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SEO Career Day: Advice From a Top International SEO Growth Advisor

Episode Overview

Follow Kevin Indig’s journey from rookie member of a global SEO agency to international startup growth advisor. Kevin’s advice:

  • Learn your craft from the inside out
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Always be curious

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Episode Transcript

Ben:                 Welcome to career day on the Voices of Search podcast. Today we’re going to learn about the skills and accumulated and lessons learned from a great SEO throughout the various stops of his career.

Ben:                 Joining us for career day is an SEO whose branched out from being an enterprise operator to becoming an international startup growth advisor. Kevin Indig is a mentor for growth at the German Accelerator, Inc. which is an accelerator that supports high potential German startups and emerging companies to successfully enter the US market and scale their business globally.

Ben:                 Prior to taking on his current role, Kevin was the head of technical SEO at Atlassian. He was also the director of SEO at Daily Motion and once upon a time, he worked at the world’s greatest SEO SaaS company, Searchmetrics.

Ben:                 But before we get started with our interview with Kevin, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses, monitor their online presence, and make data driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we are offering a complimentary digital diagnostic for a member of our digital strategies group, who will provide you with a consultation that reviews your website content and SEO to tell you how those strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to searchmetric.com/diagnostic.

Ben:                 Okay. Here is our interview with growth mentor at German Accelerated, Inc., Kevin Indig.

Ben:                 Kevin, welcome to the Voices of Search Podcast.

Kevin:               Hey, thank you so much for having me on and thanks for that awesome intro.

Ben:                 Of course, of course. It’s always a privilege to talk to a former Searchmetrics employee. You worked with the company a while back and I know we’re going to talk about that experience, but it’s great to talk to a Searchmetrics alumni and also great to hear that you have moved on in your career and have really made a name for yourself in the SEO industry, so, first off, congratulations on all your success.

Kevin:               Thank you so much and boy, do I have a lot of stories to tell. Can’t wait to get into it.

Ben:                 Good, good. Well let’s start off at the beginning. Let’s talk about how you got into SEO.

Kevin:               Yeah, sure Ben. I played a lot of video games as a kid. I was the classic nerdy gamer kid that took apart my computer and my parents TV and whatever hardware I could find. I’d play lots of video games. At some point, I was the guy in the group of online gamers and had to figure out how to create a website so we could participate in tournaments and that then spurred the whole question where people actually coming from that visited our site and that got me on the path to search engines and what they are and how they functioned. And then after college, basically did a trainee ship and then agency, consultancy better said, that consulted big enterprise clients like banks, insurances, TV networks, airlines, in terms of their SEO and content strategy, and everything started from there.

Ben:                 So, when you were, let’s say when you were a kid even though it was through college, you were interested in technology, primarily focused around gaming. You built your own website. Tell me about what the skills that you learned from that early experience that really grabbed your interest and made you feel like SEO was something that you could do for your career.

Kevin:               That is a really good question, Ben, because it very much is a recurring pattern that I’ve found through with my life, that really helped me to develop my skills and it all started by a deep curiosity. I taught myself HTML, CSS a bit of java script and Photoshop and built, don’t get me wrong, really horrible website. But it got me going and on the right path.

Kevin:               And so what I meant earlier by this recurring pattern is this deep curiosity that then leads you to spend day and night diving into a topic and trying to soak up everything out there that people write and put out about this topic. So I spent tons of time in forums, on blogs reading and consuming material that would help me to develop some basic developers skills. And that’s something that I still enjoy today, that I have always done, is digging really deep into topics, consuming what other people have learned and shared, and now trying to give back a bit of that.

Ben:                 So, you’d a proclivity for understanding the technical details behind some of the technologies that you were using. You mentioned that you started off working at an agency.

Ben:                 What was your agency experience like and why was that an impactful role for you early in your career?

Kevin:               It was quite the agency and quite the time. I was pretty much fresh out of college and that agency … it doesn’t exist anymore today, but it was pretty reputable back in the days of Germany. It’s called TRG, The Reach Group. They set up a fantastic trainee program and I joined alongside, I think five or six other trainees. We’re still all very close and connected, but they really did a great job in teaching SEO and everything that comes with it so well and giving us exposure to client work and making us practitioners and setting up our own blogs and all that kind of stuff. So that taught me a ton. I think a lot of the acceleration in my career is something I have to thank to that agency.

