An Interview with SF Bay Area SEO Holly Miller
Micah Fisher-Kirshner: How did you get into SEO and how long have you been doing SEO?
Holly Miller: I find it fascinating that SEO has become incredibly pervasive in online business today but it didn’t become “a thing”– let a lone a profession — until around the time I was entering the workforce.
SEO was gaining momentum in the early 2000s with what is known as “white hat” SEO. But at the time, I was still navigating college as a film student turned broadcast journalist turned marketer so I got into SEO by way of a variety of informal training. I studied journalism and delivered content in a way that grabbed the reader or viewer’s attention and made the story relatable. I also interned at major ad agencies in LA where I’d work on creative briefs that had elements of keyword research. I was essentially gathering search topics trying to understand the interests, needs and intents of different market personas. Much of my early training in advertising and journalism gave me the soft skills of SEO.
The turning point was in 2009 when I caught up to SEO. That’s when the search engine world was introduced to Bing and there was real competition in the market. That same year, I started working for a major online business directory, Local.com. That’s where I started gaining the hard, technical skills of SEO.
Since then, I’ve continued to grow my experience and curiosity around optimizing for search engines working at a search & PPC agency and, recently, one of the leading enterprise SEO software platforms.
Micah: What would you say your strengths (or preferences) are within the SEO field?
Holly: I enjoy apply all aspects of search that help move the needle for a business to get more revenue and clients and customers that are right for them. Because I have been exposed to many types of marketing campaigns and innovative strategies for creating awareness, my strength is in bringing together the right combination of tactics that will make a business successful. At that point, SEO is the tip of my spear.
Micah: Who inspires you in the SEO space?
Holly: I’m inspired by many of the current BayAreaSearch.org Board of Directors like Andrew Shotland and AJ Kohn (Micah’s note: go write another post, AJ!). Their blogs were the ones being recommended to me when I was first starting out. I’m a fan of Avinash Kaushik (Occam’s Razor blog). I also get inspired by in-house SEO talent that’s here in Silicon Valley and the great community of SEO’s on Twitter.
Micah: Why did you decide to join Searchmetrics and what has it been like working for a known SEO brand?
Holly: The opportunity to consult with enterprise level clients using one of the industry’s top SEO software platforms was something I couldn’t pass up. I spent at least the first 6 months immersing myself in the platform learning everything I could.
The biggest thing I learned was that it didn’t matter that I knew where to get data within the suite. What mattered was applying the data to provide a solution to real problems that my clients and their business were facing. Updating title tags is helpful to a degree, but I’m much more focused on broader solutions that can impact the bottom line.
Micah: What advice would you give to SEOs to advance their career into the top tier?
Holly: Now that I’m freelancing as a consultant, I’m always looking to improve upon marketing strategies that start with technology and end with the user. My advice would be to get experience towards an understanding of each of the channels across search, social, email, events, ads etc. Do a mini SWOT analysis even so that you see how and where each one(s) is effective in meeting the business or project goal. Some channels are great for creating awareness, others at adoption and engagement. Awareness of how each channel performs will help you build the right strategy that’s effective for the business where SEO is built in.
My other piece of advice is to always be working to build relationships and improve communications between cross-functional teams. Websites are the virtual storefront of every business. This means lots of teams contributing, working on the site or driving traffic back to it. The overall quality of a website improves when teams across an organization integrate small amounts of SEO best practices into the work they do on the site. If you’re looking to advance your career in SEO, you must first seek to share your knowledge and help others succeed.
Micah: If you had a say, what factor would you wish to modify/add/remove with Google’s algorithm and why?
Holly: In my hypothetical world, I wish the algorithm would rotate the URLs sitting in position 11-20 onto page 1. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Like everything sitting on page 2 would become page 1 for a week or so. I’d be curious to see the engagement metrics if that happened.
Micah: Why are you personally helping to build BayAreaSearch?
Holly: We do so much networking online that I love any excuse to get out and meet people in person. I want to meet as many people as I can in this industry because it’s constantly evolving and I enjoy learning something new from every SEO I talk to. The Bay Area is one giant sandbox and it’s thrilling to think we’re part of shaping an industry and you’re one connection away from meeting your next great contact.
I hope to meet you at our next event!
Micah: Thank you Holly and best of luck in your continued SEO career!
Background by President Micah Fisher-Kirshner: We’re doing a series of interviews with local SF Bay Area SEOs (starting with the board) as a launching point for future blog posts. If you’re an SEO in the SF Bay Area and would like to be interviewed, please contact us here.
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