

Q) Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into the weird and wonderful world of SEO?

A) Completely by accident! I started out developing Facebook games in late 2007 and stumbled across a formula that really took off. We went from 0 to 150,000 daily players within a few weeks which enabled me to leave my job and start Hidden Pixel. From there we just had a natural evolution into running marketing campaigns for clients and SEO formed part of that.

Q) Can you tell us a bit about the team at Hidden Pixel?

A) We’re a fairly disparate team based all over the world who, other than our developers, work from home. We have copywriters out in Ireland and the US, a designer in Amsterdam and Romania, a dev team in Ukraine, and outsource any process work via oDesk.

Q) You run an integrated web design and marketing agency – how do you ensure that designers and developers take SEO considerations into account when putting together a site?

A) Unfortunately it comes down to micro-management and, so far, I haven’t worked out a way of getting past that. There’s definitely a process of ongoing education and our developers are pretty much set now (Google haven’t indexed a dev site for at least 6 months!) but everything still gets fully briefed, documented and checked to make sure there aren’t any balls-ups.

Q) With the recent changes Google is making, is it not becoming virtually impossible to automate link building activity?

A) For brands, thankfully, yes. You can still semi-automate a lot if you have the correct processes in place but even well templated outreach is now giving diminishing returns. That’s how it should be though, isn’t it? Old school directory submissions are equivalent to sticking your business card in as many phone boxes as possible and hoping that someone sees it.


The really interesting thing I’ve noticed recently is that some of the most outspoken affiliate marketers are slowly but surely starting to admit that their software isn’t working as well as it used to and there’s no at least an element of manual outreach needed. If they’re saying that then the tide is definitely turning!

Q) What does a typical SEO report look like for you? what data is in it?

A) Reporting is definitely a weakness for us, which is being addressed at the moment. We use a mixture of Raven Tools, Google Analytics, AWR, and Excel… but I wouldn’t honestly be able to say that our reports are anywhere near as good as they should be. Give me a month, though, and they will be!

Q) How do you deal with ‘that’ SEO client – the one who refuses to allow access to their site/action recommendations/do anything in the least bit creative/funny/interesting?

A) We either don’t take them on, or we get rid. Seriously – if the client won’t work with you then it’s not worth keeping them on. As a business owner turning down a monthly retainer is hard to do but it works out better for everyone in the end.

Q) What are the metrics/KPIs you agree on when doing client SEO work?

A) If at all possible, traffic and sales / enquiries. You can send ranking and link reports until the cows come home but at the end of the day, for most, it’s all about the bottom line.

Q) Why are you not using the Copify API?? ;)

A) I knew you’d ask that… and I’ve got nothing but an apology. We’ll rectify that soon ;)

SEMrush

SEMrush

Q) You have written about SEO APIs extensively, but if you had to choose one along to recommend, which would it be?

A) The SEMRush API has saved me hundreds of man hours in competitor and keyword research so that’s the one I’d also go to first. Either that or Majestic, purely for the speed and amount of link data you can get.

Q) SEO reports have historically been focused on tangible elements such as X number of directory submissions, articles etc. Now that it is more about creativity, how do you convey, and most importantly justify that to clients?

A) We’re really, really lucky with our clients. Part of that comes back to pre-sales as we spend a lot of time finding out about the business, making sure the client knows what to expect, and showing them examples of the kinds of content we’ve done in the past and the effect it can have.

We justify it by showing the results we’ve had for other clients, educating our new ones as to what they can expect, and gently moving them away from the thinking that SEO is about the kinds of things you mentioned there.

Q) What standalone SEO tools do you use/recommend?

A) RavenTools, SEMRush, BuzzStream. Between those three you’re pretty much covered.

Q) How do you negate the risk of relying on APIs in terms of the consequences of a service going down?

A) APIs, like any other tool, are just there to make life easier. If you’re automating anything with an API it should be because you’ve got a manual process that you need to speed up so there’s always an alternative.

Q) Is SEO becoming a dirty word?

