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A Day In The Life Of An SEO Agency Senior Executive

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A Day In The Life Of An SEO Agency Senior Executive


My journey to becoming an SEO executive has spanned over 14 years, working at leading agencies and optimizing for some of the world’s largest brands. I also spent a few years working as an in-house SEO at some medium-sized businesses.

Today, I work at Acronym as an SVP of SEO. I’ve been at the agency for 7 years and manage the global SEO team, which consists of over 20 SEO professionals in the U.S., London, Singapore, Berlin, and Canada.

Working at an agency can be both challenging and rewarding.

It is my hope that sharing the story of how I got where I am today and what being an SVP of SEO means will help you in your own career journey, as well.

Getting Started In SEO

I first learned about SEO and internet marketing in 2003, when I was getting my Master’s degree in Internet Business from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Prior to that, I worked as a Q.A. specialist in the pharmaceutical industry doing auditing and computer validation. However, I was fascinated by the internet and so decided to go back to school to learn more about the world wide web.

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I started my own pharmaceutical job board in 2006 and needed more traffic, so I reached out to an SEO company for help.

After watching them optimize my site, I  learned how interesting and complex it was. Fascinated to learn more, I was inspired to start doing more of it myself.

I landed a job as an SEO specialist at Digitgrit (now Zeta Interactive), built a successful SEO practice at Havas Media, and the rest is history.

A Typical Day In SEO Leadership

Being a senior leader at the agency, I do a lot of business development – leading pitches, creating strategies, showing how SEO works with other channels, for example.

I manage the team to ensure we have the right tools, resources, staff, processes, and services to manage clients and potential clients, in addition to generating thought leadership materials.

I also read a lot to see what is going on in the industry. It’s important to stay on top of other perspectives and new technology when we’re collaborating with global vendors and international teams.

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My Master’s degree in ecommerce helped me gain the fundamentals of how the internet works. It has changed dramatically over the years, but I’ve learned that understanding the fundamentals will help you get a deeper understanding and appreciation for the history and the backbone of how things are connected.

Being in the industry this long has also taught me a lot, especially about working with both international and domestic clients.

Finally, I’ve also realized you should always do your due diligence and dig deeper. Focus on big-ticket items and strategies that will drive business results.

A lot of agencies offer similar services. Why should a client go with your agency rather than the other 5 to 10 that are in an RFP?

Always differentiate yourself. Listen to your clients and make sure you understand their goals and objectives, challenges, key performance indicators, and what they are hoping to get out of an engagement.

Plan to show who is doing what and set realistic expectations early on so there are no surprises later, i.e., things not being implemented, etc. Build compelling case studies and offer unique perspectives on updates and changes in the SERPs.

Managing The Challenges Of SEO At The Executive Level

Managing SEO at a global agency is no easy task with clients and SEOs across time zones, different languages and multiple search engines in play, and more.

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Prioritization, communication, and strong processes are vital for success.

The ability to account for cultural and language differences, as well as determining which countries will offer the best ROI, is essential.

Another challenge for executives, particularly at the enterprise level, is that some clients have incredibly complex needs.

One day you might be dealing with a migration that failed when they worked with a previous agency.

You might have a new client lose a lot of traffic and revenue after being negatively impacted by a core update.

You could be working with limited resources, etc.

I once had a client insist on using a whole bunch of keywords that were used inside the company, but not by their audience. Educating the client on why that was not a good idea was key, and that takes tact and people management skills.

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Working with the web developers that some brands employ, we are often forced to use techniques that run against common SEO wisdom and so workarounds must be found.

SEO in principle has a fundamental approach – but every new client brings their own twist to it.

That’s the beauty of working in an agency with strong leadership and a focus on training and education. It means they frequently encounter challenges and are constantly developing solutions.

Finding Inspiration And Thought Leadership

The person in the SEO community I admire most is Mike Grehan. Mike is a pioneer in the space and a great visionary. He was talking about things 20 years ago that are now coming to fruition.

The other people I look up to in the industry are Brian Dean from Backlinko. They offer amazing content and do impressive research studies.

I also have a lot of respect for Hamlet Batista, who sadly passed away. I learned a lot from him in a short amount of time and we had plans to do some meetups together.

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I am also a major fan of Jim Boykin from Internet Marketing Ninjas.

I advise that every SEO pro stay up with the latest technology. We live in a dynamic world where automation is key. There are some great platforms and solutions out there that are making a lot of noise in the space and really helping to streamline the SEO process, so we can focus more on strategy.

Assess them to see if they can help reach your KPIs internally and externally.

Also, evaluate and test different methodologies to see what’s working to drive overall business goals and objectives and, most important of all, conversions.

If you are not doing that, it is time for you to refocus. SEO is all about bringing qualified traffic to a site that converts into customers.

Don’t be afraid to fail and accept new challenges; that’s part of being innovative and well-rounded.

Do your own research. Try to get as much experience as you can with paid search, programmatic, social, and analytics, but don’t forget to build skills in leading a team, as well. You need to see the bigger picture, as it is all connected at the leadership level.

