Growth Hacking Interview Series #55: Adam Thompson

Adam J Thompson has 10 years of experience in digital marketing and internet business, having owned several online business ventures and worked with clients from a variety of industries across the globe.

Adam founded RYP Marketing in 2006 with the goal of providing highly effective online marketing services to small and medium sized companies.

Today he plays an active role in running the company, with a special focus on SEO strategy and helping clients increase website conversion rates.

Adam specializes in the following areas:
– Search Engine Optimization
– Conversion Rate Optimization
– Web Analytics

Adam’s articles and tutorials have been published by Search Engine Journal, SEOmoz, Blogging Tips, and others. (from: Linkedin)

How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?

As an SEO, my main focus is getting my clients’ sites to rank higher on Google for relevant searches, helping them reach new customers.

Sounds simple enough, but once you get into the weeds, there is a lot that goes into SEO. I like to break down SEO into three main categories:

  • Keyword strategy – know which keyword phrases to target.
  • Onsite optimization – maximize search engine friendliness and ensure each page is optimized for one or more target keywords.
  • Offsite optimization – build up authority by attracting editorial backlinks.

There are many facets within each of these three categories, but most SEOs will spend most of their time on offsite optimization.

What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?

The ultimate goal is usually to reach new customers. There is a long line of goals that have to be achieved to meet the ultimate goal, though. To reach new customers, we need to increase traffic.

To increase traffic, we need to build rankings. To build rankings, we need to build a brand and create and promote stand out content (I could keep going).

So at the high level we always measure success by how well we reach new customers, but there are dozens of sub-goals we have to meet to achieve that ultimate goal.

Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?

SEO, at the fundamental level, hasn’t changed much in the past couple years. For several years now, Google has been on a push emphasizing quality and user experience.

Unfortunately, many SEOs still haven’t gotten the memo on this. For SEOs who are still building links and using SEO tactics that focus more on  SEO than the user, it’s important to switch directions.

The fundamental attitude SEOs should have is this: “my job  is to build something so awesome that it clearly and undeniably deserves to rank #1”.

What do you find most rewarding about SEO?

I love building a system where all the pieces (internal link structure, keyword maps, content, social media promotion, etc.) come together and work.

I enjoy creating content that users love, promoting the content, and being rewarded with rankings.

How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?

I spend an hour or two each week reading through a few publications (Inbound.org, Moz, Search Engine Land, etc.) to stay up to date with the latest news and tactics.

I also keep an eye on what Google’s official channels are posting – Google content is essentially propaganda (you have to read between the lines) but it is the official word and deserves careful consideration.

As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?

I usually avoid most things that would be considered a hack or shortcut. Shortcuts usually come back to bite you later.

Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?

As wearables and other devices grow, SEOs will need to start paying more consideration to them. It’s too early to know what this ecospace will look like, but it should be interesting!

What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?

A few of my favorite tools are Moz (for rankings, keyword competitiveness, and backlink data), Link Prospector, BuzzSumo, and our own content topics tool.

How is your typical work day structured?

As Director Of Digital Services, my work day tends to be structured around responding to client requests, assisting team members when they hit problems, and determining strategy.

In other words, my schedule is pretty much made by what’s in my inbox.

Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?

It’s hard to choose just one post, but it would have to be a post that explains the attitude SEOs need to have – the attitude of delivering amazing value to earn your rankings.

Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die is a good video that helps build that expectation.

What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?

Track how you spend your time, and cut out the areas you’re spending too much time for too little results.

Measure the quality of backlinks you’re getting and how much time it takes to get them – change your tactics if you’re spending too much time or getting low quality links.

Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?

The most challenging algorithm updates are the algorithmic link penalties because

a) it can be difficult to definitively and precisely diagnose the issue,

b) it takes a long time to get rid of the issue, and

c) it’s nearly impossible to tell if what you’re doing is working until a lot of time has passed.

If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.

Probably Neil Patel. One of his excellent resources is the Advanced Guide To Link Building.

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