Ben:                 So they basically taught you a little bit about self-branding as a way for you to understand SEO as a practice. Something that you feel like you’ve done a really good job of throughout your career. You also mentioned that you had some client work.

Ben:                 What were the types of projects that you were working on?

Kevin:               Yeah, so it obviously progressed with our seniority and our seniority and our experience with SEO. The beginning was very basic keyword research and then as we got better at SEO, we’d look into technical audits, we’d do reporting and we were very lucky to work with big, big companies. And we’re talking really like Fortune 500 companies and obviously they wouldn’t let us in front of the client right away, but we learned the craft while applying it a bit behind the scenes and then they would hand hold us a bit then help us to develop those consulting soft skills as well.

Ben:                 So you had some technical experience from your personal work, working in gaming, you started at the agency, they give you some training to help you figure out some sort of personal positioning. You’re learning some soft skills in terms of client management.

Ben:                 What was the reason why you left that role?

Kevin:               Honestly, the reason I left that role was because the agency was going downhill and bankrupt, unfortunately. It’s a really, really sad story, because it was a great company but they were a bit ahead of their time. And so what they tried to do is to, first of all, scale up, which is really difficult with consulting and then second of all, they tried to take on too many disciplines at the same time. So what started as an SEO agency and then became an online marketing consultancy, then it was spread too thin. Because they tried to do conversion optimization, paid search, consulting, web analytics, and just basically took on too much and that eventually wasn’t feasible anymore and then there were some financial issues and then unfortunately that company went downhill. But again, the friends that I took away from that company, I still have today. The skills that I learned and the vibe that I felt so early on in my career, that’s something that I still Benefit from today.

Ben:                 So positive experience early on your career, where did you head next?

Kevin:               Yeah, I then went to work for another very similar agency that was a bit bigger, part of the SISGI Group and it was in the same city that I worked in. And I became a senior accountant manager which is … it’s not a head of SEO, but it’s pretty much the right hand of the head of the SEO and we did lots of similar work, working with bigger enterprises. But I also did lots of pitching. So that was the next step in my career and it exposed me to more of the business side of consulting. Whereas in the first agency, that I worked with we had our own sales people or the founders leaders would do the sales side. This time I was the person to develop pitches and pitch in front of customers clients through the whole business development.

Ben:                 So tell me about what that experience was like, as somebody with a technical background, you’re going in front of clients, what were some of the things you felt like you brought to the table and what were some of the skills that you had to develop?

Kevin:               That’s a great question. What I definitely brought to the table was a deep understanding of the matter and that is something that sells very well. Almost better than being super pushy and just trying to sell people junk. The thing is that deeper technical skills and good subject matter understanding sell so well is because sometimes you meet people on the other side, on the client side who can evaluate how good your skills are. Sometimes you don’t and then you can almost sell anything, but most of the times that’s not the case.

Kevin:               And so that was really a good driver of business, but I had to develop lots of the soft skills around that, meaning, what does a good presentation look like and what is the story that you can tell, right? It’s not just about come over to the client and saying, “Hey, this is what I can do for you and this is what I think you should do. I have done this through the audit.” It’s a lot about, “Hey, how does this fit into the greater narrative of the company? How does it move the bottom line?” And then understanding and telling that story in a good way is something that I had to learn pretty much from scratch. Because, I’m not a born seller. I’m really honestly, I’m not a good sales … I’m not the active type of sales person that goes out there and hunts people down. It sounds a bit negative. I’m not trying to make it sound negative at all, it’s just there’s a very particular side of sales that I’m not really good at, and then the self-skills is something that I had to develop.

Ben:                 So how did you go about developing that? Is it just a matter of repetition and practice or was there a training program? What were some of the ways that you got better at developing … but the soft skills being client facing and understanding how to sell.

