Are you ready to embark on a journey into the world of SEO and content marketing mastery? Today, we bring you an exclusive interview with Simon Taki Zaku, a seasoned content management consultant whose expertise spans content creation, marketing, management, and SEO strategies. Simon has left an indelible mark on the global digital landscape, crafting over 100,000 words in blog posts for businesses across the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, and beyond.
Before we delve into the intricacies of SEO strategies, content marketing nuances, and the future trends of digital marketing, let’s get to know the man behind the expertise. Meet Simon Zaku, a digital marketing virtuoso who has spent over a decade navigating the dynamic realms of blogging, content marketing, and SEO.
- Simon's Journey: From a Nigerian Town to Global Success
- Explore Simon Taki Zaku’s professional journey on LinkedIn.
- SEO Strategy
- Content Marketing
- Keyword Research
- Link Building
- SEO Tools
- Adapting to Industry Changes
- Advice for Aspiring Professionals
- Future of SEO
- Personal Insights
- Conclusion by Nirav Darji:
Simon’s Journey: From a Nigerian Town to Global Success
Simon’s journey began in a small town in Taraba state, Nigeria, where he started a blog that would become the foundation of his digital empire. His profound commitment to learning, researching, and studying the intricacies of blogging, content marketing, and SEO became evident early in his career.
During the pandemic, Simon had a pivotal conversation with a friend that changed the trajectory of his career. The question, “If you can drive this much traffic to your own blog through SEO, why not help businesses do the same?” sparked a revelation. Simon decided to delve deep into understanding how startups leverage content marketing to generate leads and grow their online presence.
Fast forward to today, Simon has not only grown his own blog’s traffic and search rankings but has also worked with startups like A1future.com, Cyberbackpack.com, and UniclixApp, helping them achieve significant growth in Google search traffic through effective content creation and promotion.
Let’s start the conversation with Simon Taki Zaku
Question 1. What, in your opinion, are the foundational SEO practices that every business or website should prioritize?
When it comes to SEO, I always tell my students, there is no “one size fits all” strategy for every business or website. Every business wants different things. Your startup may want more exposure, more website visitors, brand reach, engagements, leads, social media fans, sales, or clients.
The overall objective of your business, startup or agency is what shapes your entire SEO strategy. Most experts have a “one size for all” foundational SEO strategy bu that is not a good way to go about it.
You must clearly define your brand goals before setting a foundational SEO strategy for your business or website. Do you want more leads? Email subscribers? Lead calls? Bookings? Sales? or More Followers? Your SEO strategy should work towards that. Lets assume you are an software startup that offers a software that allows users schedule social media content across various channels and want more sign ups, your SEO strategy may involve a series of well-researched, cornerstone blog articles that target strategic keywords (like “top Buffer Alternatives, best HubSpot Alternatives, etc).
Thus 2 basic SEO practices for every website is to first understand how to align your entire business goals with your SEO strategy. Then create exceptional content and offer a content upgrade. What is a content upgrade? It’s simply an upgrade or freebie attached to a blog post which requires readers to sign up to receive. This is a simple SEO approach small businesses could follow.
Question 2. How do you navigate the constantly evolving landscape of SEO, given search engine algorithm updates and changes?
Well, in every industry, to stay up top of your game, you must constantly evolve and stay with the current trends. For example, a decade ago when I got into digital marketing and SEO, content marketing was different.
Content creators could easily create mediocre content and still rank as Google search algorithm was not as advanced as it is today. Today, good content alone is not enough. You must be able to not only create good content but promote it to the target audience effectively. You see, you can have the best content but if no one sees it, no one can buy from you.
Google updates are constantly changing and as someone in the field, I try new things, stay up to date with the industry trends and try things. Also, with the advancement and widespread of AI and ChatGPT, search engines are constantly evolving and updating quicker than we’ve expected.
Question 3. How do you approach developing a content marketing strategy that aligns with SEO goals?
