Interview with Lily Ray the SEO Director at Path Interactive
Lily Ray the SEO Director at Path Interactive, where she provides strategic leadership for the agency’s SEO client programs. She started her SEO career in 2010, and since then she continues to contribute fresh ideas and strategies to the SEO community around the globe.
In 2017, Lily was nominated by Search Engine Land for Female Search Marketer of the Year.
Besides having a very successful career in digital marketing, she is also a DJ, drummer and fitness enthusiast.
1.Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview. Can you tell us how did you get into SEO? Why do you choose to pursue an SEO career?
Thank you for the opportunity! I fell into SEO as a junior in college; it was during the 2008 recession, and it was unusual to find paying jobs at the time. I saw an ad for “social media marketing,” which sounded like a natural fit for me, given that I loved social media and had grown up using computers and the internet pretty much all of my life. I was born in Silicon Valley and grew up in a tech family, so the skills required for the job were things I had been doing casually for years.
I immediately fell in love with the job; it was the perfect combination of technical skill and creativity. It also involved writing and editing, which I’ve always loved and focused on heavily during my years in school.
2.You began your SEO career 10 years ago. When thinking about the past 10 years, what makes you the proudest?
Lately, there have been a lot of personal achievements that I’m very proud of, but they pale in comparison to how proud it makes me to have led two amazing SEO teams at my current agency, Path Interactive, as well as my previous agency, Stella Rising (formerly Women’s Marketing).
The feeling of collaborating and sharing ideas with my teammates is what keeps me energized and motivated every day. I feel that the teamwork is what gives me purpose, especially knowing that I have made an impact on other peoples’ lives.
The opportunity to serve as a mentor and coach for my teammates, and to do great work together, have surely been the most gratifying aspects of my career so far.
3.In your opinion, is there an equal opportunity and access for both women and men in the tech industry? From your experience, what has changed in the last decade?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, such as the industry, the job role, and of course, the company itself. In general, I do feel that women have historically had a disadvantage when it comes to opportunities in the tech world.
That said, the playing field has changed so much in the past 2-3 years. It feels as though women have been given a voice lately, and that the industry is taking their concerns seriously. I cannot give enough credit to women like Areej Abuali and her Women in Tech SEO community, who have taken the initiative to create a safe space for women to collaborate, share concerns, and foster professional development. From what I have observed, initiatives like these have made a clear difference in how women are treated in the SEO space. But the work is far from done, not only for women, but for all people of color and other marginalized groups.
4.Do you have your daily working routine that keeps you focused and organized?
Haha, I actually don’t think of myself as either focused or organized – I would say that better words to describe me are passionate, energetic, and highly productive.
I tend to have explosive moments of creativity, inspiration, or motivation, but I have other days where I have trouble focusing and feel overwhelmed with how much I have to do. I don’t accomplish much on those days.
Fortunately, I have great people supporting me at my current agency, Path Interactive, who I’m able to delegate certain tasks to, and who help keep me organized. I also have a lovely network of friends and mentors who I look to when I need guidance on personal or professional matters. I would not be able to achieve the things I do without the support system I have in place.
But I do value my personal routine above all else; especially as it relates to my fitness and nutrition. I work out every day, and pay close attention to my diet, plus drinking lots of water. Since COVID, I break up every day with a short jog or bike ride after work to clear my head, plus a virtual fitness class or two. I would not be able to function without my workout routine, and these things are crucial for mental clarity.
It’s also extremely important to me to do things that aren’t SEO. I am passionate about my music and so I DJ and make music frequently. I also see friends and family often, which is a necessity for me; I get my energy from other people!
5.You are currently working as the SEO Director at Path Interactive. What do you like most about your job?
Every person on my SEO team is an absolute rockstar and such a pleasure to work with. My favorite part of my job is working across dozens of different clients and helping guide the SEO strategy with my awesome teammates. It’s the reason I’ve worked in the agency world for as long as I have; I like the challenge of working across a variety of different industries and coming up with creative solutions to the vastly different problems our clients have. It allows us to tap into every niche within the SEO space, like ecommerce, local SEO, video, news, image SEO, international SEO, and more. Developing creative marketing strategies for so many different companies keeps the job super exciting, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work on these projects every day.
6.What apps and tools help you to be more productive on a daily basis?
I don’t really use apps or tools for productivity, aside from the SEO tools themselves! Our company uses Asana, which is a great tool, but beyond that, I don’t have apps I use for these purposes.
For SEO tools, I’m always looking for ways to increase efficiency, and that’s why our team is equipped with so many best-in-class SEO tools and know which ones to use for which purpose. I truly feel that our agency’s vast selection of SEO tools and willingness to invest in technology is one of the many things that makes our SEO team as effective as it is.
7.If you had to choose between working from office or remote work, which one would you choose? Why?
If you asked me this before COVID, I would have surely said “working from the office.” But after so many months of working from home this year, I have to say I much prefer this lifestyle. I don’t miss commuting and I don’t miss the distractions of being surrounded by people in the office (as much as I love socializing with them!)
As long as you can maintain your social connections, communicate consistently with your coworkers, and get outside of your house or apartment every day, I believe that working from home is actually preferable. That said, I may feel differently about this again, once it’s safer to go back to the office.
8.What’s the future of SEO, how will it change in the years to come?
Frankly, it will be a continuing battle to own organic real estate, given Google’s constant and relentless efforts to keep users on the search results and/or click on advertisements. I don’t see that problem going away anytime soon and I anticipate that it will only get worse. However, I don’t think SEO will go away. I imagine searchers will always seek out the organic results, just as they have for the entire existence of internet search engines. SEOs will just have to get more creative with how to ensure they’re visible for those searchers, no matter what the future SERP landscape looks like.
9.Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Good question; probably still doing what I’m doing now, but perhaps in a less intense work environment than an SEO agency – consulting or working for myself. 10 years is a long time though, so it’s impossible to know what the future will bring! I look forward to it either way.
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