Growth Hacking Interview Series #58: Alex Ramadan
Alex Ramadan is a Senior SEO Specialist at US Interactive Media. He has worked with a large range of clients, big and small in a number of industries.
He is also the developer of a small iOS app called Write365, which gives users creative writing prompts. He occasionally writes on his own site here.
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
I usually tell people that I help businesses get more traffic from Google when people are searching for a good, service or product.
It’s kind of vague, but if the person has a business, they’ll be interested. If they don’t, they’ll default to, “oh so you work with computers”, and I just go with that.
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
It really depends on the client. While sending tons of additional Organic traffic to a site is great, the real win comes when that new traffic converts.
Whether that conversion is purchasing a product, joining an email list, requesting information, etc. it is all dependent on the client’s goals.
Most businesses run on money, so in most cases, a true success is when you can start to make more money for that business based on the traffic you drive from search engines.
Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?
Because the members of the SEO community are so varied, with such diverse skill sets and backgrounds, I can’t really pick one.
Everyone has experience with completely different techniques, tactics or strategies, so picking one wouldn’t really apply to everyone.
I do think SEO’s need to learn how to better set reasonable expectations with themselves and their clients.
I often see SEO companies promise results that they probably can’t deliver, setting themselves and their clients up for disappointment.
Setting reasonable expectations makes everyone happy, and leaves room for error, or for exceeding expectations.
You have to be honest about what you believe you can do, and if that doesn’t align with a client’s needs, it might mean turning a job down.
What do you find most rewarding about SEO?
Watching traffic grow month after month, and eventually, year over year.
I love looking at a client’s analytics account and seeing growth over the period of time I’m working with them.
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
Twitter mostly. Luckily, most SEOs are also on Twitter and they share what they think is helpful or interesting.
It’s also a great place to have a conversation in the spur of the moment. I’ll also check my RSS feed once or twice a day, and read a few things there if they didn’t show up on Twitter already.
As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?
I like things that save me time, especially when it’s a mundane task.
I recently put together a bookmarklet for myself and the team I work with that lets us copy the page URL, Title and Description for a page we’re on very quickly so we can paste it somewhere else.
If you’re interested in trying it, you can get it here.
Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?
I think the concept of users not necessarily using a traditional search engine (google.com, yahoo.com, etc.) but rather using a personal assistant who might get its data from a search engine is really interesting.
For example, M from Facebook, looks like it’ll be able to do some incredible things.
It’ll be interesting to see how these personal assistant type products source their data and how we can still get relevant content in front of the right users.
What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?
SEO Screaming Frog is my go to for most analysis-based things. It’s incredibly powerful, and fits into my workflow pretty well.
They’re constantly updating and improving the tool, making a yearly license totally worth it. Highly recommended.
How is your typical work day structured?
It’s probably pretty typical when it comes to an agency. I have a number of accounts I manage, so my day is spent working on them.
Anything from working on new recommendations, to identifying a problem and finding a fix. In between this type of work I’ll read SEO blogs or check in on Twitter to see if something new has popped up.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?
It’s a 3 part article talking about SEO-related implications resulting from iOS 9 and Apple’s foray into search.
Lot’s of great insights, and a good jumping off point to diving into the developer guides provided by Apple on the subject.
It’s not something I see get talked about a lot, but I believe it will have a bigger impact that others do I suppose.
What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?
Try to find ways to automate, or make tasks more streamlined. This lets you focus on more important things like strategy and execution.
One word of warning, don’t let yourself get bogged down by trying to automate everything.
You could easily waste your time trying to make something quicker, when it might just not be the worth it in the long run. Pick your battles.
Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?
Panda. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Luckily it wasn’t an algorithm update that has given me too many problems, but I’ve seen so much conflicting information on what it is, or how to fix it. I’m hoping to always steer clear of that one.
If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying @analyticsnerd and his content on Optimize Smart.
He does a really good job of taking all the complexity of Google Analytics and breaking it down so it is easy to apply to your own projects. I always learn something new from his site.
Generally, I’ll read a piece by him a couple of times and learn something new each time. Definitely check him out for all your analytics tracking needs.