SEJ Summit London is rapidly approaching on May 12, and today we’re featuring an interview with Nick Wilsdon, the Group SEO Lead, Group Channel Optimisation at Vodafone. Nick will be speaking on From Search to Store: How SEO Can Empower Your Brand’s Business Units.
We still have a small amount FREE tickets available for our inaugural London marketing event, held at the fancy new Ham Yard Hotel. The SEJ Summit series is possible courtesy of our partner, Searchmetrics. Their “search experience optimization” makes digital marketing better, faster, and more profitable.
Here’s my interview with Nick:
1. Your SEJ Summit presentation discusses how brands can use SEO to influence product and supply chain decisions, such as product demand. What other areas can SEO influence outside of digital marketing?
I’ve worked with strategists from across the marketing spectrum and without fail, have always found an angle for SEO in our discussions. Often the ideas that emerge from these cross-discipline sessions are the most interesting – when we discover opportunities across our areas of specialist knowledge. These can be through-the-line campaigns, where SEO harvests the traffic driven by traditional media or simply provides a more relevant user experience through content.
Early indicators are that Google’s updates to mobile search will further push SEO influence into areas such as website performance, user experience (UX), and app development, as these become important ranking factors. There’s never been a better time for SEOs to break down those silos and start engaging with other business units.
2. What do you think is the single largest misconceptions brands have about SEO, and how can marketers overcome that obstacle?
SEO has always been a challenging channel from a business perspective. Google’s preference for established brands and increasing growth online has given these businesses a good level of organic traffic, but they haven’t used SEO to its full potential. You can often see this when comparing these larger businesses to their “younger” competitors who have focused on online acquisition.
For these older brands, SEO is can be seen as a “black box”, with Google controlling the traffic that gets delivered. In the worse cases, organic traffic is seen as free – merely a consequence of operating online. They haven’t woken opportunities that are available to them now, in technical optimization or content production to engage users at different points of the consideration cycle.
Marketers can overcome this, but they need to be more transparent about their activities and fundamentally, align themselves with the priorities of the businesses they work with. I’ve always taught my teams to follow a campaign-focused approach to SEO, where chosen optimizations are wrapped-up in a 2-3 month process, with business benefits clearly explained and forecasted. That approach means more time and effort to sell in activity but understands that decisions have to be made and justified in regard to spend.
3. You are the founder of E3 Business Incubator, which helps both enterprises and start-ups succeed. What draws you to the start-up industry?
I had the opportunity to get involved in the start-up community in Moscow, during my seven years there. I was lucky enough to meet some of my heroes who are working in that space, including the legendary entrepreneur Esther Dyson. As someone who has grown up in the online-age, I’m very passionate about technology and new ideas. Sometimes corporate life makes you forget that initial spark of interest that brought you into this industry, spending time with start-ups is the quickest way to reignite that passion.
One of Esther’s projects, Meetup.com has links to several groups in London – a city that has a particularly exciting start-up scene right now. I’d recommend getting involved. You will learn from digital experts outside your area of expertise and get the chance to collaborate on some truly unique projects.
4. You are also the Global SEO Lead at Vodafone. What are the three largest SEO challenges that large, global brands face in today’s digital marketing field?
Today’s digital landscape presents considerable SEO challenges to large, global brands. Competition is fiercer than ever and users are expecting brands to deliver relevant results to their searches. At the core of these issues are the challenges of publishing in a timely, agile way across web properties. This impacts technical SEO, where there is an increasing need for code changes – schema, mobile optimization, and site performance. This also presents challenges to content marketing, where brands need to be regularly producing content to meet user enquiries and to engage them online.
Lastly, users are demanding more coherence from brands, across multiple devices. When they see an advert on TV, they want to be able to find the goods for sale online. That is putting pressure on SEO to be more reactive, and to place search at the core of marketing campaigns.
5. I was extremely impressed to see you have worked in the digital marketing space since 1999. If you could give your 1999 self one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
I’d probably tell him to stop buying beer and put every last penny into domain names and Google stock! Seriously though, I’ve had an interesting journey over the years but I wouldn’t change any of it. The only advice that I wish someone had given me earlier would be to embrace change, never be afraid of it.
Sometimes we get stuck in a position and there are just too many opportunities out there to let that happen. Find a challenge and a team that inspires you and the rest will come naturally.
1999 seems so long ago! So much has changed since then. Thanks for the interview, Nick.
Don’t forget, you can request your free ticket for our SEJ Summit London marketing conference, taking place May 12th at The Ham Yard. You can also come see us in Silicon Valley, NYC, and Atlanta later this year.
Featured image via Shutterstock