Case Study: Head of SEO and Social Media

After graduating with a degree in Business Studies, Management and IT, Ben decided to further capitalise on his technical interests and abilities by going in the direction of SEO.

Ben now has 17+ years experience in SEO and Digital Marketing. Currently Head of SEO and Social Media at Digivate.

www.benacheson.com/

View Ben Acheson's profile on LinkedIn

Ben

What attracted you to a career in Marketing?

I’ve always been interested in business, creativity, technology and people. Marketing was a natural choice for me and particularly SEO, which obviously has a lot of technical elements and moves really fast which I love.

Tell us about your route in Marketing and move across into SEO? 

I was in a marketing role within Orange, now Everything Everywhere but I wanted a lot more involvement with technology at that time, so I moved into I.T. which fascinated me and seemed like a great career choice at the time, due to the explosion of business computing and the internet. From there, the I.T. role became a web role and that quickly turned into Digital Marketing. I never looked back!

Talk us through a typical day as in your current job

A typical day is spent working hard to respond quickly to new prospect enquiries, as well as escalated customer enquiries. I spend a lot of time researching and analysing opportunities and creating strategies for new SEO, content and social media campaigns. I also prepare proposals, presentations and tender responses in pursuit of new business. And of course, I’m here to support, advise and mentor the SEO and Social Media team on everything from content marketing strategy to providing good customer service.

What would you describe as the skillset requirements for roles in SEO?

The SEO skillset is varied and diverse. In order to rise to the top, especially within the agency environment, an individual needs skills and characteristics that are often mutually exclusive. The top 10 skills needed to deliver good day-to-day SEO work are:

i. Creativity
ii. The ability to write excellent copy
iii. Technical aptitude and knowledge
iv. Commercial/financial acumen
v. Analytical and data skillset
vi. The ability to draw actionable conclusions from data
vii. Excellent communication skills
viii. Presentation and persuasion skills (you often need to convince others of the business case for a course of action)
ix. Adaptability
x. Initiative and drive

A successful SEO leader needs to lead a team that can deliver all of that – ideally in each and every individual team member.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them? 

The biggest challenges I’ve faced in my marketing career are the fast pace of change (algorithm updates for example) and recruiting people with the skill-set needed to perform exceptionally well. But the fast pace of change and meeting those amazing people are also my favourite things about the job! I overcome the fast pace of change through planning and preparation and simply thinking several steps ahead (often several years ahead). I overcome the staff skill-set challenge by very stringent recruitment processes. Junior staff members first serve a 3 month internship with my team so that they can develop the necessary skills and prove that they have the necessary characteristics.

What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career?

Among my biggest personal strengths are my commitment and ability to perform well across each of these five key areas simultaneously:

A. Strategy
B. Creativity
C. Technical
D. Commercial
E. People and communication

These are the core capabilities required for successful leadership within the SEO industry. It is particularly rare for an individual to excel in all of these areas, so people who can do so will rise to the very top.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into their own marketing career and go in the direction of SEO?

My advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career would be to start with the basics – good copy writing and creative skills.

The most important thing you need is proven experience – and it’s worth doing internships and junior roles to build your CV and develop the necessary skills in a professional setting. At the moment, digital offers the greatest opportunities for career progression, so you should try to build a career that enables you to develop digital expertise.

But you will not excel unless you begin by excelling at the basics and that essentially means content and, fundamentally, copy.