This is the third in our “This is how we SEO” series. We interviewed the awesome folks from Groww and HubSpot earlier. In this episode, we chatted with Emory Rowland of Leverable, an SEO agency from Atlanta that does a lot of amazing stuff.

Emory is a well known figure in the SEO world and have been doing SEO from his early thirties. He helps brands scale with SEO and loves working with companies in the competitive space.

How do you define SEO?

Engineering a website for better visibility in organic search.

Which marketing channels do you use and prioritise?

SEO

What is your biggest challenge in SEO and how did you overcome it?

Leverable works with a variety of clients from tractor dealerships to Internet service providers. One of the most difficult tasks is consistently producing content that performs well against competitors in organic search. We’ve found that having an expert with hands-on experience in each client’s niche create the content makes a huge difference.

We’ve overcome the temptation to hire general writers who write faster and cheaper but may lack the ability to convince the audience in the details. The last thing you want to be doing for a tractor dealership in the Southeastern U.S is guessing how much horsepower your tractor needs to complete a certain task. We’ve found expert writers to be well worth the investment.

What’s your idea of an SEO team – How should it be structured?

I really like the Steve Jobs approach:

“A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

What do you think of Google turning out to be this one stop place to find everything? Is it good or bad for website owners?

So, users can get answers quicker when Google copies data from websites and displays it in their SERPs. I’m concerned about the long-term impact of this. Are website owners going to continue to produce content knowing it will be coopted in this way?

Where do you think SEO is headed beyond 2020?

SEO gets more enigmatic for sure. When I close my eyes and imagine the SERPs of the future, I expect:

• More Google, less objectivity.

• More facts, less opinion.

• More corporations, less single owner blogs.

Links will matter less, user responses more.

Google will become more political.

What are the biggest skills for an SEO in your opinion?

There is no substitute for hands-on experience. If an SEO has not actually built a site themselves and made it perform, then it will come to light when they consult and advise clients. Empirical knowledge gives you assurance that you’re recommending the right course of action when you’re under pressure to take shortcuts.

How do you stay updated with trends in the industry?

Discussions with friends in the industry, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable and SEO Podcasts.

What’s something that you see a lot of people do and follow in SEO but doesn’t really work

Developing average content and expecting it to perform well.

What’s your advice to young SEOs who are exposed to a lot of information from the industry?

What I was saying earlier about having hands-on experience applies here. I see new SEOs advising large corporations on strategy and how to structure their sites. They go to conferences, read the latest industry news, follow the right subreddits, etc. If you’re relying on information that you haven’t put into practice, you can get it wrong and end up costing the client.

I also see an over reliance on SEO tools versus being able to analyze what the client’s problem is and communicate the solution. Always question the source and motivations behind SEO tools.

What do you think SEOs should do during and after a Google update? Especially when things look bad.

I guess it depends on what kind of update. If you think you’re impacted, find out what the update actually was trying to do and work backward from there. Do everything you can do and wait. But don’t wait forever. Sometimes, even the whitest hat high quality site has to be redomained.

On a scale of 1 -10, How important are page load times in your opinion?

2

What skills do you look for in SEOs when you’re hiring them?

Enthusiasm. A driving curiosity to learn.

What are some creative ways to build links in your opinion?

Google is making link building so expensive that I’m about ready to just start buying sites.

What are your productivity tips?

I’ve benefitted from following Barry Schwartz over the years. His search industry reporting and aggregating of research and news has proven invaluable to me.

A quote that you live by

“All things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23

How does your typical day at work look like?

I start off with prayer and Christian video or scripture, then move on the exercise. Next, I’m watching the business channels to see which way markets are going. I usually set up some trades after the market opens. Then I dive into the day’s business priorities which take most of the day and go sometimes into nighttime.

What’s your favourite productivity hack?

I’ve found that just making a simple list can do wonders :).

When you work with clients on SEO projects, what’s the one thing that annoys you, if at all?

Micromanagement, blowing up scope, altering terms of agreement, breaking agreements. I rarely have this problem because we’re selective about the clients we take on.

Thanks for the opportunity to interview you Emory. It was great learning about your thought processes and Leverable.

All the best!

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