Growth Hacking Interview Series #110: Kent Lewis

Kent Lewis is President and Founder of Anvil, a consultancy specializing in measurable marketing that moves businesses forward. Under his leadership, Anvil has been recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest growing  private company as well as most admired, most philanthropic and a fastest growing company by and Portland Business Journal.

Lewis’s industry recognition and awards include Portland Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, Top 25 Most Influential Pay-per-Click Experts and American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year.

He is co-founder of a variety of organizations, including career community pdxMindShare, eROI and SEMpdx, a Portland-area professional trade association for search marketers.

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

While I’m an integrated marketer by trade, I’ve been optimizing websites since 1996, and I explain what I do to non-marketers as follows: I help connect my client with their constituents (typically customers or prospective customers) via the web.

Anywhere you can find a brand, learn about a brand or talk about a brand online, I ensure my client is in the conversation.

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

When it comes to delivering results, my primary goal (which maps to my clients’ goal) is to drive revenue, whether it by via online leads or sales.

We build campaigns with conversion optimization in mind, and manage towards a target we set with our clients.

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

I believe future SEOs will be successful only if they understand context, good experiences and how to create compelling content. The technology & code behind websites is a commodity, as is link-building.

The true measure of relevance and associated rankings will be unique, contextually relevant content in all media types.

Learn how to tell good stories through creative writing and creating videos, audio and images, then optimize, syndicate, promote and measure the content and associated conversations.

What do you find most rewarding about SEO?

The measurability and impact I can have on a business’ top and bottom line has always been most compelling to me. Seeing my clients rank in the top 3 for a desirable search term that generates qualified traffic over time is always rewarding.

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

I rely on a variety of online publications, influencers and related resources like MOZ, SearchEngineLand, SEMpdx and attend or send my team to attend industry events like SMX, PubCon and SearchFest.

As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?

I don’t believe in “hacks” or short-cuts in SEO, but I will say that branded, optimized content posted on social media profiles/platforms ranks quickly and consistently.

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

Google getting smarter about grey and black hat SEO tricks, especially ad-cluttered or content weak affiliate sites and continuing to penalize bad content in general.

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

MOZ mostly, but I defer to my team at Anvil for tactics and tools.

How is your typical work day structured? 

As President, I focus on driving the business via strategic planning, marketing, sales and business development, so my day is full of meetings, phone calls and emails.

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

The Search by John Battelle, hands down.

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

Read the articles, cheat sheets, white papers and blog posts on anvilmedia.com.

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

You won’t believe me, but none of them. Because I have a background in public relations, I’ve been developing quality content and building links for clients since before Google was a search engine.

That approach has yet to steer me or my team wrong. We are always white hat and do it right instead of hitting the easy button.

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

There are too many, but Rand Fishkin is my guy. His first major keynote was at SearchFest in Portland in 2006 and he rocked it. His white board Friday’s are always informative and entertaining and he’s still one of the most visionary thinkers in the SEO world.

Perhaps I appreciate he’s more strategic in his approach and tells amazing stories. There are many brilliant SEO technicians, but they are too far in the weeds for my taste.

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