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How a Frontend Developer Became an Internationally Renowned SEO Specialist

Host Jon Penland, 

Aleyda Solis is an international SEO consultant and founder of Orainti — a highly specialized, boutique SEO consultancy. In addition to her work as a blogger, speaker, author, and SEO educator, she’s also been awarded several accolades within the industry. She was named as the European Search Personality of the Year in 2018, included in Forbes as one of the 10 digital marketing specialists to follow in 2015, and listed by Entrepreneur as one of the 50 online marketing influencers to follow in 2016.

Duration

45 minutes

Guest

Host

Episode Summary

Aleyda started her career as a frontend developer. After being continuously asked by clients how to get more traffic to their site, she stumbled into the world of SEO and the rest is history. These days, you’ll find Aleyda running her highly specialized SEO agency Orainti, giving out free tips in one of many SEO resources she maintains, presenting in Spanish and English at industry events, and more. 

In this episode of Kinsta’s Reverse Engineered podcast, host Jon Penland asks Aleyda about her journey into SEO, the skills needed to run a successful agency, and common SEO misconceptions businesses owners should avoid.

Fun fact: Aleyda’s newsletter #SEOFOMO was mentioned as a top resource in episode 4 with SEOs Suganthan Mohanadasan and Andy Chadwick.

Key Insights:

  • Do what you love. If you enjoy your job, you will probably niche down and become a specialist in the field you are interested in. In her career, Aleyda has grown in a way that fits her preferences and life choices, so she enjoys her job. “All of us who have started consulting, at some point, we reached the level of demand and realization of how we can scale — the different ways to scale or, at least, to grow. And in my case, it was focused on the more sophisticated, high-level type of clients and, of course, charging lower too. Then, there are things that I can delegate and work with people who support my day-to-day, who do a little bit of the legwork, who are gathering analysis, etc. The unique selling proposition is that my clients know that I will answer messages. It is me who they will be meeting and talking with on a day-to-day basis, and it’s because I enjoy it.”
  • To run a successful website, besides good SEO, you also need excellent communication and coordination skills. SEO people need the alignment and support of many different areas. According to Aleyda, they need flexibility with resources, so in addition to having perfect SEO, you also need to have excellent communication and coordination skills to run a website. “You need to understand the product to identify the opportunities to blend initiatives that the product already has — to make it easier to develop the initiative that you know will also have a greater impact. A website will almost never be completely optimized. So you really need to go beyond our typical checklist of nice to have, and you really need to identify and assess what are those top things that will move the needle in your particular context.”
  • If you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is. When Aleyda started her SEO career, it was a challenge to get information at all. She warns that although there wasn’t a wealth of knowledge then, there is a lot of information and misinformation today. In this regard, Aleyda has some advice. “I put together a website that is called learningseo.io, which is pretty much a website that creates a roadmap for someone who wants to learn SEO. […] Look at the website. I think it can open your eyes and allow you to dig a little bit more. Then I will also recommend you to subscribe to #SEOFOMO, which is my newsletter. It’s free. I send it every week, and I highlight the best resources, not only news and happenings, but also resources and guides published across the SEO community. I also highlight free SEO tools and SEO folks to follow on Twitter, which is going to be my next recommendation — there is an amazing SEO Twitter community.”

Today’s Guest: Aleyda Solis, SEO Consultant and Founder at Orainti

Aleyda’s a huge proponent of sharing resources with the SEO community. On her site learningseo.io, you’ll find free comprehensive guides designed to further your SEO education, all written by trusted SEO colleagues. Or if you’d prefer tips straight to your inbox, subscribe to Aleyda’s weekly #SEOFOMO email.

Episode Highlights

A Big Advocate of Remote Work

“I was lucky enough that one of those in-house roles that I had was coincidentally a remote role. It was like my second or third in-house role. I was living in Madrid at the time, and I was part of a completely distributed team spread across Europe. My boss was in Germany, I had another colleague in Estonia, and another was Italian. So we’re all spread out, and that first experience as an employee blew my mind; I was so used to taking the subway every single day to go to the office in Madrid city center. The quality of my day-to-day and my life changed completely. I felt guilty at the beginning because, ‘Oh my God, this doesn’t feel like working.’ But, at the end of the day, I realized that I was making things happen. I was being productive; I was a value to the company. Indeed that experience changed my mind and made me realize that if I ever want any other role or if I ever want to become independent, my company has to be remote.”

How Aleyda’s SEO Consultancy Fits into Her Career in SEO

“It gives me the flexibility to work with those companies where there’s a good match. Most of the companies that I work with are already well-established. Many times, they have their in-house SEO teams, and they need support for specific challenges. […] Then I have the type of clients who are a little bit the other way around. These high-growth startups have been funded, et cetera, and they want to finally establish properties for their program. Maybe they have a single digital marketer, and now they have all of these resources, and they need to grow 10X all of a sudden. In these types of scenarios, I worked directly, sometimes even with the founders or co-founders and the marketing managers, to establish the framework, the base, and the roadmap from scratch.”

