Building Strong Links to Move the Needle

paddy

Four years ago, Paddy Moogan, author of The Link-Building Book and Co-Founder of Aira, sat with Matt Beswick in the Aria casino in Las Vegas, and over a half hour and too many drinks, planned out the company that would be Aira. Today, the company employs 34 people and provides SEC, paid search, content marketing, digital PR, and link-building. Clients range in size from local companies with 3 to 4 employees on up to FTSE 100 clients earning billions—but most are “in the middle.”

Aira’s focus, now that they are big enough to turn down clients they don’t want, is on companies big enough to have their own marketing department . . . those that have enough of a budget to work with Aira long term.

Paddy participated on a panel discussing, “How to Drive Inbound Links in the Age of Content Skeptics,” at the January 2019 SMX East in New York City. Panel members provided tips on how to establish links by producing and promoting good content. Paddy presented seven different techniques Aira uses to create more engaging content . . . to build links and onboard bloggers and journalists (see Addendum below).

 

Addendum

Paddy Moogan’s seven tips form the January 2019 SMX East Conference panel discussion, “How to Drive Inbound Links in the Age of Content Skeptics”:

Develop reusable content: If someone releases data on a regular schedule, make an infographic and swap new data into the same template as it is updated.

Make Outreach an ongoing activity: Build a content bank for non-stop outreach.

Learn what works across industries: Analyze campaign, link, industry, and content type effectiveness. Track link attributes. Use the tracking data to prioritize future efforts.

Exclusive content: Select a client-relevant, top-tier publication. Contact a journalist for that publication and offer an for 24-48 hour coverage exclusive on a data-backed story.

Outreach to second-tier websites: Discover who links directly to your content, and links through others who are covering you. Reach out to secondary linkages and invite them to link to you directly.

Use keyword research for more links: Find these keywords in analytics, the open graph, title tags and descriptions. Think about the keywords that you can rank for in content pieces and campaigns.

Get past gatekeepers: Internal PR teams and may guard their contacts. If you can determine their campaign plans, you can create and share a content calendar with those PR people. Establish, build, and share your own contact lists. (Be careful in the EU to comply with GDPR regulations)

Retrieved 01/15/2015 from https://searchengineland.com/how-to-get-links-to-your-site-create-content-that-people-want-to-link-to-307096

In this interview, Paddy talks about what marketers need to do to build strong links:

  1. Developers need to create websites with good user experience in mind: good websites, good content, fast websites, and mobile-responsive websites
  2. Developers need to build and promote website content that is link-worthy. Link-worthy content scales well. A website with a wealth of link-worthy content will get links beyond those that are expected.

At Aira, Paddy’s team might generate 50, 60, 70 content ideas for a website. They then go through a validation process—asking a lot of questions—to determine which ideas are link-worthy, including:

  1. What concepts should get links?
  2. Who is going to link to it?
  3. Who is going to care?
  4. Who will actually look at that content and go “yes, I’m going to link to it”?
  5. What will inspire people to link to the site?

Paddy notes that there is “a massive difference between a good piece of content and a good piece of content that can get links” and that content should be appropriately updated, because Google prioritizes fresher content. He also provides a “timeline guideline” that Aira uses to handle client KPI impact expectations.

Paddy can be reached on his company’s website at: https://www.aira.net/ and on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paddymoogan/.

ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I am your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am live at SMX East in New York City, and I am joined today by Paddy Moogan. He is the Co-Founder of Aira based in Milton Keynes, UK. I’m excited to have you here.

PADDY: Cool, thanks for having me, Rob.

ROB: It’s fantastic. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about Aira and about what makes the company great?

PADDY: We are 3-½ years old now, nearly 4 years old. We formed because myself and my co-founder got drunk in Vegas together and started to form a company, and then 6 months later Aira started.

Before that I was working at an agency in London called Distilled. I was running their London office, but always wanted to do my own thing. I always wanted to work for myself but not go out on my own and be a freelancer. So, when I had the chance to work with my co-founder, it felt really good to have someone else to start a company with.

That was nearly 4 years ago now. We are 33, 34 people in size, so we’ve grown quite quickly, but not too quickly hopefully. We try not to grow too fast and let it get away from us. We do mainly SEO, paid search, content marketing, digital PR, link-building, that kind of stuff.

