Marc Heighway, Expert SEO Bournemouth

marc

Marc Heighway runs the Expert SEO Bournemouth agency.  They are based on the South Coast of the United Kingdom but have a client-base in the United States as well as England. You can connect with Marc on Google Plus.

How did your interest in SEO begin?

I first started building websites back in 1997.  Back then the Internet was a very different place.  Around that time it was a case of keyword stuffing and the over-use of Meta keywords.  Google wasn’t even around then so the SEO strategy was to try and get listed in search engines such as AltaVista.  As I started building out more projects and the Internet started to become more competitive it soon became clear that it was not a case “if you build it they will come”.  Any website, even back then needed a degree of search engine optimisation work doing on it in order to reach the desired audience – although it was a lot easier to rank content 15 years ago.

Despite SEO being a far more difficult discipline nowadays, it also means that it is a more specialist area which is great for someone like me who runs an SEO Agency.  We can really help our clients use the Internet to their advantage.

What is your background and technical interest?

After leaving University I became a web designer, then moved on to work as a project manager for different technology companies, where I completed work for clients such as Microsoft, Orange, Vodafone, and Sony.  Over the last ten years I moved into becoming an online marketing manager and ended up working for an American company called Garmin – they are the World leader in GPS and Satellite Navigation products.

At Garmin I was the Online Marketing Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa.  Part of the job meant I was responsible for websites, web developers and designers across different countries and languages.  I was based out of Switzerland and one of the more challenging aspects to the role was to conduct effective SEO strategies across multiple regions and cultures… it wasn’t easy but I had a really good team to work with.

Working for a large company like Garmin which has websites for most European countries meant that there were lots of opportunities for myself and the team to test various different SEO strategies to see what would work in an extremely competitive marketplace.  I’ve taken a lot of that knowledge on with me into my new business.

What is your slogan on SEO?

At the Expert SEO Bournemouth agency the ethos behind our work is to become an extension of our client’s business.  We want them to be able to harness the web to serve them and their business.

What are you most renowned for?

If you were to ask my SEO clients then I would say transparency and results.  The way the Expert SEO Bournemouth Company works is that it is plain-speaking, no jargon, and based purely on results.  If we don’t get results for our clients then they shouldn’t be paying us.   We have clients not just in the UK, but also in the United States and have helped them to increase their online revenues into the million dollar brackets – that’s something I am very proud of.

How do you keep up to date with SEO and Google?

I am grateful to be part of a small closed group of global SEO experts who all share knowledge and testing together.  I don’t tend to read much online as so much of it is just pure disinformation.  I keep up to date with SEO by seeing how the hundreds of websites I run are performing, how they react to changes and probably more so from the small group of expert contacts I just referred to.

What does your daily work involve?

I am quite lucky in that I can be quite flexible with my working day and can a lot of the time pick and choose what days I want to work.  A typical day though will start by logging in to read any new message or emails that have come into the SEO Company.  I try to limit this time to just thirty minutes so don’t get bogged down in too much correspondence.

Once the day gets started properly it can involve visiting clients, talking to prospective clients, working on new projects, finding new opportunities, or preparing for seminar talks that I regularly get asked to do. 

Give your tips to beginners in SEO. What should they focus on?

It depends what angle they are coming from.  If you want to start out doing some simple SEO on your own personal website then there are some basic guidelines you can follow to give it a better chance of ranking for the keywords you want it to.  I won’t go into detail here because that could run into hundreds of tips once I get started.

However, if someone is looking to start their own SEO Agency or Company then my advice would be to create a personal website first and get it ranked.  You can then approach prospective customers with a solid and visible proof of concept.  This will show that you can deliver on SEO.

On top of that, network, network, and network.  Whilst the World of SEO can be quite complex, especially due to the sheer volume of charlatans in the business, it’s invaluable to have close relationships with like-minded individuals who share the same goals as you do.

What is your favourite SEO tool and why?

Any tool that helps me to track search engine and Google rankings is key.  The amount of money that my SEO Company earns, and how much my clients earn, is directly related to where they appear in the SERPs.  Without having the ability to query thousands of search engine listings at any given moment my job would be very difficult and would make the accountability process take hours rather than minutes.

I use quite a few different tools to achieve this including Moz, Traffic Travis, Microsite Masters… I do tend to flip between though and test out which ones work best at any given time.

If you could develop a new SEO tool, what would it do for you?

