Currently Head of SEO at Razorfish, one of the largest interactive marketing and technology services agencies in the industry and currently has more than 2,000 employees in 20 offices worldwide focusing exclusively on digital marketing and technology. We help industry leaders such as O2, Ralph Lauren, McDonalds and Audi use digital channels to acquire and service customers.
Maciej Janas: You’re the SEO director at Razorfish. What does a SEO director of such a big agency actually do? Do you only supervise and set out the strategy, or are you also involved in direct operational activities from time to time?
David Harling: As Head of SEO at Razorfish London I spend most of my time defining and enhancing our SEO product. SEO is a fast pace industry and it is fundamental that we grow our proposition to maintain and drive better SEO performance for our clients.
I work very closely with my team to support the implementation and development of client strategies, as well as educating our thinking towards SEO. Internal and external knowledge sharing to really hit home the importance of SEO.
Maciej Janas: How can social media be used to assist SEO? Is it really worth investing in creating content to be published on independent websites apart from the website that is being positioned?
David Harling: Social media is an essential part of what SEO has become. Search engine algorithms are now more advanced and use social signals to inform the relevancy and “quality” of content.
It is important for any SEO strategy to integrate content development with the aim of seeding to social audiences. Using content to encourage social engagement with increase the authority of brand and impact the ability for brand and content to rank well in search engines
The planning, optimising and distribution of compelling, useful content is key for sustaining organic search engine growth.
Maciej Janas: How to set the boundary between white-, gray-, and black-hat SEO? Some SEO methods are difficult to relate to the Webmaster Guidelines, and some Webmaster Guidelines are difficult to relate to common sense. In other words, how to estimate the risk of using particular SEO methods?
David Harling: Razorfish eliminates all risk by keeping within SEO guidelines. We work closely with our clients to understand the nature of their business and define SEO strategies which are sustainable and natural – We have very good working relationships with Google and Bing, this allows us to develop our product inline with their thinking.
SEO is no longer about cheating Google (buying links) and more about the long term investment into content development and optimisation.
Search engines are getting smarter every day and executing “black hat” techniques will likely come back to haunt you and your clients.
Maciej Janas: One of the charges brought against Google by the SEO industry is that the search engine favours the biggest websites. It is claimed that Google is lenient with them, hardly ever imposes any penalties, and if it does, it is just for show and the penalty is quickly lifted. Working at Razorfish you are involved in positioning exactly such websites of the biggest players. Are they really sacred cows, do you feel you can go farther than others?
David Harling: All websites are looked at by search engines through the same lens. The reality of working with world leading brands is that they will always have a s stronger domain authority because of their customer following. They have bigger budgets for supporting advertising and media, so are likely to generate more demand.
The biggest difference for me is that people are more likely to naturally link to “trusted” brands. SEO is largely about natural inbound linking.
Google will penalise anyone who is seen to be violating their guidelines – established or less established brands.
Maciej Janas: What will the participants of SeachMarketingDay.com learn from the presentation you will give on 22 May?
David Harling: The importance of planning and production of optimised content for global offsite distribution strategies. Looking at the role keywords, social trends and performance data insights play to inform the production of unique, useful content – supporting role of social and outreach strategies to amplify reach and drive natural inbound linking.
Register at SearchMarketingDay.com!