Our special guest for episode 389 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications at SEMRush. Host Erin Sparks spoke with Fernando about what it’s been like to be a leading SEO automation company with worldwide reach during a global pandemic. Here’s what we learned:
Fernando Angulo: His Background and Experience
Fernando Angulo is Head of Communications at SEMRush and its corporate spokesperson with more than six years of practical experience in online marketing within the team. Being one of the most recognized faces of the SEMRush brand, Fernando has been regularly speaking at 50+ top conferences around the world each year and has represented the company at event such as SaaScon UK, SMX Paris, PrestaShop Day Spain, PPC Masters Germany, Baltic Ecommerce Poland, and was an outstanding moderator of the prestigious Brighton SEO.
Fernando has been with SEMrush since the beginning of the company’s marketing efforts and has helped build its all-star marketing team. He specializes in B2B search marketing, e-commerce, influence marketing, and training the marketing teams of companies such as Expedia, T-mobile, PrestaShop, and Bing. When Fernando first started working at SEMRush, it was still truly a startup, with maybe 25 employees—a figure that is now over 1,000 and with remote workers in more than 40 countries, which is amazing growth over the course of a decade, including having established offices in Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Europe, Russia, and Cyprus. And SEMRush just recently hit the incredible milestone of seven million users in 190 countries!
SEMRush: SEO Automation at its Best
SEMrush is an all-in-one platform designed for marketing teams to improve digital presence and is known to be the leading product in SEO automation. EDGE show sponsor Site Strategics is a SEMRush shop, literally connecting to the platform on an hourly basis. Not only that, but they’re extremely effective at marketing their own platform and brand, as well as constantly pushing out valuable information to marketers. Their remarketing ad campaigns are amazingly effective. Here are some striking statistics about SEMRush:
- 1,000 working for the company
- 7,000,000+ users worldwide
- 18 billion known keywords in the platform
- 4 trillion known backlinks
The backlinks figure is important because those are good backlinks, meaning they’ve vetted out any bad or toxic backlinks. And then there are the highly effective marketing efforts of the company, such as Global Marketing Day 2019, a 24-hour online conference with live broadcasting from studios in San Francisco, New York, London, and Sydney, thus covering all time zones, and of course Fernando speaking at 50+ top conferences every year.
Pandemic Impacts on Employees and Customers
From the employee perspective, when the first lockdowns happened, there was a huge spike in productivity among SEMRush workers, but it was being driven by people not knowing how to cope with being shut-in at home and so they just kept working, sometimes as much as 12-15 hours a day while also experiencing the stresses of being cooped up with their family or whoever else they live with. It quickly became apparent they needed support from psychologists to help people better manage their working life during the shutdowns, and so the company did that and it really did make a difference in the lives of many employees who were at risk of burnout. It helped people articulate what was really important to them both work-wise and life-wise each day and prioritize from there.
As a company, SEMRush also went over and above in expressing their appreciation of the employees and would do all kinds of gestures like care packages, food deliveries, and so on to get people to take a break, enjoy a meal with their family, and so on. The point was to make sure they were continuing to maintain healthy relationships with their loved ones rather than just focusing on work. And both leaders and managers throughout the company were encouraged to be actively telling their direct reports to stop working so much and do other things. There were company-sponsored online cooking seminars and all sorts of other supportive things.
SEMRush Focuses on Education
From the user perspective, Fernando pointed out that SEMRush is a very product-centric company, meaning it’s highly driven by user feedback in terms of making adjustments to what the platform does and the various tools it offers. What was crazy with the pandemic was how all the newcomers who were planning on making the digital transformation over the course of the next five years suddenly all wanted to do it in about three months! Trying to deal with all the very basic questions newcomers have when it becomes a tsunami of 100,000 users a day all wanting to know what to do and how to do it was a bit much.
What SEMRush had to do was actively push many of those new users into educational channels they needed in terms of getting a website up and running if they didn’t have one or learning some SEO basics through SEMRush Academy. For the newcomers, it was all about supporting them with the fundamentals to get up and running, not high-level material at all. In other cases, it was supporting businesses that already had an online presence but had to pivot their branding because of shifts in their customers’ needs. For example, one lawyer who was all about meeting the demand for wills and testaments found those requests plummeting but divorce requests were spiking, so he had to quickly shift all his branding and SEO to align with that change in consumer demand. There were literally thousands and thousands of stories like that in 2020.
SEMRush is also reaching out to marketing professors in universities around the world to help them get more up-to-speed on digital marketing so they can more effectively develop and teach online digital marketing courses. And it’s specifically about integrating strategies for content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, PPC and other paid to advertise, and so on. There are something like 30,000 institutions of higher education around the world, and SEMRush is trying to work with as many of them as possible—so far about 10%. This focus on education also applies internally to SEMRush where education is constant and includes monthly tests as well.
What SEMRush is doing in this regard is critically important to the digital marketing industry as a whole because there are no platform-agnostic certifications or anything like that to bring consistent standards to how people are educated about digital marketing. This would be so important for agencies who need to hire digital marketers and have some level of confidence that they’ve received a decent education. It’s time to move beyond platform-specific certifications.
Connect with Fernando Angulo and SEMRush
Twitter: @Fernando1Angulo (https://twitter.com/Fernando1Angulo)
SEMRush Twitter: @Semrush (https://twitter.com/Semrush)
SEMRush Website: https://www.semrush.com
SEMRush Facebook: @Semrush (https://www.facebook.com/Semrush)
SEMRush LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/semrush/
Connect with Erin Sparks, Host of EDGE of the Web and CEO of Site Strategics
Twitter: @ErinSparks (https://twitter.com/erinsparks)