Just as I mentioned earlier, your content marketing strategy must align with your overall business and SEO goals. You see, content creation and content marketing work hand-in-hand with SEO. There are different aspects of SEO like technical, off-page, etc, but on-page and content marketing is key to fostering your SERPs. A content marketing strategy should involve your SEO – it should generate leads, search traffic, target your keywords, and promote your content to your target customers. And like I always say, each content you publish must
- Entice your ideal target readers to click and read,
- Educate them on a specific topic or help solve a specific problem and;
- Excite them about how your products or services can help them even better.
Get the idea? You can develop your content strategy to align with your target keywords, content formats, type, length, etc. For every great, successful SEO campaign, there is always a powerful content marketing strategy backing it.
Question 4. How do you balance creating high-quality content while optimizing it for search engines?
One of the most common mistakes most website owners make is creating content solely for search engines. That is completely wrong because I believe that is the major cause of 99% of SEO fails. You see, Google and Yahoo are search engines; these are machines – your customers are humans just like you.
This is why I discourage the use of SEO tools which cause website owners to over-optimize their content to suit search engines, forgetting the main objective of getting their target customers or clients to buy.
Instead, create content that speak to your ideal customers. What words are your customers familiar with? What are they talking about? What communities are they hanging out in? Use words they are familiar and talk to them like you would in person. Rather than stuffing your content with keywords for search engines, use phrases your target customers can relate to. I use Quora to find these questions and words my content clients are using online.
Question 5. What methodologies do you find most effective for conducting keyword research?
Keyword research can make or break your entire SEO campaign. When I was working with a client, they wanted me to target keywords that had millions of clicks monthly (according to keyword planner), rather than focusing on keyword our target customers are searching for online.
As a result, we created good content that brought in millions of search impression but had a poor click through rate (CTR). One secret keyword research that is super effective is the “related questions” strategy. When creating in-depth blog content for my clients, I search for the broad keyword, highlight all related searches that show up and answer each one.
This way, I easily see other related (long tail) keywords my target audience are using. So for a paragraph, I would ask the exact question and answer within the paragraph. This is powerful if you want to rank for numerous keywords in your topic or niche.
Question 6. How important do you consider long-tail keywords in SEO, and how do you incorporate them into content strategies?
Long tail keywords are powerful but I pretty much prefer to target broader keywords and I’ll tell you why. You see, the recent Google algorithm update is further going to affect lots of websites negatively. I mean, Google is now showing its own recommend results on the top of the first page. That is a huge blow to websites that are ranking number 1.
This Google users can get the answer to their query even before scrolling down. Now, how does this relate to targeting broader keywords in 2024? For your website to attract 1000s of clicks from search engines in 2024, you must rank for lots of different long tail keywords. Create a broad article around a topic and cover different sections of that topic. This is called the conerstone blog content.
You can create a complete resource and target a couple long tail keywords. Rather than focusing all your strengths on one long tail keywords that may only get a few impressions and clicks. Instead target several long tail keywords in your website content and rank for multiple keywords attracting clients from multiple searches.
This strategy has proven to work for my blogging agency, SimonWrites Agency’s clients and my blog, https://simonzaku.com/blog/ as well.
Question 7. What are your recommended best practices for link building in the context of SEO?
The first thing I always tell my writing students and clients is the first step to getting organic backlinks is to create exceptional content. Create content your readers will “WOW” at. Secondly, avoid paying for SPAMMY backlinks and avoid sneaky link exchange schemes as Google algorithm frown at this.
With a single blog post, I attracted 1,400+ backlinks (follow and nofollow) to my website. How did we achieve this? I simple created the best possble blog resource on a topic, and promoted it extensively.
You can plan out and implement an effective backlink reeach out strategy for your website. Finally, if you create and publish great blog content, backlinks will naturally build as you promote and run outreach campaigns.
Question 8. How do you go about building high-quality backlinks to improve a site’s authority?