A) No – I think it’s going the other way. Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed more and more businesses shying away from the low quality, low budget, SEO and starting to understand that it’s a genuine marketing channel that you need to invest in.

Q) Are you still guest blogging?

A) Yep, and this hasn’t really changed for us at all. For smaller clients we do some mid-level guest blogging and for larger ones we go for the big wins. If you’re writing great content that’s going on sites that generate referral traffic then you can’t really lose.

Q) I’ve got a site I want to SEO, but I have literally no budget, what is your number one, free SEO tip?

A) Make great content ;)

I’ll wait a couple of minutes for you to stop headbutting your desk.

In reality if there’s one tactic that you could still do with no budget it would be guest blogging. That isn’t just because of the links but also the other opportunities that are generated, and how much you learn about the importance of building relationships.

McLaren - Matt's dream client

McLaren – Matt’s dream client

Q) Who would be your dream SEO client and why?

A) This is a great question! As a business owner I want to pick a brand with a 6 figure budget but I also love working with smaller companies. Either way they need a great product as that makes life infinitely easier. Either McLaren F1 or Sonos would be cool.

Q) Who are your favourite ‘SEO rockstars’?

A) Haha! I’ve been lucky enough to spend some drinking time over the last few years with a lot of the ‘rockstars’. If I was giving out awards it would be Rand Fishkin for inspiration, Wil Reynolds for making you just want to go out there and get shit done, Hannah Smith for content, Phil Nottingham for video, and Paddy Moogan for links and being the most genuine, solid guy you’ll ever meet.

Ask an SEO – Alan Gregory of MonkeyFace on starting an SEO agency

Starting an SEO agency used to be a pretty easy game. Agree on 5-10 keywords with client > Create 5-10 generic, keyword heavy articles every month > Syndicate those articles to as many article directories as possible > Send out monthly invoice for £500 > Hope that rankings improved.

Today, it’s a whole different ball game. Links that make the difference are becoming harder and harder to come by. Lots of people have had bad experiences with agencies in the past, and due to the recession, budgets are even more stretched than ever.

Alan Gregory of Monkey Face

Alan Gregory of MonkeyFace

There’s no two ways about it, SEO is a tough racket, and I have a lot of admiration for anyone who is brave enough to start an agency right now.

I caught up with Alan Gregory of MonkeyFace SEO, I asked him about the trials and tribulations of setting up an SEO agency in the current climate.

Q) Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background, how did you get into SEO?

A) To be honest, I started doing SEO before I even knew what it was. I started out developing, marketing and selling products such as Ebooks and trading software about 6 years ago. I worked from a customer base and affiliate marketing, rather than generating traffic through Google and other search engines. However once the launch period had passed, I noticed the drop in traffic which ultimately led to a drop in sales.

My involvement with it came a bit later on, when I was pondering about where the sites come up on Google and the potential reasons why Google and other search engines lay the results out in accordance with what you type into them.

At the time, driving sales through search engines was not the main focus or regarded as a valuable use of time, as I had a large customer base and received assistance from affiliate marketers. My team and I honed in on putting time into a product launch rather than keeping a product selling in the market for a long period of time. Without realising the field I had stepped into, I was analysing traffic and studying ways in which to improve it.

When a product launch is over, you find that the sale statistics slowly begin to decrease and after roughly a month, sales drop to the point where they are almost non-existent.

Therefore, I looked into ways in which to improve the Google ranking of the product in order to promote and maintain sales, which is how I discovered that I have a flare and passion for SEO.

Q) Why did you decide to go it alone?

A) Initially, I worked for an in-house SEO team which I enjoyed very much. I learned a lot there but after leaving, I moved to an agency because I wanted to gain a wider understanding of different industries and how their SEO and marketing needs differ from one another and also to improve my skills and knowledge.

I came to the realisation that agencies work in different ways. I felt that clients were not getting a lot of value for their money and had to do a lot of the footwork on their own with only the directional advice of an SEO consultant. In my opinion, this is where an SEO should be doing things for the client. My clients don’t have to implement anything unless they want to because the work is done for them. I encourage them to do their own things but, I’d like to think I’m there if they want to get my opinion on something which they are unsure about.