The SEO Industry Relative to Google Analytics

Google Analytics relies on measures they took years ago — connecting that, supposedly, to privacy at some point. They were not provided in 2011/2012. At that point, in SEO, we leveraged many Google analytics to understand the queries, the keywords that brought traffic and worried about landing pages, and then all the metrics connected to traffic, conversions, revenue, et cetera. Since then, I feel that we were the first to be damaged by limiting the information we could obtain from Google Analytics to facilitate or analyze because of privacy. I think that we have moved a long way; we obtain most of the query keywords from Google Search Console. And then, we have been able to work around and establish a few tactics and steps to match them with the organic search traffic that we obtain from Google Analytics. All the conversion-related metrics [help us] make well-informed decisions about what is paying off and what is not. Even though we cannot expect 100% accuracy, we have consistency. […] On the other hand, as any of the roles or as any of the digital marketers, we do need to track conversions. We need to identify the user journey within the websites to understand the preferences. It is always nice to obtain the keywords followed by internal search features to understand what is not provided already by default.”

What are Some of the Misconceptions about SEO?

“I highly dislike the thought that SEO is like a burden or extra thing that you need to do because of a demand or requirement. No, you’re doing it because, whether you are a developer or a content person, one of your goals is connected with the fact that the product you’re working with will be used by actual customers. They will pay or consume what you build or create in different ways.”

Transcript

[00:00:04] Jon Penland: Hi everyone, my name is Jon Penland and Reverse Engineered is brought to you by Kinsta, a premium managed hosting provider. In today’s episode, I’m speaking with Aleyda Solis, SEO Consultant and Founder. Aleyda, welcome to Reverse Engineered.

[00:00:18] Aleyda Solis: Hello, hello, thank you very much for having me. I’m very happy to be here today. 

[00:00:24] Jon Penland: All right. Well, to get us started, Aleyda, can you introduce yourself to our listeners?

[00:00:26] Aleyda Solis: Indeed. I am an SEO consultant and founder, I have a boutique SEO consultancy called Orainti and I have been doing SEO since 2007. I worked before at agencies and then also in-house and then it was in 2014 or so that I set my own SEO consultancy in order to provide highly personalized SEO advice and support in general to well-founded startups or established brands. 

[00:00:55] Jon Penland: Yeah, I do want to get into that transition, but before we get there, can you take us back to the beginning? How did you get started in SEO?

[00:01:02] Aleyda Solis: Yeah. I started doing SEO a little bit by chance, right? I was a web designer, front-end web developer, and my clients at that point, they – deep question, right? “How do I get more visits to my website?” And so I started to research a little bit more about online marketing, e-commerce in general. At some point I also even enrolled myself into e-commerce master, thinking that I was going to learn about doing online marketing and then I realized it was more of a, the development side of things, but eventually, and this was like a serendipity type of situation, right? At that same time, I ended up applying to become the website type of manager of many websites that were owned by an aligned marketing agency at that point, and of those possibilities was to do SEO for those sites and, of course, it was an online marketing agency and they did have a few SEO, so I ended up learning from them how to do SEO.

[00:02:02] And, I really like it because I thought that it was, like, the perfect match of someone with my profile who knew how to make websites, but also enjoyed the marketing side of things and how to tweak things in an organic way, let’s say, in a natural way, in order to grow the organic search traffic and conversions and revenue ultimately, of course. 

[00:02:29] Jon Penland: Yeah. So, you were working for an agency and you found that SEO was the piece of that internet marketing responsibility that you had, that you most enjoyed. At what point did you decide to transition and really specialize and strike out on your own?

[00:02:46] Aleyda Solis: Yes. So, it was at one point that one of the SEOs from the SEO department was leaving and my boss at the time, he saw that I was really keen on doing SEO and the SEO side of things of my day-to-day so he offered me the position to focus completely on SEO. Right? And handling clients rather than our own websites, indeed. 

[00:03:10] Jon Penland: Yeah. So when did you make the decision then, to transition away from that agency and do SEO just yourself, your own consultancy? 

[00:03:20] Aleyda Solis: Yeah. Well, I had quite a few roles after that, right? I spent four and a half years working at that agency and then I worked in-house at three different roles. And then it was like, after a few roles that I realized that yes, that I wanted to be able to be more in control of the type of projects that I worked on, then also at that point I had already started to contribute to blog, to speak at events, at conferences, so there were more companies reaching out to me in order to hire me, so the mix, balance of things, right? Like, there was this demand and then I felt already ready, let’s say, to and keen to look in order to be able to provide the service myself. So, at that point, I realized that yes, I wanted to become independent and to establish my own consultancy.

[00:04:18] Jon Penland: Yeah, I know one of the things that you’ve talked about a lot online is you’re a big proponent for remote work, you know, this goes back a number of years as well and you have a project Remoters where you specialize in that area, helping folks move in that direction in their lives. Was that, at all, a motivating factor for you in striking out on your own, the desire to be completely remote?

