When I was in Rome I was fortunate to meet Giuseppe Pastore, an Italian SEO specialist working in Italy’s capital. We had some delicious typical Roman food and then talked about the search market in Giuseppe’s home country.
When did you start working in SEO and how did you first get into it?
I started in 2008 when I built and optimised my own websites but I did not start working as an SEO specialist until 2010. I was an electronic engineer, but I did not like my job and decided to move to Rome and change career paths. I made two big decisions in one year but I am really glad I did.
Have you been affected by the recent updates? Google Penguin and Google + Local?
One of my client’s sites had a bad link profile and has been hit by Penguin but that is all.
What are your KPIs?
I think the most important KPIs are organic traffic and conversion, (if relevant for the client). Some clients want to keep track of their keywords, so we run a ranking report for them, but it is not a good metric. I try to encourage clients to look at traffic and conversions instead. Some of the clients are e-commerce and therefore we also report on the goals achieved through Google Analytics.
What is the search market like in Italy?
The Italian market is a lot less competitive than the UK market. Most of our clients are Italian, but some of them have English sections on their website. We sometimes work in German, Spanish and even French.
Do your clients understand SEO?
There are a few that understand it, but it is really just a top line, they do not understand the details of SEO. Many of the clients are used to PPC, but they only understand the basics, for example, they want their advert to come up if they type in their keywords. However they do not understand about the more interesting aspects of PPC such as retargeting and negative keyword matching.
Who are your clients?
At the agency I work at we have big brands such as e-commerce, holiday rental companies, tourism clients, banks and news websites. We are really lucky to have a wide range of clients, from small to large websites.
What reports do you do?
We usually send a traffic report and keyword report every month but we also send a lot of emails to our clients during the month to highlight key changes or news concerning their site. We send a detailed traffic analysis report every quarter.
What link building do you do?
We carry out a lot of blogger outreach and guest posts on other sites. It does depend on the clients as for some it can be difficult to guest post but for most we try and contact other bloggers in their field.
How has link building changed in the past year?
Link builders used to be focused on exact match anchor text but it is now dangerous to do so and can damage your site. It is important to have a wide range of anchor text and to use a good percentage of generic text. It depends on the market sector, but having more than 50% of your anchor text could be detrimental to your site, even if it depends on the niche.
At the moment I am trying to get opinions about anchor text on my SEO blog and am contacting a few other SEOs about this subject.
Do you attend any search events in Italy?
There are not that as many search events in Italy as compared to the UK. BeWizard is a good event, it took place in Rimini where those from Distilled attended, but unfortunately I could not go.
Do you conduct search in Italian or English?
Italian is my mother tongue and therefore I feel more comfortable doing search in Italian.
Do you practice SEO outside of work and how did you get your posts on other sites?
I have an account with SEOmoz and you can submit posts in this way; I had a post of mine promoted to the main blog on 5th of July. For Search Engine Journal, I sent an email to one of the editors; sometimes I’m asked to write guest posts for SEO blogs too. Guest posting has benefited my site, I am now number 2 in google.it for “seo specialist”.
What do you like the least about SEO?
I don not like having to carry out the same tasks for different clients. For example with clients in a new field, you sometimes have to start from scratch and go through the process of finding good blogs and contacting those new bloggers.
What do you like the most?
I like the fact you have to know a lot of topics, from travel to finance to medicine. It is very varied and dynamic and you can therefore be very creative (I published a book before and therefore love writing).
What do you see as the future of SEO?
There will be a development of new skills for SEOs than before. Previously you had to be really good at technical SEO but now content is becoming more important. Content marketing will develop in the future and as SEO ties in with social, you will have to be a very social person (on Twitter, Facebook) to succeed. SEO is getting more difficult with all the Google updates so people will have to be even more creative than before and think outside of the box.