ROB: Wow, that’s quite a journey. Not many people can say they got drunk in Vegas and now they have 30 people working for them.

PADDY: Yeah, that’s actually where the name comes from. We were drunk at the Aria Casino, so the name is “Aria” backwards. The domain was available. It was like, “Okay, let’s do it.”

ROB: [laughs] That’s a pretty fantastic story. Distilled is a tool, right, in the SEO space?

PADDY: It’s half-tool, half-agency. They’ve got an SEO consultancy, but they’ve also got a tool or some software that they do now as well.

ROB: I imagine you came into starting a company with a pretty deep knowledge of SEO, and that’s why you’re speaking here this week.

PADDY: Yeah. I was there for about 5 or 6 years, and they did a lot of technical SEO, a lot of consulting for really big brands and big companies. I started there as a normal SEO and I worked my way up to run the office. I learned a lot in the process, learned about what to do, what not to do, mistakes, that kind of stuff. So yeah, I learned quite a lot there.

ROB: How did you decide, then, coming from that very deep SEO background, the other services that you offer now? How did you decide what to offer and what to not offer as you began growing out your services?

PADDY: It was quite a big challenge in the early days because my co-founder has quite a strong background in web development and design. So, at one point we were looking at doing everything from design, development, hosting through to the marketing as well, and we realized quite early on that was too much to try and be the best at.

So, we asked ourselves, what do we want to be the best at? What can we really do a good job of? Content marketing and link-building came around because I’m quite well-known for link-building. I wrote a book called The Link-Building Book, and because of that I became associated with link-building and content quite a lot.

So, it felt like we should take advantage of that and use that to try and grow the business. Now about 60% of what we do is content-driven, link-building, so it’s grown quite fast as well.

ROB: Some very adjacent things. You mentioned you were working in the London office?

PADDY: Yeah, of Distilled.

ROB: But now you’re a little bit outside of London.

PADDY: Yeah.

ROB: Were you always living there and you wanted to be close to home?

PADDY: A little bit. I was living in London when we started Aira and then started commuting outside of London and was paying crazy London rent but not working in London, which was a bit stupid.

But, basically, my co-founder had an existing agency in Milton Keynes with two or three staff and a couple of clients, so it felt good just to keep that there and me join that as opposed to bringing everyone to London. It was cheaper there than London as well. London’s crazy expensive for a business to start up in for rent and things like that.

I was a bit skeptical because when you’ve worked in London for so long, you think it’s the center of the universe for everything and you think you have to be in London, you have to be there to get clients, you have to be there to get staff. But, as it’s turned out, Milton Keynes has been great for us. It’s about half an hour, 45 minutes outside of London, so it’s close but . . .

ROB: A lot cheaper.

PADDY: Yeah, a lot cheaper, but not too far away as well.

ROB: What does a typical client look like for you? Is there a certain size, industry, etc.?

PADDY: It’s a real mix. I always thought it’s a bit of a fraud answering this question, because our smallest clients are three or four people in size, really small local companies; our biggest clients are FTSE 100 companies turning over billions. Kind of in the middle is who we work with.

But what we are trying to do now is move more towards companies that are big enough to have their own marketing teams. They’ve probably got three or four people working in marketing, and therefore they’ve got budget, and they’ve also normally got enough to work with an agency like us. Also, enough runway to try and work with us for the long-term and influence long-term goals, really.

So we do work with a big range of clients, but now we are trying to move more towards starting to get bigger clients if we can. But also, we don’t want to forget the small guys as well.

ROB: How long has that decision been germinating? Because it’s usually the sort of thing you chew on for a while and then you decide.

PADDY: We tried to work it out in the early days – right back to when we first started, like 3-½ or 4 years ago now – but we tried to do it too soon, I think. So, in the first 6 months we tried to make that distinction and say we’re only going to work with clients of a certain size or of a certain budget.

It didn’t work that well because we were still a bit too small to really make that jump, whereas now 3-½ years later we can make that jump because we are big enough and we can afford to say “no” to clients. When you’re quite small, if you’ve got ideal clients you want to work with, you can’t always say “no” to clients who aren’t ideal because you’re trying to make money. You’re trying to grow, you’re trying to pay staff, you’re trying to not turn away business.

