Q) Hi Jonathan, could you start by telling us how you got into SEO?
A) My history is not the typical “agency” SEO background you would expect. I actually started working across SEO in some form or another during my university placement year which was a client side marketing role and then further developing in additional Digital Marketing roles client side before moving to agency. These roles however also included working across other digital marketing elements such as email marketing, paid search and aspects of development.
I only started working in a pure SEO role once I moved agency side back in 2012 with a role at Stickyeyes, before moving across the City Centre to start at twentysix in the summer of 2014.
Q) Tell us a bit about your agency, twentysix?
A) twentysix is a full service digital marketing agency with offices in Leeds, London, New York and Singapore. Our services within the Search area of the business include SEO, PPC, social media, affiliates and CRO making up over 40 members of Staff with a further 60 plus staff members working within the Development side of the business which includes Mobile & Website Development and our UX team.
twentysix is a fast paced, passionate agency where we have a real hunger to drive the best ROI for our clients.
Q) Leeds has a thriving digital marketing community, what’s it like to be part of it?
A) Leeds is a fantastic hotbed of search agencies with great pool of talented individuals which is ultimately pushing the industry forward, especially in Yorkshire. twentysix itself has some really strong competition from some great rival agencies which means we are pushed regularly to be one of the best and consistently develop and enhance our proposition.
Q) What is the first thing you do when you start a new SEO campaign for a client?
A) It really depends on what our client’s objectives are and what the scope of work is. This can be anything from technical analysis to data gathering and analytical reporting or even pure outreach and creative campaigns. But what we take real pride in is our complete immersion within a client and their activities; we are ultimately as an agency an extension of their company and so should be fully integrated and up to speed with everything that they are.
Q) As an agency, what are the metrics and KPIs that campaigns are measured against?
A) We focus on real world results. Rankings and search visibility are great, but there are far too many inaccuracies and uncertainties within third party metrics such as Moz’s domain authority, which means as an agency we can use these as comparison metrics but not alone.
We work to bottom line figures; we’re driven by the client’s KPIs and their business needs to drive the best ROI. Reporting, accountability and transparency are the core to our approach.
Q) What has been the most significant change in your time in SEO?
A) There have been so many changes across digital as a whole from the rise of mobile search to the launch of Panda, Penguin and Pigeon algorithm updates, but “not provided” has been a real game changer for not just agencies but clients themselves. There has been a real shift from having SEO KPIs purely based on rankings to incorporating traffic, revenue and overall organic visibility of brands and that ranking for “Golden” high volume terms are not the be all and end all of SEO campaigns. There is so much more that agencies should be focussing on such as the actual monetary return on investment for clients and showing a clear bottom line progression.
Q) What are your SEO predictions for the year ahead?
A) SEO evolves so fast that most predictions within this industry are blown out of the water with something completely new and unthought-of by the end of the year. What I really see in the year ahead includes:
• The further development and refinement of the recent Pigeon update within the UK market.
• A real focus from clients on the closer unity of SEO within the digital marketing mix. How SEO impacts and reacts with the other marketing channels.
• Further refinement from Google on the Penguin algorithm and the manipulation within a sites backlink profile.
• A significant change within mobile search from how Google interacts with un-optimised sites.
• A better understanding from Google on user experience and how this differs between markets and industries, UX is not one size fits all and certainly isn’t determined by Google but remains with the user.
• The rise of new technology – the game isn’t just desktop, mobile and tablet, welcome to smart watches and many more devices.
Q) What are your top SEO tips for sites with little/no budget?
A) As a business clearly define realistic key organic search objectives and make your agency work for you not the other way around. Be realistic in where you are and where you want to be, if you have clear objectives you won’t get led down the wrong path. Be aware that search engine optimisation is not an off the shelf product or one off buy, it is a continual process of implementation and development which should be involved and integrated with all of your marketing activities.
Q) What are your favourite SEO tools and why?
A) As far as I am concerned, SEO is all about variety, there are some fantastic tools in the market from link analysis tools such as Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs to visibility and ranking platforms such as Searchmetrics and Brightedge but never forget Google’s continually developing arsenal of testing and reporting tools within Webmaster tools and analytics. Working in SEO, we should always test and try new tools in the marketplace because we are always pushing the barriers and can never stand still.
Q)Who are your favourite SEO ‘rockstars’?
A) The SEO community is such a diverse group of professionals with varying knowledge, expertise and advice. Personally I am open to listening and reading to as many peoples and agencies opinions as possible. I have a tweetdeck specifically set up to follow blogs, agencies, SEO and digital marketers which is constantly updated when I come across interesting new information which I could test and implement across my clients.
For any person wanting to develop their knowledge of SEO the UK has some great events and conferences such as Searchlove and Brighton SEO, which really highlight the quality the UK has in SEO professionals, but I would also highly recommend following guys like Bill Slawski, Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz and of course Mr Matt Cutts.
Read up on sites like SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineWatch, SEORoundtable and read the detailed information across Moz’s Blogs and guides. But don’t forget the UK market is a very different animal to US so take some information with a pinch of salt!
Are you an SEO with a story to tell? Email help(at)copify.com to be featured.