In our new and exclusive linkbird blog column Laurens Mauquoi, Head of SEO and eCRM at the loan comparison site smava, talks about his own daily business routine as in-house SEO as well as the routine of his colleagues, partners, and friends.
Find all articles of the blog series here:
Laurens’ Inbound Marketing Lounge #1: When to Do Content Marketing In-house?
Laurens’ Inbound Marketing Lounge #2: How to Build A Successful Content Marketing Team
Laurens’ Inbound Marketing Lounge #3: How to Find the Right Content Formats for Any Industry
Laurens’ Inbound Marketing Lounge #4: Link Building & Marketing Perfectly Complement Each Other
Laurens’ Inbound Marketing Lounge #5: Content Marketing Campaigns: 3 Best Practice Examples
In this interview Fanny Beyer from Elite Singles talks about the perfect alignment of SEO, Content & PR.
1. Who is Fanny Beyer and what are you doing at Elite Singles/Affinitas?
I moved to Berlin in 2009 after finishing my studies of linguistics and philosophy but I am originally from Guben – the probably most eastern town in Germany. When I arrived in Berlin I first of all was desperately searching for a job as it wasn’t easy to get a foot in the door with a humanistic background.
I’ve then started working as an intern at Zalando and left about 3 years later as a senior. Since February 2014, I am team lead at Affinitas, also known as Elite Singles or eDarling, managing a SEO team of 24 employees. We’re active in more than 26 markets including Spain, France, Russia, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand among others.
We’re also one of the few Berlin-based companies that have entered the US market just recently. That’s what makes working at Affinitas so exciting and diverse.
2. Online visibility of eDarling.de was highly volatile during the past years. Currently it’s getting better again. Why is that?
To be honest we’re not focusing too much on visibility as presented by Sistrix or Searchmetrics anymore. Of course, visibility in one of the mentioned tools shows a tendency but yet it is more of a symptom than a really significant KPI. Most important is the performance of a site and therefore we’re looking at different KPIs. First of all rankings for sure but also user behavior and conversions.
We’ve worked a lot on our content during the last year and have focused especially on relevance. Some domains were “cleaned up” – that means we’ve put many sites and topics together, restructured and revised them. Furthermore we’ve switched many of our domains to responsive design which gave us a huge boost on mobile.
3. You’ve decided to stand completely aloof from traditional link building. What kind of challenges did that raise for the team?
When I started at Affinitas, restructuring was already taking place. It had been some time since “sketchy” link building techniques weren’t applied anymore. That was something that impressed and delighted me right from the start. But I think and hope that there are hardly any websites out there doing “traditional” link building anymore. However, you always need to figure out what “traditional” means in this context.
„Link building“ has developed a quite negative connotation over the years so we’re now rather speaking of “link earning” as we really have to work hard for the links and earn them.
4. That sounds interesting. Can you specify the term “link earning”?
Our „link earning“ is mainly interconnected with PR activities. The topics partner search and dating have unbelievably high potential for exciting issues that we also define via surveys and that we can then present to journalists and editors.
Herein the topics can be rather informal such as “Where do the most attractive singles live?” but also very scientific as in “The psychological gender”.
Elite Singles perfectly leverages its broad topic portfolio.
5. If I get you right, you’re saying that content marketing in your opinion is part of modern PR?
SEO and PR complement each other at Elite Singles/eDarling. Ideally magazines and blogs are linking to our content because readers can find more information about the topic there.
Of course, we also try and build up good contacts to journalists, editors and bloggers. This way we learn what is currently hot in media respective what might be hot tomorrow and can react correspondingly.
6. You’re also leading an editorial team. How do you structure your content to reach potential customers?
Our content can be split up into different areas. As mentioned before we’re focusing on relevance. We therefore also accept that there are certain search terms that might be relevant for the topics partner search and dating in a broader sense but that aren’t related to our product which is why we we’ll probably never get a #1 ranking.
We’re not a flirt app like Tinder for instance. However, this doesn’t mean that we’re not writing about it or don’t provide tips for our readers. In general we differentiate between transactional and informational content.
This differentiation helps us with customer acquisition in particular. Before, all content was aimed at providing information. We’ve changed that by analyzing and interpreting search intent. This approach allows us to start optimization in the title and the meta description.
7. Affinitas entered the market in 2009. Does an old site still need the continuous growth in links?
I think that links but also traditional clippings always help to increase relevance and awareness for a domain or brand. In the end a backlink is still a proof of good and popular content. This should also still be important for rankings.
Infographics are especially useful for building links.
But I think that backlinks aren’t the biggest part of the iceberg anymore and that a well-structured and content-wise maintained page can rank with less but more qualitative links than before.
8. The dating market is highly competitive. How do you deal with aggressive link building techniques of competitors? And how can your content marketing help you to stay competitive with regard to new formats such as Tinder?
We know what our competitors are doing in the area of link building but we’re not much influenced by it. There are competitors that also “build links” via good PR work and that therefore are a source of inspiration for us. But in general we’re concentrating on our own goals and targets. Of course there are also competitors working with questionable link building methods but in my opinion it’s Google’s and other search engines’ responsibility to ban these black sheep from the SERPs.
In the end Penguin & Co require everyone to change the mindset and start offering really interesting and relevant content that generates links organically. I don’t consider Tinder a direct competitor as they’re focusing on a completely different target group.
9. You’re looking back on 5 years of experience in SEO. What tip would you give to newbies for successful content marketing?
Be relevant, don’t buy links – it doesn’t pay off in the long run – and inspire others with your content.