Kevin:               Yeah. It’s a great question and luckily I worked for this agency that had a good size and several departments. They did lots of different sites and marketing and they didn’t have a real training program, but they made sure that a pitch was safe and sound. So my first couple of pitch decks and narratives were really, really bad and then I learned alongside my colleagues and then I got constant feedback. There are a couple of folks out there and videos and articles, all that kind of stuff but to be honest, most of that skill was developed by reps.

Ben:                 So it sounds like you had some mentorship in the organization from other SEO’s that had learned the craft of selling and you were really just developing that skill on the fly.

Kevin:               Yeah, that’s right. Most of that came from mentorship, which is why I’m really bullish about mentors in general.

Ben:                 Okay. You had your second agency experience. At some point you moved away from the agency world. What was your reason to move away from being in an agency and what did you do next?

Kevin:               That’s really where Searchmetrics comes into play. All these agencies, to make sure that I was clear. I worked for these agencies in Germany and we had clients all over Europe. And so the German SEO senior, it was relatively … it’s not super small, but it’s overseeable. Maybe 500 people that all meet at least once a year at a conference in Germany. And so that’s how I got to know Marcus Tober and about a year after I worked for this second agency, all of a sudden, this opportunity to move over to the US opened up.

Kevin:               Now I have to add that I do have an American passport and a German passport, so luckily, I was born with two citizenships, which when then allowed me to go over to the US. So what basically happened is, I met Marcus Tober, I heard that they were opening an office over in the Silicon Valley, and I talked to him about that because I’m an American German and eventually we got to the conversation where he mentioned he was looking for an SEO, so I said, “Hey, that’s awesome, I would love to live in California, is there an opportunity?” And he said, “No, unfortunately not, because we’re very reluctant to send people over from Germany because of all the hassle and paperwork related to the Visa.” And then I said, “Hey, you know Marcus, I have this little paper that says I’m an American citizenship and a Social Security number, maybe you should-”

Ben:                 You’re hired.

Kevin:               Yeah. He said, “Hey, maybe we should talk, why don’t you come over to Berlin, and we’ll have a little conversation.” And that conversation turned into a six hour interview, job interview that is. It was one of the longest, craziest job interview I ever had in my whole career. And I remember driving home after that, being completely fried. My brain was water. And the next day he called me and said, “Hey, you got the job.” And I was like, “Jesus, that’s amazing.” So then I packed up all my stuff and came to Berlin for a couple of months and then moved over the US for Searchmetrics.

Kevin:               So I basically left that agency and that role because of the opportunity that Searchmetrics gave.

Ben:                 So talk to me about your experience moving internationally. There is a difference between the German market in terms of SEO’s. You mentioned it was relatively small to the US and then tell me about what it was like working at Searchmetrics at the time you were here.

Kevin:               Yeah, there’s a huge difference between the German and the US market. And one of the biggest differentiators is that Germans are very humble sellers. They’re very technical and analytical as well. I just think they very often undersell themselves. They’re not very outgoing. You have a lot of these highly, highly knowledgeable people working in some company doing a great job, but you never hear a word about it. And then on the American side, people are much more outgoing and share a lot more about their knowledge, or of their knowledge.

Kevin:               And so moving abroad, that was a crazy ride, because I revved up my whole existence in Germany within a couple of weeks to basically moving first to Berlin for a couple months and then over to the US, but I packed up my whole life in a very short amount of time. And then I was familiar with California early on because since I was a small child, my family took me over, family in Los Angeles, but moving over was crazy. It was a wish or a dream that I always had since I was a small child I wanted to come over to the US. But it definitely took a bit of time to get used to the environment. And that is not only because of this specific environment in the Silicon Valley, it is also because of this specific way of work in the US compared to Germany.

Kevin:               In Germany everything is very, very, I would say, input driven, so you work eight hours a day, you have an hour of break in the middle of the day and then you work a fixed amount of hours every week and so on and so on, you have these rules blah, blah. It’s very, very specified regulated. In the US you don’t even have the work hours in your contract, you just … we just come to work and you leave at some point in time. So it’s a very different style and it’s something like renegotiating your salary on a regular basis. That’s not common in Germany. So there are all these differences, but it was so exciting and I can only recommend anyone who has the chance to ever move abroad and work abroad to go into it, because you can always come back if you fail or something happens.