I made the decision to set up my own SEO agency because I had a lot of suggestions and ideas for the agency which I was working for but they were not exactly enthusiastic about making changes to their methods, despite the constant evolution in SEO.

I thought that it would be an exciting but gruelling challenge for me to try and make it on my own. I appreciate the helping hands here and there, but it can be a bit of a juggling match sometimes.

Q) What sacrifices have you had to make to start your business?

A) Setting up a business takes a lot of time, money and energy so I’ll start with that. My evenings and weekends also suffer from time to time as I often have a large workload.

My dream always was to run my own business but I’ve had to turn down offers of working with some exciting agencies and global companies. It’s a tough call to make sometimes although, there is something about taking the plunge which brings about new challenges and comes with a lot of reward.

SEO for SMEs can be tough

SEO for SMEs can be tough

Q) What has been the biggest challenge to you in getting started?

A) I would have to say the most difficult things for me have been getting organised and staying motivated. When there are a million and one things to do, you don’t know where to start but it all needs doing and you care so much about each thing that it can be tough to prioritise tasks.

The first 3-4 months sprung up bad news after bad news in my personal life too, which made it all the more difficult. After a year in business, it’s certainly no easier, however my advice for anybody out there thinking about giving up is to just keep going. You never know who will be on the other end of your ringing phone.

Q) Where have your clients come from?

A) I have gained clients through my website, word of mouth, referrals and LinkedIn so far. Building new and strong relationships, whilst utilising existing relationships like your friends and family really makes a difference in the beginning. Just don’t expect all your friends to like, share or promote things for you all the time but don’t be afraid to ask them to mention you.

Q) Where did the name Monkey Face come from? Did you use our Silly Agency Name generator? ;-)

A) No, I didn’t use your silly name generator but if I had used it, my company would have been called Metal Frog Ltd, so it got the initials right! The name was given to me by one of the other directors when I was cheeky to her. It sort of stuck when we were thinking of a brand name.

Q) What does your team look like at the moment and what are your growth plans?

A) The team currently consists of just two of us, which means a consistently heavy work load so we are looking to expand as our number of clients continues to increase. My aim is to bring an additional three people into the team in 2014.

Q) Linkbuilding is a risky business today, how do you convey that risk to clients and how do you balance the risk/reward factor when deciding which links to build for which clients?

A) Each client is different so you have to treat their circumstances individually. Personally, I think that the word ‘risky’ is not an accurate word to use with regards to link building because if you do SEO honestly and properly, it serves a very useful and much wider purpose. Obviously, there is no longer room for spammy link building and paid links in the SEO world but it isn’t the end! You have to get creative and come up with new ways of doing things.

Just like the clients, every SEO consultant is different and we all have our ways of operating so link building could be risky for a client if it’s done by the wrong person.

Q) How much of what you do is internal, and how much is outsourced?

A) I very rarely pay for outsourced contractors because I like to be involved in projects and enjoy doing the work myself a lot of the time. I have found that outsourcing helps to relieve some of the workload and hours spent researching but the quality can suffer and I find that sometimes, by the time I’ve written a brief and waited for them to get back to me, I could have had it done myself to a standard I’d already be happy with.

I know of a fair few companies who obviously find outsourcing to be incredibly valuable to them and have regular freelancers with whom they work. My industry is rather competitive and outsourced work tends to eat into profits. I prefer to keep costs as low as possible in order to be able to offer the best value for my clients.

Q) Are you still guest-blogging?

A) I think there’s still use for guest-blogging when it’s done in the right way and there’s creativity injected into it but I don’t often have a lot of time for sitting down and writing passionately about things in the same way I used to.

I enjoy reading and commenting on blog posts and I like to help other people out when I get the opportunity to, I try to help people with issues I’ve had and leave feedback on comment feeds and Q&A websites such as Yahoo Answers. It’s fun to brainstorm ideas for articles in the office so I can be involved in the process and hopefully provide something witty and insightful.

