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Interviewing Colleen Harris

Date: 22/11/2020

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Colleen Harris
, Product Manager for Business Intelligence at Sincro. Based in Seattle, USA - Colleen has more than 13 years of digital marketing experience in the automotive, healthcare and entertainment industries. She brings a passion for data analytics and content creation and has been referred to as the “Google Whisperer”. Colleen has published white papers on Google Analytics & Google Data Studio best practices, how to use “near me” in content and the impact local call tracking numbers have on SEO. Outside of Sincro, Colleen has volunteered as a digital consultant for non-profits.

We asked her everything from how she first got into SEO to what empowers her to be the brilliant woman she is 💪🏽

How did you get into SEO?

Like most people, I got into SEO through soap opera fandom. To explain more. Back in 2004, I got involved in an All My Children (soap opera) fan campaign for two characters, Bianca & Maggie. We basically did marketing campaigns to get this couple noticed by the magazines and network. I was tasked with "how to make things show up when you searched on Yahoo" so I went to learn about SEO and build my first fandom website.

Those websites turned into fan club work building websites, and in 2008 I turned that into a full time SEO/PPC for a small healthcare staffing agency. I got the gig because the wife of the owner watched All My Children and gave me a chance. In 2013, I moved over to then Cobalt to do local SEO for car dealers which has grown into a job managing analytics & SEO reporting for the websites.

What is your favourite SEO task?

Currently, I manage the data collection strategy for over 5,000 websites plus all reporting for our SEO products and that is my favorite part of SEO.

Working in SEO, the question always was "how do we know it's been successful" and now I get to help answer that. I love being able to take an SEO strategy and connect KPIs and outcomes that show the value of SEO work.

It's exciting for me when a dealer reads the SEO report and understands the value of the work done. I also like that I'm pushing the boundaries of what SEO can really be by focusing on the analytics side of SEO. I also can't spell to save my life so I shouldn't be writing content.

What is your go-to tool or resource that you can't live without?

The Regexinator - as all it does it write regex expressions for you :)

What is something you learned in SEO that made you have an 'AHA' moment?

Even if you put together best linking, best content, best technical SEO for a strategy it may not pay off at all and that's ok. So many times, people in SEO always want to report on up arrows and big successes but you don't always see that with SEO. SEO is about being visible when the search happens, and sometimes that search doesn't happen right away. That also means that just because you may not have all the data to back it up doesn't mean it's not a success.

What is your proudest industry achievement?

Two come to mind. One is this last year at SMX West where I booked two different speaking sessions. I'm not the typical speaker and the struggle to get on stages is real and this was a huge win for me. More close to home - the sale staff at my company can now speak to the value of Google My Business!

What advice would you give women who are starting out in SEO?

Raise your hand, even if you don't think you belong or are qualified for anything or everything. You have unique experiences and a skill set that all SEOs should have. You also don't have to be the most technical skilled person out there to be successful in SEO.

I'm a fat lesbian with a religious studies degree doing SEO Analytics for the Automotive industry. There's no planet or world where someone would expect to see me in this role. Raising my hand and asking questions is what got me here despite how hard it was.

Give a shout out to a woman in the industry who inspires you and tell us why

I'm lucky enough to be working at an organization (Sincro) where our president and almost half of the leadership team is female. They are also women who "came up from the ranks" and gave me chances to be a leader and grow my career. They've continued to support someone like me, a little non-traditional, in roles and grow my career there.

So Alli Berry, I am lucky enough to be inspired by her and call her a friend. She's the first person I've ever worked with who makes me actually care about content and intent. Every time I listen to her or read work, she gets me thinking about all the content and how to make it better. And Martha van Berkel, I learned everything about schema from. She makes it so easy to understand. Also Ashley Hale is a bad a## mamma making all our industry better and I applaud her for that.

Finally, what empowers you to be the brilliant woman you are?

Carrie Fisher empowers me. Anything and everything Carrie. She was a complicated, f-ed, passionate and talented woman who lived the best she could and didn't try to excuse it. I find a lot of power in how she tried to do that.

A lot of people will quote the beginning of the quote "Stay afraid but do it anyway" but the rest of the quote is what gets me "What's important is the action. You don't have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow." As I have spent years working through impostor syndrome, this is something I keep with me.

My other source of empowerment is music and playlists. I have over 10 playlists I rotate through weekly depending on the music and the mood. They also all start with "Category is" since Billy Porter is everything I aspire to. It's mainly a collection of female rockers & songwriters with some Broadway thrown in but it gets me going for anything.


Thanks Colleen for a truly insightful interview. You can check Colleen's website and connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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to share your story with the world! Simply fill this form here, we welcome brilliant SEOs from all walks of life! 🙌🏽