[00:04:43] Aleyda Solis: Well, I have to say something, right? Like, I was lucky enough that one of those in-house roles that I had, was coincidentally a remote role, right? It was, like, my second in-house role or so, or third in-house role, right? I was living in Madrid at the time and it was part of a completely distributed team that was spread out across Europe and my boss was in Germany, I had another colleague in Estonia, another one was Italian, so we’re all spread out and that first experience as an employee blew my mind, right? You know, I was so used to take the subway every single day to go to the office in Madrid city center, right?

[00:05:24] So, the quality of my day-to-day and my life changed completely, and it felt so… I felt so guilty at the beginning because, “Oh my God, this doesn’t feel really like working,” but at the end of the day I realized that I was making things happen, I was being productive, I was being a value to the company, et cetera. So, yes, indeed that experience changed, let’s say, my mind and made me realize that if I ever wanted any other role, or if I ever wanted to become independent, my company had to be remote, right? So, that’s for sure. And then, of course, realistically, this is a thing, right? Unlike many other people here in Spain, I am a native Spanish speaker, right?

[00:06:11] Like, and at some point when I started also blogging and speaking and it’s natural, right? I did it in Spanish, but eventually, I realized that if I did it in English my reach was much bigger and then at some point, I started also speaking in English, et cetera. So, many more international companies started to reach out to me so this is, I think when I started to think to become independent I realized is like, realistically, if I want to establish myself as a remote-based SEO consultant that is completely possiboe because most of my clients anyway will be abroad. And until today it’s true, I’m still based in Spain, but yeah, 90% of my clients are from all over, right? From the US, from across Europe, UK, et cetera, right? 

[00:06:56] Jon Penland: Right. Well, I had to mention the remote piece because it’s actually something internally that came up, Sam Gooch, our own SEO specialist, heard about Kinsta from a tweet you had sent out because Kinsta is completely distributed as well. So, but it’s interesting, it’s interesting to hear, it sounds like there was really, in your mind, anyway, kind of a good alignment between this concept of being remote with the fact that you recognized, “Most of my clients are going to be not where I am anyways, so why would I try to force into a prior model of having an office and, and worrying about those things if I’m not going to be physically present with my clients anyway?” 

[00:07:37] Aleyda Solis: Yeah, indeed. And it was funny because it was very natural, right? Like, when that happened and I established myself as an independent remote-based SEO consultant, then many other SEO colleagues started to ask me, “Oh, how do you do it? But realistically, you work from home?” It was like, or they saw me that I started traveling much more, right? And I use SEO events pretty much to network and socialize because otherwise, I will be at home. I started going at the beginning to co-workings, but realistically, I’m the type of person that needs to be isolated, especially when I am doing an outdate or an analysis. When I wanted to socialize, yes, I went to the coworking, but once per week, something like that, right? So, this is what really pretty much incentivize Alisa and then Christian, this work to all the SEO colleagues to found Remoters.net, which is my remote, free remote job board. We have a tool section, how-to guides, yeah, so there’s a lot of resources that are completely for free, in order to empower people and companies to work remotely in there.

[00:08:38] Then it was because of that because I started, these other two colleagues started too at the same time or less, coincidentally, nothing connected to me and then we realized that we were all being asked around about, “Oh, but how do you do it?” Right? And I am quite happy to see how it has taken so far since then, right? Because at the beginning it was SEO, web development and copywriting, VAs, things like that, but amazing, now in Remoters we have hundreds of new jobs being posted every month and literally about business development, sales, human resources, anything is being hired remotely. 

[00:09:20] Jon Penland: Yeah. Yeah, that’s absolutely true. It’s been interesting to see, you know, and there are a lot of companies that have been remote for a long time, you know, Kinsta’s basically been remote from its founding, most of the team has been remote. but I do feel like, you know, if you looked back five years ago, a lot of those core business functions were in an office, and then the technical staff might be distributed just because they were having a hard time finding enough technical staff, enough developers or things that are easy to work with freelancers on, copywriting, VAs, that sort of thing. So, you know, I think there was a huge shift over the last two or three years to just make everything remote, right? Like, we got to close the offices anyways, so all functions are now remote and I think it opened a lot of eyes.

[00:09:58] Aleyda Solis: Try to leverage that opportunity at the end of the day, right? 

[00:10:02] Jon Penland: Yeah. All right. I want to shift the conversation just to hear professionally and talk about your agency, uh, your consultancy, Orainti. What is Orainti? How does that fit into your career in SEO?

[00:10:14] Aleyda Solis: It’s fantastic because it gives me the flexibility to work with those companies where there’s actually a good match, right? Most of the companies that I work with are companies that are already well-established, they have their own in-house SEO teams, many times, and what they need is support for specific challenges. So, for example, they are launching a rebranding, they are or they have certain challenges or they are struggling in certain sectors or countries and, and there are sometimes so embedded in their day-to-day and the typical operations of their in-houses, your program that they need to reach out external SEO help.

