Steve Morgan is a Freelance SEO Consultant trading as Morgan Online Marketing, based in Cardiff, UK. We recently spoke with Steve about current search engine optimization trends as well as what's happening with keyword research, social media, and optimizing website conversion rates.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about search engine optimization?
I've been doing SEO full-time since early 2009. I fell into it by accident: my brother set up an SEO agency and I was his first hire.
I'd been using the Internet for years and had always wondered how Google ranked web pages, but didn't put that much thought into it until I got into SEO. As someone who studied marketing/media at university, but had a bit of a technical mindset and was a big fan of all things online, it was a really good fit for me. I love it.
If someone were to say to you, "I've stopped worrying about tweaking my SEO strategy, since it seems like Google changes the rules every month," how would you respond?
That's usually said by someone who's been bitten by one of Google's updates. I'd be able to see their point, but I'd urge them to at least keep on top of what's going on and to try and continue to optimize the best way that they can. After all, what if it's only temporary? And what if a future update really benefits them?
Of the people or companies engage your services, what are some of the most common challenges that they're facing?
I promote a collaborative approach: I'm a strong believer that you get the best results if you work on your SEO together (client and consultant) rather than to outsource everything to an agency and hope for the best. Clients love the idea of this approach - the transparency, the fact that they're involved, the fact that it helps them to become an industry authority - but a lot of them struggle to commit. We're all busy people, whether we're the CEO of a small company or a marketing person with a marketing department at a large company. So the challenge is trying to convince the person that it'll be worth it, and that they need to "do their bit" to fit it into their busy schedule.
Since you're very interested in keyword research, could you tell us one thing that you have learned about it that has surprised you?
I'm surprised that more people don't focus on more than just search volume data. When I conduct keyword research for clients, I look at search volume data, competition, current ranking, and even potential ROI (if they know their average sale value and their on-site conversion rate). These can be pivotal in making an informed decision going forward - more than just relying on search volume alone.
How can a company utilize Twitter as part of an overall inbound marketing strategy?
Use it to get your content out there. Don't just share once. Do a "From yesterday:" tweet the next day, an "In case you missed it (ICYMI):" tweet a few days later, and - if it's still relevant weeks/months later - some "From the archives:" tweets from time to time.
Use tools like Followerwonk to find out who your audience is, where they're based worldwide, and when they're most active on Twitter. The more people who see your tweets, the greater the chance they'll see your content. And the more people who see your content, the greater the chance it'll get shared/linked to, which will aid your inbound marketing efforts further.
Give us one tip or suggestion that can help businesses increase the number of readers of their blog posts.
My favorite technique at the moment is finding high search volume, low competition "how to" keywords and writing optimized content especially for them. Writing something targeting keywords with hundreds of monthly searches globally but with less than 10 competing web pages essentially means guaranteeing a page 1 ranking.
One of my clients has benefitted hugely from this. Their blog's organic search traffic has grown 300x in one year (from 30 visits per month to 10,000).
If the main goal of a digital marketing campaign is to obtain sales leads, what should the campaign AVOID doing?
Anything at all that could hinder or stop a sale - whether that's not using strong enough calls-to-action, not linking to your inquiry/booking form enough, having too many 404 (Page Not Found) pages on your site, or linking out too much to external sites. Make sure you're doing all you can on the CRO (conversion rate optimization) front.
Do you foresee any significant changes in SEO or social media marketing in the future?
I think Google will continue to fight the good fight when it comes to spam and black-hat techniques, getting smarter at detecting such tactics along the way. On the social media front, I think users will become more skeptical of advertising/sponsored posts encroaching on their space, so advertisers will have to become smarter about how to present themselves in such a space.
It'll also be interesting to see what happens to Twitter in the coming months/years with the warning signs that have been batted around suggesting that it's in financial trouble. I'm a big fan of the platform, so I'll be gutted if it goes!
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