PushON Work / Life – An interview With Paul, Head of Digital Marketing

Roy Wilding | November 1st 2017

What’s your role at PushON?

I’m the head of digital marketing, responsible for the operational management of the organic and paid search teams, making sure all the work is delivered to our clients is of the best quality and also managing strategy for our clients to deliver the best results possible.

You’ve been at PushON for nearly two years now but how long have you been doing technical SEO in total?

That’s correct, two years has gone by quickly! My main role within SEO previously was a technical SEO specialist, so in total over 10 years.

How does SEO and the range of activities you do differ now from when you started?

Well, that’s a great question, things have most definitely changed over the past 10 years. One thing that has remained – and I also state this is the most important part of SEO – is the technical aspect have having a very well looked-after site. Technologies have advanced but the fundamentals remain the same: keeping the site in good health is crucial to successful SEO.

Do you think the changes to the algorithm and various penalties Google has applied over the years have been for the general good or are there some that frustrate, that you think are unnecessary? Are the SERPs (search engine results pages) better now than any other point in your SEO career?

The way that Google has had many algorithm updates across areas such as content is certainly improving the SERPs, meaning sites of poor quality can no longer rank as well or have prolonged rankings. The Penguin update around links has meant that the way to have content linked to is proving harder but making content of a higher standard is more crucial than ever.

Is black hat SEO still a thing? Does it still work?

It most certainly is still a thing and to my knowledge still works – the black hatters are usually at the forefront of how to game the system.

What’s your opinion on that?

It’s obviously not something to conduct for any clients, but some black hat techniques can help to understand how to develop scripts and code but it’s not a practice I ever use.

Paid search has taken a big portion of the organic results space. That means SEO is dead, right?

Ah the age old ‘SEO is dead’ question! Paid search certainly dominates the SERPs, so less of the page is organic for many competitive terms, but organic still plays a crucial role in serving users with useful results.

Google still dominates search – how much if any attention do you pay to the other search engines?

Google’s UK market share puts them way ahead of others so it’s the engine that gets the majority of focus and attention, Bing traffic, whilst lower, isn’t something to ignore, so general SEO practices work across both engines. Bing is also powering three out of four voice platforms.

Voice search must be impacting what you do. Any pearls of wisdom you can share there?

Voice search is definitely something that is becoming more prevalent, with Alexa & Siri leading the way. The majority of the big voice platforms still use Bing to provide voice queries, so my advice is to think about what questions you can answer in your industry as the majority of voice search queries are users seeking to find an answer. Writing specific content to answer the ‘who, what, where, when, how’ type questions will certainly be of benefit.

Good technical SEOs are rare and in general young digital marketers seem far more attracted to social and ‘content marketing’ (formerly known as SEO). If there are any young digital marketers considering focusing on SEO as a path and core skill, what advice would you give them to accelerate their progression?

Yes, that seems to be the case. When I first started in SEO it was full of more technically minded people. I would certainly advise to learn HTML to begin with. Understanding how a website works will help to find and solve issues. I simply began to build websites to test and learn, develop my skills. Also, learning how to use Google Analytics to provide analysis is very important across all areas of online marketing. See how work that has been conducted has impacted the traffic to the site and understand why.

Any predictions from you on what SEOs might need to do to stay that critical step ahead of the competition?

I can’t give all the tips to stay ahead, now, can I? In an ever-changing environment it’s crucial to keep up to date with industry news and practices. As SEO is subjective, it’s ensuring that best practice is kept to and as I previously mentioned, keeping the website in its best shape technically is key.