Today’s interviewee is Dan Frank, a recent addition to the on-page SEO team. After spending almost a year working on a number of clients’ off-page activities, Dan decided to try his hand at the more technical side of things. Thanks to Search Laboratory’s constant expansion a number of vacancies, both internal and external, are constantly arising and Dan is just one of many people who have taken the opportunity to progress within the company. I caught up with Dan to discuss all things SEO.
How did you get into SEO?
“I fell in! Well, not literally; I did an internship with a small social enterprise after I graduated from university and this quickly developed into my first SEO role. The company only had four employees so I found myself spending almost as much time teaching myself SEO as doing my job. It wasn’t exactly ideal, and although the job didn’t work out in the end it definitely gave me the taste for SEO. I then moved to Search Labs, where I got some expert training.”
What aspect of the job do you enjoy most?
“Well, there are two different jobs we could be talking about here. When I was link building I really enjoyed the creative side; trying to create useful information that really showcases the potential of the client was always extremely satisfying. I also really enjoyed working in a job where there was always something new to learn, especially with Google’s constant algorithm updates!”
“My new job as an on-page executive is much more analytics-focused, which is the side of the job I probably enjoy most as it better suits my background. It’s a different set of challenges to the off-page job, but I find the process of looking a client’s website and finding ways that it can be improved to be very satisfying.”
How easy was the transition from off-page to on-page?
“It’s still on-going! As always with SEO there is a lot to learn with any change and its taking some time to learn it all, but it’s all steadily coming together. Having said that, I find that job suits my skillset and way of thinking really well which is obviously helping to make the move easier. The on-page team are also doing a great job training us which obviously makes the process much more comfortable.”
Are off-page skills transferable to on-page work?
“Absolutely! I’d say the main skill is the ability to write well – different styles and expressions are required when you’re writing for a client as opposed to writing for a blogger. However, it must be said that you need to be able to express yourself clearly and concisely whether you’re writing a 500 word blog post for a site or a monthly report for your client. Not every client is 100% clued up on the industry and many aspects of SEO are difficult to get your head around – this obviously makes clear writing essential.”
“There are also several areas which cross-over, such as competitor analysis which is essential to both sides of the business. Having said that, I think more important than skills is knowledge. Off-page SEO has a had a lot of changes recently; therefore being able to understand what is happening and why will not only make my job easier, but also make communication between the different elements of the SEO team easier.”
Finally; a controversial question!
Which is more important: on-page or off-page?
“On-page of course! In all seriousness though, I actually think both are essential. You could do link building without the on-page work, but if the on-page work hasn’t been done it’s going to be like running a race wearing manacles!”
“Similarly you could have the best, most optimised site in the world, but unless people know how to find it then it will be useless. There are host of things such as thin and duplicate content which can really hinder you or even lead to penalties, so to neglect off-page in favour of on-page would also be a recipe for disaster. Striking a balance is key.”