So, even though we did have that conversation early on, we couldn’t action it because we were still small enough that we had to take on clients – not bad clients, but weren’t our ideal client.

ROB: Right. Before you were talking in Vegas, did you think you would go out on your own at some point? How much of that was a whim and how much was it, again, kind of a build-up and the catalyst was the conversation in Vegas and a little bit of mental lubricant?

PADDY: There was definitely some build-up to it. My co-founder used to actually work with my wife. He employed her at his old agency, so we met through my wife basically. We’d known each other for about a year, year and a half because of that, and we’d always joked and said we should do something together at some point, but never really knew what it was.

We knew there was something there that we were going to do at some point, and then when we went to Vegas, we’d actually been to Moz Con in Seattle first and decided to go to Vegas afterwards with our wives, and then we carried on that conversation and said, “Okay, let’s figure out what it could be.”

So, we went for a drink in the casino, and after about half an hour had figured it all out and actually agreed terms and agreed how we were going to do it. The build-up was quite slow, but it happened quite quickly when we decided we were going to do it.

I went back to London after Vegas, told Distilled I was leaving, and about 5 months later I left and started Aira after that. So, it was quite slow, but then when it did happen it happened quite quickly.

ROB: Did you have enough potential business coming in where you always felt like you could at least scrape out a living? What made you realize it was really going to click and maybe even grow?

PADDY: I was quite lucky here because my co-founder Matt had an existing agency and clients. There was already some income there. So for me personally, it was relatively low risk rather than stepping out on my own with no clients at all and having to pay rent and pay bills. That didn’t really happen because the business was already a little bit there.

But after about 6 months we were getting inquiries quite easily, and even now we still get a lot of inbound inquiries without really trying too hard. We speak at conferences like SMX, we blog, we do webinars and things like that, but a lot of our leads and clients come through word-of-mouth and referrals, which is really, really nice.

I knew we were going to grow quite well when after about 6 months to a year we were still getting those leads without really trying. So now we’re in a position where we are trying to market ourselves more because we know we can’t rely upon those leads forever. It could change at some point.

ROB: What sorts of keywords do you rank well for?

PADDY: We actually rank really well for local keywords, things like “SEO Milton Keynes,” “SEO agency Milton Keynes.” We rank really well for those kind of things and “PPC Milton Keynes,” that kind of stuff. So locally we actually do really well.

But the clients we get through those are quite hit or miss. Some clients who google those keywords, or potential clients, won’t necessarily have the budget or have the need, or they just kick your tires a little bit. Occasionally you will get one who’s actually found you through a local keyword, but a lot of our work now comes through word-of-mouth rather than keyword search, ironically.

ROB: It’s funny, with SEO agencies – many agencies don’t always have a good version of all the services they offer. Sometimes their websites are a little bit under-lovely or something like that. But it’s the sort of thing where I think you just have to rank well as an SEO agency. Sometimes the cobbler’s children can have no shoes, but for an SEO agency it feels like it’s not really an option. It’s just kind of shameful if you’re not ranking.

PADDY: Yeah, you’ve at least got to get the basics right. I think even though we don’t put a whole lot of time into it ourselves, you do have to have the basics right and show that you take it seriously as well. Actually, we do a lot of our own marketing with HubSpot. We sell HubSpot, but we also do our own stuff as well to show that we actually believe in it and it should be something that clients do as well.

ROB: You were here on a panel talking about “How to Drive Inbound Links in the Age of Content Skeptics.” Tell me a little bit about what that discussion looked like and what your point of view is on that.

PADDY: Yeah, sure. The idea of the panel itself was to talk about how to get links, but also recognizing that there’s a lot of people that say “just build great content and that’s it, you don’t need to worry about links,” and the idea is that actually you don’t need to worry about link-building if you do great content. I don’t fully agree with that.

I think in the panel, we were kind of saying the same thing around that’s great to produce great content, but you still have to try and promote it. You still have to try and get links to it. Unless you’re Red Bull or Adidas or Nike, you can’t just push content out and it will be successful. A lot of small businesses have to actually try really hard to get links as well.

