A day in the life of... a client-side SEO specialist

Our Day in the Life feature recently profiled an SEO account manager within an agency, but now we're turning the spotlight on a client-side SEO specialist.

Jack Saville is an SEO specialist at Bynder. Here's what he does with his days.

And if you're looking for a new challenge in digital our jobs board lists hundreds of open positions, and you can benchmark your own digital knowledge using our Digital Skills Index.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I work as an SEO specialist for a digital-asset management provider in Amsterdam called Bynder.

Bynder was born in 2013 out of a need for organisations to have an efficient way to share and organise online files, such as documents, images and videos. Since then the company has expanded across the globe, with offices in the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain and Dubai.

Bynder's UI

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Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

I am a member of our marketing team and report to our CMO Lidia Lüttin. However I have support from our dev team, as well as our copywriters and PPC team.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

As you might expect, analytical/numerical skills are important in my role as they help me to make the most of my keyword research. The Bynder website is available in four different languages, and so I need to conduct regular keyword research in different languages for each country that we are targeting.

Technical skills are also very important, as they allow me to identify technical obstacles to our search engine ranking improvement. For example, having knowledge of HTML, CSS and JSON-LD means that I know what I need to do to make sure that our site is technically optimised for search engines.

Creative problem solving is also a key skill in my day-to-day. Link building has become more difficult, as I think many sites (particularly news sites) want to appear impartial and so are sometimes reluctant to link to others. So it is important to be creative in the way that you acquire links.

One of my most successful link-building strategies is to ask third-party tools that we use to write a case study on us (and then link to us). It may seem simple but I think it is a unique approach and it works.

It may also seem an obvious one, but communication skills are key in SEO. To make the most out of SEO you need to educate everyone in the team on how what they are doing can also benefit your search engine ranking. This could be:

  • the PPC team finding a new highly converting keyword and passing it back to SEO to target it organically too.
  • the PR team focusing on securing links with their press releases.
  • the content team making sure their content is search engine friendly, and letting me know when new content is published so that I can submit it to Google for indexing.
  • the dev team making sure that they create pages in a way that improves page speed.

Tell us about a typical working day…

My typical working day would begin as follows:

  • Get on a train from Leiden, where I live, to Amsterdam.
  • Get in and read/respond to any messages that I have received overnight from our Boston office.
  • Check on the organic performance of the past day, and report to the team if there are any significant fluctuations.
  • Continue to create/edit content to target specific keywords.
  • Chase up any link opportunities that we have, and continue to write content for those external sites too.
  • Possibly run a site crawl using the Moz crawler and identify any new on-site issues that need to be fixed.
  • Answer questions from the marketing team on what they need to do to make their content search engine friendly.
  • If it's a Friday, we finish the day with a couple of Heinekens from our company bar and discuss the past week.

Leiden (via Erik Zachte)

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What do you love about your job? What sucks?

My favourite thing about working in SEO is the satisfaction of seeing how the changes you have made have helped to significantly improve search rankings. I also love it when I secure a great link on a great domain, giving the company great exposure and a healthy helping of ‘link juice’.

As I think a lot of SEOs will agree, it can sometimes be frustrating if people don’t follow your recommendations. But this can be easily fixed with a quick chat to explain the potential benefit they are missing out on.

More specifically, not being able to speak Dutch can be frustrating as I need help to translate my content. However I am taking three hours a week of Dutch lessons a week and hoping to get to a decent level of Dutch fairly soon.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?  

The most important metric for me is number of organic sessions, as this is the best indicator of search visibility. After that, I look at the specific ranking positions of our target keywords, and after that, the number of leads resulting from organic traffic.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

My main go-to tools are Google Analytics and Moz. Google Analytics is my preferred tool to analyse organic sessions and the Moz pro package has a number of tools that I find very useful.

Moz's Open Site Explorer is a great way to identify the value of link opportunity. The Fresh Web Explorer mention tool also helps me to pick up Bynder mentions on the web so I can follow up for a link. The Fresh mention tool seems to pick up more mentions than Google Alerts, which makes sure that I can cover all possible link opportunities.

The ranking tool helps me to keep track of our ranking positions for our target keywords across a range of languages and countries. I can also set Moz to send ranking updates to the team automatically.

And finally, the new Moz crawling tool is very user friendly and requires very little data manipulation to get the insights I need.

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How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?

I actually studied Law at university. But after I graduated I decided that I wanted to be involved in something that was new and growing, and I had always been interested in online marketing.

Law is a great degree to do and I think the analytical skills that I learnt have really helped me in my online marketing career so far. After I finished my law degree I applied for a few jobs and got a digital marketing executive role in an online florist in London called Arena Flowers.

There I was involved in a wide range of different marketing activities, and so I could get a good idea of the types of marketing that I enjoyed doing the most or found to be most valuable to the company. I could then use this experience to specialise in a specific type of marketing, which for me was SEO.

When looking for a first job in digital marketing I think it is a good idea to go for a more generalist role. This gives you a broader understanding of online marketing channels, and helps you to understand how they are all interlinked. And as above, it gives you a chance to try out a range of different marketing channels and decide on the one you want to specialise in.

Which brands do you think are doing digital well?

I think Transferwise is doing really well. Their website is clear and easy to use, and this is especially important when people are dealing with money.

And I’m not this first to say this, but MailChimp has one of the best user experiences I have seen. The options that you have available in your email campaigns are very clear, and this makes creating and sending email campaigns very easy.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

Meet as many people as possible. Try to go to meetups and contribute to Twitter chats. #Ecomchat is a great Twitter chat about ecommerce and online marketing generally, every Monday lunch time.

The Google Analytics and AdWords exams have been free for a couple of years now, and are a great way to build up knowledge of Google marketing tools. Completing as many as possible also helps to demonstrate enthusiasm for online marketing.

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