Moving from Consultant to In-House SEO with Melissa Fach [Podcast]

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Loren Baker interviews Melissa Fach, a long-time SEO consultant and former editor of Search Engine Journal, about her move from being an SEO consultant and search industry content editor to taking on a massive change – going in-house to manage enterprise SEO content at Cox Automotive.

Here is the entire transcript of the show (please excuse any transcription errors) :

Loren Baker:

Hi, everybody. This is Loren Baker, founder of Search Engine Journal and with me today, I have Melissa Fach of Cox Automotive. Did I pronounce it correctly?

Melissa Fach:

You did.

Loren Baker:

I called you Melissa Fok for years. To the point where we would be in a Pubcon session and it would be like, “Easy, Foker.” Then everyone laughed and then you never corrected me.

Melissa Fach:

No. Everybody says it differently so I don’t correct.

Loren Baker:

Okay. Melissa Fach from Cox Automotive. Welcome to the SEJ show, Melissa. How’s it going?

Melissa Fach:

It’s good.

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Loren Baker:

Good, good. Well, this is a special episode today because we usually do this on Fridays. We ended up rescheduling for Tuesday, so I’m really interested to see how many eyeballs pop up. If you’re currently watching, let us know. Melissa and I will see your comments, so if you’re watching on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, I’m not sure if it works for Twitter or not, but leave a comment on Facebook and YouTube if you’re currently watching there because this is live and it’s going to be interactive and we might mess up from time to time, but we’re good.

Loren Baker:

Melissa, it’s a pleasure to have you on today.

Melissa Fach:

Thanks for having me.

Loren Baker:

How about a little introduction and then we’ll go into your history a bit?

Melissa Fach:

I’m bad at introductions. Okay, so I’m a senior SEO and content manager for Cox Automotive. I work with Kelley Blue Book and Auto Trader. I’ve been in the SEO industry for, what is it, 16 years now?

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Loren Baker:

Wow.

Melissa Fach:

I don’t know what else to say about myself.

Loren Baker:

Okay. I’ll ask you questions [crosstalk 00:01:48]

Melissa Fach:

You ask me questions.

Loren Baker:

Melissa actually, at one time, was the editor for Search Engine Journal.

Melissa Fach:

I was.

Loren Baker:

I believe that was eight years ago, nine years ago perhaps?

Melissa Fach:

No. It’s been 10 years, I think.

Loren Baker:

It’s been a decade, right, which flies by for us, but maybe not for the young kids. Melissa, there was a time at SEJ when I was focusing a little bit more on the agency side. The site needed some help. We were allowing a lot of guest contributors and stuff like that and we really needed someone to take over and lay down the law. Melissa actually started a trend of… It’s really hard for me to say that it wasn’t quality content before because when it was my blog, writing about everything, and I was doing the writing. I’m very biased. It was the most quality content ever.

Melissa Fach:

Right. It was good. It was.

Loren Baker:

For a while, we were letting a lot of stuff on and then Melissa really cleaned it up, even before [inaudible 00:02:56] which was really good timing, actually.

Melissa Fach:

Yes.

Loren Baker:

Before you worked in house as an editor at SEJ, you were doing training or you were working on the agency side. What were you doing then?

Melissa Fach:

Yeah, I had my own company, so building websites, SEO, doing training on the side to make money. I have classes at a local college. Like when they-

Loren Baker:

Oh wow.

Melissa Fach:

So I would rent out one of the stadium rooms and we’d talk about different things.

Loren Baker:

That’s cool.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah, and it was good money because I wouldn’t charge that much but if you have $75 to $100 and you’ve got 300 or 400 people show up every time, that’s not bad money for the day.

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Loren Baker:

No.

Melissa Fach:

Back then it was good. I was happy. Then I would do trainings with companies as well.

Loren Baker:

I remember. I remember.

Melissa Fach:

Then you came along and mentioned the SEJ thing. I was burned out. I don’t know if you remember. We had the real estate boom here in Florida. Everything fell apart.

Loren Baker:

Yeah.

Melissa Fach:

Clients became very difficult. I had them saying like, “Can I trade you plants for work?” I’m like, “No.”

Loren Baker:

Plants? Like palm trees? In Florida.

Melissa Fach:

People yeah, like, “We’re landscapers. We’ll come and plant.” I’m like, “I don’t need plants. I need cash.” So I got very burned out. I was very tired.

Loren Baker:

I remember that vividly. I was working with a lot of financial companies at the time and a lot of them were put on hold or didn’t exist any longer and stuff like that. 2008, 2009 that was pretty tough.

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Melissa Fach:

Yeah. Florida didn’t recover for years.

Loren Baker:

No, it didn’t. Then did you do agency stuff after SEJ, after your stint as an editor?

Melissa Fach:

I have a client that I kept and that’s been it.