So, the panel focused around giving tips and giving advice for how people can actually get those links and not just produce good content, but how to actually promote it as well. My particular part was talking about seven different ways that we use at Aira to build links and to get bloggers onboard or get journalists onboard or how to create content to be more engaging.

ROB: Got it. You’ve given us a taste of what that looks like. You mentioned bloggers, you mentioned journalists. What should people be doing now to get linked to, in a meaningful way that actually moves the needle for their business?

PADDY: I think there’s a few main things, really. But the one thing that we spend a lot of time on with our own clients is content-driven link-building: producing content that sits on the client’s website that actually makes their website link-worthy. That scales quite well because if you’ve got lots of link-worthy content on your website, you’ll end up getting links that you didn’t ask for.

So, you still have to try really hard to push it in the early days. You have to promote content. But over time as you build up a big bank of content that is link-worthy, you are going to pick up links naturally as well with your own efforts.

That’s something that we invest a lot of time into, the idea that clients have to be link-worthy. The days are gone away when you could just manipulate Google into believing links are good when they’re not very good. They’re quite good at that these days, or they’re a lot quicker than they used to be at picking up on dodgy links and links that aren’t very good.

So, we try and push the idea that if we can produce content that makes clients deserve links, you don’t have to worry about manipulating Google or worry about spammy link-building or anything like that.

ROB: Google certainly has, and I think continues to move mostly towards authenticity. They still have some of their own self-interest in mind, I think, but it seems like they’ve increasingly gotten away from “the trick.”

PADDY: Yeah. Obviously, they do have their self-interest at heart because they’re a public company. They’ve got to make money. They’ve got shareholders. 97% of their revenue comes from search, so they’ve got to keep that going.

But ultimately, really what they want is a better experience for their users. If people go to Google and get a bad experience, they’re going to go somewhere else. You think about what users want for a good experience, they want good websites, they want good content, they want fast websites, they want mobile-responsive websites.

So, all the things that Google want, really, are what users want. It does make sense. It’s kind of annoying sometimes that Google just say “create a good website and you’ll be fine” because it’s not that simple, but ultimately the message is still true. That’s what you have to do.

ROB: Right. When you’re first pushing out a piece of content, what are the ways that we should be amplifying it? Are we putting some spend behind it on different channels? What’s effective? And then I still get emails from time to time where it’s like, “Hey, I noticed you have these link. You should also include my links or one of these four articles.” How modern are such tactics, and what are people doing to get the weight behind their content initially?

PADDY: Something we put a lot of time into this before content’s even built or designed or released, thinking about who would actually link to that content and who would care about it. Our team go through an idea generation process where they come up with lots of ideas for content.

That could be 50, 60, 70 ideas, and those ideas go through what we call a validation process. That’s basically asking lots of questions about the idea to try and figure out if it’s a link-worthy idea, because there’s a massive difference between a good piece of content and a good piece of content that can get links. What we’re trying to do is find the second one. Of those 60 or 70 ideas, how many of them are actually going to get links?

To do that, we ask lots of questions, and one of the questions is who’s going to link to it? Who’s going to care? Who would actually look at that content and go “yes, I’m going to link to it”? If we can’t answer that question positively, then the idea doesn’t make it through. We’ll just scrap it and move on with other ideas.

What that means is that when the content is launched and we actually promote it, we’ve already got some average targets in mind because we’ve been through that process already to figure out who they are. So, you’re not starting from scratch and thinking, okay, we’ve got the content; who’s going to link to it? We actually put a lot of time in in advance to the content being launched to try and answer that question.

We do try stuff with paid sometimes where we’ll try putting something in Facebook or LinkedIn maybe and promoting content on there to try and get it in front of the right people. That’s still a bit testing at the moment, so we don’t know how well it works for us, but we’re trying it at the moment to see if it works.

ROB: How effective is it now, modernizing old content that was pretty good? There’s a keyword, there’s a pretty good article, it’s 5 years old, and framing up a better version of it?