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Tips For Prospective Leaders In The SEO Industry

To succeed as an SEO executive, you must be able to hire and build a strong team, listen and be receptive to feedback, and motivate those people who have the potential to be your company’s rock stars.

Provide a creative and consultative working environment, and set out a clear path for your employees to advance their careers. Enable them to work on different accounts across various verticals to broaden their experience.

Always be humble and include your team to get their perspectives on each issue, whether that is why they feel traffic may be down, how to improve rankings, how we can win this pitch, etc.

No man is an island. A great leader is only as good as the team he is leading.

Remember, too, that numbers don’t lie. Always show results and continue to bring innovative ideas to clients and prospects, even if they sound outlandish.

If you want to move up the ladder, you have to be able to demonstrate how your leadership translates into business results, too.

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Continue working on that plan to grow new business by 20+% year over year, get incremental revenue from existing clients by offering new services, think creatively – and be ready to prove it.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to write a column for the most prestigious publication in the search industry, definitely go for it.

Being an SEO executive for a leading agency can be a rewarding career. It offers not only longevity but also all of the rewards inherent to helping colleagues grow in their careers and clients reach their key performance indicators year after year.

If you had to choose only a few key areas of focus to drive your career in SEO leadership forward, I would say these are the “secrets” to my success:

  • Always hire the best talent.
  • Collaborate with your team.
  • Never be afraid to try out new ideas.
  • Keep up to date with the latest technology.
  • Test different optimization tactics and strategies out for yourself.
  • Read industry publications and follow thought leaders in the space.
  • Be innovative and strive to set yourself apart from competitors.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff





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Which Is Better For You?

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Which Is Better For You?

Content marketers are using video content more than ever.

In 2022, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool.

Aside from the rise of TikTok, especially during the pandemic, more marketers are creating videos, and 46% of marketers said it was because videos had become easier to develop in-house.

As a content marketer, should you jump on the bandwagon?

And what about the more “traditional” YouTube?

Worldwide, YouTube is part of the Top 3 social media networks. TikTok isn’t just yet, though it’s steadily climbing the ranks at No. 5.

Just because TikTok is the newest kid on the block doesn’t mean you have to allocate all your video budgets to it.

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Choosing between the two requires careful thought and consideration. You must factor in content type, target audience, engagement rates, and influencer marketing spend.

So, which of these two viral video platforms makes more sense for your business?

Let’s dive in.

What Is TikTok?

After Chinese tech company ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, its technology was ported. Thus, TikTok was born.

TikTok (called Douyin locally) is a user-friendly social media platform that allows users to create short-form videos.

With a free video editor in-app, anyone can add filters, stickers, and text-to-speech for a 15-second video.

TikTok has over a billion monthly users, making it the most downloaded app worldwide in 2021.

What Is YouTube?

With over 2.1 billion monthly active users, the video-sharing platform has been around much longer. Launched in 2005, YouTube has been the mainstay for sharing video content.

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Three former PayPal employees founded YouTube as a way for people to have fun sharing their home videos. (Remember the first few viral YouTube videos?)

Compared to TikTok, YouTube videos are a lot longer.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between TikTok And YouTube

TikTok YouTube
Audience (U.S.) 50% between ages 18 and 24, 17.7% between ages 12 and 17 95% between ages 18 and 29
Average Content Length 15 to 60 seconds 11.7 minutes
Average Time Spent Per Day 45.8 minutes a day 45.6 minutes a day
Traffic (Organic) 318.2 million 646 billion
Traffic (Paid) 643,600 65.1 million
Successful Niches
  • Dance
  • Comedy
  • Smaller/specialized creators
  • Product must-haves
  • Breakdowns of news stories
  • Makeup and fashion hacks with trendy sound clips
  • Storytime (first person POV)
  • Evergreen content
  • Lifehack and DIY videos
  • How-tos
  • Gaming, people, and blogs
  • Music and entertainment
  • Sporting Events
Cost For Business Accounts $o – free account $o – free account

Audience For TikTok vs. YouTube

TikTok Has A Younger U.S. Audience

If you’re marketing to teens, a.k.a., Gen Z (and by extension, Generation Alpha who are becoming teens next year), TikTok is a strong bet.

As of April 2022:

Almost half of TikTok users in the United States were between 18 and 34 years, making up the largest demographic group for the platform.

TikTok users aged between 12 and 17 made up approximately 17.7% of the popular social video app user base in the United States, while 2.5% of TikTok users in the country were 11 years old or younger.”

This means that TikTok is especially popular with Gen Z while more and more adults are steadily becoming app users, too.

Note that younger children ages 12 and above can access TikTok (the app requires a minimum of 12 years of age to get a profile).

Gen Z And Millennials Are More Likely To Trust YouTubers

If you’re trying to reach Millennials (while keeping older Gen Z in mind) and be seen as more authoritative, YouTube could be a safer bet.

According to Pew Research:

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“In 2021, 95% of U.S. adults between 18 and 29 years of age said they use YouTube (the age demographic with the highest percentage) while only 49% of U.S. adults who are 65+ years reported using it.”

