He always fancied himself a designer, but studying web design led him to discover that he was more interested in how the internet worked, than how it looked. Meet our Head of SEO, Andre Wilkinson.
When you meet someone new, and they ask you to explain what it is you do for a living, what do you say?
Depends on who is asking, if they seem to have a vague idea about marketing or technology, I will go with SEO. If not, I find “Internet Jedi” is always a good option.
For those that don’t know, what are the basics of SEO?
There is no “short” answer to this question, so I normally start with, “I help websites gain visibility in search engines like Google”. If this is not followed by a blank stare, I will try and explain further. But in my experience, this usually suffices. I have found that as the SEO industry is maturing, and becomes part of the marketing vocabulary, more people are aware of it and I can actually explain it with some more granularity.
So, SEO is about the strategy and actions required for a brand/website to appear at the top of search engines, not limited to Google.
An interesting spin-off skillset that comes with being an SEO strategist, is that we are very close to user behaviour data. This allows us to comment on most digital marketing practices.
What does a ‘typical day at the office’ look like for you?
Simple… Coffee, Excel and emails.
Favourite part of your job? Why?
My favourite part of working in SEO, specifically at Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize, is the diversity of projects and scope I get to work with. From problem solving to full data driven content based campaigns, there is very little copy/paste in my job.
How does SEO work in collaboration with other departments in the agency?
SEO works well with most other channels as it is often where we feel a lot of the effects that other channels have. For example, a user’s search query is often subconsciously impacted by many factors, this often includes campaigns that are not geared around web. We can also use other channels to equip users with a language to use when they enter searches into Google, thereby making it easier for us to capture them with cleverly targeted search campaigns.
Any new developments in SEO you see evolving in 2015? Any recent developments that have taken off?
– What has been slowly happening for the last couple of years is Google trying to master the mobile domain. With the prevalence in smartphones and smart devices nowadays, it is hardly surprising that mobile search makes up a huge proportion of Google’s traffic.
– We have recently seen the latest Google update, affectionately called Moblegeddon, which sought to penalise sites if they do not render a valuable user experience on a mobile device.
– The difficulty in this space is that mobile behaviour is very different from desktop behaviour. For example, people do not want to read long copy on a small screen, or even click through to a site if they were satisfied with their search query in the results.
– I predict that Google will extract the most relevant information from sites and display them in search results rather than show a page’s Title Tag or Meta Description. We have seen Google adding Call buttons directly in search results for brands on mobile searches recently. We may find ourselves having to re-think or tag page content in such a way so that Google understands it and to extract it easily for mobile searches. We may also need to re-think analytics data from mobile devices as we see a drop off in traffic to pages because users are getting what they are looking for in the search results directly.
What is the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
The two main misconceptions I have come across are: That what I do is “snake oil salesman” work as Google knows everything already and that I can simply pay Google to achieve higher organic listings.
What makes a good SEO strategist?
A good SEO strategist is someone who is a quick learner, able to be fluid in adjusting strategies, data driven and able to put up with a lot of tedious work. It is not as glamorous as we like to make out.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
In 5 years’ time I would like to be on the forefront of the REAL big data movement we are hearing about so much right now.
We hope so too. Thank you Andre!