PADDY: I think it’s really important in a couple of ways – one because it’s actually often cheaper to refresh an existing piece of content than start building it again from scratch. If your company or client’s got quite a small budget, it’s often more efficient to refresh existing content than build brand new content. So from that perspective it’s worth it.

But also, I think Google are getting quite good at understanding the freshness of content, so we’ve seen quite a few things recently where they tend to favor 2018 content over 2017 or 2016. If they know that content is 5 years old, it’s got less chance of ranking because there’s probably going to be newer content out there that’s just as good. So, they’re going to rank the fresher content instead.

I think from that perspective as well, it’s also worth refreshing content to make sure it’s up-to-date and that Google understand it’s been updated and that kind of stuff.

ROB: That goes back to your point about Google doing what is helpful for people. People want content that is more up-to-date versus content that is not up-to-date.

PADDY: Yeah, exactly. There are going to be content pieces out there that don’t need updating every single day or every single month or maybe even every single year, but chances are there are things that can be done. Some things, like factual things, historical things won’t change very much, but there’s probably still some things you can do to update them.

There’s nearly always something you can do to update your content, even if it’s a topic that isn’t that fast or changes very often.

ROB: Right. Paddy, what are some things that you have learned in the process of building Aira that you might do differently if you were starting from scratch?

PADDY: Something which we learned early on was myself and my co-founder tried to give each other roles within the agency. We stole something from my old bosses at Distilled and said I will make Aira famous, Matt can make Aira good – the idea being Matt could work on processes and systems to make us really good at what we do and training and things like that, and I would make us famous by marketing, blogging, speaking, that kind of stuff.

In theory that sounds great, and it worked really well for Distilled, my old agency. In reality, though, what it meant was we worked quite separately. We ended up not working together as much as we had previously, and that hurt the business a little bit because we were actually good when we worked together. When we did sales pitches or presentations together, we were actually really good.

We found that we accidentally split our time up, so we weren’t working together very often, so that was a big learning early on. We should’ve had different roles, but shouldn’t have almost siloed ourselves away from each other a little bit. That was quite a big thing early on that we learned.

Looking back on it, in theory that was a great idea, but, in reality, it wasn’t very good for us to have happened.

ROB: Right. Where in the journey did you start to realize that? How many people were in the company when you realized maybe that you needed to recalibrate that?

PADDY: That was about 9 months in that we had that conversation about splitting our roles, and there was probably about seven of us at that point in total. Still quite small. We probably didn’t even need to split up our roles at that point. We were probably still quite small to do that. But yeah, quite early on, really, that happened.

ROB: And probably some confusion amongst the team when you’re not on the same page as well.

PADDY: Yeah, exactly. It turns out we actually enjoy working together. We went through the conversation when we where we weren’t working together as much as we did, and we didn’t enjoy it as much. So that’s definitely something which, looking back on, we’ve learned a lot from.

Also, just bringing more people and scanning quite quickly. We could be another 10, 20 people if we wanted to be, but we deliberately held back a little bit and didn’t hire too quickly. That’s something which is working quite well now because we’re at the right size for the level of income we’ve got. It means that we’re quite, hopefully, sustainable. If we lose a client or two, we’re going to be fine. Whereas if we’d grown really fast, really early, I think that could’ve hurt us quite a bit.

ROB: What processes have been unexpectedly necessary in operating the business now?

PADDY: HR. I love the people side of what we do. We’re an SEO company, but, ultimately, I love the team and the people side of it, so I love helping people grow their careers. I love helping people improve themselves and have good development plans. The SEO is kind of secondary to all of that.

Having really strong processes around that has been quite challenging as well, even though it’s positive. It’s been quite challenging because everyone’s different. One person will want a certain type of plan; someone else will want a different kind of plan. Some people care about job title, some people don’t.

Learning all of that has been quite a challenge, and as you grow it gets worse. From 10 people to 33, 34 now, that is a different challenge because you’ve got a lot of different people to keep happy.

But we realized about 6 months ago, we did a company-wide presentation about how we’re doing and what the plans are, and we said to everyone, “Look, there’s 30 of you guys in this room. Chances are at some point we’re going to make a decision that one of you doesn’t like. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.” We’ve had to realize that you can’t keep that many people happy at once. We’ll do our best, but that’s been quite difficult for me to learn from and get onboard with.

