Ask the Expert: Search Engine Optimisation

The next article as part of our “ask the expert” series is all about succeeding as an SEO specialist. For some practical insights, tips and pointers, we caught up with Brett Saltalamacchia, Technical SEO Analyst at Lovehoney.

Brett has been with Lovehoney for almost 3 years as an essential part of the in-house digital marketing team. It’s his job to head up the SEO team and provide technical direction with optimised content based on keyword strategy, measuring analytical results and ensuring that the company website is found for all of the right terms and ties in with search engine guidelines.

We caught up to discuss the role from his perspective and to collect key pieces of advice to give you the best chance at thriving as a professional in this industry.

So, Brett what pieces of advice can you share with those who are keen to take a leap into this digital marketing role? And what nuggets of wisdom could you share with those that would like to work their way up within this area of expertise?

Brett says:

Understand that SEO is a “test and learn” culture

It’s hard and sometimes you might not get the results you want or the ranking(s) you were expecting – but this is ultimately all part of the fun, as when you do hit that sweet spot, it is incredibly rewarding. Many people have misconceptions of how SEO works and how difficult it can be – key stakeholders may expect results overnight, web developers might disagree with your recommendations, and some think it’s magic.

Part of what makes SEO such an exciting role is that people often aren’t familiar in what you actually do. It can be considered “cool”, but this can be dangerous territory, as many have misconceptions of the benefits, the realisation timescales and the amount of effort required to ensure that a campaign truly succeeds.

It’s key to educate those around you to ensure that realistic expectations, goals and KPIs are set – otherwise you may be shooting yourself in the foot when Google doesn’t decide to honour your changes.

Be the key influencer

It’s important to identify as the go-to person for everything SEO related, because the chances are, you’re likely to step on others toes, whether you work in-house or for an agency.

You need to ensure that you’re a part of every project that involves core website change. If you aren’t involved, you can be left behind and find out the following day that a major site change is imminent. My advice: start regular working groups to ensure that SEO is at the forefront of everyone’s minds when making crucial site changes, be everywhere, and explain how SEO can enhance, not replace, their work.

Understand user intent and the end goal

It’s important to not only create a page that’s great for search engines, but to create a page that matches the intent of the query that the user is searching for, otherwise, they will land on the site, but not convert. It’s especially important to ensure that your site is deemed to provide positive user experience to qualify for the top-end of search.Google will measure this by looking at engagement metrics and after-click experiences. Create content for users, not search engines. I tend to use term frequency and inverse document frequency analysis to understand intent and the ‘type’ of content Google deems as relevant for a particular query.

Work on your analytical skills…

…to ensure stakeholder buy in. As the chances are, if you mention an algorithm update, (even though it may excite you) this won’t encourage board approval. Rather, use query search volumes, click through rates, conversion and average order values to assign a price tag to a particular position, and the work required to influence a higher position, to then work out an anticipated benefit. This will help push through internal project seamlessly, and will help educate the board on how important organic visibility is to their business.

Thanks so much for sharing Brett!

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