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Robert Allen | Smart Insights | Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:00:00 +0000

Our interview with Rob Hammond, Head of SEO for publisher Trinity Mirror group

We asked the head of SEO for Trinty Mirror Group (the publisher behind major UK daily newspapers, such as The Mirror) about key SEO trends and how he see SEO changing in future.

What do you regard as the most significant SEO trends (and updates) that have impacted your current SEO strategy?

As a publisher, the growth of mobile is by far the most significant trend in search today. It has disrupted both the way that people search and the way that we produce content.

Google talks about the importance of “micro moments” on mobile – reaching people precisely at the short moment they have an information need. I think it’s a really helpful way to think of how search has evolved, and will continue to evolve as we grow accustomed to the always-on internet that smartphones have given us. We actively try to produce content that will fit these moments, and have seen huge benefits in search traffic from doing so.Rob Hammond

In the context of the recent and continuing Panda and Penguin updates what are your recommendations for how link building should be managed by clients in 2016/2017?

Speaking from a publisher’s perspective we don’t engage in active link building, but we do receive a lot of requests for links. Sometimes we will oblige as long as it makes sense for our readers and is relevant to a recent news story, however as with many other major publishers our CMS will automatically nofollow these links.

Focusing on building high quality links that are useful to users and good for your brand, regardless of the PageRank value or anchor text seems to me like the right way to conduct link building in 2016/2017.

How to you see the management of SEO evolving in 2017 and beyond?

SEO is still a slightly odd fit in most companies due to the mix of technology and content. Although some have said that SEO will become largely technology-focused in the coming years, I don’t see that happening. Effective management of SEO will always need to work across several different departments.

For digital students learning SEO for the first time what are the most important SEO foundation skills that employers really value and that students should master ?

One of the most important things for me when recruiting someone new to the industry is some indication of self-motivation – for example, build a website, write a blog, build your personal profile on social media, show that you’re interested in the industry. So much of SEO is self-taught, and learned through seeing the cause and effect of actually doing something, so being able to show the capacity for that is hugely important.

In terms of more tangible foundation skills, I’d say a good grasp of HTML and JavaScript will always help navigate the terminology that gets thrown around. Learning the basics of a server-side programming language such as Python can also help both in terms of understanding and speeding up day-to-day tasks.