ROB: Not to be popular sometimes . . .

PADDY: When you’re six or seven people, you probably can make a decision that everyone’s happy with, but when you’re that many people, chances are you are going to upset people from time to time. But they need to understand that you’re doing it for the right reasons and you’re trying to do it for the best of the company, not individuals.

But for me personally, that’s quite difficult because I care so much about the team and the individuals. The idea that one of them isn’t happy about something I’ve done is quite difficult, but it’s the reality.

ROB: Back to the topic briefly. The title of the talk talked about the content skeptics. What would the content skeptics have us do to get our names out there? What do they think we should be doing, and where might they be a little bit right about something that we might be blind to in the ecosystem of this?

PADDY: I think where it came from is the idea that you don’t necessarily need to do link-building around content, that you just produce good content and it takes care of itself. I think that’s where some of the skepticism comes from. So the idea that people like us will go off and build links is kind of strange for them because I think you don’t necessarily need that. Some companies don’t. some companies are big brands where they don’t need that kind of stuff.

But where they are right is the focus should be on content and the quality of content. Thinking about links first and content second isn’t really the right thing to do. So really what we should be doing is thinking about how to create great content, then who would be interested in that content. That’s the way it should be.

So, they’re kind of right from that perspective, but they’re wrong in that you still have to think about links. That’s all really important.

Also, over the last couple of years, there’s been lots of talk around Google valuing links less, and I don’t think that’s true. I think that they’re still really, really important, but a lot of skeptics think that they’re not as important as they used to be, so therefore don’t worry about them as much. But we’re still seeing that they’re really important, and if you don’t have them, you’re going to struggle to rank really well.

ROB: It almost seems to me that some of the people who would say link-building is not important, some of those people just don’t want to do it.

PADDY: Yeah, definitely.

ROB: Some of those people just have a natural knack for creating content that people will want. I think there’s almost a blind spot where if you’re really dialed into what people want, then you say you don’t need to link build because you’re just naturally writing stuff that people care about. You don’t realize that not everybody is you and has this preternatural idea of what people want to read.

PADDY: Yeah. Some companies can do that, and I think that’s why skeptics are sometimes right. Let’s take Red Bull for example. Extreme example, but they flew a guy out of a spaceship and did a skydive from space. That’s content. That’s a video. That got links, right? But not every company can afford to be Red Bull. They can’t afford to send a guy to space and chuck him out of a spaceship.

That’s great if you’re Red Bull, but for the average small business they can’t do that kind of stuff. For some businesses it works really well just to focus on content and nothing else, but for the rest of us, they’ve got to think about it and got to actually try and promote themselves, which is difficult.

You’re right in that a lot of skeptics that don’t really like link building, they don’t really do it or can’t do it, because it’s hard. It is hard getting someone to link to a piece of content because who wakes up in the morning thinking, “Hey, I’m going to link to someone’s content today?” No one does. It’s quite difficult to do, which means that for companies like us that can get it right, hopefully there’s an opportunity as well.

ROB: I think there’s probably a way in which talking about it and talking about the tactics of how it’s done makes it feel antiquated. It’s not like you’re building a log cabin by hand instead of moving into a house, when everybody knows you want the house. But it’s just that there is this underlying necessity of process.

PADDY: Yeah, exactly. The process is really important because link-building is quite subjective and content is quite subjective. What you might think is a good piece of content, I might think is a bad piece of content and vice versa. That makes it really difficult because you’re trying to convince someone that they should agree with you on something being really good, which means it takes time.

That makes it really difficult, as well, because like you said, people want the house, and they want the house today or tomorrow. They don’t want to wait 6 months or 5 months for it. So, we have to balance our work a little bit so that we’re building long-term, but also they understand it does take time, but also we’ve got to get results because we’re being paid. They can’t afford to pay us forever and not see results quickly enough.

ROB: That brings me to an interesting question. How do you communicate the value that you’re delivering in the early days of a new client, when you haven’t had the time? You can point to the work you’ve done, but you can’t necessarily link it as much to outcomes.

