Competing For Customer Attention With SEO & Social Media – Interview With Lukasz Zelezny

Search Engine Ranking is the de facto KPI of good marketing though only 28% of companies have admitted to invest in developing talent within their companies and improve on existing practices towards it. 

While the schools of thought are divided on content vs. backlinks, there is no denying the need to engage those who have and can with those who need to learn and improve. Savage decided to ask Lukasz Zelezny, Head of Organic Acquisition at uSwitch on his take on SEO and Social Media’s impact on brand positioning, engagement, and, ultimately, conversion. 

S: What drove you to SEO and why Social Media?

LZ: One of the things that attracted me to the SEO business is that there is no silo mentality. Often in organizations, departments, and groups - and sometimes individuals -  are unwilling to share information. This reduces the organization’s efficiency and eventually leads to the collapse of its corporate culture.

I did not find any of that in SEO or social media where sharing is the norm. In case of the latter, sharing is the reason for its existence, think of Twitter and Facebook. Speaking of Twitter and Facebook, I liked how easy they made it to build networks and relationships for SEO clients and partners such as service providers and influencers.

“I use Buzzsumo to create a buzz and establish an audience. As far as I'm concerned, it is one of the greatest tools in influencer outreach and content marketing. I simply love it!”

And then there are tools like Buzzsumo that allow you to gauge how popular articles are by topic or influencer. I use Buzzsumo to create a buzz and establish an audience. As far as I'm concerned, it is one of the greatest tools in influencer outreach and content marketing. I simply love it!

S: Which is your biggest achievement in SEO to date and what worked for you which shouldn't have worked?

LZ: My amazing journey in uSwitch for the last 5 years is definitely my greatest achievement. And who would have thought that working at a price comparison company would be so much fun every day.

I didn't think that comparing the prices of various services like energy and insurance was a very competitive niche. Anyone can do that, right? Wrong. My wake-up call came the very first day at work. The work was demanding and kept me on my toes all day. Today, five years later, the SEO department has a fantastic team that works hard at its job.

I learned a lot working with that team. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. uSwitch truly is a fantastic company.

S: What do you consider as the 5 commandments of SEO?

LZ:

1. You shall use unique and well written content that generates added value rather than writing blah-blah for increased saturation in the SERPs.

2. You shall rely on organic backlink acquisition and not buy a single link.

3. You shall make your page speed as high as possible.

4. You shall constantly optimize your website with SemRUSH and/or DeepCrawl.

5. You shall always educate yourself.

S: What ranking factors do you see companies and agencies overlooking most often and Why?

LZ: The first is backlinks. In the past, backlinks largely determined a web page's SEO ranking. And their quality didn't matter. Back then, the rule of thumb was the more the better. Buying links was common practice. But over time, the situation changed.

"I remember when writing lots of rubbish content just for the sake or ranking was vogue, but not anymore.”

Search engines started penalizing web pages with poor-quality links. Surprisingly, there are still businesses in 2017 buying crappy backlinks, causing penalties. This, of course, led to the focus on content. For a period, links took the backseat. Content was the in thing. I remember when writing lots of rubbish content just for the sake or ranking was vogue, but not anymore.

Consumers have since rejected this practice and now both content and links matter. So, how do you combine the two? Instead of walking on eggshells when it comes to links, I recommend focusing on only using those from high-quality sources. Keep in mind that they still affect your ranking. They also allow for faster search engine indexing and attract referral traffic.

What if you have some poor links on your page, and cannot prune them off? Well, I suggest disavowing them to avoid penalties. Google and Bing both have disavow link tools to get the job done. My only fear is that in 2017, too many people will be tempted into disavowing too much and too deep. As far as content goes, I can only advise people to stay on top of their game. Finally content, optimization and links are three keys to SEO success.

“Content, optimization and links are three keys to SEO success.”

S: What tips would you give someone building their personal brand as a consultant, thought leader, or entrepreneur?

LZ: Although I have many, let me limit them to four: 

I have nothing against fame. The problem is that most people want it without working for it. Fame is  and should be  a by-product of hard work and expertise. This brings me to the second thing.

2. Become an expert. Learn your trade and work hard to be the best in it. If you do so, success inevitably follows. This is how to build your brand. Kicking back and expecting it to happen by itself is not.

3. Be aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect. If you have never heard of the term before, I am glad to explain it to you. In short, it is having a higher opinion of your abilities than you should - despite being of low ability. I don't need to tell you the cost of having such an attitude. If you cannot assess your competence accurately, you cannot grow. Resistance to learning or correction then becomes part of your thinking. Once you start on this slippery path, you are doomed. Failure is waiting for you just around the corner.

Now for my fourth and final point!

4. Pride comes before a fall. If you have noticed, the three points I have just explained lead here. I have seen people who seek fame for its own sake and, thus, never improve on their skillsets. The Dunning-Kruger effect then kicks in and bloats a person’s self-perception. It is then a matter of time before their pride leads to their downfall.

S: Which Social Media automation tools do you use and why? Is it feature based or do you have other considerations?

LZ: IFTTT and Zapier are two personal favourites as I really like to be up to date with many things. One minute I am tracking #Journorequest and #PRRequest hasthtags. The other minute, I am calculating how many hours I spent in the office. The next thing you know, I have activated cheap flights prices fluctuation alerts. I have a very busy schedule and find these two tools indispensable. They, in a sense, do all the dirty work for me. I cannot imagine living without them.

Another thing I love to do is sharing. And being the social media buff that I am, I use DLVR.IT to share 3rd party content with branded URLs (Zeleny.link) and branding. It allows me to auto post to social media platforms using RSS feeds.

On top of this, I use Brand24 to check any mentions of me, SoTrender to analyse my performance, Tweepi for growing my Twitter audience, and Crowdfire for sending automatic tweets.  I know you might be surprised by the latter as it can be seen as annoying, but if it works then I say use it and make the most of it.

S: What should we be looking out for in 2017?

"Twitter will start to struggle a bit and may have issues continuing to grow. LinkedIn, on the other hand, will increase in popularity, especially with businesses.”

LZ: In social media, I think we’re going to see a lot of changes regarding advertisements. Facebook may continue to tweak their ads format and we may also see advertisements showing up on Messenger now that they are promoting the use of it. I also think WhatsApp might start to have advertisements placed on it. In regards to traffic, I think Facebook will still be the leader, but I think Twitter will start to struggle a bit and may have issues continuing to grow, especially if people continue to have problems with trolls. LinkedIn, on the other hand, will increase in popularity, especially with businesses.

In SEO, I think we’re going to continue to see an emphasis placed on mobile search, with AMP (accelerated mobile pages) leading the way. Hopefully this will make it easier for pretty much anyone to make their websites mobile friendly. With Google also featuring FAQ snippets at the top of certain search results, I think we’re also going to see an increase in the amount of websites having extensive FAQs. At the end of the day though, I recommend the British saying of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – I can’t see anything drastic happening this year.

 

At Savage Marketing we have invited sr. SEO and social media practitioners Buffer, iProspect, VWO, Google, and over 65 major brands to dissect the most successful projects, best practices and will engage them in 2 days extensive research in digital marketing thought leadership through 6 tracks. Hope to see you in Amsterdam this June!

 

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