Saturday, May 04, 2013

Senior SEO Consultant Candidate – A Real Story

Why this story. Being a Senior SEO Consultant and Strategist, I keep getting a lot of CVs from people who are looking for jobs in SEO, PPC, Content Writing etc. Recently I received a CV, in which the candidate ‘claimed’ to be a Senior SEO Consultant and explained that how good he was at On-page, Link Building, Article submission etc. Is this what we expect from a Senior SEO Consultant Candidate?

FYI, I am endorsed for a lot of skills, which are not directly related to SEO.

[Flashback] May 2, 2005 - Started my career in SEO

May 2, 2005 - I joined my first SEO job at a Kolkata based product company. Vikas Kedia of Stanford was the CEO. Shimul, a great friend and very knowledgeable person, and Biplab joined us on the same day. Anirudh (co-founder of joined us few days later; I think after a week or so. After so many years, I am still in touch with Shimul and Anirudh – we often get together to organize events in Kolkata. I was lucky to get Aji as my mentor there. Needless to mention that I am still in touch with Aji heavily (we work at TechShu together).

Back in 2005 we started with very basic things; the concept of contextual and natural link was coming up then. However, it was Aji who taught us why SEO is more than SEO! Surprisingly, many SEO consultants cannot imagine this even now.

As you grow with time, your responsibilities keep changing. A junior SEO consultant candidate is more into execution; on the other hand, a senior SEO consultant candidate is more in to planning and strategy making. At the same time, it is the job of senior people to get things done. That’s where I am now.

Junior Vs. Senior SEO Consultant Candidate

Most of the junior candidates usually think that it is easy to become the boss. However, as you move to a senior position, you realize that it is much simpler to follow instructions rather than giving instructions. A senior SEO consultant candidate has to come up with strategy, communicate with the clients, work with the team to make them understand what to be done, train the team members if required and finally get the things done on time maintaining the right quality!

And things become tougher when the success of the project depends on the people who are not in your direct control. For example, as a senior SEO consultant you might need to work on various aspects of SEO and Digital Marketing such as Content, Design, Social Media, Development etc. Now, those departments are often distributed under several heads and experts. You can send requisition, but you cannot control the team.

But nothing is impossible; as a junior SEO consultant needs to learn how to execute, a senior SEO consultant candidate should learn how to get things done. Now, you have to learn something which is not directly related to SEO. Here comes the knowledge of management!

As a senior SEO candidate, it is expected that you will be an expert in all the parts of SEO and Digital Marketing. Your profile, your portfolio would be the evidence. But how can one judge that you are a good manager too?

[Coming back to present] A senior SEO consultant candidate should be a good manager

Managing a team is not all about giving instructions and getting things done – it is about how you get it done keeping the team spirit bright, on time and adhering to quality. Some management knowledge would be of real help here.

SEO and Digital Marketing has always been my strength, to be honest. My thorough experience of PPC has helped me get the Googles AdWords Certification as well. However, the thing that I should learn to become a complete senior SEO consultant candidate is the management tricks. To solve this problem, I have recently started following the Open Courseware of MIT, Harvard and other reputed schools. I am also reading a lot of books (special thanks to Aji) to learn how it works at management level. I am sure, that some day, I will make it there too.

Role of a senior SEO consultant candidate – My perception

Here is what I think (written from the perspective of a service based digital marketing or SEO agency).

  1. Understand what your client needs – they might tell you that they need SEO, but probably PPC is the best channel for them – so explain it to them. Even to do SEO, you have to understand client’s business properly. You can’t be just SEO anymore and Rand confirms that
  2. SEO is essential for all – organizations that are looking for Sales, Growth or Branding – SEO is essential for all of them. This should be properly communicated to the client
  3. Next is keyword research and competitive analysis. While doing keyword research, it is important to find the intent associated with the keywords. For example, an ecommerce website will only be benefitted if it targets keywords with buying intent, not research intent. 
  4. SEO audit, or a through health check of the website is very much essential (assuming the client has a website, if the client is developing a new website to do SEO, as a senior SEO consultant candidate, you must get involved in the development process). There are 75+ parameters that need to be checked. 
  5. Gone are the days of bulk content writing and link building. This is the era of creativity (thanks to Google’s updates). With content, you have to come up with a great strategy. Something that will be helpful for the readers. Then links will come automatically and that is what Google expects you to do.
  6. Local SEO is another important part; for small, local businesses such as restaurants, spas, salons etc. local SEO can be of great help. And through Google Places optimization, websites might make it to the first page of Google smoothly.
  7. Social signals – this is another important part of SEO these days. Social signals such as comments, likes, shares etc. help search engines get clue on how good the content is. Obviously strong social signal goes in your favor. 
  8. Responsive Design – I would make it a part of SEO. A lot of people are searching web from mobile devices; this would help you to tap them.
  9. Track and measure – as a senior SEO consultant you have to constantly track your activities, measure ROI and understand which activity is giving you the best result. A brief understanding of Google Analytics is compulsory. One strategy might not work for all – unless you test, you cannot identify what will work for who. 
  10. Get things done – the strategy that you prepare for the clients should be executed. A lot of SEO consultants are good at strategy level, but unless you execute your plan, it is of no use. So you have to build a team and train them on how to do things. How to map their activities to the client’s goal. 
  11. Finally, a senior SEO consultant candidate should be in constant touch with the clients, educate them, help them understand the process of SEO. This will help the organization in the longer run. 
  12. Follow SEO communities and experts to upgrade your knowledge constantly.

(Feel free to comment below if you think I have missed anything)

Therefore, friends, who claim themselves to be Senior SEO consultant candidate, think before adding this title before your name. Years of experience does not make you senior; it’s your knowledge that makes you senior. 


AjiNIMC said...

Can't agree more ... The need to deliver success to clients, make them understand success ... SEO is just a tool ... there is no emotional connect when you say link builging or onpage to client ... these words hardly matter to them .... a lot to learn for all of us ... I also get shocks when people say that I am a SEO guru now and when a problem is thrown at them, they are not able to solve it.

Samrat Mukherjee said...

A very good article Saikat. You have pointed the sad side of the industry as well as putting the right perspective to SEO

Saikat Sengupta said...

Got the opportunity to explore Digital Marketing for B2B sector exclusively in last 3 months. And this is a different game. Without analyzing market, decision making factors and buyer's persona you cannot be successful.