[00:10:56] And, of course, there’s a thing, I think that now in the SEO industry we have reached this maturity that we realized that if you end up hiring the typical digital marketing agency at the end of the day, unfortunately, you will going to be supported on a day-to-day basis by an account manager that is not more knowledgeable than you are as in-house SEO, right? So, more and more, bigger comp, company, established companies that have in-house SEOs go or reach out to independent SEO consultants or boutique SEO consultancies that they know they are specialized in certain type of projects, right? So, for example, you might get. I’m not focused on link building, for example, but I do the strategic call, international rebrandings, migrations analysis, or rankings drops analysis or, so this type of well-established type of projects that they know that I will be a very good help on, established roadmap, for example, doing trainings, these are the type of projects. So, it’s interesting because we now, I say that we are the stage in the industry that we know more or less the different type of profiles and, yeah, the different type of profiles and characteristics that you should look for to get in that personalized help.

[00:12:18] I ended up, yeah, supporting most of my clients. Then I have other type of clients that is like a little bit the other way around. These are high-growth startups that have been funded, et cetera and they want to establish, finally, a proper SEO program, right? That maybe they have a single digital marketer and now all of the sudden they have all of these resources and they need to grow 10 X all of a sudden. So, in these type of scenarios I work directly sometimes even with the founders and co-founders and the marketing managers to establish literally, like, the framework, the base, the roadmap from scratch, and I do have a good foundation in order to scale as they need.

[00:12:59] Jon Penland: Yeah. I was reading about Oraiti in an interview that you had done a couple of years ago and one of the things you said in that interview is that you really enjoy doing the work and you were speaking of doing hands-on SEO work yourself and “That’s the reason why I decided to be a focused and highly experienced SEO consultancy rather than a full-service marketing agency.” So I think what I’m hearing based on that quote and on your answer is that you’re not really interested in running an agency, you’re bringing a very high degree of expertise that you yourself are bringing to the table. Is that accurate?

[00:13:30] Aleyda Solis: Indeed, indeed. So, this is a thing I realized at some point and I think that all of you who have started consulting, right? At some point we reached this level of demand, right? And, and we realize, how do I scale and that different ways to scale, to grow, at least, and in my case it was, well, focusing on more sophisticated, high-level type of clients and, of course, charging more too. Then, of course, there are things that I can delegate and I can work with people who support my day-to-day, who do a little bit of the legwork, who segment, who data gatherings, analysis, et cetera, et cetera. But yes, my clients, the unique selling proposition is that they know that is me who will answer the messages, it is me who they will be meeting and talking with at a day-to-day basis, and it’s because I enjoy it. I realize, and this is important, we are all different, right? And we all have our own, let’s say, what, preferences and weaknesses and in some cases you realize is that, “Oh, managing or coordinating people, high number of people or, you know, like running a P&L is not something that I necessarily enjoy,” right? To focus on and I realized that many people who had gone through this journey at some point what they did was to start hiring money or the people, but when they reach, I dunno, a number of 10 people, “Oh,” they realize, “I need to be the manager now and coordinate, rather than doing what I actually love to do.” 

[00:15:00] And then they say, “Okay, don’t worry because I can do this for a few years and then I will hire an operations director and whatever and then I can focus myself on evangelizing and being the face of the company,” whatever. You know what? Life’s too short, I’m not interested in going through that journey or to make a little bit of more than I do potentially, I am, I do already very well so I’m, I’m happy to say like this and then also this gives me the flexibility for these other projects, like Remoters, where there’s a real mission behind that too, so yes.

[00:15:33] Jon Penland: Yeah, no, I think that’s a very wise decision on your part. I’ve talked to, as you were speaking, I was being reminded of a designer that I talked to during season one, Giorgia Lupi, who, she’s extremely well-qualified designer, actually, an illustrator primarily, but she does a lot of data-driven illustrations and she’s made a similar choice where she’s like, “You know, I really specialize in this, this is what I love to do. I have the specialized body of knowledge” and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in recognizing I actually enjoy being really good at my job. Right? Like, “I don’t want to manage 20 people, I don’t want to create a big company, I genuinely really enjoy the work so I’m going to niche down and really become the specialist in this area.”

[00:16:15] So yeah, there’s no right answer, I don’t think, there’s no single right answer to how do you grow your business, I think you have to, you have to grow with the way that fits your preferences, your lifestyle choices, what you enjoy doing so I think that’s awesome. So, I want to shift away from your personal story a little bit and, and move into the SEO field just for a few minutes here. One of the things that immediately came to mind when I saw we were going to be chatting, there’s been a lot happening in the European Union over the last, especially over the last couple of years, but really just here in the last couple of months, relative to GDPR particularly, relative to Google Analytics. Where do you see the SEO industry moving as their additional rulings come out relative to Google Analytics and other analytics tools in the European Union?