Loren Baker:

Okay. Well that’s good. That’s a long time. That’s sounds awesome. Refresh my memory, after SEJ, you ended up basically taking a new career path for a while, right? In terms of-

Melissa Fach:

Well, I went to MAZ because they needed an extra editor for new MAZ at the time. That morphed into editing and doing social media, like social media customers are just like. They were in Seattle. I was in Florida. So I would run social in the morning until they woke up.

Loren Baker:

Right. I remember that.

Melissa Fach:

Then I went to work for Authority Labs at the same time I was working for MAZ which was weird because they were two tools. Then I stepped away from… I always kind of kept two things going, Just in case.

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Loren Baker:

Hedge your bets.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah. And then the MAZ thing was coming to an end for me so I reached out to Bret Taki and said, “Hey, I’m looking for something on the side. If you hear of anything, let me know.” And he was like, “Can I call you?” And I was like, “Sure.” And he’s like, “I wanted you to work for me for years.” I literally dances around my driveway because I love. I thought this is great. This is perfect. So, I worked for Authority Labs for a while, and then I just went Pubcon exclusively for a while. Then I added SemRush about two years in to Pubcon. Authority Labs was more content generation, and social and then SemRush was complete, like I did for SEJ editing.

Loren Baker:

Complete editing.

Melissa Fach:

That was working with guest contributors and basically doing the same thing I did for SEJ which was, is this SEO advice legit?

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Loren Baker:

Cool.

Melissa Fach:

That was the big thing was I was the gate keeper. So there was also editing but the most of it was, is this true? Is this not? Me going back to the writer and saying. I was hard there as I was at SEJ. I think I rejected anywhere from 91 to 94% of the stuff that came in most of the time. It was inaccurate.

Loren Baker:

Does 94%, does that count LinkedIn pitches or are these real pitches like.

Melissa Fach:

No. These where real pitches.

Loren Baker:

Okay.

Melissa Fach:

Because SemRush is worldwide, so they were coming from everywhere.

Loren Baker:

Right. Right.

Melissa Fach:

And depending on what country you’re in, SEO is easier that it is in the United States. Since the United States is our main audience, I had to be focused on is this legit in the United States?

Loren Baker:

Right. That makes sense. That makes sense.

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Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

I still call them SEM Rush sorry. Is SemRush, do they publish in other languages outside of English on their blog. I’m not aware.

Melissa Fach:

They do. Yes. Five or six other-

Loren Baker:

Okay.

Melissa Fach:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Loren Baker:

I wasn’t aware of that. That’s really interesting. I’m going to have to check that out. So you went from running your own agency and your own training to editing to working in house for some of the largest brands in search engine optimization like MAZ, SemRush, Authority Labs and Pubcon. These are not small companies, or brands to laugh at.

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

These are pretty established. So quite a nice little resume there in terms of what you’ve been doing in the SEO side of things behind the scenes for a while.

Melissa Fach:

Pubcon was a little different because it was more community management of the speakers. Making sure you all were happy and feeling good when you went on stage. I had Tylenol. Bret always hated it, so I had Tylenol and stuff in my bag. It’s Vegas and people had been out.

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Loren Baker:

Yeah. I’m going to blame than on the taco bar at Senor Frog’s. Must have been something in the taco.

Melissa Fach:

Right. I really got to know a lot of the people that spoke for the five years I was there. Then I got to know a lot of people who were attendees who later became speakers or became larger in the industry, so I think my career was based around the SEO industry for a very long time.

Loren Baker:

It’s kind of interesting because I never really thought of it that way. You were doing education previously, whether it’s companies or a college style setting, but to a degree you were also kind of doing that with the search companies you were working with where you’re educating people on how to do a better job of communicating, how to do a better job of writing, how to do a better job of speaking. Which at the end of the day, it’s all similar. It’s a mentorship. Do you think that’s just a natural quality that you have?

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Melissa Fach:

I think it is. I have a Masters in Mental Health. In that three year program they made us take tons of test that we would recommend to our clients and two of them were education, or what your skill sets are, and I scored number one for corporate trainer every time. And I always remembered that. I thought, “Hey. I’m good at teaching things.” So I always went at it like that I think because of… There’s a thing you take for grad school. It’s the GRE exam. For my grad program I had to do well in English and Math. I really studied for it, but I killed in on the analytical which didn’t even count. I didn’t do as well in math as they wanted but they were like, “Your analytical score is so high that…”-

Loren Baker:

Were you just-

Melissa Fach:

So I was like, “Okay.” But when you’re looking at SEO and you’re looking at content about SEO, analytical is critical because people are saying, “I did this, and this resulted in this.” And then I would go back to them and say, “But you didn’t account for this, this, this, or this, so how can we publish this and say this is an accurate thing or good advice.” You know what I mean?

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Loren Baker:

Oh. Interesting.

Melissa Fach:

It’s a constant examining what they did and then teaching them and saying, “No, you forgot this. Go back and get us this data and we’ll look at it again.” Or, “Next time please do this.” Most people are receptive. I had one man threaten me when I was at Maz. Physically threatened me when I rejected his content.