Recently, I set up a food blogging website in my spare time with a good friend, John Leather, in order to raise the awareness of less visible food bloggers, who have some really wonderful recipes and ideas to share but weren’t previously being noticed by a very wide audience. So, even though I don’t personally come up with a lot of the content, I thrive in building relationships with the guest writers, and I sort out the proof-reading and publishing of the articles alongside co-founder, John, who has also worked really hard to make this work.

We are up against some tough competition but we welcome it. Good competition is healthy! Food Blogs UK is proving that quality guest-blogging is effective. The site is barely 6 months old and is already ranking well against some big fish. In my opinion it’s down to our guest blogger’s content and the marketing behind it.

Being verbose can help with SEO

Being verbose can help with SEO

Q) Lots of SEO agencies and professionals have been rebranding themselves recently; do you think that SEO is becoming a dirty word?

A) I think the word SEO has been tarnished over the years however, rebranding away from the (CompanyName + SEO = Brand) formula makes sense for larger companies looking to do more than clean up their name. Once you’re established with a large customer base, your voice becomes big enough to let people know about your new brand.

Rebranding can be a great way of facilitating a fresh marketing campaign although, in the interest of SEO, large companies can lose valuable organic search traffic through rebranding. The world of SEO is changing at a fast pace and the rebrands are possibly a strategic move in order to prevent the brand from narrowing its services or moving into other areas of expansion.

Q) Let’s say you have a client who operates in the most boring, uninspiring vertical imaginable. They are also completely unwilling to do anything creative, how do you do SEO for them?

A) I’ve had a few clients that operated within industries where flair and imagination weren’t always appropriate or desired. SEO can be very boring and tedious at times so, unfortunately, I’m used to things like that but I enjoy writing informative content so I still develop it in the most interesting way I can in order to inform, educate or instruct.

I love ‘did you know…’ info bubbles and quick tips so I would use one or two of those. Using interesting analogies and trying out a verbose word now and again can be a little bit of fun.

A lot of people tell me that I know tons of useless information and offer me other back-handed compliments so, I would still enjoy working with a client who diverted from anything creative however, given the option, I’d prefer to work on something with a bit of colour and action involved. I take a lot of pride in my client’s industry sectors and so the fun part for me is getting results and reporting about them.

Q) Having a bad experience with an SEO agency is a common tale from many SMEs, how do you convince those who are skeptical that you are different?

A) When I first started, I used to send out emails to companies, offering my services and asking them if they are interested in the services that I provide here. I soon realised that there were a lot of quite spammy emails being sent from terrible ‘SEO’ companies. After a few months, I started to get these emails almost daily. At first I checked them out but, I found it strange that an SEO company would contact my SEO company offering me their services. The more I ignored them, the more they came through and sometimes it was the same people and same names with the same old waffle.

As it is with many industries, we become awash with the same rubbish flying around and so I turned to the phones so I could get a short meeting with them over the phone. I had one secretary ask me to “send the director an email” and I said “I’m not going to do that because I offer SEO services and I’m sick of getting spammy emails about SEO so I’m sure he is too.” The point I was trying to make was that I seriously felt that they had a need for my services and I wanted to speak to a real human being, as I didn’t think he would bother to reply.

I’m lucky because my background in SEO is authentic and I like to tell prospects about myself and what it is that I do differently. I’ve set up MonkeyFace from my experience within a successful in-house team and a large agency in Manchester. I wanted to take the best of both worlds and create an agency which works on the campaign, rather than telling the client what to do. I find that people respect real SEO for its value and they will give you their time if you go to them with solutions to their problems as opposed to a generic ‘We’ll rank you number 1 on Google for everything’ email.

It’s important to sit down face to face and discuss their business and what’s happening with them so I can show them interest and find out information about their company with which to utilise and move forward. This way, I can explain things properly and they can query me about anything that they are unsure about.

