Stacey MacNaught

Stacey MacNaught works as a Search Director for Tecmark, in an awesome Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Manchester and London (From About).

I encourage you to connect with Stacey through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.

What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?

It varies for us from client to client. But all of our campaigns are typically centered around online sales or leads.

And that’s the real indicator of success—a client that’s making a cracking ROI on an SEO campaign.

The ones you don’t have to ask for. The ones that just happen

Granted, in the real world, when you are working with lesser-known companies, it’s not always feasible to expect links to just magically come on their own.

But when you produce something (a study, whitepaper, or great piece of content) and then a link you weren’t expecting just shows up, it’s a good feeling.

What SEO tools do you have experience with, which ones do you prefer, and why?

We use loads of tools.

We have the Moz suite (which is just amazing), MajesticSEO, Screaming Frog, SearchMetrics, and Buzzstream, among others.

All of the above are worth mentioning for being brilliant.

BuzzStream saves us so much time in managing content promotion campaigns.

SearchMetrics is fantastic for competitor insight.

Screaming Frog is the best site crawler I’ve ever used.

MajesticSEO has a really comprehensive link index, and Moz has so many tools that represent great value for the subscription fee.

For out and out links, I’m a fan of using images as it can be applied in any niche.

We distribute a number of images for our clients under Creative Commons Licensing and we track their usage and chase appropriate attribution in the form of a link. A great example of that in place is with this: achieved through this very method.

There’s a link to our agency from that piece and it comes off the back of them using our image.

With some thought, planning and strategy, it can be an incredibly effective means of acquiring out and out links.

How do you scale this favorite white hat strategy of yours?

This is a really easy tactic to scale if you get 2 things right:

It’s those 2 things that really take the time and thought.

What is more important: Onsite blogging or content marketing?

To me, on-site blogging is a form of content marketing. I consider content marketing to be simply the use of content to meet marketing goals, either directly or indirectly.

Blogging is content, and when it’s done with thought and structure, it can win links, shares, traffic, and customers.

If we’re talking about the difference between on-site content creation and content for link-building purposes, then I’d say they are equally important.

There can be no visibility at all without the right content on your website and the correct technical foundations, but by the same token, the best content in a competitive market isn’t going to perform well in search if it isn’t on a domain that’s being linked to.

What is more important—rankings or converting traffic?

Ultimately, it’s all about converting traffic—traffic that becomes revenue.

There’s so much talk of rankings being dead… being a thing of the past.

I accept that personalization, the dominance of paid results, and the richer search engine results pages mean that rankings are not what they were.

But if you’re on the first page for a big keyword (“cheap holidays” or “car insurance”), then make no mistake, you will get relevant traffic with huge potential for conversions.

So while I agree that rankings have changed, they’re not dead. Not yet. I don’t know a business owner who, given the chance of being handed a massive ranking, would say, “No thanks; rankings are dead.

What I would say is that we need broader horizons on the rankings front than we once did.

We used to laser focus on a group of big keywords, whereas now, even with some massive headline rankings, we see just as much traffic coming through medium and long tail.

Overall domain visibility is a better measure of how a campaign is performing than a single keyword.

But I do still pursue rankings for big keywords too because they generate relevant traffic and, in turn, sales! And that’s what my clients need.

Anyway, I’m waffling. In the end, it’s all about revenue. But rankings and visibility are important steps on the way to achieving that.

Among the Google algorithm updates what is the most challenging one that you’ve encountered?

The Penguin 2.0 update was one that gave me the biggest headache.

I was working with a handful of clients with a legacy of less than perfect link building, and it was a big job to get some of those cleaned up.

There were positives to come out of that too, though.

With an update like that, it became much easier to position content-led link building for new clients (rather than the low-quality, high-quantity link acquisition they had become accustomed to with other companies).

What is the most important stage of SEO for you and why?

According to other SEO’s each SEO campaign has stages from where to start and how to start it, my apologies if the question is a bit fuzzy but just to rephrase it, if SEO is about stages (ex: onpage audit, offpage audit, linkbuilding, content creation, onpage seo, etc) what do you think should be given more importance by an SEO given the current Google Algorithm updates?

It’s really hard to decide on one single SEO activity that’s more important than others.

Because unless you do everything (in competitive areas), you won’t see success anyway.

But I think if I were to pick out one of the single most important parts, it would be long before we get to the on-page audit.

It would be setting the strategy.

There’s no point going off and doing an on-page audit or building a load of links if the strategy isn’t clear in your head.

Before you write a single word of an on-page audit, you should know exactly who your target audience is, exactly how they are researching and searching for your products and services, the online publications that influence them, and how to get those publications to link to you.

I like to have a written strategy in place before I begin any sort of auditing.

If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.

I’ve met so many amazing SEOs that I’m going to cheat on this question and name a few of them.

  • Kevin Jones is the Technical Director at Tecmark and he taught me SEO from scratch some 6 years ago. He’s a brilliant problem solver and although he isn’t directly involved with SEO at Tecmark any more, he’d always be someone whose opinion on an SEO matter I would value.
  • Paddy Moogan literally wrote the book on link building and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to this stuff.
  • Hannah Smith is brilliant when it comes to content and she and the team at Distilled have carried out some incredibly successful campaigns

Aleyda Solis is (apart from a prolific speaker!) incredibly knowledgeable in SEO terms and, in particular, with on site international SEO.

If you’re setting up sites for multiple country or language targeting, you’ll want to go through some of her past presentations.

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