Loren Baker:

My gosh.

Melissa Fach:

SemRush I never had that, but I did have a lot of people, men specifically, who were upset that I said no. They wanted to speak to a male editor and I was like, “There are no male editors.” So this is what it is and if you can fix this… Jason Bernard, he’s a good example. The first time he came to us he had great information and we were like, “This would be even better if you did X, Y, Z.” And I felt bad because he’d written a book. He edited with us probably three or four times. And that thing killed it. He’s one of our biggest traffic drivers. So it wasn’t just, “yeah, this is good enough.” It’s like, “I could really take this farther for you if you did this.” You know what I mean?

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Loren Baker:

Yeah. Which is good advice especially for anyone, now that we’re hopefully through this pandemic thingy, that we’ve been dealing with for the past year, it seems like there’s probably going to be in person event, conferences, whether they’re hybrid, all in person or even still virtual. Right?

Melissa Fach:

Yep.

Loren Baker:

So these are all tips that any viewers or listeners, if you’re thinking about pitching, which we highly do, I highly encourage anybody to get out there.

Melissa Fach:

And pitch.

Loren Baker:

Pitch. Network. Get your thoughts out there et cetera. There’s more opportunities than there’s ever been. Some of what you just went over, like the ability to show how you got from point A to point B, and not just make it up, not just be like, “Oh we did this and boom all this stuff happened.”

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

Like exactly what happened along the way. How to tell a narrative.

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Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

How to back up the analytics with a narrative with analytics. Right?

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

From a data perspective or analyticals perspective, screenshots et cetera, et cetera. Any other tips that you would give to someone that’s pitching or thinking of it.

Melissa Fach:

First-

Loren Baker:

Or may be scared to do so.

Melissa Fach:

Right. For speaking some of the biggest mistakes I saw. I felt bad for Bret when the pitches would come in. Sometimes he’d have 50 to 75 people pitching on the exact same topic.

Loren Baker:

Yeah. It’s tough.

Melissa Fach:

So if this is a topic he wants to cover, how is he going to choose two or three for that topic? People that said, “I’ve been in SEO for 10 years. I can talk about anything in SEO.” You’re out. That wasn’t what he needed. What he needed was what can you talk about and what can you teach? So at the end of the day what matters is that the attendees walk away with information that they can learn, or take and use and improve something. So if you can’t tell a conference this is what the takeaways are going to be for your audience, this is what they’ll learn from me and how they can apply it and improve something. Whoever takes the time to write that all out, has a better shot, if that makes sense.

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Loren Baker:

That’s really good to know.

Melissa Fach:

You’re going to have 10 or 12 equally qualified people in the end, maybe. Maybe just 10. But then it comes down to the level of the pitch. I can talk on this topic from this angle, this angle, this angle. Don’t just say this little thing, “I can do this.” Give us the whole picture and then the takeaways because if Brett has, “You know what? I’m going to start a second session on the same topic from this angle.” He knows, “Well, I can include this person.” If they talked about it from an in house perspective or from this perspective. You kind of have to give the conference everything. I think the biggest fail is people who did not take time with the pitches.

Loren Baker:

Interesting. That’s really good to know. That’s really great advice. I think we might follow up with that as well. Especially from someone that was going through those pitches, helping the speakers, helping them prepare. Whether it was a Tylenol or a little bit of self confidence, or whatever is needed to make it happen. That’s really good information from a lifelong educator and decades long educator in our space. A lot of the time I’m familiar with a lot of agencies or search companies bringing someone in who used to be in house. Right?

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Melissa Fach:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Loren Baker:

We see this all the time. We have so and so that used to be a Google. We have so and so that used to here, be there. It’s almost like a sales point. But you’ve kind of taken the opposite approach. You went from being an agency to being in house in the search industry side but it was still the search industry side. Right?

Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

I don’t consider myself an in house person at SEJ it feels almost like an agency feeling to me because of the team and everything else. You decided to go in house three months ago? Four months ago?

Melissa Fach:

Oh, no, it’s seven months now.

Loren Baker:

Seven months. Oh my gosh, time flies. So how has that experience been and what are the differences between working in house now and your old in house positions within the search industry with tools or conferences or publications?

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Melissa Fach:

I can say that I probably should have done this a long time ago.

Loren Baker:

Okay.

Melissa Fach:

Let’s say, it’s a good fit for me. I’m very happy doing it. It’s far more, and I don’t want my bosses to think that I don’t work hard. I work hard. It’s a different kind of work. So when you’re in the SEO industry… How do I say this delicately? People tend to do things at the last minute or they’re used to working till midnight, which means you’re going to work latter as well. Right?

Loren Baker:

Right.

