Chris Green is an SEO Consultant at High Position, a prominent UK based digital marketing agency. Ask anything about SEO, and you will get an in-depth answer from Chris. He works on almost all the aspects of online marketing. He believes that one has to wear a lot of hats to succeed in the online marketing sector. I asked Chris for an interview, and he graciously responded and offered valuable information for all our questions.
Tell us something about Highposition working culture and what differentiates it as a working place?
“High Position’s a workplace unlike any other I’ve worked. It’s a vibrant and busy agency, so there’s often the productive sound of fingers assaulting keyboards as we all crack on with work – but conversely it’s not at all unusual to find yourself in the midst of a Nerf-gun war or hear the sounds of people gathered around the Xbox or the foosball table. I know this is a cliche, but we work hard and play hard. But on a more serious note, I work with such a broad range of expertise and knowledge bases, I think I learn something every day.”
Chris, we would like to know a bit about your career background, and how & when you got into the SEO industry?
“I started off doing SEO through Copywriting after having spent years blogging and writing. Anyone writing for web comes across SEO at some point and I decided to look into it further. I got my first job doing SEO (amongst Paid Search and Social Media Marketing) about 3 years ago and the rest, they say, is history.”
More and more people are complaining about the message “not provided data” resulting into their data being lost. Being a Google Analytics Certified, do you think that they will go for other options for analytics? What are your views on this? Is it possible that after the launch of the premium Google Analytics Program, Analytics will soon turn into a paid service?
“ The (not provided) shift has left a fairly big hole in Google Analytics and other analytics platforms and in some instances has reduced the perceived effectiveness of Digital Marketing professionals in many people’s eyes. Since the shift away from keyword reliance in GA we’ve been working on lots of alternatives to this issue and found that content and content reports are having to take the centre stage now.
Whilst I miss the extra data, I think the industry will adapt as it always does and as we move closer to a more complete semantic search world (thinking conversational search, Hummingbird etc), I believe keyword reporting would have to change anyway. Do I think that Google’ll reintroduce keyword data under a paid model? Well, the adwords programme is, in effect doing this at the moment. More specifically I’m sceptical that they’ll introduce that data as part of GA Premium, but it’d be interesting to see a paid keyword feed or similar.“
Just a few days back, Penguin and Hummingbird updates have rolled out. Are these updates really meant for better search results?
“ As much as algorithm updates can really make for a turbulent time for some, I honestly believe the overall effect of the Penguin (and Panda) updates is to really re-focus the industry to concentrate on achieving great quality signals, rather than just making the artificially. However, the effect of this does of seem to unfairly favour brands and is forcing the “little guy’” out of organic search in a lot of cases.
As for Hummingbird, well I think that’s a different story altogether. It’s still too early to tell whether it’s improving search results, but if we look at Google’s rationale behind it I think we know roughly where they’re going. This is more catering for a shift in how we’ll search for information and how search relates to the rest of the internet. This isn’t a question of getting rid of webspam, it’s about changing the search landscape altogether.”
Suppose your client has received a warning for unnatural links and you have performed all the tasks including the reconsideration request. However, your client’s website is still losing traffic & rankings. What kind of strategies would you suggest them?
“ If the reconsideration request has been successful and rankings are still dropping then you at first give you website a thorough on-page audit, really get deep within the site’s code and work out exactly how Google’s treating it. If you still don’t have any luck here you’ll need to take a long hard look at the market place and your chosen keywords. Is the market getting more crowded, or are people just searching for your product differently?”
Being an SEO consultant and knowing that 100% result is not in our hands, how do you commit to your clients and make them happy?
“ It’s about being transparent and really handling expectations. SEO has changed so much in the last two years but some people still expect page one position one in a short timescale – which is not possible whilst ensuring your website is “safe” in the future. Be upfront about your campaign’s goals and what you’ll achieve, and that’ll more often than not, see things go smoothly enough. “
Let us know your highly recommended steps to recover from Penguin 2.1
“ Get to know your link profiles, stop doing the wrong kinds of link building and look into backlink removal. If you’ve been hit hard by Penguin, then backlink removal is really the most important factor within the process, however, if you’ve had a relatively small dip in rankings/traffic then it might be better to invest differently into some more high-quality outreach/PR efforts to build the trust signals to your site.”
Which is that biggest challenge during your career that you had to overcome while working with clients?
“ The biggest challenge really is when there’s a sizable update during a public holiday or on a Friday afternoon. For the most part most updates these days have minor effects on the majority of our clients, however, there is always the feeling of trepidation to see what will be awaiting you on Monday morning. “
What’s the most creative link building technique you have done in your career?
“This isn’t really a technique exactly, but I’ve created a website as part of Moz’s “Mozcation” competition. Obviously, I wanted to try and be successful in the competition, but I knew that there’d be a link in it for each entry. Safe to say, it worked and I got the link, and then off the back of that, I got a link from Jon Cooper’s Creative Link Building blog post! “
Which is the weirdest link building requests you’ve ever received from a client?
“Usually the requests are mostly focused on building trustworthy and high-quality links, so the requests aren’t that weird. Although the strangest one would have had to have been a request to build some links on About.com and a few other large article sites – this was after the wide-scale devaluing of them some time ago – safe to say I steered my efforts elsewhere!“
As an SEO Consultant, what is your advice to other SEOs in the market?
“Embrace change, keep an open mind rather than a closed one and most importantly remember that automation is only good when it has real efficiency benefits, not when it’s to cut corners! We’re moving into an age of creative, quality work, there is really no substitute for the human brain for this – too many people forget that.“
What do you do when you are not doing SEO?
“Writing mostly, although recently I’ve been pre-occupied by the birth of my first-born, little baby Erin. I’m now a full-time SEO & Dad and part-time writer – there aren’t enough hours in the day!”
Thanks, Chris for being a sport and answering the questions. The SEO world will look forward to this interview as a valuable source.