Craig was tasked with improving search engine rankings as part of a placement for his Web Development degree back in 2001.
Craig continued into the field of SEO and has since accumulated ten years experience working agency side, and over 14 years experience in the digital industry, currently holding the position as head of SEO at Fusion Unlimited.
What attracted you to a career SEO?
I was actually training to be a web developer when I was at University, and didn’t consider that to be a marketing path, more an IT path. SEO wasn’t on my radar until I did a placement year during my third year at University.
Tell us about your route in Marketing and move across into SEO?
I was doing my University placement year which involved being responsible for the in-house design and development of the company’s website. During this year I was tasked with improving search engine rankings, back in 2001 so Google was still in its infancy and the industry looked a lot different than it does now! I was completely self-taught so there was a lot of trial and error during this time. After leaving university I was looking for web development roles, and still considered what I was doing to be IT or computer science rather than marketing, but I was then approached by a SEO agency who were interested in those skills without me really looking for that type of role. So I fell into it basically! I’ve worked in digital marketing agencies ever since.
Talk us through a typical day as in your current job
There’s no such thing as a typical day! There’s a lot of variety in what I do especially in an industry that can be as volatile as SEO is, so keeping on top of industry changes and the strategic direction of our SEO offering is a key part of what I do. Depending on what else we have on at the time I’ll also be involved in client meetings, hiring and building the team, training, process and service development, new business development, pitching, billing, and good old hands on work.
What would you describe as the skill-set requirements for roles in SEO?
There’s such a variety of skill-sets needed that it’s almost impossible to expect one person to be able to cover them all. Traditionally it was very much focused on the technical elements, which are still important, but as the search engines have evolved their algorithms and the old shortcuts don’t work anymore There is a requirement for a broader range of skills such as content creation, PR/promotion, creative ideas, design, planning and research, plus an agency like ours requires client handling and account management skills too. Many companies have silo roles for each of these skills but the best positioned people are arguably those who can understand and co-ordinate them all.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them?
SEO is a volatile industry and a client’s performance can be at the whim of Google making algorithm changes. Steering clients and our service offering through those changes is an on-going challenge! Personally I also took a while to get to grips with changing from a 100% hands-on to a managerial role and I took a while to let go of the hands on elements – but I still liked to get involved when I can!
What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career?
I think the key thing is being a self-starter – a lot of my skills are self-taught so I’ve always had the drive to continue learning and shape that into as good a service as I can for clients. Other than that I think my key attributes are problem solving, attention to detail, a strong work ethic and a stubbornness to succeed!
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be? Is there any specific advice you would give to someone looking to go in the direction of SEO?
If you’re trying to break into marketing I would say be pro-active – identify roles and agencies, get in touch and offer to do internships, placements or work experience to get your foot in the door. In terms of SEO, there’s a wealth of information online so read up, start a blog or website and go through some trial and error with what you learn. And again, be pro-active!