Alan's dream SEO client - NASA

Alan’s dream SEO client – NASA

Q) What are the KPIs that you work to? Are fees conditional on rankings or traffic?

A) A typical SEO campaign includes approximate figures of targeted keyword rankings, organic traffic expectations, agreed on-page SEO and other areas like social indicators; mentions, likes, follows and pins.

Our clients appreciate that a lot of work and planning has to be done before we even implement any optimisation and that fees can change over time depending on what is required once the campaign is in full swing.

Q) I’ve got a site I want to SEO, but I have literally no budget, what is your number one, free SEO tip?

A) Find a credible forum, blog or website related to your website’s niche where you can help others with your knowledge and fill out your profile so that people know where to find your site. It’s low-maintenance and good promotion for your expertise.

Be mindful to only contribute because you can and not because you want to rank well in Google’s SERPs.

Q) What are your favourite SEO tools?

A) Being a pro member of Moz gives me access to some great tools but of all the tools I have access to, Opensite Explorer is a must-have SEO tool for me.

Google Analytics offers a thorough insight into what’s happening on a website and I rely on it heavily. The larger an audience, the more you’re given to work with and it can be finely tuned. It can sometimes be like a can of worms as I found out when I came across a problem with multiple ‘not provided’ keywords listed, which were never solved. I even spoke with Avinash Kaushik, who is a bit of an expert in analytics, and still got nothing.

Another great tool is whereamiongoogle.co.uk. Type in your keyword and URL and it will tell you where your website can be found within the first 100 positions on Google.co.uk

Q) Who would be your dream SEO client and why?

A) N.A.S.A. because I think I would enjoy working on the alt tags for their space images and I’d hopefully be one of the first to know about their astonishing new findings.

Q) Who are your favourite SEOs?

Moz's Whiteboard Friday

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday

A) Although I have never met him personally, I enjoy watching Whiteboard Friday with Moz’s Rand Fishkin. I like his approach to digital marketing and his passion for SEO.

Avinash Kaushik gave up his time to help me with a tough issue and does so for many others, so I like him.

When I worked at AO.com, I was lucky to have a good team around me. They deserve a mention as most don’t work there anymore and have all gone on to great things so Ben Fox, was my manager, David Ingram and the team are some of my favourites.

Ask an SEO – Stacey Cavanagh on building brand signals

SEO is a rapidly-changing game, with Google seemingly cracking down on every form of easily scalable link building tactic. We are rapidly approaching a time when the only links that will make a difference are those that are earned on their own merit.

Stacey Cavanagh

Stacey Cavanagh

Stacey Cavanagh of Manchester agency Tecmark has long been an advocate of doing it the right way – creating ‘brand signals’ in the form of useful, interesting and insightful content.

I was lucky enough to catch up with her recently and I asked her how you go about building these brand signals.

Q) Could you maybe start by telling us about yourself, how did you get into the weird and wonderful world of SEO?

A) I started out freelance copywriting back in 2007. More and more I was being asked for advice on “optimising content” and started teaching myself the basics of SEO. I realised very quickly that, firstly, this was right up my street! But most importantly, I knew there was way too much happening in the industry to just teach myself. I knew I wanted an agency side trainee role and I took one at Tecmark in 2009. So I was late to the game, for sure. But I learned quickly under the guidance of Kevin Jones, an awesome SEO who’d been working for some massive agencies and on some very campaigns prior to setting up Tecmark. And I’ve been at Tecmark ever since. I’m now Head of Search and I get to lead some great campaigns.

Q) You are a big advocate of using surveys to gain insights, which in turn, gain links. Could you give us some insight into how you come up with the ideas for the questions for these?

A) Absolutely. The thing I both love and loathe most about surveys is the unpredictable nature of them. You’re essentially asking human beings for something often based on their opinion and human beings can always surprise you. For example, a while ago I asked 1,000 Americans (tongue in cheek) to name a British City other than London. The top 10 included ‘Wales’ and ‘Paris,’ so it definitely had the surprise element! But it was light-hearted fun, made people laugh and made people want to share.