[00:17:00] Aleyda Solis: So, I have to say something, right? Like, we suffer from a Google Analytics related, let’s say, measures that they took years ago, connected supposedly to privacy at some point. I don’t know if you recall this, they’re not provided, it was, I don’t know, 2011, 2012, something like that, like, where were you like 10 years ago or so already and at that point in SEO we leveraged a lot of Google Analytics in order to understand which were the queries, the keywords that brought traffic and worried landed the pages, and then all the metrics connected to traffic conversions, revenue, et cetera, right? So, since then, at that one point, I feel that we were the first in damage, right? Uh, let’s say, but by limiting information that we could obtain from Google Analytics in order to facilitate our analysis because of “privacy”. Okay, perfect, I think that we have moved a long way, we obtain most of the query keywords data from the Google Search Console, third-party tools, Semrush, Ahrefs, SISTRIX, and many others, and then we have been able, let’s say, to work here around and to establish a few, let’s say, tactics and steps to match them with organic search traffic that we do obtain from Google analytics and all the conversion-related metrics in order to well, do a, let’s say, at least, like good enough well-informed decisions about what is paying off and what is not. Even despite, we cannot expect 100% accuracy, at least we have consistency and that is what is also, like, the mix of those is what is important to do well-informed decision. So, I think that we are not necessarilyvery, very, very high relying on Google analytics from that side, then on the other hand, with any other role or as any other digital marketer, right? We do need to track conversions, we do need to identify what is the user journey within the websites to understand what are the preferences. It is nice always to obtain the keywords are being tracked by internal search features, right? To under, in order to understand what is not provided already by default, within the navigation or as a facet, the rest of the, part of the taxonomy, right? That we may want to enable an index and leverage to obtain more organic search traffic and things like that, right? But I think that from that regard we are as, let’s say, negatively affected as any other digital marketer.

[00:19:40] I have always tried to advise is these, that I’ve worked with a variety of type of clients, many of the clients that I work, they are very well-established brands, many of them don’t even rely on Google Analytics because of privacy things, they use Adobe Analytics, they use all the solutions, right? And many of them have also a couple of systems, so avoid relying completely on a single one and also, also check consistency, and then for the newer, smaller startups that I advise too, what I recommend them is to have at least a couple of a platforms, right? In fact, the other day when they were announcing that The French…

[00:20:22] Jon Penland: The French DPA. 

[00:20:02] Aleyda Solis: Yeah, in part of this, this deed they, well, confirm that, “Yes, Google Analytics, et cetera, et cetera, was not complying with privacy standards.” I share an article that you had written, that Kinsta had written about alternatives, right? And it is a good part, they are other alternatives that rely on cookies that will hopefully provide good options to avoid having to completely be, let’s say, I don’t know, having all the eggs in a single bag of Google Analytics. Um, of our tracking. And what I recommend as much as possible is that also, if you can, to try to export your data, to grab your data and export your data to the Google that is studio, also to do a little bit of repository of former insights, whether it be query or even Google Sheets, even if you don’t have that much data can even a workaround, right? But yes, avoid having all your eggs in a single bag that we don’t know for sure if it is going to be there necessarily, right?

[00:21:22] Jon Penland: Well, and I feel like the, the takeaway there for folks, whether they’re running a website or whether they’re an SEO, it is that, you know, you can’t, you can no longer keep all of your eggs in that Google Analytics basket. You need to go ahead and be thinking about alternative analytics programs, where you have greater control over privacy, particularly if you have greater control over where the data is stored and, if you’re an SEO, you need to go ahead and start learning to use some of these alternative tools and, and understanding how to correlate The analytics back with what you’re doing as an SEO. So, that’s awesome.

[00:21:59] Okay. So, I, um, sticking in the, in the SEO topic for a little while here longer and thinking about maybe somebody who’s new to the SEO space or somebody who runs a website, what are some of the SEO misconceptions you might point out as, as things that folks should be aware of?

[00:22:14] Aleyda Solis: Well misconceptions, I really dislike this, um, thinking that many people still today have that, “Oh, I am going to SEO optimize my content,” right? Like, you don’t optimize or you don’t do anything for SEO, you do it for your users, right? And because you want to be found through search by potential users and customers, right? So, I highly, highly disliked that the thought of SEO is like a burden or an extra thing that you need to do because of the demand of the requirement, or no, you’re doing it because you literally, whether you are a developer or a UX person or a content person, very likely one of your goals is connected with the fact that the product that you’re working with will be used by actual customers that they will pay or consume what you built or create in different ways and we help make that happen, right? We help that match. Also, I dislike the comparison of SEO and PPC right? Because realistically PPC and pay search, in general, it’s a cost, right? Like, you’re paying for clicks to third-party platforms. In this case, you are investing in your own website and content quality to follow certain types of standards that are liked by certain changing to make it easily findable, right? And many of these best practices and guidelines are very well aligned to also user experience best practices.

[00:23:51] best practices. We ensure that the content is descriptive, that the content is high quality, is comprehensive, that it connect with the way that the people actually search and fulfill the searching 10. And so there is a series of a best practices that are, like, now so not what used to in the year 2000. SEO back then, the opportunity was very basic, was very fundamental, oh, I dunno, was panning keywords within the content in order to run better for this keyword. No, Google has, at this point, the capacity to understand semantically the meaning of the content, has had a lot of work also leveraging machine learning too.

[00:24:35] So, there are a lot of, let’s say, sophistication in, within their algorithm that literally, I believe that our role is very, let’s say, like, it’s just a layer that is blended, that is aligned across different disciplines and pretty much is to add this non-functional attribute to whatever you do to your web product, to your web content, which is to make it findable, to make it easily reachable and to ensure that it gets the customers that it deserves.