Melissa Fach:

A piece of content isn’t done until eight pm. It has to be live by 3:00 AM eastern. That meant I was staying up till midnight editing. I don’t do that now. It’s 9 to 5, or maybe six if we have an extended meeting. But it’s also so professional. Granted it may be the company that I’m with. They have very high standards for how employees behave. So while I love the SEO industry and it gave me a place where I finally fit, because I never really fit with people. I understood how the SEO industry thought about things. There tends to be a little bit of drama with things.

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Loren Baker:

In SEO. Really? In the SEO industry?

Melissa Fach:

Somebody’s mad at somebody or somebody said something just the wrong way or someone is demanding people to accept people when they don’t accept somebody else. It’s just very stressful.

Loren Baker:

Someone’s bringing back declining 94% of.

Melissa Fach:

But you know what? When I declined them I explained why.

Loren Baker:

There you go. That’s not drama, that’s professionalism.

Melissa Fach:

No. That was like, “Look, if you could do this next time, we could publish it.” Or, “If you want to rewrite it and do this, we’ll look at it again.” But there was no insulting people or belittling people. I don’t have this in enterprise. It’s just great work. On sites this big, the stakes are huge.

Loren Baker:

Yeah.

Melissa Fach:

So it’s just different. I remember, right after I started working there, my manager at the time was Chris Nichols and he told me to do something and I thought, “I’m not qualified for this. I don’t know if I should be making this decision.” And I said, “How can you trust me?” And he’s like, and there are a lot of interviews [inaudible 00:20:31], and he’s like, “We hired you because we trust you. Just make the call.”

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Loren Baker:

That’s a good feeling.

Melissa Fach:

I called Keith Goode and I like, because he’s at IBM, I was like, “is this normal?” And he’s like, “This is normal. It’s okay.” But if was different for me because in the SEO industry every little thing is questioned. I don’t feel like I had an opportunity to work somewhere where I could use all of my skills. Right?

Loren Baker:

Right.

Melissa Fach:

And take everything, whether I was working building sites for people and building sites for myself to make money, but reading and attending conferences. You learn a lot over 10 years. There’s a lot of knowledge in here that I didn’t even realize I had until I went enterprise.

Loren Baker:

That’s a really interesting point. Sometimes I feel like I’m behind or overwhelmed-

Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

… because of all of the discussions and everything that’s happening. But then when I slow it down, I realize, oh my gosh, I’m basically learning new stuff on a daily basis and it doesn’t matter if someone else learned it before me.

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Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

Like and hour before me, or tweeted it and hour before me, or something like that.

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

This doesn’t matter at all. But it’s kind of-

Melissa Fach:

I think the industry’s too big at this point and there’s too many variants and factors to look at. None of us can be at the top of all aspects. We may know-

Loren Baker:

You can’t be a master of all. You can’t be a master of everything because then you’re a master of nothing.

Melissa Fach:

… this little part really well and know some of this. You’re not going to do well in this industry if you’re not willing to learn every day. That’s why Search Engine Journal sill has good readership because there’s something to learn all the time. Right?

Loren Baker:

Yeah. There is. There is. It’s a lot to keep up with.

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Melissa Fach:

It’s a lot to keep up with. And there’s a lot that three months down the road you realize, I’m behind on this I’ve got to go read. I got to go work. But I was like you. I was thinking I’m behind or I was worried I was kind of stuck in this little box where I didn’t get to use everything and because I didn’t get to use it and see it in action I wondered, “Am I behind? Am I not…” But then here… oh. Go ahead.

Loren Baker:

One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes people expect that if you’re in SEO or you’ve been in SEO, that you know all things Google, like I am not a UTM tag expect.

Melissa Fach:

Okay.

Loren Baker:

UTM tags, they’re not an SEO thing.

Melissa Fach:

No.

Loren Baker:

It’s a digital marketing tracking component. I get asked all the time. I’m not a UTM. And I always feel like, “Oh man, I don’t know.” But it’s not an SEO thing for me. UTM things are not an SEO thing for me just because… Well, UTM stand for what? Urchin something. But anyway-

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Melissa Fach:

I don’t know.

Loren Baker:

Just because it’s part of Google, does not necessarily mean it’s all SEO. Right?

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

So there’s that expectation. I get asked ORM questions, online reputation management questions all the time. I used to do ORM 10 years ago when you could-

Melissa Fach:

When it was easy.

Loren Baker:

… build things to positive reviews and they go up and then the negative ones would fall down, but it’s a totally different ballgame now. And you know what? I don’t have time for that. There’s ORM experts that have time for that. They have the expertise.

Melissa Fach:

Right. I think that’s part of why I love the team I’m on. Our director, Tessa Nadik, which you’ve met, she is the best director because she’ll even say, “I don’t know the answer to this. Who can tell me?” Because she said, “I’m building a team of people who are experts in specific things and we’re going to work together as a team. And then we learn from one another. She has different ways for us to learn from one another.

