jono alderson

Jono Alderson

Special Ops - Yoast.com

Jono Alderson has over a decade of blended experience in digital marketing, with expertise in SEO, analytics, brand strategy, campaign strategy, lead generation, eCRM automation, conversation rate optimisation and web development – from defining the ‘big picture’ and strategic direction, right down to getting his hands dirty in the nitty-gritty technical detail.

He’s worked with agencies, startups, household brands and FTSE 100 companies to define, support and deliver successful SEO, content, analytics and brand strategies at an international level.

Additionally, he’s a well-respected international speaker & presenter, trainer, and workshop leader on topics ranging from the future of digital marketing, to hardcore website performance optimisation.

The 2015 Interview:

If you could summarise UnGagged in one sentence, what would it be?

It’s the best people from every different walk of SEO, sharing openly without concern, politics or any agenda, and just helping each other to be better SEOs.

What are your top tips and priority actions for overcoming issues associated with any big Google algorithm roll outs?

I think that’s the wrong way to look at it, I think that we’ve trained ourselves to look for the minimum viable effort to apply in order to get away with whatever we’re doing and again that’s born out of the idea that we’ve all been stuck thinking tactically, and actually none of the big algorithm changes that have come out over the last few years, have been a surprise. We knew that thin content was only going to work for so long, we knew that artificial link building was going to have its day, the only question was when. If we stop thinking about how am I going to overcome the latest issue, or how do I avoid the next issue, and actually think, how do I do better marketing and how do I capitalize on the next opportunity from doing good stuff, rather than how do I calculate with what I can get away with; then we’re all in a better position to be more successful and mature the industry. There is certainly no shortage for  options for ways people can prepare for things like SSL becoming a more significant factor, or obviously with mobilegeddon recently with better mobile adoption; there are a thousand and one things to hit in the next few years, be prepared for them now and don’t wait until it’s too late.

How can businesses with smaller budgets and resource best respond to big updates?

Small businesses have a real opportunity to them because they can change and that’s unique to them, it’s the thing big businesses can’t do. If there are opportunities, whether they are tactical or strategic, or new markets, if there are new emerging place where they can play; they are in a position where they can change their entire model. They can reinvent their product, they can reposition how they communicate, they can change their identities and align to consumer needs and be consumer centric with a level of agility that established and larger companies simply can’t achieve because they have over heads, bureaucracy, they have departmental silos. They’ll struggle to react in a way that smaller companies can. Especially now with the increasing speed with changing landscapes and new forms of media evolving and new social platforms, small companies are really positioned to be able to win.

Are you aware of any gamechanger developments on the horizon that in-house or consultant SEOs should be aware of?

Yes, increasingly some of the companies we’re working with at Linkdex are looking outwards with their SEO, rather than inwards. They’ve stopped saying where do we rank for these keywords and they’ve started asking when a consumer searches what do they see? Who are all the people in that space, what are the ten tabs they open, and what reviews do they revie? They’re starting to think of SEO as the management of that entire experience and their SEO strategy might involve purchasing native advertising on mutual reviews to point people to more positive content, it might involve building relationships with bloggers to displace negative content. They’re thinking on a scale which dwarfs the way we’ve been thinking about SEO for decades and feels a lot closer to PE and Marketing, but its data driven. As soon as they start waking up, the giants of the world like Coca-Cola and Microsoft, when they start getting this right, we’ll all be blown away.

In your niche or sector, what’s the most annoying SEO misconception? Please feel free to set things straight!

That we have to play to our own KPIs. So the thing that I see that really limits peles success, especially in larger organizations, is the departmentalism in silos create behaviours which don’t aim high and don’t chase the real awards. People in SEO teams will be KPI’ed on getting rankings for specific keywords or generating certain amounts of revenue from increasing pardot sales. Actually, they need to allow themselves to have permission to think bigger, to think how do I capitalize on new opportunities, how do I challenge my CEO for budget to change the way we think about content, how do I actually mobilise the tech team to fix some of these legacy issues on my greatest platform. It’s challenging to do that and it’s scary because people’s salaries and bonus’ and reputations within organisations are tied to how well they perceived to be doing, but there is so much opportunity out there for people to stick their head above the parrot pet and allow themselves to aim a bit higher.

The thing is, they don’t just click on one result. If you rank first you get 34 point whatever percent of the click curve, it’s not that  simple. Especially for complex considered purchases, or purchases where the consumer isn’t an expert in that field, they will open ten times, they will open single one of those results and look at and compare each result on three devices, over 2 weeks over multiple sessions; all it takes is for one of those results to have a 2 star review. It doesn’t matter what you rank, it doesn’t matter how many visits you get, its understanding that entire ecosystem, especially with more complex purchases. The place where this doesn’t apply as much is really small, transient purchases, things that are spur of the moment, but for anything where you have to think about it, you don’t just click on the first result. The whole idea of each position only getting a certain number of visits and that being the way the universe works, is completely flawed.

Current favorite SEO tool or platform? Or can you give us the inside track on any sexy SEO related platforms, tools or developments coming soon?

I would get shot if I didn’t say Linkdex, but I’m quite happy to, as we’ve got some really, really cool toys. We recently won best innovation at the UK Search Awards, for our anti search system which is really cool. Google may say they’ve stopped caring about authorship or at least they’ve stopped tracking it, we think differently, we think it’s still really important. Our belief is that they no longer need the markup that they relied on, they now understand it well enough and actually the whole concept of human beings writing web pages and the idea of authors having authority and being important is really key, especially for things like outreach and understanding what people care about. So, we’ve built a software which allows you to explore and browse around the author’s connection to domains and their keywords and see the author’s universe. Outside of that, we’ve got some really cool stuff we’re doing in labs, we’re doing mass langage analysis for huge sets of keywords, so we can say things like these types of people look like they have high purchase intent, or these people are asking questions. You can start to analyse your performance through slices that we’ve never been able to do as SEOs before.