We took the time to interview our resident SEO expert and digital strategist, Brooke McClary, to get her thoughts on a variety of digital marketing subjects. Brooke heads up our marketing operation, manages projects, and is our resident SEO maven. From Google Adwords and Analytics, to optimizing user experience and doing site audits, Brooke knows her way around the web.
She’ll be teaching a class on February 2nd—SEO 101 for local Whatcom County business owners seeking to learn more about how to make sure their company shows up at the top of search engine results.
She is available for consultation, her contact info is listed at the end of this post.
Brooke, could you give us a bit of background on your career, and
how you ended up in the digital strategy and marketing space?
I graduated from WWU with an English degree—emphasis in creative writing. Not many companies were hiring sarcastic blog writers, so I had to join the real world and got a job in an accounting department. (Anyone that knows me thinks this is funny as math is not one of my strong suits.)
One of the owners of the company found out that I had a creative writing degree, so he tasked me with editing some of their marketing materials. And thus my love for marketing was born. I moved from Bellingham to Seattle a few years after I graduated (read: was sick of accounting) in hopes of getting a job in marketing. I was eventually hired as a Marketing Assistant by an architecture firm in downtown Seattle and was later promoted to Marketing Manager at their sister company.
I did the whole wear a suit / power lunch / schmooze thing for about 8 years. I spearheaded a very large website project which included SEO (search engine optimization) and digital marketing strategy—something I knew very little about. It was evident from the beginning, when I started my SEO/digital marketing education, that I freaking loved it. It was the perfect combination of technical and creative—something I craved. So I traded in my suit, moved back to Bellingham (where my husband owned a home remodeling company, Rose Construction), and got a job at Big Fresh doing exactly what I love.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Helping local businesses succeed. Whether it be through an extensive digital marketing strategy, or smaller initiatives like improving social media presence or advertising on Google. The majority of what I do creates measurable results—I get a thrill from showing my clients their ROI.
I know, I’m a nerd.
What, in your opinion, is digital marketing?
Using digital platforms, ranging from mobile phones, website display advertising, pay per click, and beyond, to reach target audiences.
What is your favorite aspect of digital marketing?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)! I love knowing all the behind-the-scene tricks to get websites to rank higher in search engines.
What is Search Engine Optimization, and how does it impact us? (IE if I am looking for goods, services, information, etc, how does the practice of SEO determine what I am finding?)
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website so the search engines can read it, see it, and rank it.
The search engines take a variety of factors into consideration when determining how to rank a website—they look at the content on your website, the history of the website, the history of the searcher, social media influence and so on. The multitude of factors combined is how search engine results are generated. SEO can help control and direct where websites show up in search engine results.
If I run a business, and I’m not engaging in SEO or understanding my web traffic through analytics, what am I missing out on? Will that impact me in the long term?
Well, chances are your competitors are engaging in SEO practices and/or actively tracking analytics already—so you’re a little late to the game. (But not too late!) Those that understand how users engage on their website and then make strategic decisions based on that data will win.
The longer your website has been optimized for search engines, the higher the probability it will rank higher in search engines for your keywords. If you’re not actively optimizing SEO now, you should make it a priority. You may see the fruits of your efforts in 6 months, or a year, or more.
Would you be willing to share one of your favorite client success stories? What happened and what made you proud?
I was hired about 6 months ago to help a local law firm. I put together a digital marketing strategy that included AdWords, content work, and other SEO tactics. As soon as we started our campaign, the client saw IMMEDIATE results. Their phone was ringing more, web traffic increased significantly, and they were ranking higher for keywords they weren’t ranking for before. A few days ago one of them called me and said “we’ve had the most successful months in years. And we attribute that success to you. Thank you.” [cue heartwarming music]
Do you think other businesses could have the same kind of success? Why or why not?
Absolutely! Any kind of business can benefit from digital marketing. We’ve helped hundreds (if not thousands) of local and national businesses improve their overall web presence—from lawyers, to dentists, and construction companies, to non-profits—and every type of business in between!
You’re teaching a class on SEO at the end of January. Could you tell us a bit about why you’re teaching this class? What will I learn if I attend?
The class is a jargon-free SEO 101 class. A lot of my clients come to me with little to no knowledge of SEO. They only know that they need it (because they read it somewhere) or because their search engine rankings are rapidly decreasing and they don’t know what to do.
I want to arm businesses in Whatcom County with the knowledge of how to improve overall web presence using basic SEO techniques. Attendees will learn about what the search engines are looking for and how to make improvements to boost search engine rankings. Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask me direct questions about their own websites.
What are your favorite resources as a digital marketer?
Moz.com (ask anyone around the office and they’ll tell you how obsessed I am with MozCon—the digital marketing conference I attend every year.)
Who are your digital marketing gurus? What do they teach?
Rand Fishkin (Former CEO of Moz—he focuses primarily on SEO tactics and experiments)
Wil Reynolds (Associate at SEER Interactive—he focuses primarily on larger marketing strategies. He’s hilarious and a very captivating speaker.)
Doug DeVries (I swear, I’m not trying to brownnose here. When I started at Big Fresh, Doug played a HUGE role in my SEO education. My favorite parts of the day include having SEO debates with Doug.)
What do you do in your spare time?
Okay, here are my standard answers: I love travelling with my husband, cooking plant based meals, and playing with my sweet pup. Things you may not know about me: My best friend is my Grandma Betty, I’m an avid animal rights activist (I love speaking up for those who don’t have a voice), and I thoroughly enjoy listening to 90s hard rock bands like TOOL, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden.
Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions Brooke! If people want to get in touch with you, what is the best way?
I can be reached directly by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call the office and ask for me. E-mail is the best way, and I’d love to set up some consultations—proper SEO can really make a difference to your business bottom line!