When looking for someone in the field of online marketing to launch our new ‘Expert Interview’ feature, one name easily topped the list of potential interviewees. Lisa Barone is the VP of Strategy at Overit and was kind enough to let us pick her brain. We have been following her articles on the Overit.com blog for quite some time now and are glad that someone with her vast experience and expertise has decided to share her insight into the SEO industry. Lisa talked to us about Hummingbird, SMO and the future of link building. You can follow Lisa on Twitter: @lisabarone.

Please tell our readers something about yourself and Overit.

My name is Lisa Barone and I’m the VP of Strategy at Overit, a digital marketing agency that tells stories through design, development, content marketing, motion graphics, social media, SEO/PPC and public relations.  At Overit, I oversee content marketing, social media and the company’s overall marketing. I work with a super great team that’s as fun as they are smart. It’s a great place.

Will Hummingbird require sites to do a complete overhaul of their content marketing strategy?

I hate to give the cliché, “not if you’ve been doing things right all along” but…not if you’ve been doing things right all along. 😉

The simple truth is that Google launched Hummingbird and no one actually noticed. So that right there should tell you how dire the situation really is.  If you were living only by keywords and focusing on blind rankings instead of customer intent and serving their needs, yeah, you may have experienced a problem. But most people have not because they’re smarter than that.  The best way to never have to worry about an algorithm update is to design your site around being the best answer [great article from Lee Odden!] and the best resource for your customer by getting to know them and anticipating their needs and wants. If you do that, you’ll sleep a lot better at night. And your customers probably will, too.

How crucial has SMO become for the survival of SEO?

It’s certainly incredibly important to SEO. I think the new wave of social media and content marketing has turned SEO on its head a little bit.  It used to be that you created content to build your site and to grow your audience. And while that’s still true, audience is coming into play way earlier into the equation than before. Now we use other people’s audiences to build ours, instead of sitting in our own trees. So that’s a shift.  Making SEO more marketing-focused and user-driven.  But we all benefitted from that.

With Google eliminating keyword data from analytics, is it good news for the quality of the data?

It’s good news for the quality of data in that it pushes marketers to look outside keyword data to understand their users. The truth is looking at keywords only tells you what someone typed into a box and ignores everything else. It doesn’t tell you intent or where that person is in the buying cycle.  The lack of transparency around keywords forces marketers to take a more holistic approach.  It goes back to understanding what goes on behind the search, looking at consumer insights, user personae, social research and other information to understand WHO the searcher is and what mission they’re on.  Build content around user personae and you’re going to see far better results than just looking at keywords. Google did you a favor.

What do you perceive to be the biggest obstacle facing link building in the future?

I think scale will always be the biggest obstacle for your link building strategy. We know that relationships build links, but putting in the legwork to form them the right away is an incredibly time-consuming process.  Scaling that hurts.

What is the most common SMO mistake you come across that drives you up the wall?

When I see brands not have a plan in place I get a little crazy. This isn’t new stuff anymore. You don’t get a pass. Don’t enter in social media without having a clear idea of what you’re doing and how you’re doing to do it. So many of the disasters we see – whether it’s the brand or its employees behaving badly – could be avoided if you took the time to put together a social media plan. It’s not rocket science. Learn to drive before getting behind the wheel.

If you have to give our readers one crucial SEO tip, what would it be?

Integrate. With your online team and your offline team. With the technical analytics side and the creative monsters. It’s one brand experience.  Put it all together for the benefit of your customer and you’re going to see blockbuster-levels of success.

And have fun. We’re not saving lives, just the Web.

—————

Once again, we would like to thank Lisa Barone for being the very first expert to take part in our new ‘Expert Interview’ feature. We can hardly think of anyone more knowledgeable or charming to kick off this new segment.