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Melissa Fach:

I’m never going to be the best at core web vitals. We have Ellen Edmands for that. She’s this genius. I don’t even know what she’s saying half the time. That’s the beauty of working in a team like this is I don’t have to. Tessa doesn’t expect me to know or be an expert at everything. She hired me to do a specific thing. And then pull these in and then rely on my team when I need to integrate. So it’s completely different, supportive, healthy environment for me.

Loren Baker:

So I have a question for you. And this is a really important question because I’ve wanted to know how this feels for a long time.

Melissa Fach:

Okay.

Loren Baker:

You’ve been at Cox Automotive for seven months now. How does it feel to open up a search tool, like a MAZ or a SemRush or whatever it may be, or to open up Google Search Console and see one site? Or two sites? As opposed to 50 of them. How does it feel to focus and take all of that agency energy where you’re jumping from this to this and this and that, and take all of that brain power and just focus on one thing? Or in your case, a couple of different sites, but one industry? How does it feel to cut everything away? Did it take some time to get used to that?

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Melissa Fach:

I will be honest. They kept saying, “We’re overwhelming you.” And I’m like, “No. You’re not.” This is good. It’s calming. Granted, Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader are massive sites so Google Search Console, you’ve got to work to get what you need out of the particular section. But it is easier. There’s no scrolling. I’m very focused on specific areas of the sight and I know what’s going on and I work with editorials so I’m always watching specific things. It is calm.

Loren Baker:

Next question. Follow up. How does it feel to suddenly only work with like one project management solution? Or not have multiple different things going on at once? Even outside of [inaudible 00:27:05], is that also calming as well?

Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

Okay.

Melissa Fach:

Because it’s, I don’t know, its just not as stressful. What is stressful is these are big sites and the decisions I make are either going to have a good impact or they’re not which is big money here.

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Loren Baker:

Right. Cars.

Melissa Fach:

[crosstalk 00:27:26] that but compared to what I felt last year, this is heaven. In comparison, I’m in a really good place compared to where I was a year ago.

Loren Baker:

Fantastic. Fantastic. There’s a high demand out there right now in search. I don’t know if this is because of the escalation of eCommerce and everything else over the past year going from X% to Y% quicker than people thought. People seeing the value of organic traffic. When they had to shut down their ad campaigns last year dues to supply chain issues and stuff like that. But right now there really seems to be a lot of companies out there that are hiring and they’re having a really hard time filling those positions, from my understanding.

Melissa Fach:

I don’t blame them.

Loren Baker:

I’ve seen job descriptions from Uber, from Cox, from various different large brands, large companies, even with the ability to work remotely.

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Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

Which a couple years ago if you would have said, “Well, I have this opening and you can work from home.” People would be all over it. But right now, to me there just seems to be a lot more opportunity out there and a lot more openings than there used to be and maybe a little difficult to fill. So maybe we’re having a deficiency in talent right now.

Melissa Fach:

We are. Here’s why. Again, I going to say this delicately. To work at some of these companies, experience is critical and expertise in particular areas are critical. I feel like some people have come in and they’ve learned 101, 102 like stuff, and then they’re expecting to get a VP spot and that’s just not going to happen. To do well in this industry you have to educate yourself on the side. You have to take your own time out of work to keep learning. When I was learning I read SEJ every day. I read Search Engine Round Table. I read everything there was, every day to make sure I was learning. You still have to continue to do that.

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Melissa Fach:

The other thing that I found is work ethic is an issue. Job interview skills are terrible. That’s on you. Oh my lord. I think because people are in the SEO industry they feel like when they interview for an SEO job, it’s like talking to someone at a conference, the bar. It’s not. You’re there to impress a very big brand. You have to behave in a professional way to get that job. We’re not there to laugh with you or talk with you about stuff. They need to know what you know and how well you know it. What I’ve found is they talk too much and they don’t let themselves be interviewed. And that’s a [crosstalk 00:30:52].

Loren Baker:

It’s pretty amazing. That’s a really good tip too. You have to learn when to shut your mouth and actually listen to the questions that are being asked, and answer the questions that are being asked. It just occurred to me that I haven’t been on a job interview for maybe two decades.

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Melissa Fach:

Yep. It was hard because I technically interviewed for two jobs for Cox, so they interviewed me seven times. So you have panel-

Loren Baker:

Wow.

Melissa Fach:

… you have panel interviews, you have director interviews. You have a lot of interviews step by step that you have to get through. It’s important that you… the other thing I’ll tell people is, I was determined with this job, I was very clear in the interview, I needed to know if they were a good fit for me. After a couple years of not being overly thrilled, I needed to know, are you a good fit for me. So it was good, they actually said at the end, they left 10 minutes, “What are your questions for us.” And I had a list. What’s the culture like? How do you feel about diversity? What do you feel about this? How do you feel about vacation and family time? And everything. I really needed to know. It was huge, huge for me. It was a great decision because Cox Enterprises as a whole cares about their employees as individuals and I’d never… everyone’s been really good and kind to me, but this is a different level of care. They want you mentally happy and well. You need to interview them just as much as they’re interviewing you and don’t be too casual with it.