I suppose it would be very easy to talk about a tool that could automate the whole process of an SEO strategy, and in truth there are already some very good tools on the market that can do some lower level tasks to a basic degree – for example keyword research and identifying linking opportunities.  However, high level automation of SEO is impossible, especially now that the focus from the search engines is on a more “human” level when it comes to retrieving quality search results.

One current aspect to SEO is how you can harness the power of expired domains which already have a healthy back-link profile.  There are some great tools on the market which help find expired domains, but I’ve not found one yet which can truly automatically laser-target into a great domain which has all the attributes I would be looking for.  That would be pretty cool.

What are your personal goals for 2014?

To keep expanding my Bournemouth SEO agency, and to also launch a digital marketing company that I operate from Southampton in the UK.  This is due to launch in 2014 and I am very excited about that.  The focus will be on local SEO, online reputation management as well as affiliate management.

However, the most important aspect to me is to continually evolve the business and help my clients make more money online and to be profitable in their business.  That’s the ultimate aim, and if I can continue to do that then I’m achieving the very basics at least.

Who do you look up to in SEO?

There are always people you can learn from, especially due to the ever-changing search engine optimisation algorithms.  One guy I really admire at the moment is Greg Morrison.  He’s based in Delaware in the United States.  He’s got a superb analytical mind and constantly shares his feedback and testing when Google makes changes to its algorithm… which as you know is quite a common occurrence.  I’ve learnt a lot from Greg over the last 6 months alone and don’t know anybody in the business who is as on the ball as he is.

I also mentioned earlier how I am lucky enough to be in a closed group of global SEO experts who work with each other to identify new trends within the search engines.  For example; what’s working, what’s not, and how to continually adapt to the changes in the SEO business.  It would be impossible to list all the names out, but needless to say, being able to have daily communication with such a talented group of people really helps me to grow my business and that of my clients.

What do you think will be the future in SEO and how do you think Google will develop in the near future?

At the moment Google is refining how their search engine works to make it return results on more of a human level – it now has a better understanding of what quality content is, how people need search results based on their location and such like.  Social media is becoming more important now and some of the Google Plus technology will start to see search results returned on what your friends might have recommended or liked… and this will probably take into account trends from other social media platforms too.

Google as a company is ever expanding.  You only need to check the patents they keep registering and the companies that are buying up to have an indication on what they are looking to do in the future – a lot of which is based around natural behaviour rather than automated behaviour.  This is good as many low-grade SEO agencies used to be able to game the system.  Thankfully those days are starting to end now: which makes business a lot more profitable for reputable SEO consultants.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a young son who demands a lot of my attention so my life is very family-orientated these days.  When I do get a spare moment I try to keep fit by running.  I was meant to run the Zurich Marathon last year but unfortunately the birth of my son got in the way of my training schedule – it’s something I would like to target again for 2014 if I can get the training done.

And we end the interview with 5 quick questions:

Google or Bing?

Google. You just can’t ignore it.  A lot of SEO people might have negative opinions on Google, but just look at the way in which it’s opened up business opportunities globally.  My family and I wouldn’t be able to have the lifestyle we have today if it wasn’t for Google.

Mac or PC?

I am a PC man.  Always have been for the main aspects to my work.  Having said that I do rely on my Apple iPad exclusively now when on the move.

What search phrase do you dream of getting a top position in Google.com?

That’s a hard question.  If it was about money then there are countless thousands of keywords that a number one position equals millions of dollars in revenue.  To be honest though, the answer is for whatever project I am working on at any given time.  Thankfully it’s something that we regularly achieve for our clients.

Do you use any other search engine than Google?

In my personal life, no.  But when working for customers I need to look at Bing and Yahoo as they still serve enough of a percentage of search traffic for it to be valuable for my clients to rank with them.

Are you focussed on off-page SEO or on-page SEO?

Both. It didn’t used to be that way though.  I would say nowadays the split between on-page and off-page focus is around 50/50.  A couple of years ago the focus was mainly on back-linking and off-page SEO factors.  You can’t work like that nowadays though due to the changes in how the search engines work.

 

I would like to say thank you to Marc for this interview and the good answers. I wish him luck in his plans for the future!

I want to interview marketeers, business owners, SEO consultants, bloggers and other professionals about their view on search engine optimization (SEO). Please contact me on fredrik@seo-iberica.com if you are interested!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Interview with Marc Heighway at Expert SEO Bournemouth agency. They are based on the South Coast of the United Kingdom but have a client-base in the United States as well as England.  […]