Leeds digital agency, Spike, has recently promoted its Head of Technical SEO, Steve Bailey, to become its SEO Training Director.
SEO is of course a critical aspect of marketing, affected by multiple factors and fast-changing trends, requiring a variety of cross-discipline proficiencies. So, by addressing this skills shortage through this commitment to training and development it’s essentially an effective long-term strategy for the company and its clients.
Steve – who retrained in SEO 15 years ago after working as a school teacher – will also be directly working with graduates to help them develop careers in SEO. Steve has worked at Home Agency (now ‘IMA-Home’), Search Laboratory, and most recently, Spike for the last seven years.
In his new role, Steve has also been tasked with continually strengthening the SEO knowledge of employees across the business, as well as offering bespoke training for clients. There are two objectives: for Spike to be the strongest specialist SEO agency in the UK and to ensure that the business brings through new SEO experts.
Here, we spoke with Steve to learn more about his new role, the rapid changes in Organic Search and SEO training itself and to get his thoughts on how he sees it developing:
Why Is SEO Training So Important These Days?
Organic Search has become far more complex than it has ever been; it isn’t just about page titles and backlinks. There are user experience metrics, website architecture factors, significant page indexation calculations and other processes that only scratch the surface of what impacts us online. Add into this the changing face of search results themselves, and it becomes very easy to lose touch with what matters.
On top of this, not every client needs a full-time SEO agency, as they often have internal teams and budget limitations. But, what they can’t afford to do is neglect organic search and let their knowledge grow stale. That will only lead to a steady decline in performance whilst competitors are pressing ahead.
So, How Can SEO Training Benefit Individuals And Businesses?
SEO plays a key part in virtually every role in digital marketing, so for this reason, our training is something that can deliver benefits for everyone from senior stakeholders, to digital marketing execs, journalists, brand managers and more. In other words, whatever a client’s team needs, we’ll design tailored and bespoke sessions that will help them achieve their goals.
As such, when you invest in our SEO training, you’re also investing in the future of your business and its staff members.
For example, after the training has been delivered, the person or group who received it will be able to build their own SEO processes. This will mean they’ll be able to realise a number of benefits such as: boosting marketing and content, improving the professional development of their team, generating added brand value, improving project processes and boosting margins.
Certainly a company can save money on agency fees, but the longer-term gains are that your team is better informed to understand the key elements of SEO and can begin to work even closer with the agency on strategy, to drive even more results for your brand.
By creating processes that stand the test of time, we want to equip clients to be able to continually add value for years to come.
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What Are Clients Often Looking For With Your SEO Training?
I would say that the training tends to fall into two categories: marketing departments that are looking to explore SEO perhaps for the first time and internal departments that have lots of experience, but want a fresh, external view on their processes or on a complex topic.
But to summarise, we ultimately find that clients are looking for expertise, insights, guidance and peace of mind. They want to know they are on the right track and have both the skills and understanding to sustain their websites in challenging, competitive sectors.
Has The Growing Influence Of AI On Decision-Making Had Any Impact On Clients’ SEO Training Requirements?
AI will become a very useful tool, I’ve started using it in my own work. However, like many other applications that can be used to aid SEO performance, it can be deeply flawed.
If you don’t understand what you are looking at, what is important and what is a red herring – well AI isn’t going to help you. It will lead you down the wrong paths. As a basic example, you can use AI to work out keyword lists and priorities based on search volume. You can do that with a click on a button. But in doing so you may have made the worst possible start to your Organic Search strategy.
You have to understand user intent, the competitive nature of your sector and its search landscape. One day perhaps AI will do all of these things, but not right now. We need to sense check all of these quick fixes and you can only do that if you understand the core principles behind what you are trying to achieve.
What Are The Benefits To You, As An Agency, For Providing SEO Training Services?
Primarily more work! We know not everyone needs the same service; for instance, some may be able handle most of their organic search work in-house. However, we can still provide an invaluable service to assist those in-house teams.
So, training, and to some degree consultancy, helps us to reach out to more clients in a way that fits their business model and resources. In addition, this work opens more doors for future collaboration and does so without the need for any lengthy initial contract that may inhibit such activity.
Can You Tell Us More About The Work You’ll Be Doing With Graduates?
Working with graduates from scratch is a fantastic way to invest in young talent, and this for me is the most exciting part for Spike. Internships and local engagement with universities will both be key factors to explore once we are in a position where our training processes are fully developed.
What Feedback Have You Received From Clients Who Have Had SEO Training From Spike?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from our clients and it has made it all incredibly rewarding so far. Outdoor clothing and footwear provider, Rohan, were impressed with how the training was structured and how it allowed them to ‘understand the value’ they could then bring to their business.
Similarly, another client, Sporting Life (part of Flutter Entertainment Plc), said the training was ‘a game changer’ and that it ‘immediately focused, motivated and upskilled our staff to attack and deliver on their recommendations’. Its team has since gone on to smash its KPIs and significantly boost its online performance.