Growth Hacking Interview Series #52: Tara Clapper

Tara M. Clapper is Blog Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture.

Tara is a prolific content creator, having written thousands of blog posts, small business websites and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career.

Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn.

She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @TaraMClapper.   

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

I’m a blog editor who uses SEO daily to enhance the SEMrush Blog.

I’m heavily involved in researching keywords, determining the best editorial direction for the blog (selecting themes and topics), and writing in my own areas expertise.

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

I want to entertain our current customers and blog subscribers with a combination of practiced, evergreen content and the latest opinions of opinion leaders, focusing on digital trends.

Additionally, I want to bring in new readers by expanding our coverage to include tech, entertainment, and more.

Along with the managers of our social channels, my goal is to better engage with our readers and let them know all about the people behind the brand.

We’re an international brand with offices in multiple countries, so there’s a lot of territory to explore.

Which new skills are most important for SEOs to learn in the next six months?

1. Keep an eye on local SEO trends and changes. I agree with Peter Shankman’s prediction about the future of social. Instead of likes and shares, you’ll have more of an ability to know where your friends like to go.

Google will be more interested in showing you locations your friends visited.

From an SEO standpoint, you need to do everything you can to make sure your page is engaging and accessible.

If you have a physical location, it’s more imperative than ever for Google to know where you are.

That means having proper meta tags on your website, including the NAP, and also keeping tabs on your business listings on external sites.

2. Video is important. One of my goals is to learn more about it as I come from a background in written content.

Now is NOT the time to be reticent about learning all about video advertising and video metadata.

Until Google can automatically transcribe videos, a transcription can really help your organic SEO. Maximize your reach as you transition into video.

3. Mobile usability and UX continue to be hot topics and important ranking factors. I’d also advise not to settle for simple/trendy desktop version if that’s not what works for your company.

Find a middle ground and avoid looking like everyone else to increase your time on page metric.

What do you find most rewarding about SEO?

Results. I love figuring out what works and doing more of it.

I enjoy how your strategy can combine strict KPIs and clear cut data – but trends, gut feelings, and information gathered at in-person events can set you ahead of the crowd when it comes to content strategy.

I love being enthusiastic about a trend and owning that niche topic.

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

I read many other publications and speak with influential guest bloggers on a daily basis.

Our team also has weekly editorial meetings and our content community manager is taking a big part in helping me construct a long-term content calendar as a proper digital publication should have.

That said, events are the most valuable way for me to identify trends, connect with influencers, and keep track of the latest news.

As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?

Since I’m focused on the blog, it’s all about using SEMrush to identify and chase the best keywords for organic search. Yoast SEO is essential.

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

More video. As a content creator, I can’t afford to ignore video. I like that I’m forced to learn how to produce and promote videos and adapt.

Our flexible company structure allows me to work closely with our webinar host and other team members so that I can better understand this important new trend.

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

SEMrush, Yoast SEO, and CoSchedule – social media sites get indexed by Google, too, and sometimes I notice that my social posts (via CoSchedule) rank higher than the actual blog posts.

Don’t forget to use SEO in social.

LinkedIn is also a great tool. I update my profile a couple of times per month. I think the feed could be more intuitive (it’s not Facebook), but the trends and experts seem to come to me.

How is your typical work day structured?

It depends on the day.

I balance meetings, e-mail correspondence, editing (keeping best SEO practices in mind), SEO content writing, working with our Customer Success department to get stellar content on the blog, podcasting, working with content partners, a bit of content marketing, event attendance, making coffee, and more.

It’s important to note that no matter how busy I am, SEMrush emphasizes the importance of creativity, owning your process, teamwork, and personal branding.

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

The SEO Driven Approach to Content Marketing by Garrett Moon: http://coschedule.com/blog/content-marketing-seo/

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

Ask for help and delegate.

Even if your company structure isn’t set up to be agile…even if you work laterally with a team…you will need to delegate if you’re enthusiastic about your job.

Of course that also means pitching in when others are overwhelmed or need your expertise.

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

Panda is the best and worst update. As a former full-time freelance writer it temporarily damaged my career.

Many companies halted buying any content (even high quality content) because they slid in the SERPs due to Panda, but writers who could write meaningful SEO content could – and did – survive.

Working on the SEO side and as someone in charge of blogs that gained strength post-Panda, I’d say that Panda helps us stand out.

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

I always consult with Mike Isaac and Tai Disu on the SEMrush Customer Success Team.

When I’m looking for SEO trends, I chat with Chris Bell at Didit Marketing. He always has the right way of explaining the benefits of certain SEO practices.

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