1-on-1 with SEO Growth Lead: improve your strategy for smart growth
October 22, 2021
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Having a solid SEO strategy in place is a must for every product or service aiming for growth. After all, how can the world know about you if you don't appear in any search results? Therefore, in this interview, we talked with Povilas Šiaulys - SEO Growth Lead at Nord Security, where he shared his tips on driving more traffic, optimizing your team processes for better results, and keeping your cool when the algorithm rebels.
Working with SEO
Automate every repetitive task. We believe that SEO is more about letting your team experiment and look for new areas for growth.
First of all, could you tell me more about what you do here at Nord Security?
Sure, I'm part of a team consisting of 18 cross-functional SEO specialists. Each member has a particular area of expertise related to different SEO subtopics. As for me, I work as SEO Growth Lead at NordVPN. My primary responsibility is driving initiatives that lead our channel towards growth.
What would you say is the hardest part about your job, and what do you enjoy most about it?
It might sound strange, but in my job, two things are the hardest and the most enjoyable at the same time - our market and our marketing channel. Both are constantly changing at an increasing rate which adds to the complexity of reaching the correct conclusions. But that's precisely what drives our team, and I think it's the most engaging environment for any driven person to thrive in.
What were some recent challenges in SEO that you had to tackle, and could you share how you've done it?
Our most recent challenge is probably not that different from many other SEO teams. The June core update had a significant impact on almost all product sectors, including ours. As a team, we always try to keep tabs on the potential algorithm changes, and we act quickly to anticipate them. And for the most part, it works out smoothly. But during June, we all underwent an icy cold shower treatment as we lost a significant amount of visibility in our core markets overnight. It took us numerous hours of analysis and testing, but I'm happy to share that we managed to recover most of our losses and strengthened our processes in the meantime.
Mistakes and trends you shouldn’t follow
For companies, the core mistake is just being impatient. That unwillingness to wait for results usually stems from a fractured understanding of the channel and the algorithm itself.
There are a lot of articles about SEO trends that you have to follow to increase traffic. Which of them, in your opinion, are worth trying?
To be honest, I'd not invest too much in those articles as credible resources - most of them are used for marketing purposes, and it's common for them to have a clickbait title with the "SEO" keyword included. My advice is to regard each resource with skepticism as there's no single magic bullet in SEO. Even if there are some temporary algorithm exploits, they tend to be patched up, and you won't find much information on them for obvious reasons.
But here's a universal tip that will double your traffic in an unspecified time frame - keep your team aligned on how search algorithms work and how your channel grows. I believe it's a common issue that creates misunderstandings and wasted effort among teams, especially larger ones. Once you have those two things aligned, teams prioritize more effectively and reach better results.
Could you share maybe a few of your signature tips and tricks that your colleagues could try in SEO?
Easy - automate every repetitive task. We believe that SEO is more about letting your team experiment and look for new areas for growth. Just imagine how much time your team would have for that if they did not have to do another keyword research?
What are the most common mistakes in SEO that companies do and how to avoid them?
For companies, the core mistake is just being impatient. That unwillingness to wait for results usually stems from a fractured understanding of the channel and the algorithm itself. I think it's a common struggle for many SEOs - they're often required to deliver swift results in a matter of weeks. And communicating the need for time is always nuanced when it comes to stakeholders.
A classic example is when teams start to implement every known trick from five years ago in high volumes hoping for the best, but ultimately it leads to long-lasting adverse effects. Sustainable SEO growth requires a strong foundation. And that doesn't come overnight - it's an ongoing, incremental, and time-consuming process.
Do you personally get frustrated with the need to wait for results?
Not really. Significant results indeed require some degree of patience. But that's not always the case. There are many situations where a slight change can bring results in a matter of days. The tricky part is to become 100% sure that specific change was responsible for the impact you're seeing. Especially when it comes to extensive websites in competitive markets.
Just keep in mind that SEO changes fast, and a lot of information becomes outdated quickly. So double-check the publishing date and triple-check the author's reputation and experience.
What advice would you give to a complete beginner in SEO - where to start and how to learn it?
Courses and books are all great, but to anyone serious about getting into SEO, I would advise starting your own website or trying to land a junior role in a company. SEO may seem a bit daunting at first and is best tackled in small pieces. And basic theory tends to evaporate over time if it's not put into action. So think of a topic you are genuinely interested in. Then, start by setting up a domain and use theory as a tool to tackle each problem you encounter on your way. And trust me, there'll be plenty of space for improvement.
Your favorite books, podcasts, or other resources on the topic?
Anyone who's into learning with the help of books will find something. Just keep in mind that SEO changes fast, and a lot of information becomes outdated quickly. So double-check the publishing date and triple-check the author's reputation and experience.
There is one resource I feel comfortable recommending - seobythesea.com. Bill is a true expert in the field, and his writings on Google's patent filings and whitepapers are a great starting point before jumping into more research.
Your advice to newbies who'd like to join your team at Nord Security?
Just be curious and excited. The advice is generic and straightforward, but it's hard to fake it, and it makes winners of people in the long run.