PADDY: When we sell a project, we give a timeline of when we expect to influence different KPIs. We’re quite honest that in the first 3 months, it’s pretty unlikely that someone’s going to see their rankings hockey-stick and improve overnight. They’re probably not going to see traffic improve in the first 3 months because it takes time to build up.

So. we’re quite honest about that when we’re selling a project. In the first 3 months what we ask for is softer metrics. We ask for a client to think about, are they proud of the content we’re producing? Do they look at it and want to show people in the company? Do they want to show it to their CEO? Does their CEO see and like it? Or do they feel compelled to share the content internally with someone else? That kind of stuff.

Also, our working relationship. Do we get on together? Do we actually like each other? If we like each other and get on well, then we enjoy the project, and that’s a good thing. If we get in and we hate each other, that’s not a nice position to be in. But aside from KPI, that’s a softer thing that we need to think about.

We try and tell clients in the first few months those things to think about and worry about, and then 3 to 6 months, that’s when we should start to see links starting to come in and starting to influence rankings. Then longer term, it’s about the traffic and the revenue as well.

We normally say within 6 to 12 months you should start seeing the impact on rankings, traffic, and revenue, but within 3 to 6 months you start to see the needle moving a little bit but maybe not completely yet.

ROB: What is something that people are doing that they think will help their SEO that does not help and they should stop doing it?

PADDY: Probably volume of links is one thing I’d point out. We’re still seeing quite a lot that the quality of links definitely trumps the quantity. That’s definitely something people focus on which they shouldn’t.

Also, I think the days of focusing on specific keywords too much are gone. I think what happened in the past was if you had 1,000 keywords that you wanted to target, you’d spin out 1,000 pages for each of those keywords, even if those keywords were quite similar to each other. I think a lot of people now should be focusing more on grouping keywords together and focusing on the quality of pages rather than the quantity of them as well. We see that quite a lot, unfortunately.

ROB: What is coming up for Aira or for marketing in general that you are excited about?

PADDY: For Aira, we just want to keep growing. We don’t really have too much of a plan. We just want to keep doing good work and being a good place to work. For us, we just want to keep doing what we’re doing and focusing on helping people build their careers.

We are starting to get to the point now where we’re working with bigger brands, which is nice. We’re getting more involved in brands that people have heard of, and that’s really nice to work on as well and good for the team. So, we’re going to keep doing more of that, which is exciting.

We’ve also got quite a lot of stuff coming around measuring what we do a bit better, actually tying link-building in with KPIs a bit better and showing that link-building directly impacts search a lot more directly. So, we’ve got a lot of that coming.

Industry generally, I think voice search is really interesting. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I don’t think anyone really does, but it’s exciting nonetheless. It’s quite funny that a lot of people planned to optimize it and know it inside-out, but no one really knows yet what it means.

So that’s going to be interesting to see how that unfolds, see how Google use it, how Amazon use it, how Microsoft use it as well. That’s quite interesting as well.

I think also as the move towards mobile happens, obviously a lot of clients now get more mobile traffic than desktop traffic. What that means for advertising is going to be quite interesting. How Google are going to leverage mobile advertising a bit better, how they can string together desktop and mobile sessions, that kind of stuff. That’s quite interesting as well.

ROB: Right, even some of that cross-session, like “how many visitors did you have?” and “what touch was this in the attribution modeling?”

PADDY: Yeah, that’s got to become more normal. At the moment, it’s quite hard to string together. Google Analytics is trying to do it, other platforms are trying to do it as well, but I don’t think anyone’s really nailed it. It’s going to be interesting to see how that’s measured in the future to be able to string together those sessions and actually show companies how people are interacting with their site, how they’re converting, and get them a true picture of what the customer journey actually is.

ROB: Interesting. Very good. Paddy, thank you for your time. It’s a pleasure to meet up, and I think you’ve shared some good pearls of wisdom for the audience.

PADDY: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

ROB: Pleasure.

PADDY: Cheers.

ROB: Take care.

Thank you for listening. The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast is presented by Converge. Converge helps digital marketing agencies and brands automate their reporting so they can be more profitable, accurate, and responsive. To learn more about how Converge can automate your marketing reporting, email info@convergehq.com, or visit us on the web at convergehq.com.

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