“If I were to describe my profession, I would define it as Data-Driven Content Marketing, because today dealing with content positioning, i.e. with SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is more than ever driven by data”. This is how Matteo Borsacchi, a SEO Strategist in Engineering since 2016, with experience in the field since 2006, starts off.
“Implementing SEO strategies today means analyzing huge volumes of data, thanks to the many tools now available which were unimaginable until a few years ago, with the aim of identifying information needs to be answered. Gathering information must help us to understand what people are looking for and to respond with original, useful, interesting, engaging, entertaining content. Well-finished content, in short, and not just tags or keywords repeated dozens of times in a text as used to be done”. A job for word strategists, for text craftsmen, who use their wisdom to try to understand the desires of people, also by searching for the intent which lies behind their behavior on the Net, and to build content that can meet a need. “If I were to imagine recounting how this work has changed over the years – continues Matteo – I could say that we have gone from words to phrases, from phrases to concepts and then to people”.
What is the role of search engines in the work of a SEO Strategist?
“We could say that the search engine is our point of reference. We owe this change in the profession mainly to Google which, over the years, has tried to penalize those seeking shortcuts to position content. The algorithm evolves continuously, it is transparent, it allows those who do this work to understand which is the best way to position oneself, and then it is democratic, because with the changes in recent years it has somehow managed to put the user at the center. We must be wary of those who, acting as SEO Strategists, promise companies a high ranking on Google. Today what counts is the quality of the “customized” and necessary content for those searching: this is what we must focus on“.
Has the toolbox of those who deal with SEO also changed over time?
“Compared with the past, we have a great deal more data and new tools available, useful for analysis. If we think about the forums in the early 2000’s, we can clearly see the difference between what happened in the past and today: on the forums we had the opportunity to study the opinions and behaviors of a non-representative sample of users. Today with Google and Facebook we have data on the entire population of Net users, a real wealth for this work. When we think of search engines, at our fingertips we have data which refer not only to what we searched for, but also from where in the world, at what time of the year and anything else those same people search for. We have real data, we just need to use these to produce what people are looking for. Big Data have taken the place of the old reports falling on our desks: we have a continuous and real-time flow of information useful to adapt what we produce to what the user wants“.
Has the awareness of companies on the subject of being visible on the Net changed?
“In my experience I have to say that there is still little awareness of the work to be done to correctly position companies on the Net. The approach we have is culturally wrong: we think that SEO can deceive the search engine and find easy ways for success, while the path undertaken, aimed at improving a company’s visibility, is a lengthy one and must take into account many factors. We need fewer cunning people and more content”.
Can this job also be done with a degree in humanities?
“I’m the proof that you can combine humanities with technology. I graduated in Communication Sciences and was lucky enough to meet a professor of Social Psychology who involved me in a career where information technology was the key player. To work as a SEO Strategist you need a passion for words and the desire to understand what lies behind them, i.e. people’s interests and emotions. This work is not an art, it is not only creativity, but there is a lot of science, analysis, no improvisation”.
How do you “train” to do this job to the best of your ability?
“In common with all those connected with the IT sector, for this profession too you cannot stop studying and keeping up to date and this can be done by reading industry magazines, following people who deal with the subject on social networks or looking for groups and forums where it is possible to discuss the latest news”.
Does the SEO Strategist work alone?
“The image of IT professionals that many have is that of people working alone, while in my work I have to collaborate with practically everyone: from those who manage the network infrastructure to those who write the code, up to those who deal with communication. This is an across-the-board company position, which necessarily has to work in a team”.
3 books that you would suggest to those who want to understand more about this work?
“Undoubtedly Language Design by Yvonne Bindi, a book on the usability of language, full of intelligent ideas and eclectic and fitting examples. If you want to better understand what lies behind simple words, Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein. And then, rather than a book I would suggest a feed of industry blogs: Semrush, Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal. They themselves are often a great example of content marketing”.