On the flip side, the follow up I did (asking Brits to name a US city) was boring. It was too easy a question and us Brits watch films named after US cities all the time etc. So the results were boring and it got no traction.

So wherever you ask humans anything, you can’t be sure you will get a shareworthy or newsworthy result. But the steps we take to try and make sure we do get something interesting are as follows:

Set clear, measurable objectives. What do we want from the survey? A piece of coverage on a certain website? 1,000 social shares? 10 links? We don’t opt for a survey unless we believe a survey can help us meet those goals.

We get a list together of people we think would be interested, develop personas for the type of people we think will share it etc.

The above guide our questions in terms of topic area and tone. But this also guides are decision as to who we are asking the question to.

Only when we have a clear idea on target respondents and target audience do we move on to the questions. We get a few people around the table (preferably a combination of people who are involved in the campaign and those who are not) and we outline the aims of the survey. Then between us we write down as many questions as we possibly can. Later, we whittle them down to a shortlist. From that shortlist, we make a list of potential stories (depending on how the survey goes) that might come out of the data. This is the key part – does each question have the potential (irrespective of the responses) to tell a story and is that story likely to be of interest to our target audience? The questions with the most promising potential stories are the ones we generally go with.

The thing with surveys, though, is that human element. You can minimise risk of a “boring” survey, but you can’t guarantee getting the story you want out of it. You need some good people on hand to turn whatever data you get into the most compelling stories possible.

Q) What is the best platform for attaining survey data?

A) It really depends on your budget. Google Consumer Surveys is a great low budget offering (from around $0.10 cents a response). However, if you want data more quickly and, in my opinion, a better Analytics and reporting dashboard, Quick Surveys is great. Ideally, though, and if you have more budget to play with, it’s great to go a market research company like One Poll. These guys are offering a service rather than a tool and they’re experts in making sure your questions are written so as not to be leading and that the data will be as credible as possible. So if you’re looking at doing a serious study, that’s where you should be looking. For more light hearted, less intense stuff, I’d suggest the other two work just fine!

One Poll

One Poll – Great for surveys

Q) How can you be sure of the integrity of data? How do you know it hasn’t come from click farms or MTurk?

A) Data integrity can be a huge issue. Even if not necessarily manipulative answers, you have the issue with Google Consumer Surveys where people are being asked the question without opting in. They often answer it to get to their content, so you could argue that it’s rushed or they’re just saying any old thing to get rid of the question.

With Quick Surveys, you’re asking a panel of people being paid for their answers and all we can due is due diligence on the company behind it to see what measures they’re taking to ensure the panel is authentic.

With One Poll, similarly, they’re the experts. We trust they take steps to ensure the integrity of our data. But ultimately, I would say you just have to be clear with any survey data you publish just makes it clear where the data has come from and ensure you speak to suppliers about how they source their panels.

Q) So I have my survey data, what do I do with it?

A) You need to turn it into a story. A compelling one that resonates with the audience you’re targeting, or perhaps throws a spanner in the works of a widely accepted theory or maybe rides on the back of something topical.

But the key here is the story. You could deliver this in several different formats – an infographic, a text blog post, a video… the key is turn it into something someone somewhere gives a crap about.

In terms of outreach, it’s going to depend on your audience or goals. If you’ve made a good target list of influencers at the beginning and the final results haven’t changed your plans, then start there. If I have a newsworthy piece, I like to get in touch with journalists  who’ve written about it recently. Use sites like journalisted.com to find people who might care and who might be able to use it.

Paid discovery channels like Outbrain, Zemanta and even Adwords can be effective too.

Outbrain

You might like…

Q) There are lots of platforms for content distribution which are your favourite and why?

A) I’m a fan of paid content discovery platforms. I have tried Outbrain and Zemanta with similar results. I’ve also experiments with Reddit paid entries, paid Stumbleupon discovery, Facebook advertising and Google Adwords. The 2 I always go back to though are Outbrain and Adwords. But I’m always experimenting with others.

