Nakul Goyal is a self-described “Average Joe”, but we think he’s extraordinary.
With an impressive career spanning more than 20 years, Nakul has seen explosive growth across several enterprise brands in multiple industries and verticals. He is data-driven, detail-oriented, and well-versed in SEO testing.
In our interview, Nakul and I discuss his approach to SEO testing, his experience with brand growth, and the optimism he brings to the industry every day.
A Career Spanning Two Decades
I’ve been doing SEO and working on growth marketing my entire career. If Google or SEO didn’t exist, I’m not sure what I would be doing. In my career, I’ve seen major growth through SEO tactics in large enterprise brands, but my career started more on the web development side of digital marketing.
After my undergraduate studies, I started a web design consulting firm in India. Building my own business was fun, but building websites for other people was not as exciting as I’d hoped. It was my encounter with the old search engine Alta Vista that really sparked my desire to build a career in SEO. The principle that you could have an impact on a site by conducting a crawl and indexing the site has stuck with me and is something I reflect on often when I think back on my career.
Success Comes from Teamwork and Testing
My greatest accomplishments in SEO are related to the successes I’ve experienced with the great teams I’ve worked with in my career. I truly believe in the value of working on a team to solve a challenge and campaigning for the ability to test and learn from those tests.
One such opportunity was early in my career when I was working with a team to solve a customer’s problem by building a product for search. I created a one-pager and received reluctant feedback about whether or not this would have a positive impact (or if it would just cannibalize traffic). I had to find a way to prove this out.
After some convincing, our team approached this as a low-effort, low-fidelity initiative. We launched in less than 30 days, and while I won’t get into the details of what it was, the product has continued to grow over the last several years and has done over $100M in incremental revenue for that business.
This simple yet powerful test showed the importance of both teamwork and testing in SEO, even if that test is small. I like to say:
Let the test and its results speak for itself. We might be biased around certain initiatives and be quick to say something will work or not work based on our anecdotal experiences, but that may be totally wrong based on the industry.
This was such a great lesson for me to learn and it’s been rewarding to see the accomplishments of that team’s work over time.
Recommended Reading: A 6-Step Approach to SEO Testing
Gaining Executive Buy-In and Accessing Resources
Two of the challenges so many in-house SEOs face is gaining executive buy-in and accessing resources for SEO projects.
SEO practitioners in various industries often complain about this. This challenge is nothing new and exists across the industry, no matter where you work in SEO, be it the product team, the optimization team, or the development team.
If you bury SEO somewhere within eCommerce merchandising, you can guess what’s going to happen: It’s going to be a function of merchandising, and NOT of the holistic organization.
If you elevate SEO, however, to a role in the organization that has senior leadership, and the SEO works hard to maintain that role in the organization, then it’s clear that the organization understands the importance of SEO. They position SEO within the organization at the right place, at the right level.
Once you’ve obtained the executive buy-in and can prove the need for greater resources by demonstrating the value of your SEO program, then you move on to having a really clear SEO playbook, which, in my opinion consists of these three things:
- Team: making sure you have a world-class team that’s passionate about SEO and hungry to have an impact
- Tools: access to the right tools, like the seoClarity platform, to do your job effectively
- Testing: having a really clear SEO testing methodology where the test results speak for themselves
If you do that, then you can continue to earn trust (which maybe lends itself as the fourth T in my list!).
When I look at my current employer or any of my previous employers, I’ve never had a resource issue. That’s partly because I promise them something and delivered on that promise. This is the feedback loop: you promise something, deliver on that promise and then you keep doing it to instill continued trust.
Recommended Reading: Scared of Losing Organic Search Budget? Prove the Value of SEO to Leadership.
What Excites Me About SEO Today
I’m very, very results driven. And, and to me, the one thing that excites me about SEO is having a hockey-stick impact at companies with people who work on a product and aren’t sure what the ceiling is for their work.
For example, if I started Nakul’s blog and say, “Hey, I’m going to have a million views a month through SEO,” well, realistically, that’s not going to happen. If I understand my industry, however, I would approach my blog with the question of how I’m realistically going to grow.
A lot of companies are okay with 5-10% growth YOY, and don’t get me wrong – 5-10% growth is awesome! But, if there’s money on the table, I hate leaving it on the table. Our job as SEOs is to go capture that. So, if you don’t know how much money is on the table, how do you know when you capture the 10% that it’s enough?
To me, capturing the real estate that is available to you in the SERP and really earning it by building a great product that consumers love and trust is what’s most exciting. This is what stops me from sleeping at night, and it’s what wakes me up every morning.
What Frustrates Me About SEO Today
To be honest, if I was frustrated with something, I would have changed my career and started being a farmer or something. I really love what I do.
I don’t think of SEO frustrations as “frustrations”; rather, I consider them opportunities.
There is plenty of opportunity out there. I would encourage my fellow SEO practitioners to dig deep, and think about the concept of the 10x rules. There’s success out there, and you just have to go look for it. Let’s not blame and look for our frustrations or excuses, and instead, let’s turn them into opportunities.
The Future of the SEO Industry
Just like seoClarity, I am very passionate about advancing this industry. You’re always creating content that is helping the community, and breaking the ceiling. I’m always keen to speaking about the value of SEO to our fellow SEOs, industry leaders, CEOs, and CMOs. It’s up to us to carry out that conversation.
Regardless of your SEO goals or status, if I can enable you to be more successful, I’d love that. That’s what excites me. If I can have an impact somewhere else or play a tiny role in SEO enablement, I would love to do that.