Liza has witnessed firsthand the transformative effect the Internet has had on marketing, content creation and distribution, advertising and community engagement. Prior to starting with CMK first as Chief Content & Social Media Strategist, then COO before taking the helm as CEO, she was a professional journalist for more than 15 years, driving digital content and social strategies for companies in New York and Washington, including Yahoo, AOL, FOX News, genConnect and National Journal. Liza covered politics, business, intellectual property and homeland security for a number of New York and Washington-based publications, as well as a Switzerland-based news service. As CEO of CMK Marketing, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm, serves as project manager and facilitator, works with CMK Marketing staff on projects from inception to execution and serves as the lead content, SEO and social media expert on the CMK Marketing team.
Please introduce yourself and where you work.
Liza Viana, CEO of CMK Marketing. I’m also the lead content, social media and SEO strategist. CMK Marketing is a full-service marketing agency based in New York and New Jersey, serving a wide range of clients throughout the United States.
How do you think SEO has changed over the last 10 years?
SEO is a constantly evolving area of our industry. It can never be “one and done” when it comes to any SEO work we do for a client; getting that message across to clients can sometimes be a challenge, particularly to those who are not that familiar with what exactly good SEO entails. Our company, along with others in the SEO industry, have had to keep up-to-date on search engine algorithm changes and strategy changes as it relates to keywords and search. About 10 years ago, everyone thought that “keyword stuffing” based off of current search trends was the most optimal way for search engines to rank our websites or certain content on our websites. And that worked – for awhile. But now, with Google’s 2011 Panda update, the increasing focus of Google on semantic search with its 2013 Hummingbird update and the search engines’ abilities to interpret user intent rather than strictly using their exact queries, it has opened up a whole new, more natural way, of “doing SEO.” There has been a huge increase in quality of content, rather than quantity, and it’s more important than ever for businesses/organizations, etc. to provide users with relevant, authoritative and timely content.
Local SEO, in particular, has seen dramatic shifts in the past few years, with the rise of mobile devices. More local businesses now have an online presence and know they need decent SEO to get found among their local competition. Their sites need to be legitimate, authoritative, and convey complete information about themselves. Since 2014, local websites have also had to invest in well-optimized sites, content and ensuring they are properly included in the many online directories out there. With the proliferation of mobile searches, businesses know they need to be found when a potential customer searches for, say, “Italian restaurant near me,” or “car repair near me.”
The bottom line is, all of the changes we have seen in the SEO industry in the past 10 years have been for the better in regards to overall user/viewer experience, and to ensure that businesses/organizations, etc… are putting their best foot forward with well-optimized websites, quality content, and authoritative information.
How did you get introduced to digital marketing, more specifically SEO?
I am actually a journalist by trade, specializing in digital journalism since 2002. I’ve worked as a reporter and editor for FOXNews.com, Yahoo, AOL and other online platforms, where we had to learn quickly to optimize articles, headlines, meta descriptions, and other content to meet the content demands of users, first and foremost. Writing a great new story but not optimizing headlines, photos, and other story elements was essentially a waste of time and energy; we needed to think of creative ways to optimize those elements so that they would be served up to clients above those same stories churned out by our competitors in search. I then worked for some digital startups that focused on content, which helps immersed me in SEO even further. Then, as I took the helm of CMK Marketing as CEO, I had to become even more proficient in SEO, as many of our clients come to us with SEO needs. While we provide SEO services to clients who have existing websites, the bottom line is, every website we build for a client starts with a solid SEO foundation. We stress the value of building our clients’ websites with SEO in mind from Day 1 – outlining the content that will go on each page, the main site navigation, etc… all for optimization. This avoids just building a site for a client without taking SEO into account, going live, then a few months later, them coming back and wondering why they’re not ranking.
What are the services you provide to your clients?
- SEO: We optimize clients’ sites for SEO if they come to us with existing sites. We also provide SEO training for those who want to learn how to do keyword research, optimize their own content, and properly utilize SEO plugins or other tools integrated into their website to help optimize it. We also provide Local Business Listing Services, conduct competitor analyses, offer strategy and execution with off-site SEO, and help client improve their content to better optimize it for SEO.
We also provide the following services:
- Responsive web design
- Graphic design & branding
- Inbound marketing
- Social media marketing and advertising
- Paid search campaigns (PPC: Google, Facebook)
- Video & Animation
- Copywriting & content marketing
What strategy according to you will prevail in 2017 for SEO?
SEO is more important than ever, and this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. More and more business owners and marketers know the value of SEO and know they can’t push it to the wayside if they want to stand out among their competition. The strategy that will prevail above all others in 2017 is creating strong, authoritative content. I know everyone says “content is king” and stresses this, but it absolutely needs emphasizing every chance we get.
No matter how great your business is, if you’re not putting our great content that is relevant and helpful to your target audience, you won’t have any magnet that will draw new potential clients/customers to your business. But the content struggle is real! Churning out great content on a regular basis is extremely difficult for many businesses, particularly smaller business that don’t have the resources or time to spend writing content, or they don’t have the writing skills. They need to increasingly rely on businesses like ours to help in that department. And trust me, the investment WILL pay off!
Also, by creating quality content, your website visitors often will find an internal page first, rather than your home page. By reading a great piece of content, you’re convincing people right off the bat that you know your stuff; it will provide incentive to them to check out other sections of your site and hopefully draw them further into your marketing funnel. That content is the lead magnet that will draw people to you; it’s then your job to “hook” them with follow up via email and other methods.
What would your advice be to people who are looking to take up digital marketing as a career choice?
Digital marketing is a constantly evolving industry. It absolutely is not for people who want to sit back and “coast” in their job. You need to stay current on innovations and trends, and always be sure you’re providing the optimal service to clients based on the latest, most effective strategies. You need to have a drive to learn, learn, then learn some more – and to pass what you learn on to your clients. You also need to be ready to explain – patiently and informatively – the value of digital marketing to many businesses who are still trying to enter the digital marketing age. Even large, global corporations who are engaging in digital marketing often aren’t doing so cohesively; each division is “doing their own thing.” You need to be able to put all of those efforts into perspective and be willing to speak up and offer better, more effective marketing solutions so that your clients’ efforts will see more results. If you prove your worth, they will be more than happy to listen to you, and will appreciate your advice. Ideally, they’ll send more business your way as you prove to them that you know your stuff. But you have to be bold.