Our SEO interview series continues — This week, Lumar’s Jamie Indigo, Senior Technical SEO, is in conversation with Sukhjinder Singh, Head of SEO at Anicca Digital. The two speak about website migrations, participating in industry events, and how to develop SEO KPIs that can help you explain the benefits of search engine optimization to clients and leadership.
Listen to the full interview here, or check out the abridged transcript below.
Q: You were a first-time speaker at BrightonSEO earlier this year — what was your talk about?
Sukhjinder: Best practices of website migrations. It was quite technical; a lot of technical examples on how to plan out and implement a proper migration project, because we do quite a lot of those at the agency.
(Note: You can view the deck for Sukhjinder’s talk on site migrations here.)
[Site migration projects] are important; from a lead-gen perspective, they seem to serve us really well to bring in clients and convince them of our ability in a relatively short-term project. So we’ve gained a couple of our big clients this way, through migration projects. So it builds trust quickly and you can get some excellent case studies out of it as well.
And the more we have done, the better we’ve gotten at migrations. So they are nice, complete short-term projects that can lead to bigger work. How many migrations have we done? Probably about, over the course of eight years, maybe 40 or 50. Smaller migrations as well as big-scale ones; two-month jobs to like 6-12 month jobs.
Q: What inspired you to start speaking at SEO industry events?
Sukhjinder: I can’t remember the first-time speaker’s name from the last BrightonSEO six months ago, but I saw a LinkedIn post by her and she was a first-time speaker and she was really like elated and gratified after doing it. From what she said, I found it kind of encouraging. So she shared how the experience was and how important it was to her, and it kind of encouraged me to think twice about it and just pitch for a talk and give it a go. So, I think other speakers sharing their experiences is really important, encouraging everyone else to step up.
Q: How did you get into SEO as a career path?
Sukhjinder: I started as a web designer out of uni — I did that for about four years, when it was called ‘web design’, and then got into development. And then I figured out I liked the creative and marketing side a bit more — what happened with the website afterwards? So I went into SEO in about 2010 and I started working at agencies and in-house, and then it just kind of grew from there.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working in SEO?
Sukhjinder: So my favorite thing is accounting for all of the important KPIs that contribute towards a client’s bottom line. I enjoy turning all of this technical stuff into relatable points for a client to say, “look, we can get you more inquiries or sales by….” and then we go into the technical stuff and make it a bit more accessible [to the client]. So, I enjoy relating all of that stuff to people — and then the actual doing of it and following through with KPIs.
Q: How do you explain the benefits or return on investment of SEO to other areas in your organization, or to your clients’ organizations?
Sukhjinder: We use the KPIs that we establish with the clients and explain how important they are to their bottom line. Then we stick them in Data Studio, for example, and we monitor that month-on-month. We started to put these KPIs in service-level agreements in the contract so the clients are aware of what everyone’s working towards.
And then basically, month-on-month, we follow up with the KPIs; whether we’ve hit them or not, in a really transparent way, and we’re really honest with the client. So if, for example, we don’t hit a KPI in a certain string of months, then we’ll redo the strategy and give them something else of value and always follow through. And we relate it to other people in their organizations and ours, so we make it as easy as possible for them to report on our progress.
So when we’re working across all of the channels, we’ll educate each other. You know, the PPC team, to social, to SEO, what KPIs are important to use, and why they are important. It’s a combination of upskilling each other and sharing information internally. We build relationships across teams by having regular meetings and knowledge-sharing, and genuinely being interested in what each other are doing. There are people specifically responsible for encouraging that.
We recently switched from a typical department structure where you’ve got SEO, PPC, and social to a pod structure. So you’ve got a pod that has maybe an SEO person, PR, social, PPC, etc. And each pod is like a mini agency — and it works better to share information between each other because they’re in one team as opposed to having cross-departmental meetings and such. So that’s another easy way that we’re sharing knowledge. It’s a relatively recent thing, but it seems to be working well, a few months in.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who are considering pitching for their first talk?
Sukhjinder: Yeah, so basically I’m an introvert and I’m not a natural public speaker. After seeing some LinkedIn posts from other first-time speakers, watching BrightonSEO speakers over the last ten years, and joining the speakers’ WhatsApp group, I found it incredibly supportive and friendly, and encouraging. It’s just one of those scary things, where you picture the moment afterward and the feeling you get — like a skydive or something. And if you are just personally focused on that and just practice, practice, practice — that’s what got me through it. It’s definitely something that you could do, and you’d be surprised how many other well-established speakers still get nervous. It’s completely normal, and it’s so doable.
Want more first-hand knowledge straight from some of the world’s best SEOs? Check out our full interview series with search optimization experts.