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Interviewing Mercedes Zapata-García

Welcome to a new Weekly Interviews edition where we interview brilliant women in our industry and share their stories with the world! Anyone is welcome to share their story by simply filling this form, we encourage women from all walks of life in our industry to do so.

Introducing Mercedes Zapata-García! Mercedes is an SEO Manager with PACIFIC Digital Group, where she has worked for the past 3 years with a variety of enterprise-level clients and has provided research and insights across multiple languages. Based in San Diego, she originally started her career as a scientist in Biology with a Bachelor's in English, and she credits both backgrounds for giving her great toolsets and skills for SEO.

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?

While applying to lab tech jobs, I started a blog about video game storytelling, as a hobby. Having always been curious about marketing as a career, I eventually decided that I wanted to learn more about how to market my blog. I decided to take several marketing courses at the local university and immediately fell in love with SEO. I ended up completing the entire marketing program and started applying to SEO positions afterwards.

What is your favourite SEO task?

Audits, especially if I'm looking at a site for the first time. I love being able to deep dive into a topic and see what recommendations come out of it. I also love working on full-page optimizations and creating full site strategy recommendations.

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

SEMRush's Organic Research tool. Whether it's looking at one page or a section of pages, it's always really interesting to see how keywords have shifted over time, where there was keyword growth, and where there might be opportunities to regain lost keywords.

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

Don't underestimate the power of SEO best practices that might seem "basic" or small. It can sometimes feel like you need to always come up with a super unique and original experiment, but I've seen sites start to bring in significant traffic after making small adjustments to the page or SEO elements. Sometimes you just need to go back to basics.

What is your proudest industry achievement?

One of my clients had a set of pages that had been created but never touched afterwards and were completely orphaned. I saw a timely and relevant opportunity to do full-page optimizations on all of these pages: creating all of the elements, designing the page layout, creating internal links to and from these pages, and including additional content. After implementation, the pages very quickly went from being undiscoverable to being some of their top page types and bringing in a significant amount of traffic.

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

Don't be afraid to ask questions about everything, even if you think the question might be "dumb." You will thank yourself later for having asked. Also, find a mentor who you can talk to and bounce ideas off of.

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

Lily Ray for her knowledge and insights. I especially love reading her Winners & Losers Google Algorithm Update analyses, which are really in-depth and have a lot of great insights.

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

I'm constantly asking questions, always wanting to hear from my peers' experience and always wanting to learn more in the field. Having the answers to my questions makes me feel more confident in the work that I am doing and in the way I present. I've also taken a lot of the skills that I've learned as a scientist to reexamine and reevaluate how I approach challenges and I use that to push me forward.

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Thanks Mercedes for a truly insightful interview. You can learn more about her and connect with her on LinkedIn.

To view more interviews with brilliant women, check out our Interviews page. If you've enjoyed reading this interview, then we'd love for YOU to share your story with the world! Simply fill this form here, we welcome brilliant SEOs from all walks of life! 🙌🏽