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Loren Baker:

That’s refreshing to hear especially with… there’s a lot of companies out there that will burn people out and then just try to replace them.

Melissa Fach:

Yep.

Loren Baker:

And there’s also companies out there that will send disrespectful emails to their staff or publish them publicly like Basecamp did yesterday, and just ruin the moral of the entire company based on the ego of the CEO or whatever.

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

It’s refreshing to hear that you’re being taken care of and you have those questions at the top of mind and they’re willing to answer during that process.

Melissa Fach:

If they had seen my screens behind this, which were covered in Post-its, big Post-its. In case they ask me this. In case they ask me that and I go blank. I’m an over preparer. I was ready for the interview.

Loren Baker:

I know. I know. I’ve heard about your packing for conferences as well, in terms of over preparation. In addition to preparing for the interview, because that’s a really good tip. It dawned on me when you mentioned that. I can’t even remember the last job interview that I had. Maybe when I was in college.

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Melissa Fach:

This was the first job interview I had. You didn’t really interview me for SEJ, you just said, “Hey.”

Loren Baker:

No.

Melissa Fach:

And then I didn’t interview for MAZ. I kind of had a drunk interview at Pubcon New Orleans with.

Loren Baker:

Perfect.

Melissa Fach:

I haven’t interviewed for anything. This was my first interview, probably since I was a kid, working at Ross.

Loren Baker:

Wow.

Melissa Fach:

It was the first time.

Loren Baker:

A little different. A little different than your interview at Ross.

Melissa Fach:

Totally. The other thing I notice is people are very either too quiet or too loud in their interviews. They don’t look at the people that their talking to. And on screen that’s critical because you’re not right in front of them. People just go on too long about themselves, and we don’t really want to know all that. We want to know can you do this, this, and this. And when we hire you we want to get to know you and about your cat and your dog. Totally different.

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Loren Baker:

We’ll get to talking off tangent stuff in a second but another question I have for you is that in addition to preparing for interviews and actually showing up to the interviews and everything else, what’s another tip for someone that’s been on the agency side or consulting or whatever that’s looking to go in house. What’s another stuff that would be helpful on that front based on your experience doing so.

Melissa Fach:

Purna Virjiy gave me the best advice. She told me, and this was like a year before I had decided to interview for this job. She said to write out all of my skills and knowledge in a list. And I used that for this interview as I prepared. Because you get this imposter syndrome, am I good enough for this job? Am I good enough? I actually called Topher, who had told me about the job and I’m like, “I don’t know if I’m good enough for this.” And he’s like, “You are. You are good enough. Trust me. I’ve seen you speak. I know you’re good enough.” So I leaned on that and I built up like, “You know what? You are pretty good. You know all of this stuff.” And that was a nice self-esteem thing going into the interview. These are all the things I know. They do hit you with, what would you do about this? I did completely know their websites, back and forth, before I did the interview.

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Loren Baker:

That’s a good tip.

Melissa Fach:

And it is obvious when people have not looked at the site.

Loren Baker:

really.

Melissa Fach:

Oh yeah. They don’t know. Or they didn’t bother to look. I made sure I knew everything. I knew about their competitors, so in the interview I was able to say, “so and so is doing this and you are not. And this is a way that we could capture this ranking.” I was ready to go. In the job interview you have to be to tell them how you are going to help a company of this size. That takes research and time.

Loren Baker:

So if you’re used to doing that from a consulting perspective, like before I get on a sales call, or whatever you want to call it, I typically run a crawl.

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

I do about 20% of the audit work that I would be doing, just so I know what I’m talking about.

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Melissa Fach:

Yeah. Because they’re going to say to you, “what do you feel about this?” So you have to be ready. The other thing I say is don’t get your feeling hurt if you don’t get that particular job on an enterprise site. Shelly Fagan and I interviewed at the same time for two different jobs. They needed help with editorial first and they needed to wait for headcount for her. I felt bad because I got hired and we really needed her once I got in there. And they went back to her. When it was time to hire for that position, they did go back to her.

Melissa Fach:

When you’re dealing with enterprise it all comes down to budgets and time and what’s approved. It’s not always easy so you want to put your best foot forward, even if it happens three or four months down the line. Shelly got it because she knows her stuff. That was remembered. She had to redo interviews all over again, panel interviews, everything. But she was the top person because she actually knew what we needed. So don’t be upset if you don’t get the job. If you did a good interview, they’re keeping your name at the top.

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Loren Baker:

That’s a really good tip, actually.

Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

Don’t trash someone on social media if you don’t get the job afterwards.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah. I’ll say about conferences, which I didn’t touch on, we paid attention to how people behaved on social media.

Loren Baker:

Oh, yeah.

Melissa Fach:

They could have a great pitch, but if they’re awful on social, they’re not going to be getting approved for a pitch.