Wil Reynolds gave a great talk on this, outlining some figures from an experiment they carried out at SEER.

Q) What is the best platform for getting in touch with journalists?

A) I do rate HARO. I also like Muckrack and Flacklist. Journalisted.com is a good database. But honestly, I think you have a great shout on social media too if you have the names of the journalists you want to talk to. If you have a telephone number, even better. You’re harder to ignore on the phone. And journalists have busy inboxes. If someone is happy to take your call, it’s a better way to go about introducing yourself, I find.

Q) Asides from these signals, what other tips would you give to companies who want to look like a credible ‘brand’ online?

A) Social signals, evidence of real customers talking with you or two you online and things like that. A real business has real customers. And if you’ve left them with the warm and fuzzies, they’ll be talking about you online (unless you’re in a sensitive niche, of course!).

Real Company Shit” as Wil Reynolds refers to it is critical. Ultimately, if you want to look like a credible brand online, then be one.

Q) Are you still guest blogging after Matt Cutts recent announcement? And if so, how are you going about it?

A) Yes, I am. And I’m still running guest editorial on my own blog as well. Particularly with the amendment after his post, Matt Cutts made it clear that what he is calling out is crap guest blogging.  I wrote about how badly this has led to people misinterpreting Matt Cutts. I think if you’ve always had quality at the centre of your guest editorial, then carry on! That’s my view.

300 Seconds

300 Seconds

Q) You have spoken at a few SEO events (Search Love, BrightonSEO) do you have any tips for aspiring conference speakers about how to go about it?

A) I’d suggest starting by attending a few conferences. Get to grips with the topics, the formats and meet some people. Then get involved in some small events just to get some experience under your belt. There are some great opportunities for women in the UK in the form of a series of small conferences by 300 Seconds where women new to the scene can get a 5 minute talk under their belt in a comfortable environment. They can then reference this in future pitches (there will be a version on Youtube for you).

When you feel ready, pitch on of the conferences that has an open pitching policy (SES and SMX both do). My first big conference was SMX London in 2013. That led to invites from BrightonSEO and SearchLove.

Getting the slot is only half the battle though. If your content isn’t right or you miss the brief, the chances of a repeat invite are slim. So really do set out every single time to deliver the absolute best you possibly can.

Q) Lots of SEO agencies and professionals have been rebranding themselves recently, do you think that SEO is becoming a dirty word?

A) I think it has dirty connotations to it, yes. SEO is evolving and in order to compete effectively now, there are more skill sets required than were required, say, 5 or 10 years ago.

But I think the way to overcome any dirty connotations when talking to prospects or clients is an education session on where SEO was and where it’s at now – the role of content marketing and so on.

Q) I’ve got a site I want to SEO, but I have literally no budget, what is your number one, free SEO tip?

A) Start by researching all possible ways in which someone looking for your site might find you. Focus on the long tail – tools like UberSuggest.org are awesome for that. Use this data to populate your site with useful content tailored to the different ways in which people might look at you.

Invest a LOT of time getting the on site content absolutely spot on. And in terms of link building, network, make friends and engage with others online. It’s through contacts you’ll find yourself invited to contribute on others’ websites and being talked about online (which results in links).

A good quick win method for existing businesses with a decent offline offering is to do a search for mentions online that don’t have links. That’s a nice freebie!

Q) What are your favourite SEO tools?

A) I use loads. The ones I use most are Screaming Frog, the Moz suite, Search Metrics, Majestic SEO and Buzzstream.

Q) Who would be your dream SEO client and why?

A) Disney, mostly just because I’m a massive fan. But they have this huge engaged market, so much scope for content marketing and so many avenues where online traffic and sales can be measured (from park bookings to the sale of soft toys, for example).

Q) Who are your favourite ‘SEO rockstars’?

A) Love to hear Wil Reynolds speak at any conference. He’s always informative and engaging. Similarly, Kelvin Newman is incredibly knowledgeable, so too is Aleyda Solis. And one of the most insightful people I’ve ever spoken to about outreach is Gisele Navarro.