Jeff Davis is an SEO veteran who has worked with several large enterprise brands to develop and manage their SEO programs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeff for several years now, and wanted to pick his brain regarding his particular SEO expertise.
While his career wasn’t initially one in SEO, he has navigated the waters of this industry by diving into PPC, SEO testing, and link building. In my interview with him, Jeff shares his insight on our fast-paced industry.
Connect with Jeff (right) on LinkedIn.
Who is Jeff Davis?
Before I became an SEO, I actually spent some time in the culinary industry as a chef. An opportunity arose at Williams-Sonoma where I led the marketing and SEO team for their brand, which was a dream job because I was able to mix my love for cooking with my work.
Initially, I started in search and PPC and I taught myself how to use Google AdWords. From there, I kept drifting over to the SEO team because I was more interested in understanding the user experience and creating lasting change for online businesses.
When it comes to SEO, I love the mix between technical and creative work that SEO takes. I also enjoy the amount of testing that happens in SEO and ultimately, I like being rewarded for those tests.
Importance of SEO Testing in a Fast-Paced Industry
It’s common for SEOs to feel like they have to reinvent themselves twice a year. And, at the rate at which things change and we receive new information about our industry, reinventing yourself every few years is necessary.
People who are just starting out in SEO can level up to a similar expertise as those of us who have been in the game a long time thanks to how quickly things change. Not only that, there aren’t a lot of great books to read or learn from about SEO, so industry experts and novices alike rely on going online and reading articles to glean everything they can from other industry leaders about the latest and greatest in search engine optimization.
So, with that, I have three pieces of advice for fellow SEOs:
- My first piece of advice is for all SEOs to seek trusted leaders within the industry and follow them on social media or read their work to really get to know what SEO is and how it has evolved. That is how you stay relevant in such a fast-paced industry.
- My other piece of advice is to be patient with the results that you have or that you're looking to get with your SEO work. Additionally, you want to educate patience throughout your organization or for your clients or executive team in an enterprise-level brand.
- Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, SEOs need to test, test, and test again. With the industry evolving so quickly, it’s not always easy to discern what will work and what will not. But, if you’re able to take some risks, it could pay off!
As SEO becomes more complicated and more ingrained in everything that's happening on a website or through a business, it's becoming less obvious and much harder to perform really great SEO. That’s why I really want to stress the importance of testing and always learning as this tactic is most critical when it comes to moving the needle for your business.
Recommended Reading: An Approach to SEO Testing
SEO Successes from SEO Testing
Throughout my career, I’ve experienced a few wins from my own SEO testing that I love highlighting within my network.
When I was with Williams-Sonoma, I saw in incremental increase in revenue through SEO efforts. As you’re likely aware, Williams-Sonoma has a large presence in wedding registries, but at the time, the wedding registry wasn’t part of the search and wasn’t getting crawled. So, we added site maps and indexed all of the registry pages, and in a few months, we saw our revenue increase. This was the result of taking high-converting pages and increasing discoverability.
Another project that I did with my current company occurred when we reorganized our site. Due to the new site architecture, we created deeper, more relevant directories. As a result, we got site links and increased our SERP real estate and ranked for more keywords at better positions because we were adding contextually-relevant links to support these directories.
Recommended Reading: Internal Links: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Internal Link Analysis for SEO
Evangelizing Your Team Around SEO Concepts
I think the biggest challenge for SEOs in the enterprise space is around messaging. Leadership teams are often looking for that silver bullet reason as to why things are working well in SEO or why they’re not working well. SEO leaders need to develop a clear and concise message about their objectives from the start in a meaningful way.
Not everyone in your organization is going to be well-versed in SEO. Executives won’t understand the same technical concepts that you want to test or that fascinate you, so it’s the job of the SEO to elevate the conversation to get the point across and to help your business thrive.
How I'm Currently Using an SEO Platform
Right now, my latest project regards on-page strategy and building out the best page templates that have a high conversion rate and high CTR. I’m specifically focused on how Google is crawling our site and understanding the path that users are taking, which pages they think are important, how often they're visiting those pages, and how often they view our site.
To do this, we’re looking at log files and taking that information to improve our internal linking. Specifically, we’ve used seoClarity to help us understand the relationship between those pages and build those relevant connections between them.
When we think about SEO we don't focus on a single keyword anymore. It's all about relationships between the pages and the search engine but also the relationship between all of the pages on your website and the rest of the internet. We're focusing on those page-to-page relationships and trying to create that context that will help us to support our authority for all our given topics.
Fast Take on Links
Given the choice between internal link or a backlink, I’d have to say a backlink is more important, especially if you can acquire one from the right spot. Link building overall is super important to your site optimization.
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