Ben:                 I think that there is a funny anecdote that Jordan Cooney, the CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. told me when he first accepted his role, we worked together at Ebay and he left from Ebay to go to Searchmetrics as the US office was starting. And Jordan told me that his primary challenge was helping Searchmetrics’ organization to understand how to sell in the United States because the German sales pitch was walking into a room, showing a chart and saying, “Via the best” and that was it.

Ben:                 And that doesn’t exactly cut it, right. It is not just here is the data, this is the best decision moving forward. There’s a lot more of a soft sell that happens in the United States and there is dramatically a cultural different. Jordan was obviously kidding and over simplifying, but that was the difference between the two market, but it was his biggest challenge was getting past the “via the best” sales pitch and getting into how is Searchmetrics differentiated against the other competitors that are local and global.

Ben:                 As you went from Germany and you’re seeing what your life and career is like and some of the differences between the two markets, I’m curious to hear what the experience was like going from an agency to a SaaS provider working on SEO. Searchmetrics is not specifically an agency, it’s more of a software solution. How did you find that experience to be different?

Kevin:               It was great because all of a sudden, they had access to all of this data and at the same time was great because it’s just a different way of work. I would say there was still some sort of an agency component because I was part of the professional services team, so it’s almost a hybrid but the things you’re dealing with and the work you do, they are somewhat different. So yeah, again, definitely enjoyed the environment of working for an SEO, vendor, or platform that has all these cool insights and has all these interesting projects, the Ranking Factors Studies, etc. So there was lots of data that taught me a lot and then obviously working with Marcus Tober and lots of other smart people at Searchmetrics, that helped me a ton.

Kevin:               And then the side of work changes a little bit and you have to buy product off your core craft on both sides. So here’s what I mean with that. On the agency side, you have the account management or the basically bit of handholding, responding to clients, answering questions. It’s sort of a service component. On the in-house side, you then have the red tape, you have the politics, you have the compartmentalization that you have to do on that side, so there’s always an overhead or a byproducts of your actual core-craft. You’re not just going to do only a SEO. You always have some other stuff to do. And that’s the biggest difference between the agency side and the in-house side is that the byproduct changes.

Ben:                 It’s interesting to hear you say that and you went from being at an agency to what you’re calling an in house role, but you’re still in an agency capacity doing professional services for a SAS company and eventually you do move in house and I believe your next role was going to Daily Motion. Did I get that right?

Kevin:               Yeah, absolutely.

Ben:                 Okay, so you move onto Daily Motion and now you’re truly in house. So tell me a little bit about the experience of being an in house marketer and some of the politics that you faced as opposed to working for a SAS provider or in an agency capacity.

Kevin:               Yeah, that was crazy. I was very lucky to move that momentum from Searchmetrics to get pretty high up at Daily Motion. I was a director of SEO, reporting to the CTO which is basically a step away from the CO, so there was a very impactful role, very exciting. Daily Motion, it’s basically a video platform like YouTube and it has ever since pivoted its business model slightly, but back when I joined it was basically a YouTube competitor, a direct competitor. And since it has a very scalable page model, the impact of SEO was huge. Traffic was one of the biggest drivers of traffic. And so all of a sudden I had a lot more eyes on my work and on what I do. At the same time I learned a very different side of red tape and politics which is to compete for resources. So since SEO at that time was part of product, and I’m sure it still is, I had a team of developers that were dedicated to SEO, but also I had some other obligations.

Kevin:               And so when you compete for whatever resource it is, can also be designer or product managers or whatever, then you have to work a certain way and, I don’t say play the game, but follow certain commonalities and you have to be a bit creative about how to get these resources and follow a certain style. So this is something that I worked at Daily Motion and that I think we have to talk and write a lot more because I haven’t found a lot of guidance from that topic.

Ben:                 I think you said it right in the sense of you have to learn to play the game. How much did the skills that you learned, the soft skills in terms of doing sales and being part of the pitch at an agency, how much did that transfer over to what you needed to do to sell and to garner internal resources or is it really a different skill set that you had to develop once you were in house?

