SEMrush is one of the go-to tools for both specialists and generalists interested in search marketing.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the company’s Head of Communications, Fernando Angulo, to find out more about his role, and his advice for those new to the industry.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m the Head of Communications at SEMrush, which means that I implement public relations strategies with our clients through various social media channels. I am also a key spokesperson for SEMrush across the globe, which usually requires me traveling to up to three different countries each week to represent our brand.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I report to Olga Andrienko, who is the Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush. SEMrush, being such a global and diverse company, has a fantastic internal culture of regular reporting which really gels the global teams. Each team is able to report directly to the company from anywhere across the globe via conference calls and email updates. It means I can easily stay updated by various regions and provides an opportunity to acknowledge each employee’s diligent work efforts.
With over ten years of experience in digital marketing, I have enjoyed being at the forefront of the company’s marketing activities and have built a great marketing team. Being one of the major brand faces, I am able to attend several prestigious conferences all over the world, on everything from B2B search marketing and e-commerce to influencer marketing and marketing team training.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
With almost anything accessible at the click of a button you need to work smarter, not harder. To survive in a digital industry that moves this quickly, our company embraces change. SEMrush is constantly evolving to enhance and improve our customer offering, using the insight and trends we constantly monitor within the organisation. One compulsory skill that enables me to work effectively is being able to adjust to these trends and changes, and quickly. Having an open mindset to embrace new challenges along the way is a must.
Monitoring a trial and error workflow model to stay on top of key trends is crucial. There is no right or wrong way of working, but by monitoring patterns of success we are able to see what works best for us. Enthusiasm and energy always see me through the day.
Tell us about a typical working day…
During a typical working day I spend a lot of my time in airports, speaking at conferences and – my favourite – networking and meeting new people.
I find it’s very beneficial to fill my time travelling with useful administrative tasks. Just yesterday for example, I woke up at 5am and while on the long journey to the airport, I checked and replied to recent emails and was able to prioritise the ones that needed special attention. Whilst on the plane, I reviewed my daily ‘to do list’ and ticked off everything that had been achieved, creating new tasks with realistic goals and deadlines. By midday I had landed and was able to have a catch-up call with my team, as we do on a daily basis. Despite all of us working from different countries or travelling the globe, this ensures we are all updated on each other’s tasks, be it for planning or to bounce ideas off each other.
On a personal level I have found the Keto diet suits my lifestyle and provides me with the perfect energy boost I need to get through the day and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I believe no other office workplace offers what SEMrush does. Imagine an office space that feels like home – that’s where I work. I love the workplace culture – there is a perfect balance of freedom and responsibility which perfectly positions you to help build SEMrush’s brand.
I think it is extremely important to acknowledge that the World Health Organisation recognised “burnout” to be an “occupational phenomenon” earlier this year – yet despite this, more than half the world remains unsure of what burnout is. We recently found that searches online for “what is burnout?” increased by 55% on average from 2018 to 2019. The most common cause of burnout is in the workplace, so belonging to a company that encourages not only development for your career but social, physical and mental health balance too means avoiding issues further down the track.
It really sucks to know there are so many people who have joined the company that I haven’t been able to meet yet. When I started at SEMrush there were only around 18 staff. Now we have expanded to more than 800. As you can imagine, it is not physically possible to talk to that many people on a personal level. That’s the one downside, as it’s a shame to not be able to say you personally know all of the colleagues you work with!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
My main goal is to create brand awareness, so I need to reach as many people as possible, be it other tech companies or completely parallel industries in order to educate and inform others about our solutions and teach them how to use SEMrush products. We use Referral Traffic, Social Reach, Social Engagement and Mentions Sentiment as our main KPIs.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
The tool that makes my life much easier is the SEMrush Poster – it’s a tool that allows me to post relevant insights we unearth with my followers on every single social media network. All you need is 10 minutes writing a post on Poster and it does all of the heavy lifting for you – you have weeks of hard work done.
Another tool that makes my life easier is Slack, I couldn’t work without it. Slack makes communication much easier to manage which is fundamental when you work with teams across the globe. Calendly is also key for my time management when it comes to arranging meetings with several people. My to do list is always up to date thanks to my organisation pal Evernote.
How did you end up at SEMrush, and where might you go from here?
I completed my studies in World Economy and International Economic Relations at the Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Finances in Russia. When I finished my degree I had several opportunities to work in the financial world, but I decided that the marketing and sales industry was where I belonged, and may be a little more interesting. I applied to work at a major travel organisation, where I learned how to use SalesForce at a senior level with marketing SaaS tools back in 2009. After three years working in that industry I became familiar with a tool called SEOquake, which happened to be (yes, you guessed it) a SEMrush tool. I soon discovered they were hiring a marketing and sales manager with linguistic skills, so I was lucky enough to find my calling.
What have been the biggest changes in the search marketing space since you first joined SEMrush?
I would say that the majority of positive change relates to paid advertising. There are a lot of tools that enable marketers to understand the user’s behaviour, along with several new features for advertising itself.
On the contrary, when it comes to SEO there are numerous restrictions, penalties, algorithm changes, position droppings, and new Google SERP Features – all of which make the outcomes much more interesting but simultaneously make it extremely difficult for SEO to deliver the same results today as seen in the past five years.
Which companies have you encountered that have particularly strong search marketing? Any stand-out examples?
I think that Booking.com is doing really well when it comes to featured snippet optimisations, as they are getting more than 1,000 Keyword rankings for their specific featured snippet which was already utilised internationally for a major voice search study.
What would your advice be to marketers looking to pursue a career in search marketing or SEO in 2019?
The best thing to know before entering this industry is that you have to create a habit of learning on the go. If you don’t understand something, educate yourself. Take an online course, subscribe to a blog or a podcast and absorb the content – there is a lot of truth in the saying ‘knowledge is power’. The best thing about society today is that so many resources exist, and most are free and accessible. If you make a habit of seeking new knowledge and learning for 30 minutes a day then your wealth of new skills will take you much further in not just your career but life too.