[00:25:09] Right? And here the problem is that – the struggle in SEO is that, of course, for that, we need the alignment of support of many different areas, web development, content, we need flexibility, we need resources, these are areas will never depend on us, but we have to work with them so excellent, besides, of course, having really good SEO know-how, you also need to have really good communication and coordination skills, you really need to understand the product in order to identify the opportunities, how to blend initiatives that the product already has in order to make it easier for you to develop your own initiative that you know that will have, like, also the higher impact. A website will almost never be completely optimized so you really need to go beyond our typical checklist of nice-to-have and you really need to identify and assess what are those top things that will actually move the needle in your particular context and can be completely different than, from any of, from another project, even in the same sector, right?

[00:26:22] But if you’re relying on a different tech stack and the resources are different too and the flexibilities within the company and the framework that you’re using is different, that it will be completely different too, so yeah. So, these type of apps, that is also all of the struggles with SEO, is like, “Oh, SEO, it’s difficult to understand.” Because whenever they ask you like, “How many links do we need?” or, “How much content do you need?” The answer will be always, “It depends.” It depends on your own analysis and your own context and for that you can not have a simple answer after having taken a look at a website for five minutes, right? You need proper in-depth analysis and outdated and prioritized recommendations. 

[00:27:03] Jon Penland: Yeah. I love that high-level view that you just provided where you think of SEO not as a separate thing that you layer on top of everything else that’s going on on your website or with your business, but really as something that has to blend in with what is the product? Who are the users? How are those users trying to find you? And there is, there is a technical element where the SEO brings that expertise to the table, how do the search engines work? How are they going to look at the markup? There is that technical element, but that technical element only is going to be as effective as possible if it’s blended with these other parts of the marketing stack and the business at large.

[00:27:47] Aleyda Solis: 100%. In fact, I have to say something, right? I was actually sharing a few days ago, SEO, I call it “The SEO success needs pyramid” because it was something that I always love to create charts so my clients can easily visualize what I am explaining and that can be perceived as otherwise complex, right? And this was pretty much a pyramid showing how the base is to fix. We always start in SEO trying to optimize as much as possible the base of everything to, to make the content accessible by search engines in the first place, right? Because if search engine cannot access the content as many users cannot also, at the same time, I’m afraid, well, they won’t be able to run the content in any case, right? So, I’ll do this base of fixing and then optimizing what you already have to aligning it already to existing initiatives and based on the goals of, of the business or marketing of, of company, right? But then also there’s this layer of building, right?

[00:28:51] And unfortunately, many companies are stuck in the fixed and optimized stage rather than moving to the build stage and the build stage is what are based on the research and the benchmarks that we do from organic search behavior versus your competitor and in your industry, we identify new opportunities that you haven’t yet targeted at all and can help you to inform your content team, your product team of a new functionality, of a new content section, of a new continuous initiative or something that you can actually create and build from scratch that your competitors still not have, or maybe one of them have it and it’s the weakest one in the industry so they are not really maximizing the opportunities of it, right? So, and here’s where you actually see the major progress, right? Unfortunately, many, a lot of companies still, I’m afraid, they are still stuck at the, “Oh, SEO is to fix what is broken,” and at this layer of, “Oh, is crawlable is indexable is rankable,” but they don’t have a natural strategy behind and because this is what it’s built, usually in this higher level, this next steps in the process when you are building, right? So, you need to try to blend these different stages and different modes in order to not get stuck as much as possible. But yeah, sadly sometimes the way that companies see SEO is like, “Oh, everything that I launch is SEO optimized,” right?

[00:30:19] Okay, they make sure that is indexable, they make sure that they add the right keywords in the metadata and then also within the content, whatever. But yes, and why didn’t, you did want it to prioritize this content in the first place is going to allow you to run for something that you’re not rank, yet ranking at all and you know that these type of queries connect with the commercial type of goals that you have with this type of products to grow your conversions. So, this type of thing, more, a more strategical approach. 

[00:30:50] Jon Penland: Yeah. So, recognizing the kind of that strategic role that SEO plays as a part of the larger marketing strategy or just the larger business strategy, is there ever a time where due to those other competing factors where you would tell a business, “Now’s not the right time to focus on SEO, there’s some other part of your business that you really should be investing your time and energy in.” When might that be the case?

[00:31:17] Aleyda Solis: So, for example, like, I have had businesses come to me and I said very clearly, “Sorry, SEO is not for you yet,” in case they don’t have at all content or technical resources or flexibility. If you don’t have the capacity to optimize your web structure at all and then also to create content or optimize the content that you have, if you cannot wait a few months to see results but you need the results in weeks, sorry, SEO is not for you, right? So, yes, it is critical and fundamental that there is a good understanding and an alignment and there is a good feed and validation at the beginning of the process, otherwise, the typical circumstance in which yes, no matter what you do and how good you do your job, the execution will be bad and the client won’t be happy with the outcome and that is what matters, right? So, in the past, I have also, and this is the thing, it also depends a lot on the person, on the human at the end of the day.

