At our ‘SEO for Brands’ in 2014 Think Tank we conducted a short interview with Andrew Girdwood. He is currently Media Innovations Director at DigitasLBi where he is on the bleeding edge of technology for marketing, always on the outlook for the next innovation.

How would you define SEO in 2014?

‘Modern SEO means the convergence of content marketing, social media, analytics, tech, PR, and events with publishers, as well as the actual page rankings and results. One day I might be helping bloggers understand the difference between online editorial and advertorial, and another I might be working with a large brand on the development of their website. There are loads of different plates in the SEO world. The most accurate definition is publisher since it’s our job to use content to engage your audience and make money. In terms of SEO this means generating links, social signals, awareness, traffic, which essentially is a publishing strategy.’

What were the big changes in your SEO plans from 2013 to 2014?

‘The changes were minor because the rules have been set for quiet some time now. I think the main thing is that we need to teach ourselves more as well as having to be stricter with clients. Brands seem to be aware of this since they are talking ‘content marketing’ but it must not be a consideration because we have to do it now.’

In a perfect world how should SEO be budgeted for? 

‘Ideally the money would come from brands which embrace it and have infinite money. In a slightly less perfect world it should be seen as a necessity because if you don’t do SEO you can be so easily hit by negative SEO by getting backlinks which will have a negative impact on your site. You need to worry about ‘can SEO drive incremental traffic’. You now need to do SEO in some shape or form. SEO should have a flexible budget: with a pot of cash right at the start – letting the agency or in-house team spend that as they want throughout the year in spits and spurts. If you are confident that your SEO strategy is structured in the way that you can see the results you can easily work out if it’s profitable or not. And if it’s profitable – pay.’

What’s the difference between brands that dominate their sector for organic search and those that don’t dominate and are catching up? And what brands are currently doing the best work?

‘It’s the ‘pure play’ digital brands’ that are dominating, they are nothing if they don’t get digital marketing right. Until they became famous they had no brand strength. Whereas the hybrids and big brands are not doing SEO as well. It’s not important to them. Brands from affiliate origin are only being paid based on success. So if you want to pick a brand that is doing really well in SEO you’d pick those brands that demonstrate that they are a hero.’

You can watch Andrew’s full Think Tank presentation below:

SEO has changed more in 2013 than in any other year. Are you a CMO, Marketing Director, Marketing Strategist or SEO working with brands and want to learn:

  • What are the brands that are set-up to increase visibility and ROI doing?
  • What can brands that are off the pace learn from those that are winning?

Our speakers are from some of the most prominent brands and agencies in the world. Our videos share great insights from Mark Williams (iCrossing), Joe Lewis (iProspect), Edward Cowell (MediaCom), David Harvey (Razorfish) and Matt Roberts (Linkdex).

The exclusive Think Tank videos offer expert insights from agencies and in-house teams servicing the world’s largest brands, as well as from brands themselves, about what SEO means to them in 2014.

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