Interview with Stacey MacNaught

Stacey MacNaught is speaking at Digital Elite on June 6th. I have always enjoyed her talks, she gives great tips and actionable insights. Find out how she started her career in SEO and why she set up on her own.

How did you get into SEO?

“I was freelance copywriting after university. I’ve always loved writing and this was ultimately a way for me to do something I enjoyed and earn a living in the process. More and more I was being asked about SEO by clients so I started to self teach. I quickly realised there was a lot to learn and thought I’d benefit from learning by doing in an agency environment. I applied for a role at Tecmark in Manchester and joined as a trainee in 2009. In all honesty, I think I probably expected to do a year or two and then go freelance as a copywriter again. But I loved the job, the environment and SEO and was there for 9 years in the end. I was given loads of opportunity to learn and develop and progressed through a number of promotions, ultimately ending up on the board.

What is the best link acquisition technique you can share?

I’m a really big fan of creating statistics based pieces of content (not always big research pieces – sometimes simple blog posts) and ranking them for stats queries. Ultimately, if something ranks for a stats query, it will be found by people who are looking for a source. So it drives links passively. It’s not just stats queries that do this, of course, but I’ve certainly found those the most effective. Essentially, creating assets, large or small, and ranking them for research queries where the conversion goal is to get the user to link to you.

You spoke at Moz and Brighton SEO, some very well know conferences, how did you get into speaking?

I was attending a few events and finding real value in the conference scene, not just from the speakers but also from talking to people and networking in general. My first “proper” speaking gig was SMX London in 2013. From there I got talking to Kelvin Newman, who invited me to speak at BrightonSEO. And that in turn led to Mozcon, SearchLove and other events. It’s such a privilege to be asked to share your experience at a marketing event like that. And honestly, I get so so much value to this day from talking to people over a drink at a pre or post party or sharing challenges over coffee. Conferences are a really valuable learning channel for me.

You were at Tecmark for nearly 9 years and you went from SEO Executive to Search Director. What was the main factor that drove you to set up your own consultancy?

There were a couple of things really. The primary thing was that I’d recently had my second child. Commuting into a city centre just wasn’t that appealing. Long days (made longer by a commute) were eating into my time with my young sons. So I knew I needed to make a change to accommodate the balance I wanted between work and family time.
The second thing was that I wanted to be more hands on again. I was given so many opportunities at Tecmark to learn and develop and progressed through a number of management roles. But, truth be told, I’m not a natural people manager. I like mentoring and supporting. But NOT “managing” in the HR sense. The more I progressed, the less hands on I was with the day to day delivery of campaigns at Tecmark (naturally, of course). And more time was really about managing the team then. It’s not something I naturally do well and I missed being hands on. I genuinely missed crafting page titles myself and writing meta descriptions. I missed having hours and hours of getting lost in Search Console data.
But in a scaling agency, it’s not always practical for more senior members of the team to do that sort of work. So I decided to go for my own small consultancy. There are 5 of us now and I don’t want to ever be any bigger than 8 in the team. I’m very hands on with the clients and will continue to be. I’m really enjoying the work.”
You can see Stacey in person on June 6th. If you have not bought your ticket yet, don’t have FOMO and get yours before they sell out.

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