[00:32:20] I ask with any professional relationship and because this is consulting, for example, I have had in the past clients that everything was seamless, was great, a SEO strategy and roadmap was set with this in-house head, and then this person moved on and changed companies and then all of a sudden the new person who comes has a completely different idea of what it needs to be, whatever, and for some reason, they don’t trust you or they don’t rely on you anymore, they don’t see you as the right person to help them to develop this and then the project, unfortunately, because of that is not successful. It also happens because, at the end of the day, there needs to be trust, there need to be reliance, they need to be this validation that we all know what we’re doing and, and, and I will help you to build the cases and to help you to establish, validate, and to make things happen but also it’s important that the other side also trusts because many, many, many times that investment is, are not trivial, right?

[00:33:23] Especially because it involves all the area. So, this alignment is critical, this good understanding is fundamental and it depends on the humans that are involved in the process, and if they change it can change also for duty. So, I have been there too, um, I’m afraid, yes. 

[00:33:40] Jon Penland: Yeah. So, you got to have the right people in the right place, the right, the right personal alignment. You got to have the technical resources and the general marketing capacity content, these types of things, to be able to put that stuff to use for it to make sense, to invest, even as fundamental as SEO is, if those pieces aren’t in place then you’re wasting your time spinning your wheels until those pieces get in place. So, as we begin to sort of wrap our conversation up, I want to move away from SEO back, back to you personally, just for a couple of minutes and we’ll wrap up here and just another few questions. But I wanted to ask you, I noticed on your website you’ve received a number of accolades within the industry, so there have been on a number of lists of, like, SEO Experts to Follow, I saw in 2018 you were the European Search Personality of The Year. I’m curious, have you intentionally sought out those types of opportunities? Has that been sort of, like, an intentional part of your branding as an SEO consultant or did those things just happen for you? 

[00:34:36] Aleyda Solis: Those things just happened, right? I, I am actually always surprised to see, because I have my podcast, myself, right? Crawling Mondays is called, is, like, pretty much SEO, like, I started as SEO how-to’s, but now I pretty much, I use them as an excuse to see also all the SEO friends and connect with them over the podcast and talk about different topics regarding SEOs and I am always surprised to see how many people pitch to me to be there.

[00:35:04] And I can’t imagine that it’s the same, what will I have also my even blog post, you can see that I don’t have guest posts, but there are always peaches for guest posts. The typical is funny one, but also some very relevant ones somehow. So yes, I guess that there are people who are actually, like, pretty much promoting themselves very actively and I can see how that might be beneficial, especially when you’re starting. Thankfully, in my case, it has been always very natural, right? And, but maybe it’s because I am also very fortunate that I actually enjoy sharing a lot. I think that a key of having developed my personal branding so well and this accolades or whatever is because I enjoy sharing. Because I working, I’m working remotely, also by myself like this and then I have this need of interact, network, I Tweet a lot, I blog post a lot, I have a newsletter, I contribute with the industry for free because I honestly feel that I have given so much by it that I want to help all the people to leverage it as I have too.

[00:36:05] So, it has come very natural for me. I have never pitched to be in a podcast or anything like that, so it has been very natural. I have been also very lucky, of course, to have been in the right time, right place, let’s say, too and profited from that, of course, and nothing against, of course, people who promote themselves, I think that to a certain point it’s important, especially because the market is already crowded, right? So, you need to push, but in my case, they have been very natural, right? And potentially I should do it more, not necessarily as an SEO because thankfully I’m doing very well as an SEO, but for Remoters for example. 

[00:36:41] Jon Penland: Yeah, no, that’s interesting. So, it’s like you found your way into these opportunities or this recognition not by pushing for it, but just by sharing. It sounds like you just kind of put yourself out there in the community, shared very broadly, both, you know, social media, your blog posts, those types of places, but also got involved with different groups, different opportunities like that in a voluntary capacity and that led to these sorts of, of accolades. So, there are kind of two ways to go about those, right? Like, you know, maybe if you’re early in your career or just trying to make a move into this area, maybe there’s a place for self-promotion, but in your case it was, you know, there’s also just a place, it feels like, sort of an organic search campaign as well, sort of, but just applied to your personal career it’s like, “I’m going to build up this body of content over time,” and then eventually you’re recognized for what you’ve built there. That’s interesting.

[00:37:32] Aleyda Solis: Yes, indeed. I have to say though, for example, I, now that I’m thinking about it, the word, like, a few times that, indeed, the first time that I spoke ever at an SMX, which is a well-known event in the search industry, I pitched, I remember that I pitched, like, the first time that I spoke, uh, anywhere abroad Spain, in London I pitched.

[00:37:54] So, please, if you want to get ahead and do it, do it, pitch, of course. Thankfully after that for me it was, like, something very natural, right? They saw me doing a good job and they asked me back or they refer me to the next event. And this is a good thing, right? It compounds over time, especially at the beginning 100%, I think, is important to look for those opportunities and promote yourself, after a while, I think, you will compound and you will see that the opportunities will come to you if you do good work. In most of the cases too, this is how I get my clients, right? This is the good side of things also, that you are not a huge agency with 100 people that needs to have new clients every single month. It is not like that in my case, right?