First of all, I build quality content. If you look through my SEO blog, you see I put effort to publishing exceptional content only. The next thing is I use a strategy that is part of my unique “OSISR” blog traffic technique. Using any SEO tool like SEMRush, I scrape out the website linking to pages similar to mine and I reach out to them.
Most times, if you have a better piece, chances are, you will get a link from them. Finally, the broken link technique is also powerful in generating backlinks. How does it work? I simply find broken links that are related to my content. I then find websites linking to those broken links, email them bringing their notice to the broken links and suggest my great piece. Works 60 to 70% of the time.
Question 9. What are some of your preferred SEO tools, and how do they contribute to your overall strategy?
As I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of SEO tools as I prefer to find organic keywords and phrases my target customers are using but my go-to SEO tools are Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush. With Google Keyword Planner, I carry out my keyword research, while SEMRush helps me with content research, backlink scraping, outreach campaigns, etc.
Question 10. Which key metrics do you prioritize when measuring the success of an SEO and content marketing campaign?
The metrics every business target is sales, right? If you can generate sales then that a win-win. Your content marketing and SEO approach must generate leads, sales, customers, and clients. If your SEO or content plan is not generating ales, then I believe you are doing something wrong.
Adapting to Industry Changes
Question 11. How do you stay updated with the latest trends and changes in the SEO and content marketing industry?
I follow Google’s daily penguin updates, read industry giants, and follow SEO experts and industry leaders like Neil Patel, Backlinko, Jay Baer, and more!
Advice for Aspiring Professionals
Question 12. For individuals aspiring to build a career in SEO and content marketing, what advice would you offer?
Building a career in SEO and content marketing is exciting yet challenging! But from my experiene, here are some advice to help you get started:
Learn Constantly: SEO and content marketing are ever-evolving fields. Stay updated with industry blogs, forums, and reputable websites like Moz, Search Engine Land, and Neil Patel’s blog. Consider courses from platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning.
Hands-On Practice: Start your portfolio, blog, or website. Experiment with SEO strategies and content creation. This practical experience will teach you more than theory alone.
Understand Analytics: Familiarize yourself with tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. Knowing how to interpret data is crucial for optimizing content and strategies.
Networking: Engage with the SEO community. Attend conferences, join forums, and connect on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Networking can open up opportunities and provide valuable insights.
Develop Writing Skills: Content marketing heavily relies on quality writing. Hone your writing skills to create engaging, informative, and SEO-friendly content.
Specialize: SEO and content marketing have various facets. You might specialize in technical SEO, content strategy, link building, or social media. Find your niche and become an expert in that area.
Build a Portfolio: Showcase your skills through a portfolio. Highlight successful campaigns, improvements in website traffic, or content that ranked well. Real-world examples demonstrate your abilities effectively.
Seek Mentorship: Find a mentor or join mentorship programs. Learning from someone experienced can accelerate your growth and offer insights you might not gain otherwise. I have a 6-week 1-1 coaching program I offer my SEO students on my website; simonzaku.com.
Get Certifications: Consider pursuing certifications like Google Analytics, Google Ads, or HubSpot. While not mandatory, they can add credibility to your profile.
Patience and Persistence: Success in SEO and content marketing takes time. It took me 4 years to get my first $1,000 per month SEO client. Be patient, persistent, and keep refining your skills and strategies.
Remember, it’s a dynamic field that rewards those who are willing to learn, adapt, and innovate. And if a 24 year old Nigerian can do it from hostel bunk and grow a $2,500per month SEO business, I am 101% certain you can do it too. Good luck on your journey!
Future of SEO
Question 13. What do you see as the future trends and innovations in SEO and Content Marketing?
The landscape of SEO and content marketing is constantly fast evolving. Here are some trends and innovations that are likely to shape the future:
AI-Driven Strategies: AI will play a more significant role in understanding user intent, generating content, and optimizing SEO strategies. Natural Language Processing (NLP) will refine search queries and content relevance.
