“My wish for 2012 is for SEO world peace. Stop publicly bashing other SEOs. Stop optimizing sites purely to defame people and businesses. Start treating conflicts like targets for compromise and resolution instead of linkbait.”
As you can see the funny guy has a great soul too. I highly recommend you get to know him. You can find him on Twitter @ScottCowley, on his website Scottergories.com and you can read his posts on SEJ. Thanks, Scott, for your time, humor and fantastic personality.
Can you briefly tell us about your job at ZAGG?
I’m responsible for ZAGG’s organic search program, namely building and training an in-house SEO team to rival the best e-commerce sites. I also work closely with our PPC, social, and conversion team leads.
Do you get a lot of support from ZAGG? and/or How important is it for a company to offer support to their in-house SEO?
I think the best environment for an in-house SEO is one with available developers, content creators, a great boss that believes in SEO, a budget for education and SEO tools, and a recognizable company with great products. I have all of those at ZAGG. Without them, I’d be less successful (and have a lot less fun).
Can you tell us a couple of the SEO tools you use and/or can’t live without?
An SEO’s best tool is always his brain. Second best is Google itself, followed by tools Google has made available. All of the best link building comes as a product of relationships, timing, and creativity, so I’d have to say that Tweetdeck and Google Alerts are tools I can’t live without.
Being an SEO means you have to continually educate yourself. What do you to keep up with the constant changes?
When I was at SEO.com, keeping up with the changes was easy. Among so many clients working with so many SEOs, there was always a “canary in the mineshaft” incident that could be tested and verified. With only one site to worry about now, I have to be more judicious in what I test and how I test. If I hear about something new, I’ll often have our team spend a few hours diving in to see what kind of traction we get. I read a lot and am always trying to build relationships with SEOs working on sites of similar size and scope.
How much is social media involved in marketing ZAGG? Impact?
Drew Conrad, our social media lead, just presented on ZAGG’s social strategy and impact at SMX Social. The truth is, we have to play hardball marketing in order to differentiate ourselves in an industry that is perceived as “commoditized.” In many respects, we do that through content marketing and promotions, which rely heavily on social sharing for distribution.
For a business of our size, our SEO and social media integration compete with the best. We leverage social to pry open some very heavy link building doors that stay closed to our competitors.
Have any content strategy recommendations for other SEOs?
Trust your instincts. I’d say our content marketing is 5-10X more successful using forward-thinking, predictive keyword research than optimizing using historic search volume numbers from the tools. “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”
ZAGG runs the “Win an iPad” contest often, so obviously it works well. Any data you can tell us?
At first, it sounded ambitious to give away an iPad every week, but we calculated the financial impact of gaining an additional Facebook fan, Twitter follower, e-mail address, and visitor to our contest landing page so we could identify our break-even point. It ended up being very easy to justify iPad-a-Week, so we pushed it to iPad-a-Day, and even iPad-an-Hour on Black Friday. You can invest thousands of dollars in campaigns as long as the numbers add up. Even marketers get psychologically intimidated by working with large campaign budgets and it’s a fear instinct worth fighting.
Any tips for businesses selling a niche product online?
Create content with an expanded focus. We started selling screen protectors. Imagine trying to write 50 blog posts about screen protectors. We created content a couple of levels out. Gadget news was a natural extension, followed by general tech news. It has allowed us to drive a lot more traffic to our site while retaining our branding. I’m also a strong believer that active employees with a lot of friends and high community involvement can elevate your business, brand, and product exposure even for pure e-commerce businesses. Start simple by making sure you or your marketers represent the company at local events.
- Mac or PC? I love Apple, but PC fits me better.
- iPhone or Droid? When I started at ZAGG, I had a flip phone. They said I would have an iPhone within 6 months purely because of ZAGG cultural pressure. The fact that I ended up getting any smartphone in 6 months is actually really impressive, but I bought a Droid.
- Tweetdeck or HootSuite? Tweetdeck.
- Favorite Beer? Root.
- Star Wars or Star Trek? Did Greedo shoot first? Star Wars. Hands down.