Alex Moss is Technical Director at digital marketing agency 3 Door Digital, which launched recently after a merger between Matan Media and Pleer.
I've been asking Alex and his colleagues Anna Moss, Marc Levy and Paul Gladstone about the new agency, his thoughts on the changing role of the SEO agency, and future developments in SEO...
Tell me about 3 Door Digital. What are the three doors?
3 Door Digital (3dd) came about after a merger between Israeli based digital marketing company, Matan Media and UK based Pleer. The process of merging the two companies began 10 months prior to the official launch date and will allow the new company to expand in size and service offerings significantly.
When we were discussing the general ethos of our work we agreed that, whatever the project may be, it would include at least one of three elements that we would aim to increase in order to measure success. These 3 “doors” are (along with some explanation):
- Exposure: the method of gaining more attention to the site or page in question. This can include internal and external link building, online outreach, press and other publicity and of course increasing the rankings of keywords and therefore gaining exposure within SERPs.
- Interaction: enabling the potential customer/client interacts with the brand. This can involve anything from social media activity to the way in which the brand interacts with their customer base onsite.
- Conversion: Attracting someone to your site or page is only half the battle.
How has the role of the SEO agency evolved over the past few years?
Notice we don't call ourselves an SEO agency (we used to), we are a Digital Marketing Agency offering more than just search engine optimisation.
Search has been rapidly changing, from universal results and local listings to social integration and methods of gamification. Whatever anyone says, the SERPs today are far different (note I didn't say better) from a few years back, and whilst the fundamentals of SEO have stayed pretty much the same, far more is involved to a successful campaign these days.
Agencies not seriously considering and engaging in user experience, conversion rate optimisation and social media will lose in my opinion.
Strategy and methodology has also been changing, the introduction of Panda rocked the content world and Penguin and other Google changes have had a pretty similar impact on link building.
How do you see it changing over the next few years?
I think really successful agencies are going to have to get REALLY good at a lot of disciplines, or focus more on being amazing at one or two of them.
We have already looked at our strengths and our main focus will be on WordPress Solutions and Content Marketing whilst also offering Digital Consultancy.
Are client’s demands any different now?
This is the one area that will probably always stay the same. All clients are unique, each with their own aims and objectives. They all want results, that's a given, but some care 'how they get them' and others 'just want them'.
Some ask a million questions and want to be involved in every step, others don't. Some want reports, some don't - the only changes are in the data itself and how it is presented to each client.
Ultimately, it's our job to keep them happy by maintaining realistic expectations, understanding their business and helping it grow.
How will you get prospective clients to understand the value of this broader approach to SEO?
We want to help prospective clients understand exactly what can be involved in a campaign. Clients are sometimes lost within our own reporting habit or terminology that some important interpretations may be missed.
By “translating from Geek to English”, we ensure that measurements of success can be understood fully not just from our point of view but for everyone from entry level to exec.
We also explain to clients that it isn’t just about two or three keyword rankings - there are a number of aspects that contribute towards a successful campaign such as social and how people react to content and so on.
So far the “3 Door” concept has already proved that client show more understanding of not just what we do, but why we do it.
The influence of social signals on the job of the SEO has been a major talking point – how significant is this now, and how do you see it developing in future?
Social signals are here, they exist, they are real. Their impact on search rankings vary and I don't believe a truly definitive study exists with proof of exactly how valuable they are - but they can have an impact and this is only going to increase moving forward.
The debate on links vs social signals will continue, but for now, I think Matt Cutts tells us all we need to know in this interview. Links are still important and will be for a good while yet, but in the future, social signals will definitely play an even bigger role.
They fit into the way the web 'naturally' works - many times, a piece of content that attracts a lot of links, will also gain a lot of exposure, citations, social shares and votes, so you could say at the moment, social very much supports traditional SEO signals.
Search visibility also needs to be considered and social plays into that also, for instance a Google + brand page can now show up for a brand name search, giving you more real estate in the SERPs, we also have Google + Local as well as Authorship which many believe will play a large part in future ranking signals.
How important is mobile search, and how does it differ from desktop?
This depends on the client, but soon enough it won’t – it’ll be essential for everyone. Mobile users are, in my opinion, a higher valued visitor. From my experience a mobile user tends to search for something on the longer tail and generally have a higher intent to convert yet may not convert in that visit.
To apply the '3 doors':
- Exposure: ensure your site has a separate mobile site. Responsive design is a start but if you have the resource I would advise a separate mobile site to cater for such visitors.
- Conversion: mobile users are harder to convert, especially when it comes to payment. However, mobile can act as the gateway for the visitor to convert via desktop search. Creating better CTA’s and improving user experience within the mobile site will help with this.
- Interaction: try not to clutter a mobile site. Strip it down leaving only what the mobile user wants to see and letting them interact with what they are presented faster.