Adam Orchard, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Director for ZenithOptimedia Group in Sydney discusses how SEO has changed, and what the future looks like.
Adam’s SEO journey started a decade ago. He has spent the bulk of his career in the London SEO market and has been exposed to rapid and constant change in the industry. In February 2015 he took a leap and moved to Sydney to join ZenithOptimedia. Claire Lomax, our digital consultant met with Adam to ask him about the SEO industry...
Why did you chose to specialise in SEO rather than a broader digital remit?
I’ve always been interested in how websites are built and how they are ‘read’ and ‘understood’ by search engines. I’ve been in SEO for almost 10 years now and the intelligence shown by search engine algorithms in that understanding of website content makes it an ever changing and challenging environment to be part of.
Do you feel that your career will continue down pure SEO or would you look for a broader in the future?
SEO has moved away from a silo marketing channel as it continues to forge relationships with other marketing mediums, primarily in the forms of SEM and UX/conversion optimisation. Clients continually seek a collaborative approach when it comes to digital marketing, so I’ve had to broaden my skill set into these areas to better understand how these channels can work together to achieve a client’s business goals.
I hear a lot of people keen to move client-side, what has kept you in agency land for so long?
Some say the ‘grass is greener’ but I’ve been in agency land for 10 years now and the biggest things that have kept me here are:
- The diversity of clients that you get exposure to. I’ve worked with clients that sell cheap holidays, Louis Vuitton handbags, to cat food and email security packages. It is a real mixed bag that brings its own challenges, strategy and consumer you’re trying to attract.
- The knowledge base of those around you. I’ve worked with some really intelligent and inspiring people during my time in agency land and having those people around helps massively when it comes to forging your own career path, gaining feedback on campaign ideas and to just ‘geek out’ and talk shop with like-minded, skilled colleagues.
- The agency social life. Working in a media agency means you get a lot of exposure to both agency social events as well as those laid on by publishers. Be it something as small as a drinks trolley on a Friday afternoon, attending boat parties, weekly quiz nights and charity sports days all contributes to a fun environment to reward a hard working week.
Have you found the Australian market more challenging than the UK?
Before I came to Australia from the UK, I was forewarned that the market here is not as established as that of the UK, with talk of poor internet speeds and ‘old school’ marketing techniques. I’ve found that not to be completely true in that in the 18 months that I’ve been here, the market has grown significantly. With businesses such as eBay, Amazon, ASOS and most recently Netflix all having an established foothold in this market, the role of ecommerce and the search/digital market as a whole is growing and evolving. It’s an exciting time to be involved in this space as demand will only increase (as long as the NBN can meet that demand!).
What are the key challenges that you find when hiring for your team?
The biggest challenge in this market finding the right people with the right experience, predominantly when it comes to working with and managing client expectations. We’ve had instances of people with less than a year’s experience applying for manager/senior manager positions and requesting the salaries those positions deserve. I’ve held discussions with other partner agencies and they often find they look overseas to Europe and Asia to fill those vacancy spots.
How do you see the future of social media changing how businesses communicate?
I see the role of social media in business communication becoming a metric to a brands marketing and communication strategy. You just have to look at the social platform advancements with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat to see that brands are willing to spend significantly in these areas to get their content out there. This has been driven in particular with the rise in smartphone app use and mobile browsing. Social media also allows brands to understand the general sentiment towards their products and services and use these insights to improve their services as well as reward those whom are the most loyal to them.
Have you noticed clients becoming more digitally savvy and hiring internal teams?
As brands become more aware of the digital landscape and the type and scale of work that needs to be done they will look to recruit an internal team to manage this. From an agencies perspective, this is a situation that often can’t be avoided but does also offer opportunities to provide additional assistance and consultancy during that transition and bedding in period for the new team.
Do you feel that an increase in internal SEO teams would be a serious threat to the standard agency model?
With SEO as a whole placing a lesser emphasis on technical site builds and more on quality content analysis and production this has meant agencies have had to adapt to meet this need. With the advancements in both search and mobile user behaviours, clients continually look to agencies to keep abreast of these developments and how it can play a bigger part in their wider marketing mix activities.
If you could pinpoint one trend emerging as ‘the next big thing’ what would that be?
For me, the rise in popularity of ‘voice search’ I think will be a game changer. With the voice search assistant Amazon Echo already on the market and the soon to be launched Google Home. These products are bringing the insights and exposure of the search environment away from the traditional desktop environment into people’s homes and hands through their smartphones. Brands will need to tailor their content and messaging in order to adapt to this change in search behaviour.