Home / Insights / Aimee Talbot: Celebrating 10 years at Varn!
6 September 2022
Aimee Talbot: Celebrating 10 years at Varn!
Our wonderful Head of Technical SEO Aimee Talbot, is celebrating a decade at Varn. As a much loved and respected member of the Varn team, we thought we would pick Aimee’s brain about those last 10 years, how SEO has evolved since joining Varn and what’s in store for the future…
1) Aimee, huge congratulations for your Varn 10 year birthday! It’s such an achievement and we have been so lucky to have you in the team for a decade. Can you share with us how you began working in SEO and your career journey with Varn so far?
Thank you! It’s been a real pleasure and I’m looking forward to another 10. My career in SEO began about 14 years ago now, I started working for a web agency where I learned the basics of SEO, before finding Varn in 2012. The second I started working here, I knew I’d found something special. I’ve loved SEO from day one but within Varn I’ve been given the space and nourishment to really grow and specialise in the areas that fascinate me the most. Now, as head of Technical SEO at Varn, I head up an amazing team of individuals who I hope I can provide with that same support and enthusiasm.
2) You head up the Technical SEO team at Varn, what does that typically involve?
One of the things that I love about Technical SEO is the variety of tasks and projects we get to work on, it’s very rare that you’ll do the same thing two days in a row. For most clients, the Tech team start with a bespoke SEO audit, which we all find really interesting. Being able to spend time diving into a website’s statistics, build, coding and so on really excites the nerd in me! A lot of our work is based in analysis and problem solving, as well as creating custom code for things like Schema markup, custom tracking, reporting … So it can get pretty complicated – luckily I love a challenge.
3) What would you say have been some of your career highlights and the things you are most proud of at Varn?
One of the very best bits about being a part of Varn has been seeing the company grow into the brilliant team it is today. 10 years ago, me and Tom were working from a spare bedroom whilst we searched for a new office. Now, we’re a growing team of 15 with some incredible clients and really exciting projects – and an awesome office space! I’m so grateful to have been part of the Varn journey so far and to have seen the company and the team grow into what it is today. Having been here for so long (there’s a running joke that I’m part of the furniture now), I like to think that I played a part in the growth and success of Varn, and that makes me immensely proud. I’m also equal parts proud and grateful for the amount I’ve learned over the past decade. I’ve always had a real passion for learning, and in the ever-changing world of SEO there’s always something new and exciting just around the corner.
4) How has SEO changed in the past 10 years?
The interesting thing about SEO is that in many ways it has changed so incredibly drastically over the past decade – although in other ways it has stayed exactly the same. As Google algorithm updates have come and gone, the focus of a lot of SEO strategies has changed in line with those updates. Having said that, the key focus at the core of SEO has always been to ensure your website suits the needs of your target audience and that you outrank your competition. Most of the changes that Google have made over the past 10 years have been implemented to help prevent people from ‘tricking the system’. A decade ago it wasn’t unheard of to see websites full of long lists of keywords in white text, hidden on a white background… backlink profiles filled with content from link farms, sites full of duplicate content… the list goes on. So whilst our SEO knowledge and expertise has developed massively over time in line with Google updates and new areas of focus, SEO has always been about being one of the ‘good guys’ and not trying to manipulate Google into increasing your rankings.
5) What excites you about the future of SEO?
Whilst I believe that SEO at its core will always be akin to what it is now, the processes we use to identify potential areas of improvement for clients are always developing. For example, several years ago when we realised Google were focusing a lot more on internal linking profiles when crawling websites, we created our own internal linking tool which we now use as part of our bespoke SEO audits. It is tailored to the metrics we’ve seen have an impact on the optimisation of internal website links and is an incredibly useful instrument for us, as well as being a great way to demonstrate the importance of this linking to clients. Developing these tools and our knowledge and expertise whilst discovering more about areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation and the like is so incredibly interesting and something that I personally really enjoy. Also, Google is a tech GIANT… they could turn around tomorrow and completely change the face of SEO. So we always need to make sure we’re on the ball and at the top of our game. As Benjamin E. Mays once said, “The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency”.
6) How do you see the importance of SEO developing for clients in the future?
As long as clients have competition, SEO will be of paramount importance. Regardless of the level of SEO within your website, the main thing standing between you and ranking at the top of organic Google search results is the competition. As the necessity for SEO increases and your competitors work on their own online marketing strategies, it becomes more and more difficult to outperform them within search, unless you have a solid, ongoing SEO strategy of your own in place. This coupled with the fact that the volume of people using online search is increasing drastically year on year just goes to show that SEO will only ever increase in importance.
7) What do you think will be a core focus for your team over the next 12 months?
GA4 is something that is going to take up a lot of our time over the coming year. We started exploring GA4 when it was first announced by Google, back in 2019. Since then, the switch to GA4 has become increasingly important, especially with Universal Analytics no longer tracking website visits from July of next year. As there’s now less than a year of UA left, more and more businesses are realising the importance of making the switch. I do expect a bit of a last minute panic and new enquiries from potential clients trying to implement GA4, and trying to protect their historical data.
8) Can you share with us any insights that may be useful for people who are interested in joining the team in the future? What’s your piece of advice to any new starter at Varn on Day 1?
It’s just as important to identify what you don’t know, as it is to identify what you excel at. So many of us have areas in which we aren’t especially proficient, or in which we are in need of training. However, many people try to conceal these shortcomings, for a fear of being judged or deemed underqualified for the job. When looking for new employees to join the Technical SEO team and Varn as a whole, we make sure to search for people based on their personality and attitude rather than focusing solely on skills and experience. SEO skills and experience can be taught – as long as you are eager to learn, have a good attitude and are a good fit with the Varn team, you’ll get on great! We’re passionate about helping each member of the team train and develop in the areas they enjoy; The training and mentoring I’ve been provided over the past decade has played a crucial part in my career progression. Don’t gloss over the areas you lack confidence in – we’ll help you own them!
9) What advice would you give to 2012 Aimee?
I’d tell her to relax and enjoy herself more. Tom recently led a discussion on imposter syndrome, which rang so true to me. I’ve wobbled many times over the last 10 years, scared that something will crop up that I can’t explain or an issue will arise that I can’t solve – and as a result, people would discover that I don’t have all of the answers. That they might see me as a fraud. The truth is, I don’t know everything about SEO. Nobody does. And nobody expects me to. I have an incredible team around me who I trust implicitly and who love the job as much as I do. The key is to make sure that we work well as a team and that our specialities fit together like an SEO puzzle. And to understand that issues will emerge which we don’t immediately know the answer to, but that’s okay. Some of my greatest achievements over the past decade first presented as near impossible challenges. Relax, have fun and enjoy the successes.
10) And finally as Varn looks to grow and develop, what are you excited about for the future?
So far, 2022 is set to be one of our most successful years to date. A combination of welcoming new team members, setting new business goals, implementing new processes and spending more time working on projects we enjoy is really working well for us. We’re working with more clients who match our company purpose and ethos, which makes everything we do much more enjoyable and rewarding. So I’m really excited to partner with more of those companies, and to expand the Varn team even further. There’s definitely a bit of a buzz in the air, exciting things are coming! Roll on another decade.