ARMLife Interview with SEO Account Director, Nikhil Shah
This month, SEO Account Director, Nikhil Shah shares his media journey on how he went from just the second member of the SEO department at All Response Media, to managing a team.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
So, I’ve been at been at All Response for 4 years. I’m an Account Director on the SEO team. I’ve been in London now for 6.5 years. Originally from a town called Wellingborough, near Northampton. I then went to University in Nottingham for 4 years and did an Undergraduate in degree in media, then a master’s in marketing. That’s what brought me into the world of digital marketing, my first job was an internship in SEO and freelancing, and I stuck to SEO. I always wanted to move to London, which is where I got my internship after University. I was there for 3 months, then did some work as a freelancer, then got my first media agency role down in Clapham.
How long have you been in the media industry now?
It will be 7 years this month. The media I studied in University was a bit different to the media I work in now. That was more production and analysing content, whereas at All Response Media we deal with planning and buying; however, there’s still some creative insight. The master’s in marketing is what helped me get into marketing. I also wasn’t ready to leave Nottingham and University, but 4 years there felt just right.
How did you end up at All Response Media?
I was just applying for roles and came across it. At one of my previous companies, the MD was friends with CJ, our MD at All Response Media, so he said he would put in a good word for me. Might have helped, I don’t know! Everyone knows each other in the media industry, there are only 6 degrees of separation.
Since you’ve been here 4 years, what’s your journey been like so far to get to Account Director?
When I joined All Response Media, I was only the second SEO guy on the team. A month before I started the former Head of SEO started, then I joined. We then started hiring a couple more people and built up the whole SEO department up to 10 people. We built up our client base, getting new businesses on board and really made the SEO team a serious department within the agency. We now get leads from offline teams and the other digital teams.
For me, I started out as an SEO tech specialist and my advice to anyone wanting to get into SEO I’d say that the technical side is the best place to start. I always had the responsibility of being client facing and as the team grew that led me into the Account Manager role. With that, I was running the accounts day to day and doing the team management side of things, which then led me into the Account Director role.
What’s a typical day like for you as an SEO Account Director?
Every day can be quite different, which is great and I’m sure most people in media would say the same. In terms of general day-to-day, it includes, ensuring the team are on top of their work, supporting them and then if they’ve got any concerns, questions, etc., to then come to speak to me. Also, the client facing side of it, being on calls and emails, speaking to them to see if they have any questions, concerns around activity, SEO in general or with the team, or if everything is going great and we’re doing well then relaying that back to the team. There are also new business proposals that come through that I work on as well as being involved in any pitches. I’ll also be doing scopes of work for existing clients, etc. There’s quite a lot in the day-to-day, but it can always be different. I’ve got my clients and the Account Manager has his clients, but we enjoy discussing them together, it can be good to get other people’s perspectives and a fresh pair of eyes. That leads onto another part of the day-to-day, which is to keep up-to-date with the latest SEO industry news, CRO initiatives and general SEM, and share around the team to help them learn as well as carrying out training sessions.
And what’s your favourite thing about your role?
Many things, the more senior you get, the less day to day execution you do – now it’s more about the team and watching them excel. You can impart your learnings on them, and if they’re doing well then you’re doing well. I do also enjoy the day to day of working with different clients as well.
What’s your favourite thing about working at All Response Media?
There’s a lot there as well. Consistently it’s always been the people here and the social life. Not just in the SEO team but in all of All Response Media. We all work hard but also enjoy spending time together during team lunches, after work, Christmas parties, the away day, etc. The work can be challenging, but in a good way as you learn so much. I would 100% recommend starting out here as a grad if you’re looking to get into the media industry. You’ve still got lots of energy and the hunger to learn straight out of University. It can be challenging but you really do get lots of experience and in a short amount of time.
How has the company changed since you’ve been here, and where do you see the team and company going?
As a team, we definitely moved around a lot in the last office, as we grew we needed to find a bigger space, which is good. There are much more people now which means we’re doing well and the same goes for the company overall.
I believe the SEO team will expand more into the other offices. We already work closely with the Leeds office, but I see us getting more involved in Paris and Amsterdam as well and becoming more international while taking on more international clients that will help bring the other offices together. I’m sure the agency will also grow more, we are already worldwide but I see us getting into more markets and expanding the ones we’re already in more.
You’ve been here for 4 years now, what’s your most memorable moment?
There are loads in the last 4 years. A big one is growing the team from a 2-man band to 10-man band. Some other memories are from the away days as they’re always so much fun. We went to Paris in 2014, it was only my third day here, and that was a great time. The year after we went to a festival and that was awesome too. The company put so much effort into everything to make sure we enjoyed ourselves.
What’s the most interesting thing about you we wouldn’t learn from your CV alone?
I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, I play the drums and go climbing. I’m also a huge Manchester United fan and a bit of a hooligan at heart. Followed United around Europe and I’ve snuck into quite a few games in the past.
What’s your favourite thing to do in London in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and also my friends from University that have also moved down here. London’ great for going out to eat, finding hidden gems and doing pub crawls. It’s just an interesting place to just wander around and find lots of different activities to do.