MozCon Virtual 2021 Interview Series: Dana DiTomasoDana DiTomaso is the founder and president of Kick Point, a Canadian-based digital marketing agency. She is well known for her ingenious and innovative presentations on tracking and analytics, as well as other growth marketing strategies. She's presented at SMX, Local Search Summit, and Engage, and we're thrilled to welcome her back to this year’s MozCon Virtual where she’ll discuss modern web development that puts SEO first. Check out what she has to share ahead of this year’s show!
Question: 2020 was quite the year, what were you up to this past year? Any surprises or favorite projects you worked on?
Dana: Like many people I actually ended up moving! I now live on Vancouver Island and I can practically see the USA from my house — not that I’ve been able to visit. I also completed my first course, hopefully of many, for LinkedIn Learning on the topic of technical SEO. My next course is already in progress and will be covering how to transition from Google Analytics Universal to GA4, and that should be out in the fall.
At Kick Point, we grew over the past year and we're now a team of 12! Like a lot of agencies, we did see some good come out of an otherwise pretty awful time for many, we’re very fortunate.
Q: What is the biggest shift you’ve seen in the SEO industry over the past year? How does that impact your work at Kick Point, if at all?
D: The biggest change this year was the rollout of Core Web Vitals, which as I write this, is only just happening now. I am extremely curious to see how it impacts SEO over the remainder of 2021. I don’t want to say too much more in case it ages badly!
Q: Last year, you discussed how to use a discovery process to turn red flags to green lights. Will we see any of the same themes come through in your presentation this year? How so?
D: Absolutely! This year is really a companion piece to last year. Last year I covered discovery for marketing projects, and this year I'm covering discovery for website projects. These discovery processes have made such incredible changes at Kick Point in terms of how we work with new clients — it's really been amazing. I hope that people who listen to my talk are able to take away some of the lessons that we've learned and apply them to their own processes.
Q: In your MozCon talk, you’ll be discussing how to build a website with a search-first mindset. What inspired you to discuss this topic at MozCon 2021?
D: I think it's a topic that isn't covered enough. We unfortunately often still see a real divide between the developer and SEO worlds and I'm hoping that we can work towards bridging that. Particularly with the advent of Core Web Vitals, these two teams need to work together more than ever before.
Additionally, this talk is based on a lot of our own learnings in terms of better ways to run website projects. Since we have adopted this process, website projects are just more fun — less stress, on time, on budget, all those things that we all want in a website project but seem impossible to achieve. I’m not saying this will magically fix everything but it’ll definitely put you on a happier path.
Q: What are some of the challenges SEOs face in the web development process?
D: Being taken seriously! I've been working in this field for 21 years now and I can't even tell you the number of times that I've been on a call with a developer or development team discussing SEO recommendations and just being completely dismissed — that these recommendations aren’t necessary, that we're wrong, or that the developer knows better. And it's an incredibly frustrating place to be in. I’m sure other SEOs reading this have had similar experiences.
Q: Why is it important for SEO to be at the forefront when it comes to website development? How has the relationship changed over the years?
D: Because it's so much easier and cheaper to get SEO recommendations added in at the beginning instead of trying to shove things in later after the site is done. I think that developers are more aware of SEO now but there is still a lot of mistrust. I think it’s important to set the tone that you aren’t there to throw the developer under the bus — they aren’t an SEO expert, and shouldn’t be expected to learn all this specific SEO stuff. Showing that you’re there to help right from the start can really help that relationship thrive.
Q: What’s your #1 tip for ensuring that SEO gets a seat at the table in a website rebrand?
D: You need to start with education. Either the leadership team that you're working with doesn't understand the power of SEO or they may have a really outdated understanding of what SEO is and what it can do. Tom Critchlow has an excellent article that he recently published on how to convince executives to care about SEO and I’d say that is required reading.
Q: What are the key takeaways you want the audience to walk away with?
D: I want people to understand that there is a space between waterfall and agile when it comes to website development processes. I hope that people will enjoy our blueprint process and it’ll help them make better website plans. Finally, I’m really excited to show off the keyword research presentation idea that I got from Rebekah Baggs and Chris Corak — it’s so good!
Q: Who in the MozCon lineup are you most excited to watch this year? Anything else you are looking forward to?
D: The talks by Dr. Pete, Areej AbuAli, and Britney Muller all look great! And of course I’ll be watching Brie Anderson’s talk since GA4 is very close to my heart. I’m also really looking forward to hopefully having an in-person MozCon next year! There is really nothing that can replace the experience of speaking to a live audience.
A big thank you to Dana for her time! To learn more about Dana’s upcoming presentation, see details on our other speakers, and to purchase your ticket, make sure you click the link below!