We caught up with Stewart Dawes of our Sydney flagship Atomic Digital to get down and dirty about search engine optimisation and how it benefits businesses who take it more seriously than their competitors …

Tell me a bit about Atomic Digital?

Atomic Digital is a boutique digital marketing and media agency. We’ve been in development over a 14-year period of online publishing. Recently over the last four years, nearly five years now, we’ve developed ourselves into a company that’s specialising in search engine optimisation or SEO, as well as social media management and development.

Also social media development, because management is only part of the picture, and also, of course, website design, and an expansion of our web presence for small to medium business.

What experience do you have in this field?

We started 14 years ago publishing an online guide to cafes, restaurants and bars in Sydney. Over the years that we ran that website, we got a great insight into the algorithms and mechanics of Google, how to search engine optimise pages to rank restaurants, cafes, exceptionally well.

Also, we developed skills around animated GIF creation, how to use them, and also landing pages text as opposed to editorial text so content development has been an ongoing aspect of the work we do. 

As well as photography, social media, virality of all of that across Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. We’ve certainly got a lot of clients going hard into those platforms at the present time.

Is there anything you’ve done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

Well, one of the things that we moved into a lot was delivering workshops for small business, also government and universities, and one thing about delivering training is you have to sharpen up your knowledge – so a great deal of daily reading and consideration of whatever’s coming out.

There’s not really much in the way of official courses around social media at this stage, so we put a lot of time into keeping up with the trends, and then, of course, passing on the knowledge to workshop attendees. 

Then of course in many cases, working with them, to actually test out what’s breakthrough new information and methods, and what’s most likely to just be a fad. You get an instinct for it after a while. But nevertheless a lot of it has been trial and error to determine from a business point of view, if there’s a worthwhile return on investment from Instagram and Pinterest, and how does that happen in the Australian market, for starters.

What”s Atomic Digital”s philosophy towards work?

Well, our philosophy towards work is a bit like, one of the things about social media, there isn’t really a set of clock on, clock off time. It’s pervasive. There are times where we have staff who might work a 9 to 5 or a 10 to 6, but equally, sometimes it’s things that happen outside of those times that are very important to getting the message across.

We’ll cover weekend events, sometimes weeknight events as well. And so our philosophy is that it’s vital to capture people when they”re on the internet and when they have a bit more time as well. And a lot of this space is now mobile as well.

I guess our philosophy is we have to be much more pervasive, and that even with some of our more established clients, our philosophy remains that we”re still just scratching the surface of the potential of the market.

Why do you think a company should hire Atomic Digital?

One of the things that we are pretty serious about is, actually “being serious”, that’s the first thing, and being honest about where their company is at.

One thing we don’t like to do is pad out reports that a client will never read, but they feel satisfied because they’ve got a 12 to 20 page document that tells them all sorts of things that they don’t need to know.

We try to focus on the reality of where a client is at, where they’re moving to. We’ve got over 20 websites now, which are very well established, which we use to supply premium links from, and so we deal with integrity as a number 1 factor, and we don’t try to sugar coat the reality of what where a client is and where a client needs to end up to make money.

If a business is just not suited to where we are at or to our social media networks or we feel that search engine optimization is not really for them, or social media is not for them, we actually tell people straight off. We don’t want to take on work simply just to make ourselves some revenue and then have an unhappy client at the end of it.

We only take on projects that we think will really make a difference to our lives that we will enjoy and be able to actually have a dynamic effect on the client’s fortunes. And so we only take on those sort of projects that we know that we can create a real benefit to a client.

What is Atomic Digital”s greatest strength?

Our greatest strength is in many ways, we know that social media and search optimization really have to be treated as separate things. There can be some correlation, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to say that social media has not been set up to help with Google rankings. Some of them do, and it’s an ever changing space. 

I think our greatest strength is that we provide clarity around what we’re doing and we don’t like to muddy the waters and keep you guessing. We really do want to continue to provide great clarity for what is being achieved, what can be achieved, and what can be grown for our clients.

Yes, clarity is what we train in, I guess.

What motivates you to do your best for the client?

One of the key things that we have is we want to work with people who we are going to get along with and if people just don’t have the mindset that’s suitable to us, then we prefer to actually not have them as a client. 

That has actually had a tremendous effect both on me and the people within our organization that we’re always working with positive, aggressive intent in a way on the client’s behalf. We’re passionate about it.

It’s heartfelt work, and if the client turns out not to be appreciating that, we actually prefer to move on and just work with people who we can all be motivated and enthusiastic together. 

That’s a huge part of our vision and our motivation definitely.

How does Atomic Digital measure their success on the job?

From an engine search optimization point of view, the ultimate measure is Google Rankings, so we really tend to watch those all of the time and part of it is that we play to the strengths of what is ranking and then we try and give that more fuel if something does start ranking really well.

We look after that and protect it and make sure that we feed it in organic ways that can actually then make it go even higher.

The first thing is obviously measuring the Google Rankings, but hand-in-hand with that is ultimately a return on investment, ROI, and we want the feedback from clients as to where they are growing.

That’s usually the thing that motivates us is hearing that they have, in many cases, business goes up by 50%. In some cases, this starts to sound farfetched, but in many cases, clients can see a doubling of their revenues through really getting going online. So sometimes it can be 200%.

Even more, I know this might sound very farfetched, but of course, it can go even further than that. Because if a business is not well established online, at the end of the day, they’ve been shooting themselves in the foot through inaction. We really do look to measure that.

Now social media, we really don’t like to put a short-term measurement on that because the bottom line is you’ve got to achieve a level of critical mass in your target markets in order to actually get a return on your investments.

We actually really look to have clients who aren’t chasing a short-term dollar if they are going into social media. With search optimization, you can chase something short to midterm.

But the measurement of social media for us, the first 12 months is all about growing an audience, growing followers and fans, and making sure that there is some sort of engagement happening with those people, and really trying to target whether it’s a location, such as Sydney or Melbourne, or whether it’s something broader like Europe.

We’re looking to target both locations and also interest in the client”s product or service.

Last question. What gets you up in the morning?

Instagram is the thing that gets me up in the morning. I like to wake up and sometimes before the coffee is even being poured, I’m sort of considering what it is that we can get out and post for a client just to get some momentum happening.

Try to catch the Instagram people who are on the train to work and they’re having a flip through Instagram. Just trying to get something in the way that”s happening even before 9 a.m. or perhaps the next time would be the coffee break, briefly looking at what people do there as well.

The thing that gets us going is start with Instagram and from there, of course, move through into SEO, and check the clients’ rankings and see how things are holding up, and have there been any Google bots that have run through the course of the night to change some things.

Coffee of course gets me up in the morning, that’s for sure.
To get Search Engine Optimisation happening for your business call 1300 321 814