In The Spotlight: Andrew Halliday, head of SEO at Ebuyer.com



Andrew Halliday is head of SEO and web analytics for Ebuyer.com.

A graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University, he is now responsible for increasing Ebuyer’s traffic, revenue and unit sales through paid search, as well as improving their natural search positioning.

Today he becomes the latest to feature in our “˜In The Spotlight’ series, giving his industry insight and advice. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

 

How did you end up as head of SEO at Ebuyer?

I actually joined Ebuyer as a data analyst. I came in to do all their reporting, and then got offered the opportunity to move into the PPC team. From there I ended up doing PPC and SEO, and then earlier this year the two channels became too big for one person to manage, at which point I became head of SEO.

The role has really grown. Historically it was never really a major role here; we used to use a lot of agencies. But we’ve gone from that situation to now having a full in-house team that’s completely focused on SEO.

 

What does a typical day look like?

There’s no such thing as a typical day in this role. I’m meant to focus on technical SEO, both on site and off site, but it varies massively. I get dragged into lots of different conversations and meetings. For example, we’re at a gaming festival in a couple of weeks, and I’ve been working on that a fair bit. It all depends on what we’ve got going on as a business.

 

Does Ebuyer notice many changes in search engine traffic as algorithms fluctuate? Or does it have a level of immunity from such changes?

When I first started and took over the role, we were under a partial penalty from Penguin. There was a lot of work to do in cleaning up old backlinks. We used to use a few agencies that, at the time, did the right thing – but we had to clean that up and I spent a lot of time looking at our backlink profile and cleaning that up.

So yes, we’ve had problems – but right now we’re clean, and I actually look forward to algorithm updates coming out because I get to see which of our competitors have been penalised.

 

Do you get involved in the production of content at all?

I write content for my own blog, because that’s where I do most of my testing, but I don’t write anything for the Ebuyer blog or site – we’ve got teams that look after that. I influence what they write, but I don’t write it.

 

What type of activity has had the biggest impact on traffic levels during your time at Ebuyer?

Coming out of penalty had the biggest impact. Once we were out of that, our rankings improved massively – and so did our traffic.

 

What are your biggest day-to-day challenges at the moment?

There are probably two things; one is keeping up to date with what’s changing, which is always a big challenge. Fortunately Ebuyer allow me to go to a few conferences – I’ve just got back from MozCon, which was a fantastic experience and a great place to learn so much.

The other challenge is seeing what our competitors are doing and seeing what impact any changes they make have on their site.

 

What’s the level of understanding and support of SEO at Ebuyer?

I’m very lucky. My MD is from a marketing background and fully understands SEO, so from the top down I don’t have to explain things on a daily basis and most of our projects are signed off.

The team around me is full of specialists in other areas. There’s a team of 22 in the marketing department, including on-site designers, graphic designers, a video producer, blog writers, on-site writers, a couple of outreachers and a photographer – and in my eyes, they all play a role in SEO. It’s all about the user experience; if you don’t have a good quality landing page from a product point of view, then the customer is just going to bounce away and go somewhere else.

 

And finally, what would be your advice to anyone wanting a career in SEO?

Probably to start in an agency. I know it’s not what I did, but at least in an agency you get the expertise of everyone around you, whereas in-house it can be a bit lonely. At an agency you get to learn hands-on from people around you who know what they’re talking about.

 

 
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Tecmark Author Neil Barraclough

About the Author

Neil Barraclough: Brand Communications Manager

A former journalist with experience in radio, TV and a decade in national newspapers, Neil now focuses on communications and results-driven copywriting.

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