Marcus Howling loves SEO. So when Web Talent Marketing, a digital marketing agency based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, brought the 2012 Education Media Design & Technology grad (with a graduate certificate in Internet Marketing) on as a contractor to do content marketing, link building, and SEO, he quickly wowed them with not only his skill but also his passion. He was hired as a full-time addition to the staff within three months.
“They liked my work and loved that I had a great understanding of SEO,” says Marcus.
On an average day, Marcus serves as the company’s SEO Specialist and focuses on about 20 clients spread across the country.
“I give credit to Full Sail for weaving SEO into my courses,” he says. “I fell in love with the key words and strategies. It really clicked for me (excuse the pun) and I became really good at link building and copy writing.”
Marcus’s skills have come in handy ever since Google recently placed an emphasis on key phrases versus words. The average SEO specialist needs to do a lot more than just place key words into stories, Marcus says. He’s become quite the expert on Hummingbird, the latest update from Google.
“[Google’s] end goal is that end users get exactly what they are looking for when they use their search engine,” says Marcus. “They don’t want us stuffing everything with key words. They want it to be natural, so now we use more key word phrases instead of key words.”
As a result, Marcus and his team place a strong emphasis on good copywriting and strong link building. “The best thing that we do is natural link building and we don’t outsource overseas. We do it all in-house. This is manual link building, which means instead of using tools that go out and capture links in volume we go out and find links that are relevant and we don’t stuff the anchor text with the key words. It’s an emphasis more on quality than quantity.”
Those SEO companies not falling in line are seeing the impact. “These companies are going out of business. They’re seeing a major decrease in traffic,” Marcus says.
Beyond key phrases and solid links, Marcus also sees customer engagement as a critical factor for creating great traffic. “We use video marketing because it’s an easy way to catch people’s attention, and they’re more likely to stay and interact on the site. But the key is staying natural and not overdoing it. We’re always focused on the end user’s experience.”