Growth Hacking Interview Series #61: Jonathan Guy
Jonathan has worked in Sales and Marketing for over 30 years and specialises in bringing traditional marketing and advertising principles and practices to the digital arena.
Having worked for many years for Yell Group, provider of Yellow Pages in the UK, he set up Aqueous in 2010.
He has an MBA from Henley Management School, has been a Chartered Marketer for the past decade and is a Certified Adwords professional.
Jonathan is also a public speaker on SEO and Digital Marketing and regularly lectures and trains on all aspects of Digital Marketing.
His specialty is helping businesses identify clear marketing strategies that deliver results.
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
At a recent lecture I described it as “We help optimise websites so Google can understand them and people can buy from them”
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
The primary goal always has to be to generate a positive ROI for customers.
Every customer will have different Marketing strategies, goals and expectations but no matter what they are, as long as they can turn a profit from them then the exercise has been successful.
Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?
Marketing skills. SEO’s who don’t understand that people buy the stuff on websites will find that despite good keyword positions their clients are missing out.
What do you find most rewarding about SEO?
There are actually a number of things which are rewarding. Seeing customers making a success of their online strategy is hugely rewarding but I also still get satisfaction in seeing customer’s websites raking #1.
Most rewarding of all though is probably helping a customer recover their website and go from a disastrous situation to one where they are successful again.
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
I have a number of alerts that I subscribe to and I make a habit of reading as widely as I can every week to keep abreast not only of what’s happening on Google but in the wider Digital and Marketing environment as well.
As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?
Writing better content, and more of it. I always write as if I’m talking to the person who may want that product or service and richer deeper content not only ranks well but can really help to drive purchase and engagement.
Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?
I’ve long argued that Google’s policy of penalising sites for having bad backlinks was counterintuitive and ultimately self-defeating.
If they can count the bad ones then by definition they must know the good ones. I see Google slowly moving this way and the rise of websites that don’t try to cheat their way to the top is exciting.
What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?
I have a few ‘go to’ tools that are in use on a daily basis. Screaming Frog is essential for a quick analysis of websites and on my Chrome Toolbar I wouldn’t be without the Carter Cole extension and the Majestic Backlink Analyser. These are quick, accurate and make life a little easier.
How is your typical work day structured?
I am old fashioned and still carry round a big notepad and a diary.
I use these to structure what I do with certain ‘cornerstone’ projects such as budgeting and writing the Strategic Marketing plan sitting alongside day to day elements.
I try to accomplish the larger projects as a priority and then fill in with the smaller day to day tasks.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?
The book that inspired me in SEO was “50 Ways to Make Google Love Your Website” by Liam McGee and Steve Johnston. What I would urge SEO’s to read however is “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy.
What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?
Not everything has to be automated. Sometimes half an hour thinking about a job or problem will yield more than any automated tool could deliver.
Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?
Definitely Penguin in May 2013. This was the first time Google nailed those who had been buying links and a number of websites experienced huge drops in keyword positions and traffic.
We gained a lot of customers at that time, most of who are still with us today. Helping them recover from that update was probably the hardest piece of work we have undertaken.
If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.
I have to say Rand Fishkin of Moz. Apart from the fact that he is very watchable on his Whiteboard Friday’s he’s essentially a marketer at heart.
If the internet didn’t exist he’d still be successful because of his marketing approach and that’s a great quality to have.