Trends in search engine optimization and paid advertising are shifting every day, but luckily for Southern Web, we have an expert on our team who is great at keeping up — much to the benefit of our clients!
As part of Southern Web’s “Meet the Team” interview series,, our Digital Marketing Manager Dustin Johnson shares his unique insight into the world of SEO and PPC.
As a Digital Marketing Manager, what do you do at Southern Web?
I work with clients to meet their digital marketing needs, which includes everything from taking care of on-page SEO efforts to managing paid search advertising through Facebook and Google. My ultimate goal is to either fix or optimize our clients’ digital presences on both their website and any third-party sites or applications they appear on.
What are some of the tools that are indispensable to your work?
Google Analytics plays a huge role in my work, but I also use Google AdWords, Google Search Console, and Google My Business. Outside of Google’s suite of digital marketing tools, I also use SpyFu, which provides a great overview of what potential competitors are up to.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
When you’re optimizing an online presence, there are some basic tick boxes that you can check off and call it a day. However, the challenge comes in when all those tick boxes are already ticked. That’s when you need to start thinking outside the box to figure out what can better be done in order to move them up the search rankings.
What are some things that clients may not understand about your work?
On the pay-per-click paid advertising side of my job, I would say that sometimes clients don’t realize that they’re putting themselves up against other people and companies — especially in competitive industries. When a client doesn’t see their ad sitting at the top of the page, they wonder why and it’s because sometimes their competitors have much larger budgets. They may be up against someone that can throw millions of dollars at a keyword, as opposed to just hundreds.
As far as SEO, it’s a constant reminder to the client that there’s not a quick fix; it’s a long game. So even though they may be doing what’s right with regards to SEO right now, it may take them at least three to six to nine months to actually see results.
What are some digital marketing trends or technology that you think people should keep an eye on for the future?
The push for mobile optimization has been big for the past several years, and it’s only going to get bigger. With mobile-centered traffic, comes the necessity to optimize for voice search and home AI assistants, like Alexa and Google Dot. This technology will play a huge role in the future of local SEO.
On a related note, Google is coming out with products that specifically touch on local businesses and local opportunities — such as Google Beacon. It’s critical for businesses and organizations to take advantage of as many local SEO-based tools as possible.
What advice do you have for other digital marketing managers?
Do what you can to stay ahead of the curve, and just keep reading. There are tons of online resources that do daily blogs about new tools and new trends and developments. It seems like there’s something new every five minutes, so it can be tough to keep up, but you really have to make a concerted effort to invest and prioritize your time in doing good research. This keeps you sharp, and it provides better outcomes for your customers.
My other word of advice would be to not forget the basics! As algorithms and technology get more complicated and more tools and trends materialize, the foundational basics of SEO are still always going to be the same. You can do 10,000 things that are out of the box, but if your basics are wrong, it’s not going to give you the results that you want.
When your head isn’t buried deep in Google Analytics, what do you do to unhook?
I play a lot of video games. I also like to cycle and hike. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa — where there are lots of mountains and beaches to explore. I’m now living in a place with a wildly different terrain — just outside of Atlanta, Georgia — so I’m hiking in a much different environment these days!
Invisibility, Flight or Telepathy. Of these three superpowers, which would you choose and why?
I often thought I would pick telepathy, but I would probably end up choosing invisibility so that I could become an evil super villain. Heh.