Kevin:               I love how you put the strings together here, because that’s exactly what happened. I only understood this in retrospective when I looked back and thought about what helped me. It was really those pitching skills that then helped me pitch my internal resources. In the end you always sell to someone you always compete for certain resources so looking back, everything that changed is really the person that I sold to or the client, but it was the same sort of narrative that you use and the same sort of data to support that narrative. So yeah, absolutely right.

Ben:                 So it seems to me that there’s a big correlation between some of the skills that you’ve developed along the way, so I’m not surprised to hear that some of the soft skills that you had developed which wasn’t really your start of your career. You have more of a technical background and had to work towards developing those skills, but that they were applicable as you were in house.

Ben:                 You were working at Daily Motion, which is primarily a video-based service. You mentioned it was a competitor to YouTube. What advice do you have for people that are working on video? I think most people are thinking SEO and we’re thinking on page content and not necessarily video SEO. Being in that environment where most of what you’re working on is video, what did you learn in that role?

Kevin:               I leaned a ton. There were so many moving parts. The company was also acquired by a huge conglomerate called Vivendi which owns, amongst other companies, Universal Music, some TV stations, some ticket vendors, and whatnot. So besides all the skills that I learned and the red tape and politics and how to handle that, I also learned what it means to integrate a company into a larger company.

Kevin:               Taking a step back, what else did I learn in terms of the video component, is actually a really interesting format to work with has become so prevalent. People nowadays after what I learned and what I know, will always prefer a video over a text if it’s applicable. Of course there are cases where a text is much more comfortable to consume because it can listen to voice or there is something that you want to understand in written form and take your time to work through. But again, the use cases for video have grown so much, which is also why Google shows so many more videos. And by the way, we also had video snippets coming from Daily Motion. So there were all these interesting growth levers, it was not just the sheer search snippets from Daily Motion that we used to get traffic from. It was also the improved click rates coming from integrations of Daily Motion video snippets and search results. And then it was also the embeds on other sites.

Kevin:               So it really broadened my horizon in terms of understanding how growth systems work and growth levers and it set the foundation for my understanding of these user acquisition loops where you develop a system that then compounds and scales up. But there was also this side of integrating a company into a much larger company and how that works. And I profited and Benefited from that multiple times with my career.

Ben:                 If I read into what you’re saying, working at Daily Motion, which is a video based company, and expanding your horizon in terms of the formats of content that you’re trying to optimize for SEO, how did you go down the trajectory to understand growth as a whole, not just being the subject matter expert in technical SEO? Eventually you move on from Daily Motion into Atlassian which is B to B focus company. What was your role at Atlassian and what did you find the difference between working on consumer focused content and enterprise focused content?

Kevin:               Yeah. So it started out as take SEO lead at Atlassian, and then over time, did way more than just that and basically did organic user acquisition where we drew lots of synergies from email, from organic social, from YouTube also, so this is now where we have the first parallels between Daily Motion and Atlassian. I knew YouTube from the inside out and applied that a lot and in my work at Atlassian.

Kevin:               So the interesting thing about that company is that it has so many different products and so many different sites. So whereas Daily Motion had basically one single site, maybe a couple other smaller ones, but one main business driving site. Atlassian has all sorts of sites. It has a market place, a community. It has product landing pages, [inaudible 00:26:03] instances of products, so there’s all these different formats that’s really fun to work with and at the same time is a huge challenge.

Kevin:               I was responsible for all products globally and had a whole team at my hand of content SEO’s, technical SEO’s and analysts that helped to understand what’s going on, what the big levers are to pull and how to optimize moving forward.

Ben:                 It’s interesting, so you moved to Atlassian and instead of working on a site that’s one medium, even though it’s a nontraditional one, working in video, you get to broaden your horizons because you’re working in different page formats. Community pages and marketplaces and sales pages and products pages. You have a more diverse set and it sounds like you’re managing multiple brands.

Ben:                 Relatively recently you moved on from Atlassian and now you’re starting to work as a growth advisor, so branching out beyond just being a specialist in SEO and focusing more on growth.

Ben:                 What do you consider to be the secret to growth and how much is that related to SEO? What are some of the other channels that you’re focused on when you’re advising startups?

