Judith Lewis interviewed leading upto SearchElite

Judith Lewis

This May 2017, SearchElite will be running their first event in London with a handful of leading figures speaking on topics near and dear to their hearts. The first speaker interviewed was Gerry White, followed by Sam Nobel and Jono Alderson and now my favourite marketer Judith Lewis!

Q) Please tell us a bit about yourself?

A) Well I’ve been online since I was a teen and that was in the 80’s – possibly the best era for music outside the 60’s. That puts me online quite some time ago so I guess it was inevitable that I ended up in online marketing. I was online through university and my thesis was “Social Interactions via Live Online Systems” or a study of people in social media. In 1994. I’ve worked in all sorts of industries including ‘PPC’ (porn, pills, casino) as well as for all sorts of companies like Bluecross, Zopa, GE, Realtor.com, TomTom, NSPCC, and more. So I’ve been around a long time, done lots of stuff and now do a lot more. I do bespoke training for companies, lots and lots of link building and I speak at conferences. Oh and I eat lots of chocolate and sample fine wine 😉

Q) How is Mostly About Chocolate going these days?

It’s a little sleepy right now as work as been very busy but I have a pile of chocolate that I have to review including an amazing Easter egg from ethical chocolate company Divine with popcorn from Joe & Seph’s. It looks extremely indulgent and something I can’t wait to try!

Q) As a respected industry member who promotes gender equality what are some industry activities people should be aware of?

I would encourage things that unit us, rather than divide us. There are several amazing events out there like Search London which people can attend, there are Girl Geek Dinners, Women in Tech, and Women in Engineering but there is also Barcamp, Code Camp, and all sorts of meetups and events across the UK. BrightonSEO is brilliant and really, anywhere that people gather with a drink and chat is great. SEO – all of search – is inclusive and we’re mostly a friendly bunch. Approach us, say hi and chat with us. Most of us don’t bite 😉

Q) those who want to follow and engage with awesome ladies in search on Twitter who would you suggest to follow?

Actually “Women in Search” has an awesome list. I’m not saying that because I’m on it by the way 😉 I is a great pool of talent and if you want to follow some of the best minds in search, you can find them there.

Q) You are also a US, MENA, EU & UK Search Awards judge what is your favourite category to judge?

A) Yep, I am massively judgmental. You should see me with chocolate and wine! I guess my favourite category is best SEO campaign because it’s most interesting but I do have tons of fun playing with all the tools in the tool section and so it’s a hard choice – geek out over tools or get nerdy with best SEO…

Q) Tell us a bit about your session ” Turbo-Charged SEO – When You’ve Done It All This Comes Next “

A) I wanted to do a session that covers some of the more neglected stuff. No one talks about the importance of some of the more advanced but to me still basic stuff. I realise crawl budget, minification and competitor audits aren’t sexy but I’m bring back the sexy in SEO… I know there’s no “sexy” in SEO but there should be 😉 My session is going to look at a bit of why social and search are important together, why you need to monitor the competition, and how I’ve been working with clients to make things work better.

Q) How much time do you think should be spent on Keyword Research at the start of a project?

A) It always depends. I think that it is foundation part of any work you do. Whether blog or promotional content or IA or anything really – it all comes back to and starts with keyword research. So I would give yourself a day, maybe two to fully get to grips with the beast at the start. Then just update as and when.

Q) How important is bench marking to a project?

A) It is utterly pointless to do anything without a benchmark. If you don’t know where you are now, how can you measure improvement? I have had clients where I have had to insist on some benchmarking before we started anything in order to ensure we were able to accurately measure impact. Sometimes I wonder how they know they made any money in a month, let alone a year!
I think knowing how you are doing against the competition is also essential. You don’t sell in a vacuum and so you can’t live in one. It might be nice to only look at your stats but I believe that it is essential to ensure they you are always checking, measuring and updating.

Q) How do you guide clients on picking suitable KPIs?

A) I actually have a massive reference chart but it all comes down to the board. What does the board want? OK those are a given. Now what does their boss want. OK we now know what KPIs we have to make sure we absolutely measure and hit. I have managed to successfully argue against them before but generally KPIs are set by forces outside our control.
Finally we set project goals. These are the ones that make the most sense and measure real change. These are the KPIs that eventually get asked for but are best as measuring the change we are working towards. But it depends on the kind of site as well as everything else so my answer would be different for different clients.

Q) How do find the best way to surface client insights? Excel or platforms like Tableau?

A) My brain. No really – I think Tableau is fab and I do love my tools like SEMRush and SEOMonitor but there is absolutely nothing like looking at things and knowing what the data is behind the numbers to really help you uncover what’s really happening. Things like targets and changes over time are nice – especially when annotated with notes about algorithm changes but nothing beats understanding how search works and digging in to things.

Q) Are there any other Search Elite sessions/speakers you are looking to see?

A) Probably Jim Banks. I think his session is extremely interesting and could be quite surprising for a lot of people in the audience. But I think the whole day looks pretty strong with a lot of interesting speakers all coming together to lend their expertise to the subject.

Q) Where can people find you online if they want to engage, follow or connect?

A) As you would expect, I’m all over t’intertubes. I’m on Twitter at either @JudithLewis or @Decabbit or I’m on Instagram with my blog at MostlyaboutChoc (I’m also in witter and FB if you’d like to follow my chocolate exploits). I’m on Facebook so you can follow me there as well (I don’t respond to all friend requests and rarely talk about SEO on my personal account). I’m also trying to sort my website so that the Lorem Ipsum comes off at long last 😉 plus of course I’m on LinkedIn and if you’re really keen I’m on the HuffPost and no, I wouldn’t even give my dad a link from there 😀