Growth Hacking Interview Series #106: Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson is the founder of ThinkTraffic.co.uk, a UK based SEO and online PR agency who specialize in working with small businesses. Alex loves helping small businesses to get started online, he is also an expert in traffic generation and conversion rate optimization and loves every aspect of online business.
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
SEO has become an increasingly broad discipline. Really, most of what I do these days would probably fall under the category of “online PR”. Essentially, my job is to help small businesses to grow their traffic and their sales and I do whatever is needed to acheive that.
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
I always start by discussing with my clients what their primary goals are. Normally though, the over-riding goal is to grow sales and revenue.
Sure, we do try to grow rankings, but rankings aren't the end goal in their own right, improved rankings are only helpful if they bring more (targetted) traffic and conversions – whatever that may mean for a given client.
Which new skills are most important for SEO's to learn in the next six months?
Dealing with people, building relationships and understanding the customer.
Basically, as SEOs we need to start learning more of the principals that have been used by marketing professionals for the last hundred years – and then we need to apply them to the online world.
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
I mostly read online blogs such as Moz.com, Search Engine Journal, Quick Sprout etc… The best advice I can give is to read a selection of blogs at the appropriate level for your expertise.
This will expose you to a selection of ideas from different viewpoints. Moz's you moz blog is particularly helpful, since it is full of high quality ideas from a range of SEO professionals.
If I read something I like, I always try to check out the author's blog too.
Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?
Absolutely. As I see it, link building will never die, but the way we do it is gradually changing.
Chasing links are becoming old hat and increasingly we are having to rely on building relationships and being creative instead. This is a much more rewarding and authentic way to gain links and it is much more effective too.
How is your typical work day structured?
My day generally starts by catching up on emails, responding to clients and such like. I try to communicate constantly with my clients – I hate the thought of just sending a round up email once a month, it's so impersonal.
After that I review my to do list, have a chat with my staff about what they are working on and ensure that we all have a plan for the day. Then I get to work on whatever needs doing.
The work is so varied that it would be impossible to outline a standard day, some days I might be brainstorming content ideas, reviewing analytics data and figuring out a strategy to improve a website, looking at competitors' sites and link profiles etc…
What advice would you share with other SEO's who want to become more productive?
Get your data organized! In SEO there is so much data to keep on top of, and keeping track of what you're doing and how each task is progressing is essential. At Think Traffic we are relentless in our organization of data.
If you have multiple members of staff this is even more important. We share all data via either Google docs or Buzzstream for outreach and PR and it is organized in such a way that if anyone is off sick or on vacation, anyone else can jump in and see exactly what is going on.
If there's one SEO Guru you'd recommend who and why.
I quite like Neil Patel's blog (Quicksprout) as his posts are very actionable and he lays out his strategies in a really easy to follow way.
Although I have to admit, his older posts were more helpful for me personally. Some of his guides I think could be more concise, but they are still very good.