Ruth is an Inbound Marketing Lead at Moz. It means she keeps Moz.com up to date with the ever-changing world of search engines. We caught up with Ruth with a couple of quick questions regarding search industry and she answers them with Great Spirit. Below is the transcript of the interview.
Sanket: Reliving the moments of your career, let us know how you reached such heights and which were the points that changed your life?
Ruth: “I started doing SEO entirely by chance. I had a marketing internship at a business intelligence company mostly doing data entry. Once they found out I could write, I started writing for their blog and their SEO started teaching me about search engine marketing. That was really a moment that changed my life forever.
At SMX Advanced a few years later, Todd Mintz gave me some great advice: If you want a better job, go to PubCon and start networking. I started being really active in the SEO community, especially in Seattle, and made a lot of great connections, many of which turned into great friendships too. Networking in your community allows you to get on people’s radar – you make them aware not only of you and who you are, but what you know and what you’re doing. When I came on at Moz I already had established relationships with a lot of the people there, so they had more confidence in hiring me because they’d seen how my work had progressed over the years.“
Sanket: Could you please define Inbound Marketing in your own words?
Ruth:“ To me inbound marketing is very similar to brand building online – it’s everything you do to make potential users aware of who you are and what you do, without buying ads. So that includes things like SEO, social media, content marketing, UX, and good technical website traffic. Inbound marketing revolves around the idea of earning traffic and engagement, rather than paying for it directly.“
Sanket: Our readers would like to know which research methodologies do you adopt and which data sources do you use while making personas.
Ruth: “Building personas is a shared project with our Product team. We’re really fortunate at Moz to have a Customer Advisory Board, where some of our customers test new features, give us feedback and tell us what they’d like to see out of the product. That helps us build customer personas and assess new customer needs. We also interview people at just about every conference we go to, to talk about what they’re doing and what their needs are. Finally, we track internal searches and common questions in our Q&A forum to see where our community needs help most.“
Sanket: What are your suggestions for those who are just starting an online community?
Ruth: “An online community takes some time to build – so make sure you’re focusing on other short-term traffic and revenue streams while you’re building it. Also, a lot of businesses make the mistake of being over-promotional with their community content. It’s important to engage with people, not just talk about yourself – it doesn’t even have to be about your business directly. It’s about building relationships with people and letting them get to know your brand’s personality and voice.“
Sanket: People are just hell-bound on labelling themselves as SEO’s, thinking that it is the easiest field to enter. What according to you are they lacking in when it comes to implementing a perfect content strategy?
Ruth: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling yourself an SEO, if what you’re doing is making a website optimal to receive search engine traffic from the right kind of user. SEO is a big part of inbound marketing, and there are plenty of people (myself included) who do just that. The problem with “easy” SEO tactics is that they tend to be unethical and while they might work short-term they do way more harm than good to websites in the long run.
When it comes to implementing a perfect content strategy you need more than just great SEO skills. A lot of SEOs can write, but SEO is a full-time job and taking on content creation in addition to everything else can really detract from your program. I’d much rather partner with a freelance or full-time writer or, even better, a content marketer who can really take a content strategy to the next level. Part of building a robust inbound marketing program is acknowledging where your strengths are and where you need to collaborate with other experts.“
Sanket: A high school senior finds more scope and is looking to enter the world of digital marketing after graduation. Ruth, what would be your advice to the student?
Ruth:“ Well, first of all I’d say if it’s at all within your means to do so, go to college. Whether it makes sense or not, a lot of marketing jobs still require a college degree – but even if they didn’t I’d still recommend that you go, because college can be a really broadening experience and I think it’s something you should try to do if you can.
A lot of online marketers don’t have degrees in marketing (I have a BA in Theater) but I think old-school marketing techniques, especially around brand-building, are becoming a lot more important in inbound marketing – you certainly couldn’t go wrong taking some marketing courses. I’d also recommend learning some programming and web development, not only so you can work on your own projects but also to help you communicate with your clients’ devs.“
Sanket: If you were to mention the top 5 link building tactics, what would they be?
• Create great content that deserves to be linked to and shared.
• Use PR strategies (or professionals) to pitch stories about your company to online news outlets and blogs.
Note: this is NOT the same as seeding press releases all over the place – those aren’t worth much link building-wise.
• Mine your competitors’ backlinks to find sites that might be likely to link to your content. Then mine their backlinks and blogrolls for more link prospects.
• Use social media to start building relationships with your link prospects. Start by just talking to them:
answer questions, engage with them, share their stuff, help them out.
• Don’t ask for a link or a share until you’ve got an established relationship with someone.
Sanket: While inbound marketing, what are those 3 crucial factors, based on your experience, which could be real game changers?
• Shifting from “link building” to “link earning,” i.e. creating great content and great relationships that, together, result in links and shares.
• Google’s use of Google+ to map real-world entities, moving from looking at web pages to trying to map those pages to people, places and businesses in the real world.
• Inbound marketing moving to the mainstream of marketing tactics and becoming part of every brand’s marketing strategy.
Sanket: As an Inbound Marketer, could you please drop the best 3 examples that reflect perfect Inbound marketing approach to a website?
Ruth: “Honestly, I don’t think there’s any such thing as perfect inbound marketing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that there’s always more to do – and tactics keep evolving. Really all you can do is keep striving toward your goals and making improvements.“
Sanket: Ruth, mention those 5 Advanced Onpage tactics, which should be included in Inbound marketing?
• Schema.org and semantic markup
• Fast page load time
• Easy-to-use social sharing
• Different content to share on different social platforms/witth different audiences
• Use of compelling images
Sanket: Major Ecommerce brands emphasize their marketing team to go aggressively for Traditional/Outbound Marketing Tactics to get high revenue. Comparatively, there are some brands which majorly follow Inbound Marketing techniques only. Hence, it seems that outbound marketing plays an important role. What’s your opinion on this?
Ruth: “I think a good blend of tactics is always important. Your needs really depend on your budget and your business model. I usually advise people to at least have a small PPC campaign running – it allows you to quickly test new keywords and design elements to inform your longer-term inbound strategy.“
Sanket: Who is Ruth Burr’s idol? From whom do you seek guidance?
Ruth: “I don’t know if “idol” is the right word, but here are some people I go to all the time: Joanna Lord is one of my best friends, and somebody I go to for advice on marketing, brand building and general life stuff; ever since Matthew Brown and Tim Resnick joined Moz they’ve been an invaluable resource for me to bounce ideas off of;and I think I could do a whole lot worse in life than to turn out like my dad “
Sanket: How does your workspace look like? Can we have a picture?
Ruth:“ I work from home now, so I have a home office set up. I have a standing desk and a great view into my backyard.“
Sanket: If you had the power to change something in Google for one day, what would that be?
Ruth:“ I don’t think one day would be anywhere near long enough!“
Thanks Ruth for being a sport and answering the questions. The internet marketing world will look forward to this interview as a valuable source.