Loren Baker:

That’s another really good tip. I don’t know sometimes what people are thinking when they’re posting. I’ll catch myself posting something stupid, and I’ll erase it immediately or delete it. It’s not just social media, like I don’t get into arguments very much but I had someone that worked at a restaurant and had his work shirt on get in an argument with me once like two doors down from the restaurant. So I’m just like, “Why are you doing this? Don’t you work there? You’re representing where you work. Why would you…” The guy was drunk but why would you do this? Right?

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Melissa Fach:

Right.

Loren Baker:

It’s the same thing on social media. It doesn’t matter if you put in your bio, “Tweets are my opinion. Mine only.” You’re still representing wherever you work. You’re still representing the business that you own. You’re representing where you work or you’re representing the clients that you work with. And that’s just the truth about everything, not just for SEO.

Melissa Fach:

And you’re kind of letting people see before they hire you what you’re actually like when no one’s looking. When I would give the social media workshops at Pubcon, I would talk about hiring and I would show people how to search social media. How to use advanced search on Twitter to examine how people behave. I think in the last few years or so that it’s become very evident that people are behaving in ways that we didn’t expect. One of the biggest SEOs, I won’t mention who but, kind of lost it, over politics and said some horrific things. And that isn’t someone you’re going to put on stage because you don’t know what they’re going to-

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Loren Baker:

You don’t know what’s going to trigger them.

Melissa Fach:

… what their going to say to an attendee, how they’re going to… Like you know as a speaker at an event, you are in a way representing the event. So how you treat people, attendees there matters. There’s no conference that’s going to take a chance on you acting a fool because the attendees are going to come and say, “Your speaker just said this to me.”

Loren Baker:

It’s true.

Melissa Fach:

It’s a very delicate situation so I think people need to just be really careful of what they say and how they say it everywhere.

Loren Baker:

Whether you like it or not. That’s just the way it is. about it. I don’t know if that was good enough. Before we get into some off tangent stuff, I want to talk to you a little bit about hobbies and stuff like that and we only have a couple minutes left. I just want to let everyone know, if you want to stay on top of the search engine optimization news out there, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter at SEJ and get SEJ Today delivered to your inbox every day of the week, of the weekday, so you don’t miss really anything. You can go to searchenginejournal.com/subscribe and sign up for SEJ newsletter and for those of you who are watching on the video, I just also dropped that in the comments. So please go ahead and subscribe to SEJ Today, you have the option of customizing your delivery sequence and velocity and everything else so check it out.

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Loren Baker:

I can’t help but notice you have a picture of Superman on the wall, the real Superman, and then you have a picture of the new Superman next to him. And below that, is that Darth Vader and Boba Fett? What are they doing?

Melissa Fach:

They’re having a milkshake.

Loren Baker:

It’s like a Pulp Fiction-esque.

Melissa Fach:

It was cute. Yeah.

Loren Baker:

It’s cool. So you’re into comics and you’re into Star Wars I take it.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah. I’ll turn my camera. You see my Han Solo poster over there?

Loren Baker:

That’s cool.

Melissa Fach:

Every interview I had at Cox, they were like, “My god, it’s Han Solo. I love Han Solo.” I was all dressed up and professional but they still love the poster. I’m a Star Wars nerd. I’ve read 135 books which is not as much as my husband.

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Loren Baker:

Whoa. Whoa.

Melissa Fach:

My husband is like 20-25 books ahead of me.

Loren Baker:

I think I got into the second book after that… What was the series that came after Jedi? After Jedi, no Star Wards stuff came out. After Return of the Jedi came out, no Star Wars stuff came out ever. And then like in ’91 there was a series of maybe three books that came out. The first book told about Boba Fett leaving the Sarlacc pit and everything else, so I was like, “Yeah! Finally.” It’s been bothering me for the past seven years.

Melissa Fach:

Did he die or not?

Loren Baker:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

I can’t remember the author. Anyways-

Melissa Fach:

There’s all kinds of different eras. The Legacy of the Force series is my favorite and I think it’s one of the best written. It does not match up with Disney. It’s better than Disney. It’s about Han Solo and Leia’s kids who were all Jedi, maybe one becomes the worst Sith ever. It’s really good.

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Loren Baker:

And this was all de-canonized afterwards by Disney?

Melissa Fach:

[crosstalk 00:45:04] yeah. And it was so good. It was like nine books. At one point a Jedi goes to Mandalore and learns to fight with Boba Fett.

Loren Baker:

That’s awesome.

Melissa Fach:

It was just so good. Out of all the 135 those nine were the best. There was another series, I can’t remember the name of it at this time, but also good. It was about the clones. It started with order 66. But then I read… I read Game of Thrones. I do a lot of reading. On the weekends I probably read two or three books.

Loren Baker:

Wow.

Melissa Fach:

And I’m a fast reader.

Loren Baker:

Wow. And-

Melissa Fach:

Huh?

