Lewis Chaffey, our resident SEO and outreach ninja sits down with Creative Director, Kayleigh, and reflects on the past 12 months at Seeker… Stand by for some knowledge bombs from the man who is calm as a cucumber and puts the wind in Seeker’s SEO sails. Instead of his other favourite things — tropical fish and footie — we delve into Lewis’s take on outreach and SEO.
What’s been your biggest triumph of the past twelve months?
For me, it’s simply been developing my knowledge and experience in the SEO industry. I think I was a pretty decent SEO 12 months ago but the amount I’ve learned over the past year has been huge when I look back on it. Of course, learning from one of the best SEOs in the game definitely helps but I now feel much more aligned with where the industry is going and what tactics are important to future proof our websites.
It’s also been very rewarding taking on more projects and developing some successful outreach strategies for our clients. Logging into Ahrefs and seeing everything going in the right direction is one of the best parts of the job!
What are your top 3 tips for outreach teams and managers?
As a specialist outreach agency, we build a lot of lists and have lots of ongoing campaigns to manage at once. One of the best ways to manage this workload is to build clean lists. Outreaching to irrelevant sites is one of our cardinal sins because it wastes time, money and can harm brand reputation. After prospecting, we inspect every single list before launching outreach and ensure every site is exactly what we’re looking for. The time spent inspecting our lists saves time and reputation later down the line so it’s definitely worth it.
When taking on a new outreach client, we like to carry out some research into their industry and see who the big players are. We’re not looking for competitors in this instance, but more so magazines and editorial sites that have a big footprint and a large readership. Once we’ve found these sites we aren’t going to go in with a cold pitch. These are the types of relationships you want to build over time. Get chatting to an editor or some form of decision maker over social and build up to the eventual pitch.
Use your team’s skill sets
When it comes to outreach, every team member has their place. Sure, small companies can get away with a one-man-band approach to outreach but you’re much more effective as part of a team. For example, our SEOs will deliver the outreach strategy, decide on target pages and cover prospecting. Then our outreach specialists will take over management of the campaign and deal with email templates and ongoing comms with prospects. We will also get our content team involved if we need to pitch some interesting content ideas and then produce it. It works like a well-oiled machine!
Most fulfilling/interesting project
It’s been very fulfilling to design an outreach strategy that takes into account target pages, keyword targeting, anchors, client KPIs and more. Then overseeing the actual campaign (email templates etc.) and securing the placements. I’ve never ran outreach campaigns at this detail before and drilling down into the minute details of a campaign can reveal some very interesting info. I’ve ended up finding hidden cannibalisation and technical issues from deep dives like this. Reviewing and adapting the strategy is also a must and these changes can help us discover some of the most effective outreach strategies out there.
Where do you think the outreach industry is headed
Outreach is basically the evolution of link building and it’s a tactic that more and more brands are going to turn to. I think we’re going to see business owners and decision makers really building their personal brands by appearing on quality industry blogs and building relationships with other powerful websites in their niche. Connections are becoming increasingly important in outreach so reach out to the top sites in your industry and see if you can offer some form of value exchange – it’ll be very beneficial in the long run.
And what about SEO — what does the future hold
SEO has had a big few months after the latest Google ‘Medic’ update. The latest algo change seems to be really focused on experience, authority and trust (EAT). I think this is something we will see more of from Google; they want to make sure every site they rank highly deserves to be there and is an authoritative resource that’s backed by real world data.
For example, it’s going to become increasingly important to optimise about pages and showcase the team behind your business. Google wants to know if your business has any certifications or accreditations and if you have any experts working for you. These new ranking signals could end up being the differentiating factor between a page 1 ranking or a page 2. So I imagine the future of SEO will be more and more about brand building (and how you show that to Google) as well as the core technical and keyword research elements.
Any advice for people trying to break into the SEO industry
I think hands on experience is the best possible way to land your first job or just get started in SEO. Qualifications are great but SEO is one of those industries where you need to show what results you can get in the real world, not on paper. Anyone trying to break into the industry can take advantage of online courses and YouTube content to build their knowledge a great deal.
Starting your own website or blog is probably the best way to break into the industry. Show that you can not only build a site (WordPress is your best bet) but also rank it for some keywords. You don’t have to spend a load of cash, just find some long-tail keywords and write a quality piece of content! Alternatively you could approach a small business and offer your SEO services for free and simply use the experience as a case study for future job opportunities.
I would recommend the Lion Zeal YouTube channel as a great place to learn from experienced SEOs.
Any advice for brands doing outreach
Think quality not quantity. I think some brands get caught up on how many links they have versus the competition and then outreach to pretty low level sites to build links quickly. It makes much more sense to instead target high level sites where a placement (whether it’s an article or some form of advertisement) is going to hold much more value for your brand. Even if it takes you a week to get listed on one of the top editorial sites in your industry, that coverage is going to be so much more valuable than 50 links from free ‘submit your article’ sites that are full of guest posts from SEOs and not much else.
Memorable moment at Seeker
My most memorable moment was a pretty recent one. It has to be being taken away for an ‘important’ meeting just so the team can prepare a one year surprise party for me and Damo, our content writer who joined Seeker on the same day. Walking into the pitch black office into an onslaught of party poppers from the whole Seeker team felt like walking onto a firing line but it will certainly live long in the memory!
Future developments you’re excited about/what are your aims for the next 12 months career-wise?
For me, it’s continuing to learn from other SEOs in the industry and develop my own experience by performing tests on our internal websites. It’s going to be important for me to learn the new tactics that are going to become more important for ranking a site 3-4 years from now. That will allow us to future proof our work and stay ahead of the competition. My personal goals are mainly to expand my experience, take on more projects and deliver impressive results.