David Sayce

Interview with David Sayce SEO London Consultant

How did you start with SEO?

…A long time ago in a galaxy far away….

I had a sporting goods wholesale business I had been running since 1991, It was probably around 1995 I started to look at making my own websites, and then thought about retail and eCommerce. By 1998 the business had an e-commerce website, and I was keen to market it. So I learnt what I could online, tried out a few things and soon found I had customers online!

Over the next few years, I had a number of roles around marketing, e-commerce and ERP implementations, even print and publishing (online and offline), but the SEO element was always there.

Around 2005 search engine optimisation was my official side hustle as a private consultant. In 2018 my business was formally setup as Paper Gecko https://papergecko.com

I still cover the wider area of digital marketing, but most of my work is around SEO, including website audits, I see my role as optimisation and integration.

What is the future of SEO?

For the user it’s about getting the best response.

Whether they type it or say it those first responses should be the answer, Google (and other search engines!) are learning faster all the time.

For the SEOs, we have to keep up and be ready to change.

Having said that it has been interesting to see recent comments from Google advising SEO not to forget the basics. I’ve always been a believer in strong foundations (in fact I originally trained as a Civil Engineer!).

Some areas to look into:

Understand the audience and their intent

SEOs and businesses need to be more aware of the user and what they are looking for.

Don’t underestimate the power of video

Run it, test it, understand the return on your investment. Video creation is not as expensive as it once was, but if you are doing it in house, investigate the basics of video production. Lighting, sound and setup.


I had to mention this, over the years I have see too many issues around the legal and regulatory elements of digital marketing. Businesses need to be more aware of what is required in the locations they operate in.

Structured Data Markup

Schema has been around for a long time, but with featured snippets it has a new lease of life.

Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness

We have seen a lot of talk around E-A-T over the last couple of years, this came from Google themselves.

Invest in Technical SEO

In far too many businesses all they see is the front end of the website, don’t forget the technical side, it’s easy to create a website that looks good on screen, but has major issues behind the scenes. Have you audited your website recently?

Get Ready for Voice Search

Voice, voice, voice! Hey Siri, Oy Alexa – a big topic at the moment and businesses need to better understand how it can and will work for them.

Local & Hyper Local SEO

I’m still surprised how many businesses have not setup Google my Business and looked at how they can reach the market on their doorstep.

Machine learning Yay or Nay? Any thoughts on this?

Yay! Prepare to bow before our new digital overlords!

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence looking at how algorithms allow computers to learn.

Google is using machine learning in two areas for SEO

✅improving their understanding of a user’s query intent

✅finding the best content to match the user’s query intent

Google has previously stated that around 15% of search queries each day are new, no one has searched that exact phrase before, this is where RankBrain comes in to better understand and filter for the best results.

And if Google are using it, so will SEOs!

SEO trends for 2019? Any technical aspect to look into specifically?

I’m seeing a lot around PWAs, and I only see that getting bigger. This potentially ends the website versus app debate, PWAs override the limitations of a website and bring to consumers the usability and functionality of an app.

From what we are hearing from Google and the data from my own clients there is still a big part of ‘getting the basics right’, build strong foundations! Think about site speed and security, consider the expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Search engines are getting smarter and quality over quantity has never been more apt than it is in 2019.

Schema this has been linked to featured snippet (position 0) and to voice search as well.

If you could attend to only 5 SEO conferences during one year. Which ones would you choose?

Conferences are interesting, if you have every thought ‘I’ll just pick up the slide decks when they are done’ you are missing 80% of what goes on!

  • Not quite a conference but the Search London Meetup is always great! https://searchldn.com
  • SearchLove by Distilled has always been exceptional, would love to do SearchLove San Diego! https://www.distilled.net/events/
  • I’ve seen a number of SEO conferences in Bali that look very good, such as DMSS, location might make my answer a little biased, but it really does have a good lineup of speakers.
  • Involved with link building? I recently attended LRTcon by Link Ranking Tools in Vienna, great speakers and plenty of takeaways. https://lrtcon.org
  • …oh that Brighton one… BrightonSEO, the absolutely, positively, if you can only make one event, this one! https://www.brightonseo.com

Any upcoming webinars?

Best to ask Anton over at SEMrush! I’ve done a lot of webinars with Anton over the years and they have always been great both content, but especially technically, and very well organised too!… In fact I am still…


A debate that continues 🤔😛

I do a couple of private webinars each month for businesses looking to learn more about digital marketing. These are often small groups looking to learn something specific, although i have done a couple of company wide, 1000+ people, before.

Follow me on twitter and I’ll keep you posted – @dsayce

Favourite or recommended Marketing books

I actually have a list of a few on my website, I think it is important to cover a wide range of topics. I have always thought that books such as Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy can give the reader a greater insight into marketing and business.

David Ogilvy Book

A few of my recommendations:

  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • This is Marketing – Seth Godin (I’ve enjoyed all of his books)
  • Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
  • Influence – Robert Cladini
  • Everybody Writes – Ann Handley
  • Quiet – Susan Cain
  • Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It by Mitch Joel
  • The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimisation By Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola
  • Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses By Joe Pulizzi
  • Create Magnetic Headlines: The Killer Guide to creating great headlines for maximum attention By Lyndon Antcliff
  • Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion by Nathalie Nahai
  • ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
  • The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  • Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Voices That Matter) by Steve Krug
  • To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Daniel H Pink
  • Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
  • Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of The Kellogg School of Management by Alice M. Tybout, Tim Calkins, Philip Kotler
  • What’s the Future of Business?: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences by Brian Solis

What SEO industry people to follow in 2019 ?

Wow, there are a lot! Apologies to many great people I will end up missing off this list

  • Bartosz Góralewicz and the team at Elephate
  • Aleyda Solis
  • Dawn Anderson
  • Ross Tavendale and his team
  • Barry Adams
  • Ian Lurie  
  • Will Reynolds

The most controversial SEO topic?

Right now I think it is Domain Authority, Moz is updating it again which has brought it back into the spotlight. My view is it is an interesting metric to view and to benchmark, but don’t read too much into it.

Image optimisation. Worth it or waste of time?

Worth it!. I’ve audited well over 300 websites and had quite a few using huge image sizes, a massive impact on speed. I’ve also seen results from updating names and tags. But more often it is further down the list of SEO priorities.

We simply know that media search is way too ignored for what it’s capable doing for publishers so we’re throwing more engineers at it as well as more outreach… Google Images and Video search is often overlooked, but they have massive potential.” – Gary Illyes https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-images-video-search-have-massive-potential-often-overlooked-by-seos/292679/

Best ever speaker you have heard live

I could never narrow it down to one, there are a lot of exceptional speakers out there, a few off the top of my head:

Aleyda Solis: I would never miss one of her talks, fantastic energy and passion, each time I’ve heard her I’ve learn something new.

Grant Simmons: I saw him recently at LRTcon in Vienna, his energy woke everyone up at the end of a long day.

Will Reynolds: Again a speaker that will turn it up to 11, and when he is done you feel like you can take on the world and now have to knowledge and tools to do it!

And many, many more…

David Sayce

David Sayce is a digital marketing consultant based in London and working with clients around the world.

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