This week we are lucky enough to feature a new interview with Krystian Szastok, an SEO consultant from East Grinstead (formerly from Brighton).  Krystian runs his own personal SEO blog & consultancy, as well as working for Rocket Mill (formerly Jellyfish) as a digital marketing manager.  We talked to him about the current state of SEO in 2014, how the role of SEO consultants are changing, and what this means for the industry as a whole.

Hi Krystian, we really appreciate the time you’ve taken out to speak to us today.  Could you give our readers some background information to yourself, and also how you got into the SEO industry?

SEO Consultant Krystian SzastokI started in SEO about 7 years ago after I learned how to make websites. A client of mine (still a client to this day) asked me if I could optimise his site – so I learned how to do it and it still ranks to this day. Not no.1 any more – but still very well visible and returning results.

The World of SEO has seen a lot of change over the last 12 months and I am sure you’ve probably seen a lot of clients whose rankings have been burnt due to past SEO practices they might have undertaken.  With that in mind, what top-level advice do you have to businesses who have suffered ranking drops or penalties?  

Get help. Research well and find an SEO agency with experience and educate yourself on what to expect in terms of recovery. Sign a tight contract to ensure no disappointment or surprises.

It seems to me that the role an SEO consultant is very different in 2014 to what it previously was.  From my perspective, SEO is getting more difficult, but that’s great news for reputable SEO consultants like ourselves. For example, on some projects, the role seems to blur between PR and SEO.  What would you say are the main aspects to an SEO consultant as it stands today and how do you position yourself when talking to new clients?

I think versatility and technical knowledge are very important. I do agree – sometimes we do borderline PR, but most important for me is the knowledge of many aspects of what is involved in increasing online visibility.

It’s crucial to be able to help someone whether they’re trying to rank in organic Google, local results, image results or even in another search engine like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Booking.com.

How do you keep abreast of the current SEO strategies and news?  Are there any particular events or online resources that you can recommend to other SEO consultants?

Twitter is big – I learned all of my SEO knowledge from peers. Following experts and reading articles they share helped me greatly in expanding my knowledge. There is not a day when I don’t read something new.  Here’s a handy Twitter list I made of some of the best SEOs I follow:

If I don’t have the time, I jump on a treadmill and use voice reader in my mobile to read articles into the headphones as I run.

One thing I’ve always found tricky is trying to explain to people what I do for a living who don’t know what the term SEO means.  How do you explain your role and what you do to someone who really has no idea what search engine optimisation is?

I usually just say ‘I help people improve their websites so that more people visit them’. It’s still vague as hell, but I do struggle to simplify it!

What’s your proudest achievement whilst working as an SEO consultant?  Whether that’s a particular project with great results, or something to do with your career progression?

Knowing that I helped many businesses. Being able to go to sleep knowing that I’m not ‘hacking’ or ‘cheating’ – kind of like we used to years ago back in the day of directory links and spam generally.

I’m most proud of the openness and my honest approach to SEO.

Finally, if you have anything you would like to plug or advertise, then please feel free to tell us about it.  Whether that’s a website, blog, project, or social media profile, we would love to know more.

Yes, absolutely, I plan to run a digital marketing conference in Brighton (possibly a mini conference, depends how things go) called CrossChann: crosschann.co.uk. Jump on the mailing list to be the first to know about it. Thanks for having me!