Please describe your job! What does a Head Of Multilingual Search Marketing actually do?

I head up the multilingual team at Search Laboratory which is made up of 35 mother-tongue linguists from everywhere from China to Denmark to Russia, all working on campaigns in over 35 languages across 18 countries. 

I am ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of the international services we offer and directly manage a small team of managers, who are in turn responsible for the management of the team. I ensure that we have sufficient capacity and resources to constantly deliver great results for our clients.

I am also responsible for managing and coordinating the in-depth research into the different international markets we work with clients in. 

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

I physically sit within the multilingual team which is situated in the SEO team on the top floor of our Old Chapel headquarters in Leeds. I report directly to the Head of Content and Online PR Freia Muehlenbein – who, as it happens, is German – and she in turn reports to our Head of SEO Jimmy McCann.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role? 

I’m the only English person in a team otherwise exclusively made up of mother-tongue linguists, so languages are unsurprisingly important to my role and I speak German and Japanese fluently, French to a high standard, as well as a small amount of Italian.

As we tell our clients though, it’s not just about language – being open and flexible to different cultures and ways of communicating are just as important. Spending time abroad as a university student living in Japan and German helped equip me with this awareness 

An in-depth knowledge of all aspects of search marketing is also critical – my team specialises not only in content and online PR, but also in technical SEO and PPC. 

Tell us about a typical working day…

I’m in the office by about 8.30am and I usually start my day by getting up to date with my emails and checking the day’s plan. As I’m also responsible for researching into foreign markets I check any on-going studies are on track. 

I’m not a mother-tongue linguist, so I don’t actually work on any client campaigns. I’m responsible for making sure the team is running well.

Throughout the day, I’ll liaise with my two Multilingual Search Marketing Managers, Kathrin Schwerthelm and Julia Dettler, for updates on the campaigns we’re working on at the moment. Where possible I’ll also try to speak to individual team members to see how they’re getting on.

Obviously each day varies, but I may sit in on pitches for potential clients or meetings with existing ones to represent our linguistic services or I could be working on training sessions with the PPC team.

My team is the fastest growing part of a business that in itself growing rapidly, so quite a bit of my time is taken up with interviewing potential candidates and establishing and implementing plans for the team’s growth and development.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success? 

When it comes to our campaigns, different search engines use different metrics for assessing site quality, such as Citation Index for Yandex (Russia) and Baidu Index (China). Our in-house native speakers don’t just bring linguistic insights to the company, they also bring invaluable cultural knowledge, which enables us to tailor our strategies for different markets and maximise campaign performance.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

A phone and a meeting room. They’re simple tools but they facilitate communication, which is critical to my job. 

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

What I love is that I work with a wide range of people, from a diverse set of cultures, who speak numerous languages. What sucks is that it’s impossible for me to learn all the languages we have in the team!

How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here? 

I joined the company as an Off-Page SEO Researcher on a part-time basis in 2010, before joining the SEO team full-time as one of the first Off-Page SEO Executives. I was subsequently promoted to the role of Senior Off-Page SEO Executive, before being promoted to head up the multilingual team in January 2012.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

Read and research. Use the internet to inform yourself on what areas of the digital industry you’re interested in and then put what you can into practice – set up a blog or website to test your skills and knowledge, find out as much as you can and keep yourself up to date with industry developments. 

Which brands do you think are doing digital well?

This may be contentious but I think SMEs are doing digital better than some big brands, with a lot of enterprises not performing to their level. Paranoia over brand image can cause these companies to miss opportunities to lead the way in digital, which is a fear that SMEs don’t seem to have.

I am always shocked to discover how little some of the bigger brands know about SEM, particularly when expanding into overseas markets.