According to the YouTube Culture And Trends Report 2022, 83% of Gen Z watch soothing content on YouTube to help them relax.

Lastly, in a survey by Ypulse, YouTubers were the most trusted public figures (31%) among those surveyed, beating TikTokers by 12%.

TikTok vs. YouTube: Content Format And Length

Keep It Short And Sweet On TikTok

TikTok has a maximum length of three minutes. TikTok recommends an optimal 21 to 34 seconds to keep viewers interested, but average videos last 15 – 60 seconds.

While it leaves little room for all-out explainer videos, you can still create quality content on the go and turn it into a non-chronological series.

TikTok favors short-form videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16; it is vertically optimized for mobile devices.

The platform also has TikTok LIVE, a feature for creators to connect in real-time with their audience (think Q&As or concert experiences).

Leave The Longer Videos To YouTube

Verified accounts on YouTube can run up to two hours of video, while unverified accounts can only upload 15 minutes. The average length for videos is 11.7 minutes.

While YouTube videos are popular on mobile devices (49.3% are watching on mobile YouTube), the number is expected to decrease as YouTube continues to be available on desktop and TV devices.

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Keep a 16:9 aspect ratio in mind since YouTube apps are becoming more popular with smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other gadgets.

YouTube launched its livestream feature for creators back in 2011.

The platform is famous for its gaming livestreams, the Superbowl, the Olympics, and more.

Moreover, YouTubers can curate content playlists, allowing viewers to enjoy music streaming and related content for hours with an autoplay option.

Note: The average time per day for both channels is around 45 minutes, with TikTok winning by a hair at 45.8 minutes compared to YouTube’s 45.6 minutes.

Comparing TikTok vs. YouTube Algorithm

There is content that works well on both platforms (consider product reviews and reaction videos).

Nevertheless, here are the types of content for which each channel is better known.

To dig deeper into TikTok’s powerful search algorithm or how YouTube’s search results recently changed, we recommend further reading up on them in the links provided.

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TikTok: Niches That Succeed

Screenshot from TikTok, September 2022

Bite-sized content has never been more digestible, with creators using TikTok to spread straightforward content in memes, educational content, lip sync, and dance videos.

These often include specialized content series, like Random Amazon Finds That Just Slap, Things I Just Found Out In My 30s, or professionals connected to a particular hashtag with content usually dedicated to one specialty. (Note: That could be an opportunity for your business’s industry or niche.)

Small and big brands can work with influencers to create simple, engaging, potentially viral content. See how Clinique’s Black Honey Lipstick sold out because of TikTok videos spreading awareness.

TikTok Creator content tends to be relatable and authentic; you can use the TikTok Insights tool to see what works for each generation in what industry.

Niches That Work On YouTube

Popular content on YouTube includes how-to videos, product reviews, music videos, comedy skits, and much more.

Your brand can benefit from collaborating with YouTubers (the most trusted figures, according to the survey above). For example, NordVPN frequently has sponsorship arrangements with tech gadget reviewers, like Techmoan.

YouTube can be better for products that aren’t as easy to show off in short formats. Additionally, YouTube tutorials tend to have a more serious tone.

TikTok Ad Formats

For TikTok ad formats, you have the following options (see TikTok Ads For Beginners: A Complete Guide & Steps To Success to learn how to use them).

  • TopView: An attention-grabbing, distraction-free, 60-second video format.
  • In-Feed Ads: A native-inspired ad type that will integrate seamlessly into a viewer’s “For You” page.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge: A UGC (user-generated content) using your brand’s hashtag campaign.
  • Branded Effects: Branded stickers, filters, or special effects.

YouTube Ad Formats

For videos that have ad monetization features, these are the following video ad formats available for YouTube business accounts.

Read The Complete Beginner’s Guide To YouTube Video Advertising for a comprehensive guide on how to use them.

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  • Skippable video ads: A video ad with an option for viewers to skip after five seconds.
  • Non-skippable video ads: These ads don’t allow viewers to skip this typically 15-20 second video.
  • Bumper ads: Up to six seconds long, these ads need to be watched before a video is viewed.
  • Overlay ads: Only seen on desktop, these ads take up the lower 20% screen of a video.

YouTube videos can be monetized and can earn shared ad revenue.

Setting up business accounts is free on both platforms. Keep in mind that TikTok has a $50 minimum for an ad spend, while YouTube Ads offers $100 in free credits when you spend $50 on video ads.

Conclusion

Should you favor one over the other?

On the surface, TikTok.com has 318.2 million organic traffic, and YouTube.com has 646 billion.

For paid, TikTok traffic is 643,600, while YouTube reaches 65.1 million.

YouTube and TikTok are here to stay, and while YouTube’s traffic seems bigger, TikTok’s fast rise to the top is one to look out for.

Typically, both are ideal for marketers who invest in video marketing; 87% of marketers say video has helped them increase their traffic, and 82% on dwell time.

The best platform depends on your brand and the type of content you have the resources for, the customer purchase cycle, your social media goals, and your budget.

When used wisely, whichever of the two you choose will help benefit your business in the long run.

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Featured Image: Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

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