[00:38:35] Since these are also ongoing processes, long time processes, I have good enough projects because of former clients, even referring to new companies when they start at new companies or spread the word, to refer me to their colleagues or whatever, when they need someone with my type of capacity, right? And I have more than enough with that. So, yes, I think that there is a blend there. 

[00:39:00] Jon Penland: Yeah, I’m curious, you know, somebody who’s been in the industry for a number of years now, very well connected, what advice would you give to someone who wants to make SEO their career? They’re not doing SEO full-time now, maybe they’re where you are, where they’re managing a variety of websites and SEO is just one thing among many that they’re responsible for. What advice would you give that person?

[00:39:22] Aleyda Solis: The challenge that I hadwhen I was starting was to get information on all because at that time, it wasn’t, there wasn’t a wealth of information. Now it’s the other way around. There is a wealth of information, but also misinformation. So, you need to be very careful what you rely on, what you believe, if it is too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. So, I actually put together a website that is called a “learningseo.io” which is pretty much a website that creates like, a roadmap for someone who wants to learn SEO and I have linked to reliable resources created by SEO colleagues, the SEO community as a whole, but that are good. They’re actually sharing reliable information and you will see how there are these fundamentals that you need to know and then there’s this additional group series of topics that are handy to learn from in order to execute, actually, execute an SEO process. And then there are other areas for more, let’s say, ongoing day-to-day type of issues that you will run into when doing SEO and then areas to specialize on if in case you want to specialize in link building or technical SEO or content optimization. 

[00:40:34] That is the beauty of SEO, that it’s already well-developed in order to offer an opportunity for anybody independently, from whatever type of profile you have and the type of profession that do you use to do, right? So, take a look at the website, I think can open your eyes and allow you to dig a little bit more. Then I will also recommend you to subscribe to “SEO FOMO” which is my newsletter. It’s free, I send it every week and I highlight the top of best resources, not only news and happenings, but also resources and guides published across the SEO community.

[00:41:15] I also highlight free tools to use, free SEO tools, and SEO to follow on Twitter, and which is going to be my next recommendation, to leverage Twitter. There, there is an amazing SEO Twitter community, there’s a little bit of trolling, I’m afraid, from time to time, it’s Twitter, after all. But it’s worth it, there is a lot of a wealth of connections that can be built there. I remembered that I met many people who I now consider my friends that I, later on, ended up meeting in real life at conferences and events and we have stayed connected since then and these are people that rely on or ask for will take like, validation sometimes, or I refer whenever I can not handle a project and I need to refer someone reliable I refer to them, and vice versa. Right? So, there’s this collaboration going on in the community so I will highly, highly recommend someone who looks to start to and to build a community like that to go to Twitter and start following a few people there.

[00:42:17] Those, for example, who have written the resources that I list and learning SEO, these will be great people to follow. So, usually when in the outer pages, they will have their Twitter profiles to start following them and from there they will see that they share things from all the SEOs and so they can think it from there. 

[00:43:17] Jon Penland: Yeah. All right. Well, you listed some really great resources, I want to make sure that our listeners have a chance to look at. So, you mentioned your website, which is basically links to tons of quality resources about SEO, and that website, I think, was learningseo.io. Is that right? 

[00:42:50] Aleyda Solis: Indeed. 

[00:43:51] Jon Penland: And then you mentioned your newsletter, SEO FOMO, where can our listeners go find SEO FOMO?

[00:43:00] Aleyda Solis: Yeah, you can go to seofomo.co. 

[00:43:05] Jon Penland: Okay. Seofomo.co? 

[00:43:07] Aleyda Solis: Indeed. As you can see, I have issues getting the dot-coms for all of the brands that I come up with. That shouldn’t restrict you though. 

[00:43:15] Jon Penland: Yeah, Seofomo.co. And then finally, you mentioned Twitter and, and a great place to find good folks, to follow on Twitter is to go back to that learningseo.io site, find the authors of those resources and follow those folks on Twitter as a way to stay up to date with a variety of perspectives. So that’s, I think, great advice on resources that our listeners can check out if they want to educate themselves to stay up to date in SEO. So, I just have one final wrap-up question for you, Aleyda. Where’s the best place you would send our listeners to learn more about you or to find out more about your consultancy services?

[00:43:51] Aleyda Solis: Yes. Aleydasolis.com is my website. Then, Orainti.com is my consultancy website too. And then, of course, I am very active on Twitter, you can follow me @aleyda on Twitter in case you’re active. 

[00:44:05] Jon Penland: Okay, well, we’ll make sure and get all of those into the show notes so that folks can find you on the internet. Well, thank you, Aleyda. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you for joining me today.

[00:44:15] Aleyda Solis: No, thank you for the opportunity. It was a nice chat for sure. 

[00:44:20] Jon Penland: Awesome. And thank you to our listeners. That’s all for today’s podcast. You can access the episode show notes at kinsta.com/podcast. That’s K I N S T A.com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to Reverse Engineered and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or the platform you’re listening on right now. See you next time.

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