Kevin:               Yeah. I really love that question because I very strongly feel that most of the popular perception of growth is actually not what it really is. And what I mean by that is that people often think of growth hacks and shady tactics and exploiting people’s attention, and I think that’s really not what growth is all about and what actually moves the needle.

Kevin:               So learn a couple of things that I then applied. But taking a step back, the German Accelerator … just want to explain the program to listeners a little bit. Is a three months program for German startups that they can apply for that usually have a certain scale and size, and I’m one of the mentors. So we have mentors for different specialties, legal, sales, and I’m the specialist for growth which expands across user acquisition, retention and monetization. So that’s the first difference is that now we’re not just talking about getting users on the site, we’re also talking about how can we increase the retention to make sure that this traffic is actually worthwhile and then how can we make a business out of that? So it also deals with unit economics, with pricing strategies or positioning and these are all topics that help the startups with … at the German Accelerator program depending on what stage they’re in and what their biggest problems are.

Ben:                 So, hang on a second. You’re an SEO, right? SEO’s are the guys that understand what’s inside the black box and all they do is get stuff to rank on Google, so why are you qualified to understand all the different things about unit economics and engagement and all these things that are outside of the landscape of the traditional nerdy guy sitting in the corner doing whatever SEO’s do?

Kevin:               That’s a fair question. And answer is two-fold. First of all, I’m deeply passionate about that stuff. I really love business strategy, I consume tons of content around that and then the second tier to that question is that along my career, probably starting I would say with the second agency that I worked for in Germany. I got pulled into a couple of directions.

Kevin:               I remember there was one huge bank, everybody knows the name, but can’t really tell which one it is. It’s one of the big private banks from Switzerland. We had this SEO focus project coming in, it was basically building an SEO team for the bank and developing their roadmap and strategy. Then along the way, they also wanted our opinion on paid search. And then other companies or clients developed paying mobile apps. And then we developed into app store recommendations so there were all these little segues that got the exposure to other channels.

Kevin:               And it developed further on because I also started to do some consulting on the side and we’re talking about maybe couple hours a week of moonlighting or just basic strategic consulting, but more and more people were also asking about my opinion for other channels and other things related to SEO because I was so technical and so specialized, so that gave them the impression that I also had deep knowledge and other channels.

Kevin:               And so that gave me exposure and reps and training. Of course I wouldn’t say, “Yeah, of course, I know everything about paid search.” I would then say “Hey, my knowledge about pay search is somewhat limited, but if you want to, I can take a look.” And then people would start working with me on all these other channels and these other things. And it started to develop into lots of startup consulting that I would do. Startups don’t really have the luxury of having people dedicated to specific channels and lots of times they have a person dedicated to growth or maybe demand generation. So I started working with them and that gave me exposure to the business side of things. And then I very quickly gained traction in understanding how it works and that’s what I now pass along to the startups of the German Accelerator.

Ben:                 I hope that everybody’s who’s listening to this podcast knows that when I describe you as the geeky SEO sitting in the corner doing SEO things, I’m kidding, but I’m trying to make a point. And the thing that sticks out to me about your career is that you have a technical background like a traditional SEO background, getting in the weeds, understanding the technical details of how websites function and being able to tweak the websites and optimize the content to be able to have content show up and rank highly in Google and that’s a skill that you’ve used along your career and it’s been the core of your career. But along the way, the things that you learned are some of the soft skills around selling and that’s helped you become a successful in house SEO and you’ve learned the difference between traditional and written content and then video and then when you moved to Atlassian, you picked up additional skills about working with multiple different types of domains, working across multiple channels, also including some of the moonlighting work you’ve done.

Ben:                 So the reason why I position the last question of that’s not geeky SEO stuff, that’s general marketing. The skills that you have developed along the ways have helped you round out your skill set as a general marketer and to me that’s the biggest takeaway is that as you’ve progressed along your careers, you’ve developed all these other skills working and depending on your core expertise, that sort of technical background, that you’ve been able to branch and expand, and to me that’s a) a tremendous accomplishment, and b) also something that I think that other SEO’s who are thinking about their career development need to consider that branching out of your just singular technical focus of being an SEO will help you expand your horizons and create more opportunity for you.

