Growth Hacking Interview Series #60: Peter Attia
Peter Attia is the Director of Content and Search at Modernize and has been in the online marketing world for over a decade.
He’s been a founding member of multiple multimillion dollar businesses and has worked closely with multiple Fortune 100 companies.
How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?
To be honest, I haven’t considered myself strictly an SEO for quite some time. In the past several years, it’s been more of an accent to something else I’m working on.
For example, I currently manage the content for Modernize.com and a large part of that is making sure our guided content is optimized for SEO.
However, I’m also using the content to push the company’s rebranding and working on optimizing pages for pushing visitors further down the funnel.
I believe most veterans in the industry have followed the same path, as SEO has changed significantly over the past several years.
It’s no longer a stand alone tactic, and more something that can be implemented to “boost” several different marketing channels.
What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?
At some point everything has to tie back to revenue. So in that regards, the high level goal is increasing company revenue.
How that is measured, however, can become much more complicated. Do you only look at first click attribution? Last click?
Do you split the revenue between all touch points? This is something I don’t feel anyone has really nailed yet and is still being “finessed” to this day.
Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?
I think the most important skill for anyone in the tech industry (not just SEO) is the ability to learn quickly.
Everything in tech evolves fast, so I’m always looking to hire people that have the innate ability to teach themselves new skills on their own.
That, in itself, is a skill. One I feel hiring managers and employees should focus more effort on.
As an example, would you hire someone who was an absolute bad ass in marketing 10 years ago, but hasn’t done anything remotely related since then?
The chances that those skills and knowledge would still hold true a decade later is slim, at best.
What do you find most rewarding about SEO?
Most people in the industry are pretty competitive people and I think that’s what drives them, myself included.
It’s always rewarding to see a strategy you’ve worked diligently on, pan out to where your surpassing your competitors.
How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?
I set aside some time each day to skim through various article sources and see if any headlines pop out.
Marketing Land, Inbound, Growth Hacker, Twitter, etc. To be completely honest, most of it’s absolute crap.
Everything is written 17 times over with a different click baity title. However, there’s occasionally some hidden gems about new tactics or updates that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.
Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?
The massive effect user engagement and experience has started to play on SEO has been extremely motivating and exciting.
I’m absolutely stoked to see the improved focus people are starting to put on website usability and the well deserved results that have been attained from it.
When I’m not playing “digital marketer” and casually searching the web, I get frustrated when I see shit sites ranking above genuinely well built ones.
It’s not that they don’t deserve the rankings, they’ve obviously put a lot of effort into SEO.
However, it’s frustrating to see a site that’s genuinely more useful not get the credit it deserves, just because they focused more on usability than SEO (as it should be!).
What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?
I’d say my top tools for SEO directly are SEM Rush and URL Profiler. They’re both great for doing deep analysis of your own site as well as competitors. They also both have great resources for performing in depth audits.
For the not so specifically SEO side, two of my favorite tools are Hemingway App and Workflowy.
I always forward Hemingway App along to anyone even slightly involved with writing copy or editing, as it can really speed up the process of finding pain points in content.
Workflowy is more of a way to keep myself organize.
I’ve always been the type of person that works off of lists that are organized by different prioritize and Workflowy let’s me do just that.
It also allows you to build lists within lists, which may sound ridiculous, but is a huge help.
Lastly, I think Moz is a great company. The amount of clout and love they’ve grown is impressive by anyone’s standards.
However, I have to say, it’s also misleading to people who are new in the industry.
The Moz toolset is fairly basic and it can be hard to realize there’s much better technology out there, when Moz is what you see everywhere.
How is your typical work day structured?
I have to get a cup of coffee before anything (yes, I’m that guy). Then the first thing I do is scan my emails for anything high priority or that needs to be on my radar for the day.
Afterwards I do a quick run through of our analytics to see if there’s any unexpected spikes. If there’s a huge spike in traffic, we need to pin down the source and see how we can pull more awareness out of it.
Then, I try to prioritize what needs to be done for the day and try to make sure this correlates with due dates and time required to complete.
I usually end up doing this in a similar fashion to a dev sprint, by prioritizing things into a two week time period as well as a daily tasks.
The rest of my day is spent in strategy meetings and going through workflows I’ve listed out for myself.
I always make sure to carve out some time around lunch or the end of the day to see if there are any industry articles or announcements I should read or bookmark for later.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?
Oh man, that’s a tough one.
I guess I’d go with Traction, as it has a lot of great insights from industry leaders. I’d say it leans more towards people who work on startups, though only slightly.
There’s a lot of good stuff in there for bigger businesses as well.
What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?
Something that helped me a lot is working closely with large development teams. They’re great at getting road maps plotted and planned out efficiently.
I feel most marketing teams are strongly lacking this and everything ends up being very chaotic and “knee jerky”.
This has something that’s stuck with me over time and now even my personal tasks are always planned out appropriately. It’s helped me become more efficient and, in turn, more productive.
Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?
I’ve been pretty lucky, as I haven’t felt the wrath of any major updates so far.
However, I’d say penguin would probably be the hardest to adhere to, as I remember the days when you could just throw money at backlinks and see your rankings increase.
If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.
There’s no one person I could ever recommend and I don’t think anyone should ever hold an “expert” on a pedestal.
Everything should be taken with a grain of salt to develop your own opinions. To follow one industry leader and act as if they could never do or say anything wrong would only be detrimental to your career.