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SEO Q&A: “SEO is Not Black Magic” – App Store Optimization & Working With Numbers

App Store Optimization, working with numbers as an SEO, and dispelling the idea that some marketers have about SEO operating like a form of black magic.

interview about ASO and working with numbers in SEO

This is the fourth in our ongoing series of interviews with SEO professionals from around the globe. Lumar’s Jamie Indigo was on the ground at BrightonSEO last month, where they had discussions with conference speakers to learn more about the SEO topics that are top-of-mind for today’s search experts and digital marketers. 

This week we’re chatting with Luis Bueno, SEO & ASO Manager at Decathlon. We’ll be diving into App Store Optimization, working with numbers as an SEO, and dispelling the idea that some marketers have about SEO operating like a form of black magic. 

Listen to the full interview below, or read on for an abridged transcript and key moments from the discussion.

Q: What’s your name and your professional title—and what was your BrightonSEO talk about?Luis: My name is Luis Bueno. I’m the SEO and ASO manager at Decathlon UK. And my talk is about how to do an ASO audit. 

ASO is “App Store Optimization”— usually, you hear a lot of talks about how to do an SEO audit and I decided to do the same with ASO. So, yes, how you can optimize your app [to be found by potential users], or things you can change with your creative and your visuals, the key points you need to make sure you follow when you review the reviews from the user—all those points [that contribute to optimizing your App Store listings]. 

Q: Why is this subject important to you?

Luis: A lot of people are moving to mobile now. So a lot of companies are investing more and more in mobile and their mobile apps. And in my last role, they started to create a strategy for ASO. I was a bit in charge of helping them with that strategy. My goal in my role now at Decathlon is also to start doing ASO for them and to increase the revenue coming in from the apps. It’s a bit of a channel that is not very well researched or very well invested yet. So it’s kind of an opportunity for companies to be there—and probably it’s less competitive right now as a SEO or as the website environment is.

It’s not really a new field of SEO— it’s been there for a while, I’d say. But right now, Google Play and iOS / Apple are investing more in refining the algorithm. So some people say that ASO is a bit like how SEO was ten years ago. There are still a lot of things that you can do right now, which in SEO are more complex. It’s not so difficult, but the rules are a bit different. It’s a bit more creative, too, because of the visuals you have in your app listing. And you also need to be aligned with the creative team to do different tests.

Q: What inspired you to start speaking?

Luis: What inspired me to start speaking was actually my last manager, in my previous role at Photobox. He suggested that I apply to talk in Brighton this year as a part of my development. So I’ve been here in the past, but just as an attendee. The last time I came here was just to listen. I cannot believe that they accepted me, because I see that all the people here are super experienced and they talk about a lot of complex things, JavaScript, coding, all of that. But I guess because the topic is really new, they were happy to bring me in.

Q: How did you get into SEO as a career path?

Luis: I came to the UK seven years ago. My background is in journalism and communications. So when I came to the UK, I started to do different roles—I started in a bar, restaurants, everything, but then I got an opportunity in an SEO agency called Stickyeyes, in Leeds, and I was lucky because they were looking for a Spanish speaker, so I had some advantages in that field. I started to learn offsite SEO there, and I liked it and started to learn by myself. And then I moved to the technical SEO department. I think it’s exciting, SEO, because you need to constantly be learning, trying, and testing new things. 

Q: What’s been your favorite BrightonSEO moment so far?

Luis: Yesterday I went to a talk about a woman who came back from maternity leave, and she was explaining how she came back to the industry. And I’m probably not her target audience, but I found it inspiring that she wanted to tell the story of how difficult it can be for some women to come back not only in SEO, but in any field, and how difficult it is to balance having a kid and working.

So I think that was a very good talk. I also met some new people yesterday, and it’s always nice to meet other SEO colleagues.

Q: What are the top three SEO issues you encounter in your day-to-day work?

Luis: I guess the first challenge is to convince people that what you do as an SEO manager is not black magic—you need some time to see the results, and also to convince the stakeholders that you are doing the right thing. 

Right now at Decathlon the challenge also comes from being such a big website, because Decathlon is a sport retailer, so we have more than 70 sports and each sports category could be a website on its own. So there are a series of maybe ten top sports [on the website], and they are quite big, and you have a lot of products. It’s not like managing a website where you basically sell the same thing in all of your categories. With such different categories, you have different competitors and different issues for each of them. So it’s quite a challenge.

And the last one is trying to build the team. We are trying to hire the right people and the right profiles and understand our weaknesses. That’s also a challenge. What I look for when I hire people, the first thing, is that they fit in the company and the culture of the company. It’s probably not so important that they already know a lot about SEO. If they have a good attitude and a bit of experience, we believe that we can train them, but we cannot give them that enthusiasm for the company or the culture. They need to come with a bit of excitement about the role. 

We also check on experience. I send them some exercises and assessments to see how they’ve worked before, and what kind of relationship they had with other SEO teammates or managers. It’s important also how they deal with their stakeholders because, as I mentioned, one of the challenges will be to face people from other departments that don’t know much about SEO, and you need to explain to them what it is, how we are going to do it, and calm them down sometimes when the results are not the ones expected.

Q: How do you explain the benefits, or return on investment, of SEOs to other areas in your organization or your client’s organization?

Luis: Try to do some forecasting—which I know is difficult in SEO, to put numbers on it, but it is what works best. I realize because we’re in SEO, we are quite data-focused, we need to be super accurate in everything, and we try to find the right number. But sometimes it’s not easy and it’s not so necessary to find an exact number, as long as you can have some forecasts, or a range of numbers where you see, “Okay, I think the traffic is going to be this way, or we are going to increase plus x percent,” and then they will be happy with that.

But the majority of people—especially finance people—they always work with numbers, so you need to show them some. And also it’s convenient to show them a bit of a road map, so they know where we are at the moment, where we are going to be in a few months. Obviously, always explaining that this can change because in SEO there are a lot of factors, but at least they have a view of where we want to be and the things we are going to do.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are attending BrightonSEO for the first time?

Talk to and try to meet other people. When you work in SEO in a company, it can be a bit of a lonely role, because it’s difficult to find other people that really know what you are doing, and who understand what you are doing. So if you don’t work with a team, it’s kind of challenging to get that understanding [from your wider team]. So it’s great to be here. Everyone here knows about what you do, everyone faces the same challenges, and it’s great to exchange that kind of experience. Also, there are a lot of incredible, super clever people around here. So I would say talk to them, connect with them, follow them on Twitter. That’s the best part of BrightonSEO. 

For more from Luis Bueno, visit his website or LinkedIn

Jamie Indigo is also on Twitter — and on Lumar’s Professional Services Team.

Want more first-hand knowledge straight from some of the world’s best SEOs? Check out our full interview series with search optimization experts

Avatar image for Jamie Indigo
Jamie Indigo

Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar

Jamie Indigo is a Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar and was part of our Professional Services team.


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