Kevin:               Thank you, Ben and those are really kind words. Quickly coming back to that, there’s no offense taken in being the geeky SEO sitting in the corner. I actually love that stuff. First of all, I think geek as a compliment now. Maybe it wasn’t when I started but, I love to be that kind of person and really dive deep into things. Be very focused and lose myself in that kind of stuff. So I very much take it as a compliment.

Kevin:               And you’re absolutely right. This is I would say the main takeaway of this whole conservation, this segue is a recurring pattern. I use my technical skills that was lucky to develop very early on, to then jump into other disciplines and other segues and build on that and then I also used a deep, deep curiosity and passion to fill the knowledge gaps. To me, it’s really bothering when there’s something that I don’t understand and get. And then it’s also bothering to have a limited horizon and limited view.

Kevin:               So what I mean by that is when I created those first couple of websites as a young kid and asked myself, “Hey, where are people coming from that are visiting our site?” I ask myself that question over and over again, but just from a different angle. So when I then was somewhat proficient in technical SEO, I then asked myself, “Hey all this traffic, where’s it going? How is it monetizing? What’s happening to it? How does it move the business and drive the business?” And then I understood a bit more about that, but then I asked myself, “Hey, how are people retaining? What actually makes them pay? What makes them stick?”

Kevin:               It’s almost like the movie Inception where you go a layer deeper. I think that kind of mindset or system thinking is something that I applied throughout my career over and over again, and will probably apply couple times more and then always help me to understand to basically how to develop my skills, what gaps I have, and what I don’t.

Ben:                 As you look back on the career that you’ve built, I’d say that you were in the later stages of the middle part of your career. As you look back on being the gamer who started his website and now knowing that you’re focused on growth after spending a good portion of your career specializing as an SEO, what advice do you have for today’s gamers with a technical background to help them develop the skills if they want to follow us in your career path?

Kevin:               So there are three bigger, I would say three advices that I have.

Kevin:               The first one is be a practitioner. So, what helped me was that first agency that I had did the trainee-ship at, forced me to set up some sort of a block and just draw knowledge from that. So I set up this easy blog about muscle cars. It was some topic in Germany and start to try out different things, start to play around with the things that I learned a lot from. SEO is not something that you can learn from paper; it’s something that you learn out in the wild. And the best quote that I remember off the top of my head is that ‘get out of the library’ from Indiana Jones. It’s perfect for SEO’s. That should hang above every SEO’s desk.

Kevin:               The second advice is get reps in. That’s something that I learned from fitness actually. Things grow with repetitions. It’s not sufficient to do something once or a couple of times. The more often you do it, the better you understand it and the better you get at it. There’s this learning curve and for some disciplines, it’s deeper, for others, it’s flatter. But get your reps in. Work on stuff, repeat it.

Kevin:               And then the last tip that I have is ask why. Be that annoying kid that asks why a billion times but that helps you to understand something from first principle to the deepest brick or to the deepest degree, better said.

Kevin:               These are three things that always help me.

Kevin:               Yeah. I love the advice of ask why and to me that’s a core skill set that most SEO’s already have built on the technical side, but understanding some of the soft skills, some of the business skills and some of the things that you’ve developed throughout your career, it’s the same mechanism, it’s a deep thirst for knowledge to understand how and why the business component develops as opposed to just the technical side.

Ben:                 Kevin, I want to say congratulations on the new role. Congratulations on the success. You’ve built a wonderful career. I think that we’re all excited to see some of the challenges that you’ve taken in your post Searchmetrics life and thank you for being our guest and sharing the story with the SEO community.

Kevin:               Thank you so much, Ben. It was awesome. You asked fantastic questions and thanks to everybody who tuned in.

Ben:                 Great. Okay. That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Kevin Indig who’s a growth mentor at the German Accelerator, Inc.

Ben:                 If you’d like to learn more about Kevin, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can send him a tweet @Kevin_Indig, or you can visit his website which is Kevin-Indig.com.

Ben:                 If you have general marketing questions or you want to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet @Benjshap.

Ben:                 If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility or to gain insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team.

Ben:                 If you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and will be back in your feed next week with more SEO podcast for you.

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Ben:                 Okay. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.