How I went from SEO Exec to Senior Consultant in just four years

How do you go from SEO Executive to Senior SEO Consultant in less than four years?

BrightonSEO trainer and proud Scotsman Will Kay walks us through his experiences at Builtvisible, the innovative projects he’s working on, and how he has progressed in his career to date.

What first attracted you to Builtvisible?

I started at Builtvisible about three and a half years ago, after having worked in a very small start-up. At that company, I worked in a lot of different areas like account management, sales, and SEO. I felt very passionate about SEO, so when I finished that job, I was keen to find a full time SEO role. I found Builtvisible while looking for a new job and I really liked their content on their blog, I was really interested in what they were talking about and they took a very technical approach to SEO.

I came in as a junior role, an SEO executive, worked my way up to Senior SEO Consultant, and have led a huge number of exciting projects in the last three and a half years.

In a nutshell, how would you describe your job to others?

That’s a tough one, I tend to describe it as helping websites appear top of Google search results without forking out on ad space, driving genuine traffic, revenue and engagement.

Describe your typical day as Senior SEO Consultant?

My day usually starts, always starts, with a coffee. I can’t really function without coffee in the morning. (How many of us really can, let’s be honest?)

I have started to get into the habit of writing down everything that I want to achieve that day, or, at the very least a starting list. I’ll often double check if there’s been correspondence from various clients. And then after that, I start working on client work. This could be a larger project, like something more strategic or technical audits, or smaller ad-hoc tasks requested by clients.

I’ll also have internal meetings throughout the day, this includes things like one-to-ones and I’m also involved in our own Builtvisible marketing efforts.

How would you describe the Builtvisible culture?

I find it’s a very enjoyable, supportive culture. There’s a lot of pressure within an agency environment, and Builtvisible really worked to alleviate that pressure as much as possible with a people-focused mentality where they offer you support, and support without judgment when you’re going through difficult points during your career or personal life.

What has your training and development looked like?

I have earned three promotions over the last three and a half years. I started as an SEO executive and now work as a senior consultant. My training and my development has obviously been quite quick over time and I’ve been able to move up to the point where I now manage my own pod. The training side of it was very on-the-job.

I was given a lot of responsibility early on, thanks to my first line manager, Luke, who allowed me to co-lead on a retainer just three months into my time at Builtvisible. That allowed me to get insight into learning more about the strategic aspect of SEO and delve into a lot of more technical projects that are quite challenging to get your head around when you first do them.

That really allowed me to learn a lot very quickly, both from a technical and strategic perspective, and allowed me to progress far faster than I probably would have, had I not been given that level of responsibility early on.

More recently, we’ve started to use a bespoke framework for development called the Career Architect that is proving to be a fantastic set up for me to self-reflect and find areas of my game that require further development. This helps me to supercharge my growth at the company as it means I can focus my time on what’s needed most.

Do you feel supported by the business?

I’ve always felt supported by the business. Often in agency life, you can get overwhelmed by client work and deadlines and these sorts of things, but at Builtvisible most of the time, there’s no questions asked if you need more time to do things, or if you need to move things about. There’s no qualms about adjusting deadlines if there is a valid reason to, it’s got a very people-first approach, but this approach also allows for us to provide the work at it’s highest quality.

How would you describe the communication within Builtvisible?

I think communication here at Builtvisible is very good. Generally, I’ll speak with my team members on a weekly basis, and in cases when they’re working on more challenging projects, I’ll have more contact with them and might have a conversation or a chat with them almost daily to coach them through a particular project.

Also, Builtvisible are very open and transparent about how the company on a whole are performing and they communicate on a quarterly basis on relevant metrics such as revenue and accounts.

They also give us the platform to be able to learn about what other people are doing across the agency as well, so we’ll hear about different projects from the content team, or we might hear about a successful campaign in the digital PR team. That level of communication and transparency allows everybody to develop a better understanding of the company and the industry as a whole.

Have things changed since Covid-19 hit?

Definitely. One of the hardest aspects of COVID for me, was getting comfortable with Zoom on a day-to-day basis, and not being around friends and colleagues to have the freedom to talk about task and projects we are working on. It was always going to be an adjustment, but you have had to learn to take a more proactive approach to getting those internal conversations going remotely, to have those internal chats that you would have normally have had in a more natural conversation in the office.

Taking that proactive approach in this way, is definitely something that was a big change. We are starting to go back into the office now, it’s a hybrid way of working.

What is the most exciting product, or project you’ve worked on?

Our causal impact testing is something I’m really interested in at the moment. It’s essentially a way for us to measure the impact of the implementations we make while reducing the impact of any externalities that might influence performance, like seasonality, or these kind of changes.

It’s a relatively new product that we’ve been working on for the last year or so with several clients. It’s been really interesting to see the genuine results that come off the back of it and the impact that the recommendations we make on a day-to-day basis have.

We’ve been able to be really innovative in our approach to testing the implementation of the things that we recommend. But then we’ve also been able to, with the help of our in-house developers, work on new approaches to making things easier for the team in terms of data manipulation and data gathering and these sorts of areas. So yeah, there’s a lot of space for innovation, casual impact testing is one example of this.

The causal impact projects have been really enjoyable for me, partly because it’s a real collaboration between all elements of the company, as everybody has to be involved in the implementation of the test, the test itself, and the write up at the end. That includes Akiro and Gary, who work in the Data team and do the majority of the data science aspect, and Megan and Ilaria from Client Services, who work with us on strategising upcoming tests.

What’s the piece of tech or tool you couldn’t live without?

Definitely Screaming Frog, something that is highly valued by most SEOs.

And what would your top Builtvisible resource recommendation be?

The one I always go back to is Fiona’s Excel cheat sheet. I find that super useful for working with Excel and I use it on an almost daily basis.

I also often point at the log file analysis guide from Dan as well. And while it’s an older guide on our website, it’s still a really valuable one to show just how much you can take from those log files.

What could a new team member bring to the SEO table?

In a new team member, generally, it’s just wanting to see a true interest and passion in the subject that they’re applying for, no matter what level you’re at in your career. Expressing interest in the various large technical projects that we might work on is always a big tick for me.

Also, the ability to have that entrepreneurial spirit where they’ve shown they are able to get on with things and improve ways to do things that we might not have thought of originally. Ways to get over obstacles that we might face with our clients is an important skill to have, which can be developed over time, and lastly a general ability to self-start and do the work itself.

What would you say your hopes are for the department and the agency in the future?

I think the way things are going, it would be great to see us developing into a more data science focused approach to technical SEO.

SEO is a fast-developing industry and with both crawling agents and users becoming far smarter with technology meaning the approach to SEO three years ago may not be the best approach in the current environment. Now, we need to be more analytical about our recommendations, about our focus areas, and about what we’re looking at. We need to take a more data-led approach to everything we’re doing.

How would you describe Builtvisible in one word?

Exciting!

I think it’s a very exciting time to be at this company, both on the social aspect there’s a lot of young new people coming in, but then also from the business side of things, it’s a rapidly growing company with huge ability to innovate and create exciting things. It’s great being at the forefront of the industry. So yeah, it’s an exciting company to work at.

Through all the years, what is your best Builtvisible memory to date?

I think I always have fond memories of our socials that we have at Builtvisible, it’s too hard to pick one. There is an array of different things we’ve done over the years, dinners with everybody, crazy golf, bingo, these sorts of things that are just a huge amount of fun and can lead to a huge amount of carnage.

I am sure people reading this will hear the stories if they are ready to get on the Builtvisible train!


Our SEO team is currently hiring. If you’re on the lookout for an exciting new role in SEO, take a look at our careers page for more info.

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