Andrew Martineau is an SEO Director, or Search Director, with Catalyst. I have worked with Andrew for the past couple of years and he is situated at our headquarters in Boston. Andrew recently published a Click-Through Rate study on Moz that revealed some interesting search behavior. What I like about Andrew is his constant tinkering with data and drive to answer interesting questions utilizing data. Without further adieu, below is a list of questions that Andrew has answered for your viewing pleasure.
How and why did you choose to become an SEO professional?
Honestly, I don’t know how I first came across SEO. I do know that I first began researching the practice about a year after college and was hooked ever since. I majored in Marketing at school, which certainly helps with SEO. But, if I could go back, I would have pursued more computer science courses, which would have saved me hours of time on the coding side of things.
To stay current in SEO, you must constantly be active in the community, whether that be simply reading blogs from other industry experts, or testing things on your own side projects. I feel that both are necessary in order to gain the knowledge and experience to produce favorable organic results for my clients.
Prior to presenting a recommendation to one of my clients, I’ll often test and learn what exactly which tactics work best on one of my side projects. For instance, Wicked Wine Candles, I make and sell candles from upcycling old wine bottles. Using this site, I have tested everything from simple image attribute changes for improving visibility in image search results, to long 301 redirect chains for examining diminishing link equity.
Of all the SEO tasks (I.E. audits, competitive analysis, technical SEO, on-page SEO) which one do you most enjoy performing? Why?
I think I enjoy competitive analysis the most. It involves both the creative and numbers driven parts of my mind. Competitive analysis isn’t always as predefined and structured as other tasks (e.g. technical SEO, on-page), so you are able to tailor the work specifically towards the client and their business. Not to mention, competitive analysis typically allows for me to create different types of reports and visualizations, which I enjoy.
Is SEO more important today than it was for websites five or ten years ago? Why?
Today I think it is more difficult, but also more important than it was in the past. More people are increasingly seeking information via search. In 2013, there were over 5.9 billion Google searches per day, up from 1.7 billion in 2008. That’s a 239% increase over a 5 year time period. Additionally, consumers are constantly connected to the internet either at the jobs, via mobile, or at home.
Should a professional SEO expand their knowledge base to other online marketing verticals (i.e. Social Media, Community, SEM)? Why?
Absolutely. In my mind SEO is not just on-page optimization anymore. If it was, you could literally teach a client what they need to know on one sheet of paper. Today SEO includes social, building an online community, and establishing your brand as an informative authority in your industry.
What is a typical hurdle to overcome for a successful SEO engagement?
Often times clients seem to be reluctant to make changes to their site for one reason or another. Getting the client on-board and to understand the benefits/potential returns through investing in SEO. Once you have that, its much smoother sailing. Crafting the strategy and recommendations are easy, its implementation that is often times the bottleneck.
Throughout your career what is the most common technical SEO problem you always find when reviewing a website?
The most common technical problem I come across is probably a client making changes to their sites URLs and not redirecting the old to ones to the new URLs. If done correctly, this is such a simple task that is essential to maintaining organic search performance.
Can you look at any website while surfing the web without thinking about SEO?
Ha ha. Not really. For the really big sites, I always wish I had access to their site analytics.