Tommy is a well-rounded leader who has flourished in both startup and corporate environments. His ability to maneuver ambiguity and deliver results has enabled him to excel in a variety of professional scenarios. (from LinkedIn)
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
Since I run an agency that focuses on all of search marketing, including SEO, inbound, PPC, and content, I typically take a very direct and simple approach: I help businesses get found on the internet.
That answer usually results in follow up questions. At that point, I can get into specifics about exactly what the various disciplines are beneath the “search” umbrella.
Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?
The old days of exact match keyword targeting and obsession with ranking are dead and gone. Any good SEO needs to understand business metrics.
Figure out how to drive results with traffic, conversions, and closed revenue, and you will become a non-expendable resource for any client.
SEOs need to go beyond search engine tricks and keywords, and start looking at a full buyers’ journey / sales funnel strategy that drives real business value.
Otherwise, they are a commodity to be hired and fired without much thought.
What do you find most rewarding about SEO?
I love to teach, but I also love to help businesses grow and thrive. Since SEO plays a huge role in website traffic, demand gen, and lead gen, we know with a great deal of accuracy whether or not we are driving results.
I also love to learn, and SEO clearly provides that opportunity. It is one of the industries where your ongoing viability is fully dependent on your dedication to continuous self-education. I thrive in that environment.
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
This is the biggest challenge of having a career in search engine optimization. And the answer is not a simple one.
Of course, it starts by staying tied in on the most popular thought leaders and industry websites, like Moz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Roundtable, the Content Marketing Institute, and Social Media Today.
But it takes much more than reading blogs and articles to do it.
Content curation sites add a ton of value, in that I can follow other smart online marketers and get quick access to the very best content. But the single most valuable place to learn is in groups and on discussions online (think LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).
Dialogue is key in this industry. Each of us will draw unique conclusions from the same change by Google or other industry players, and the more exposure one has to a wider variety of those opinions, the stronger they can be at SEO and inbound marketing as a whole.
Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?
The growth of semantic SEO will be a huge theme heading into 2016. We have already seen mobile become a major topic, but that ship is already pushing out to sea.
Contextual ranking is the first step along the way to morphing search engines into prediction engines. We are not very far from that vision as 2015 comes to a close.
The single biggest development I’m expecting next year is in this area – the search engines will continue to get better and better at anticipating your needs.
Voice search will also become big, and these two developments go hand-in-hand algorithmically.
What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?
I swear by Raven Tools as a go-too software product. It is great for audits, link analysis, campaign tracking and more. With APIs to Moz for metrics and other platforms for keyword research, competitive research, etc., it is worth much more than the monthly price they charge for the full solution.
I’m also still a fan of Market Samurai for keyword research. I’ve found it to be invaluable for uncovering keywords that are less apparent using other means.
How is your typical work day structured?
There is no such thing as a typical work day. Some days, I’m generating or editing content. Other days, it’s fire drill after a fire drill. Still other days, I’m marketing and selling our services.
The one thing that is typical is that no day is typical. But that is what keeps it fun and challenging, so I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?
Always have a plan of attack before tackling any SEO challenge or project. When possible, set in place hardened processes that you can sell and lean on to increase efficiency and productivity.
In our early days, we tried to customize everything. That was a management nightmare! It opens you up to inconsistencies, scope creep, and unhappy clients.
So package services up front, be they monthly or project based, and sell what you are good at. You can’t be everything to everyone. Put energy into the pieces that you can best deliver, and stay hyperfocused on it without pause.