In conversation with Senior SEO Consultant Mark Hannant
Mark Hannant, Further’s SEO Consultant of almost eight years, is embarking on a project to discover and nurture local talent. We decided to sit down with Mark to learn more about the scheme and life as part of our Norwich SEO team.
“I’ve taken on a new role as Senior SEO Consultant,” Mark explained. “Part of the job will involve working on more complex technical SEO projects for our biggest clients. The other part of the role will involve setting up a Further graduate training programme from our Norwich office.”
“Further has ambitious growth plans in terms of building on our existing expertise, particularly for SEO, paid digital and data analysis,” Mark said. “But there’s a skill deficit in East Anglia, and it’s hard to attract talent away from London.”
Rather than sit back and complain about the lack of options, Further has stepped up to tackle the problem head on. The innovative scheme will invite graduates and young people looking to get into the industry into an exclusive digital marketing training programme that includes the prospect of a job offer at the end of it.
The scheme will cover the foundations of digital marketing, including pay-per-click (PPC), paid social, conversion rate optimisation (CRO), technical SEO, link-building, and content marketing.
“You can learn the basics of digital marketing online for free,” Mark explained. “But in practice, there’s a lot of conflicting information.
“I can match SEO tactics to our clients successfully because I have 10 years of commercial experience behind me. People getting started today in digital marketing disciplines can follow best practice, but that will only get them so far. You have to know the difference between what’s necessary and what’s a nice-to-have.”
The skill of digital marketing
Mark went on to talk about how much digital marketing has changed over the past decade. The days of getting your audience to visit your website by any means, he explained, is past: “In the early days, there was a lot of reciprocal link-building and black hat SEO; tactics that have no place in modern practice.
“Search engines are maturing. There’s more to search marketing than getting your site listed on loads of directories. It’s essential for websites to be producing relevant, quality content, that offers value, and answers the needs of the audience.”
Due to the increasing skills required by digital marketing agencies, Mark is keen for Further’s training programme to be open to graduates from a range of degrees eg data science, maths, business management, computer science, etc.
The art of digital marketing
Mark began his career in art and design. He started his own graphic and web design business and quickly found himself learning SEO as the dotcom bubble started to swell.
“It was the creative side of SEO that captured me. There are rules to it, but you need to be analytical and inquisitive to excel beyond mere competence. You need to question everything: why does a SERP behave the way it does? How can you use that knowledge? That’s the art of digital marketing.”
The opportunity to refocus his career is welcomed by Mark with open arms. “I enjoy supporting people to learn and grow,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing people develop their skills, increase their confidence, and grow a passion for digital marketing.”
Mark is currently working with local partners, including the University of East Anglia, to build the foundations of the training programme. The scheme will launch later this year.
As our chat with Mark ended, it became clear that he is taking on a responsibility that no one at Further ever has – at least not formally. Mark’s job is to not only become a mentor for his students but to act as an ambassador for the digital marketing industry.
At the same time, he has the pressure of delivering a positive return on investment for Further. It’s no small task, but everyone at Further agrees that Mark is the right man for the job.
If you’re interested in how Mark and the rest of the Further team can deliver results for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.