Loren Baker:

I do have a question. Who would win in a fight, Christopher Reeve’s Superman or … Let me rephrase it. Who would win in a fight, Christopher Reed’s Superman, but the cool one like in Superman Two after he gets his butt kicked and kind of comes back and just tears everyone up, or Henry Cavill?

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Melissa Fach:

I love Christopher. I grew up. I’ve seen the movies a hundred times. But Henry is bigger, big dude.

Loren Baker:

He is a pretty big dude. Does that even make a difference though?

Melissa Fach:

Yeah. He’s a little more intense and angry as we saw in the.

Loren Baker:

He is.

Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

He’s like Christopher Reeve Superman from Superman Three when Richard Prior can’t figure out the lost ingredient to Kryptonite so he looks at his pack of Camel cigarettes and says tar. So he types tar into the computer.

Melissa Fach:

Yup.

Loren Baker:

Yeah.

Melissa Fach:

That was a good film. I remember him flicking the peanuts into the mirror and then melting it.

Loren Baker:

Yes.

Melissa Fach:

Yes. Good stuff. I loved that. They’re both up there side by side. I consider them close to equal.

Loren Baker:

I do like how Henry Cavill’s Superman is like a confused alien all the time, like he just doesn’t fit in. I did like, in the Man of Steel, when he was a kid, and he didn’t know how to control the powers. It reminded me of, I don’t remember his real name but, Cyclops in the X-Men series.

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Melissa Fach:

Yeah.

Loren Baker:

Because before Professor Xavier taught Cyclops how to control his powers he was shooting everything and blowing up everything and kind of crazy.

Melissa Fach:

Don’t laugh at me, but I’ve probably seen Man of Steel 40 or 50 times. It’s one of my favorite films. I thought it was very well done because you got to see him growing up and the struggle. And even as an adult… I think it also, and this is a weird thing to say but, I’m adopted, so when I was a kid, and Superman was adopted, we kind of… You know what I mean? Somebody else that was also adopted. So it was a different thing for me as a kid. People are like, “You like Superman because it’s cool.” I’m like, “No.” There was an emotional-

Loren Baker:

Oh wow.

Melissa Fach:

… connection for me.

Loren Baker:

That’s deep. That’s really deep.

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Melissa Fach:

I loved the film. I thought it was great and I loved Kevin Costner in pretty much everything, so I loved to see him in that. And Russel Crow, it was a great cast.

Loren Baker:

It was and who played Martha Kent?

Melissa Fach:

Diana Lane?

Loren Baker:

Diana Lane. I haven’t seen her since that movie Unfaithful. I little bit different role.

Melissa Fach:

A little bit.

Loren Baker:

Very good. Very good. That’s awesome. Well Melissa, I’ve really enjoyed the time to sit down today and not just talk about the Man of Steel, but also that journey and your journey. And especially for anybody that is looking to contribute to sites like SEJ, I thought you gave a lot of really good tips there on how to pitch your content, how to show the steps along the way, how to utilize case studies and data to back up your narrative et cetera, et cetera. I think it was really helpful in how you discussed how to pitch for conferences in the same way. And then for anyone that is consultant or agency side, that wants to go in house, little things like preparing for a job interview, doing your research ahead of time, reminding yourself that this is a corporate environment and not the Bar at Sahara or whatever, or the Breeze Bar at Treasure Island.

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Melissa Fach:

Yeah. The only other tip id give for people who want to write for SEJ is if you go to the editor with, “Let me know if there’s anything I can change to improve this.” That editor’s going to like you more.

Loren Baker:

Really? I’ll ask Danny about that.

Melissa Fach:

Ask Danny about that? Because Danny’s going to know, “Yeah, if they did this it would really improve.” But as soon as you’re rude to an editor… Danny and I talked. For the last 10 years Danny and I have exchanged names of, “Had you had this person yelling at you?” You never forget the rude people.

Loren Baker:

You don’t want to get on that list.

Melissa Fach:

You don’t want to get on that list. No.

Loren Baker:

Okay. Awesome. We’ll talk more about that at the Breeze Bar.

Melissa Fach:

Okay.

Loren Baker:

It’s been a pleasure.

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Melissa Fach:

Thank you.

Loren Baker:

Where can everyone find you online?

Melissa Fach:

I’m on Twitter, it’s @SEOAware. If you go to my Instagram, it’s just cats. Sorry. And then I’m on linked in.

Loren Baker:

I’m going to drop your Twitter right now. Hopefully you get some followers at the moment or later today. It’s been a pleasure Melissa. Always love catching up, although we’ve been talking quite a bit recently and I’ll be talking to you very soon and jumping in your email very soon as well.

Melissa Fach:

All right. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Loren Baker:

Thank you very much. Thanks for stopping by the SEJ show, again this has been Melissa Fach with Cox Automotive, talking about the journey from agency to SEO tool editing to in house SEO so it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

 





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