Simon Parker joined ClickThrough Marketing in March 2015. We caught up with him to find out what, exactly, is technical SEO? Why he’s trawling through enterprise-level solutions to find the perfect client fit, and why spending hours on a sit-on lawnmower still holds appeal.
What does your role at ClickThrough Marketing involve?
I focus on technical search engine optimisation. Essentially, I look in-depth at the tiniest points of SEO and how they affect the larger functioning of the site. This can include URL structure, website architecture, breadcrumbs etc., and how these pass Pagerank to other pages, whether you want them to or not.
I take into account every aspect of SEO, current best practice, proven results as well as keeping up to date with current industry opinions and correlations to optimise sites for both SEO and user experience. Readability and great content correlate to CTR and there should never be a trade off on these against pure SEO.
What experience do you bring to ClickThrough?
I started off buying eBooks and premade websites on eBay, where I met a guy selling eBooks and courses on ‘how to become a eBay powerseller in 90 days’ amongst other products. He was offering sets of AdSense websites which I just had to add my AdSense code to and would become an instant millionaire! I naturally got interested in this, but when I looked at the sites I could see they were not generating any traffic as they were brand new at a time when the Google Sandbox was an active thing and my sites were nowhere to be seen. That is when I started to read up on SEO. That was about nine years ago and I’m still reading about SEO now!
I then moved to Single Point just as it was being acquired by Vodafone. I soon noticed that the websites were not performing as well as they could. I brought this to the attention of the manager of Vodafone’s online store and was soon seconded to the technical team, where I started to implement SEO guidelines to drive more traffic and sales to their various websites. I wrote the company’s first-ever internal SEO best-practice guide and provided training to staff on website changes and why they were needed. Vodafone then relocated their online team presence to Newbury so I took the opportunity to branch off on my own with Coffee Black, offering SEO services to SMEs and local businesses.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
I have two very different answers to this. One is being able to communicate SEO in layman speak, breaking it down into simple, easy to understand elements. My aim is to always create as much value as I can and to build up trust and understanding with my clients. I am still servicing my first Coffee Black SEO account – seven years on.
Second, and very different, is that I adopt cats that no-one wants. We have six at present. We work with the local cat rescue centre and try to home some of their oldest or longest residents.
What projects are you currently involved in?
I’m working across a number of client accounts right now, including Dunelm, Cooksongold and Craghoppers. These are large-scale sites with lots of internal and external links and in some cases very complex internal structures.
Most recently, Dunelm has migrated to a new website, and I have been involved in ensuring all appropriate pages redirect and the user experience is not affected while closely monitoring the rankings to spot potential problem areas of the site.
I’ve also been busy evaluating enterprise-level SEO tools, such as OneHydra ,BridgeEdge and LinkDex. There are many enterprise-level SEO tools available, all with strengths and weaknesses, and I am assessing these in relation to client needs and aspirations. However, I am yet to find one that is a one-stop-shop to fill all client requirements.
What are your views on current SEO algorithm and ranking changes?
Whenever there is a change in ranking you have to be aware and understand why this has happened. Even if the resultant output is a best guess scenario, I think my knowledge and experience of SEO lets me have a very wide view and understanding of what might have affected a ranking increase or decrease. I have a wealth of historical knowledge, which is valuable at seeing what has happened in the past and then trying to predict what impact a future change might have on site rankings.
What are your predictions for SEO over the next 12 months?
Social signals are already very important, but over the next year, they’re going to become increasingly crucial. I reckon we’ll see new ways for social media to be integrated with content too.
On the subject of content, it’s become very, very important for publishers to ensure they’re creating high-quality content. Google is getting better at picking up poor-quality content, and businesses that don’t meet its standards are going to suffer in 2016.
Content writers need to be employed to ensure the quality and tone of content is not only appropriate for users, but is written in a way that takes into account Google’s increasing emphasis on semantic search and its increasing ability to understand both written text and inferences within that, but also imagery and recognition of the content within that image.
The Hummingbird update was only the start of this process. I believe Google will soon understand not only the context of your search queries, but will formulate a concept of your writing style and personality, so it could provide contextually relevant results on a totally personalised level.
If you hadn’t gone into SEO what other career path might you have considered?
Many years ago I worked as a gardener on a large country estate. I spent 28 hours a week on a sit-on lawnmower, mowing through the woods, orchards and around the helipad. It is quite easy to let your mind drift off while mowing and that still holds an appeal. It is certainly very different to the hectic world of SEO!
Finally, who inspires you?
Elon Musk [co-founder of PayPal and the inspiration for Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man films]. He’s really trying very hard to ensure humanity is furthered by technology rather than governed by it.
Want to find out more about technical SEO and how it could improve Pagerank for your site? Get in touch