Voice Search Optimization: With the rise of voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, optimizing content for voice search will be crucial. This includes more conversational keywords and featured snippets.
Video Content Dominance: Video content continues to grow in popularity. Optimizing video content for search engines will become essential, including video SEO techniques and transcriptions.
E-A-T & YMYL: Google’s focus on Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T) and Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content will continue. Emphasizing credibility and expertise in content creation will be crucial.
Zero-Click Searches: Featured snippets, knowledge graphs, and other SERP features sometimes provide enough information that users don’t need to click through to a website. Optimizing for these zero-click searches will be important.
Content Personalization: Tailoring content to specific user preferences and behaviors will become more prevalent. Personalized content experiences drive engagement and conversions.
Influencer SEO: Collaborations with influencers and leveraging their reach for SEO purposes will continue to grow, particularly in niche markets.
Staying ahead in this dynamic landscape requires constant learning and adaptation. Keeping an eye on these trends can help marketers and SEO professionals prepare for the future of digital marketing.
Question 14. We’d love to learn more about you! Could you provide additional details about your journey, personal philosophies, or any unique experiences that have shaped your career in SEO and Content Marketing?
My journey? Well, it has been a hell of a ride. Especially coming from my pace, Taraba state, Nigeria. A place where the society and our parents do not let us explore and live our dreams because they are scared of failures.
I started blogging when an old friend, Ben, just received a $60 cheque from Google Adsense. He told me about a blog and what Google Adsense is. The next day, I had set up my blog and publish a piece. Fast forward to today, I have started countless blogs that have failed. Today I run simonzaku.com and my Agency, SimonWrites Agency remotely from my room office here in Taraba state.
And what is my goal? To help 10 startups to hit 10,000 organic clicks from Google within 8 weeks. My life goal? To take myself outside the country for a vacation or holiday in Dubai. My advise? What ever you do, put in your 100 percent! Want to get the best SEO and Content Marketing tips deleivered to your inbox? Feel free to subscribe to my blog’s forum for free via https://simonzaku.com/blog/
Conclusion by Nirav Darji:
In this insightful interview with Simon Taki Zaku, we’ve journeyed through the dynamic landscape of SEO and content marketing. Simon’s inspiring story, starting from a small town in Nigeria to becoming a global content management consultant, reflects his passion for continuous learning and adaptation in the ever-evolving digital space.
- Individualized SEO Strategies: Simon emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in SEO. Tailoring your approach to align with your business goals is crucial. Whether it’s lead generation, brand reach, or sales, defining your objectives shapes your entire SEO strategy.
- Adapting to Changes: Navigating the constantly evolving SEO landscape requires staying abreast of industry trends. Simon highlights the importance of evolving with the industry, especially with the advancements in AI and ChatGPT, which are reshaping search engine algorithms at an unprecedented pace.
- Content Marketing Integration: Simon underscores the symbiotic relationship between content marketing and SEO. A successful content marketing strategy should align with SEO goals, generating leads, targeting keywords, and promoting content effectively.
- Quality over Quantity in Link Building: Simon’s approach to link building revolves around creating exceptional content that naturally attracts backlinks. He discourages the use of spammy backlinks and emphasizes the importance of creating content that wows readers.
- Future Trends: Looking ahead, Simon predicts that AI-driven strategies, voice search optimization, video content dominance, and personalized content experiences will shape the future of SEO and content marketing. Staying ahead in this dynamic landscape requires continuous learning and adaptation.
- Advice for Aspiring Professionals: Simon offers practical advice for those aspiring to build a career in SEO and content marketing. From continuous learning and hands-on practice to networking and seeking mentorship, he provides a roadmap for success in this exciting yet challenging field.
Simon Taki Zaku’s journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring professionals, demonstrating that with perseverance, continuous learning, and a commitment to excellence, success in SEO and content marketing is achievable. His story is a testament to the transformative power of dedication and passion in navigating the complexities of the digital marketing world.
Advice for Aspiring Professionals