Growth Hacking Interview Series #81: Max Tandefelt

Max Tandefelt is a Digital Marketing Manager for LogicSpot – a full service eCommerce agency based in London.

He has been working in various digital roles across Europe since 2007, working for B2B, B2C, in-house and digital agencies. He has expertise in SEO, social and digital change management and is passionate about web analytics.

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

I create SEO strategies, plan, manage projects and make sure the strategy is implemented. One of my bigger tasks is to work with clients to understand their main objectives.

Once the main objectives are clear, I create the strategy based on those. My team has a slightly different approach to SEO in that we manage and help our clients implement the strategy themselves.

Since SEO is a process and not a one time fix, it’s important that or clients understand the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ and can take it in-house.

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

Depends on the client. Different clients have different objectives and are in different SEO maturity phases. We try to look beyond the keyword ranking and focus more on the actual objectives of the client.

By the end of the day, to reach an objective is much more important than the rank.

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

Understanding data and have the skillset to analyse and base suggestions and strategies on data. Another skill that is becoming more important is management.

Great SEO with longevity in mind is not done by one person, but a team or even a whole company. I think SEOs see themselves training, teaching and managing various teams/departments much more now compared to a couple of years ago.

It’s important that all relevant teams/departments understand the objectives and where you want to go as a company.

What do you find most rewarding about SEO?

As I’m more focused on the strategic part of SEO I get to hang out with a lot of clients which is really nice.  No company is the other alike, so I face new interesting challenges every day.

To see a client’s site climb in the SERPs and reaching their objectives is also of course very rewarding.

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

I read a lot. I want to stay up to date on everything within SEO. One way to do that is also by writing about SEO myself. I also go to conferences and we do experiments in-house to check out theories, ideas and tools.

As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?

I don’t use any “hack” as such. SEO is hard work, and sticking to best practices can take a bit more effort but the long-term effects are more rewarding.

Where I try to specialise though is in web analytics. Not sure if I’d call that a “hack” though.

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

The slow but steady transformation of Google. It requires a much bigger SEO approach than simply optimising pages. I try to learn as much as possible about Schema at the moment and how Google Now is working for example.

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

Moz, Google Analytics, Adwords Keyword Planner, SEM Rush, Webmaster tools, Screaming Frog, Keyword Tool… I’m really curious about STAT but haven’t worked with it yet.

They’ve got some really knowledgeable and friendly people over there.

How is your typical work day structured?

It really depends on the ongoing work, but I start by reading my usual blogs and checking stats for clients to see if there are any changes.

I try to stay updated with each of the industries in which my clients operate as well so I research quite a lot.

Apart from that I manage our projects and talk with our clients to keep them up to date with what we/they are doing and next steps.

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

This will sound a bit boring but I do read a lot of whatever Google shares from best practice documents to webmaster news. But three blogs I keep coming back to are Moz, Blind Five Year Old and Occam’s Razor.

Moz for good tips and insights, Blind Five Year Old for that deeper SEO insight. Occam’s Razor for anything about web data analysis.

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

Learning new stuff inspires me. If I read about a new idea or product, I want to see if it’s something we can implement and try out.

If you’re inspired it’s easy to be productive. Apart from that, I think it’s important to have good processes in place for how you operate. Who does what when, in which order etc.

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

Hmm…to be honest, I’ve always firmly stuck to white hat practices so I’ve never experienced what people often refer to as a penalty.

I have however had a client coming to us when they’ve seen a big drop in rank after Penguin was introduced. I found it quite challenging to quickly identify the issues that had caused the drop in rank.

We ended up doing a complete SEO audit and quite quickly found the areas which had to be improved.

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

This one has to go to Matt Cutts. He would probably not want the title, but he’s one of the people that has done most for SEO.

Not only helping Google create a better engine – which, by the end of the day is what we all want – but also helping webbies to create better sites and search experiences.

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