Welcome to the Tough Cookies series where we interview and celebrate the strong and determined individuals who are making waves in the tech industry.
King of SEO, Nick founded and runs his own SEO agency in Bristol. If you have a question about optimising your website, this is the man you need to talk to. But we thought we would mix it up and ask him a question or two about his favourite flavoured cookies and his favourite book he’s reading!
What is Accelerate Agency and how did the idea come about?
I launched Accelerate Agency with my co-founder and business partner Phil Pearce in 2017. We are a Bristol-based Analytics and SEO agency. I’d been working with Phil for a couple of years before setting up the agency. We’d both been doing freelance and consulting work directly for clients, but also white labeling our services for other firms. Setting up an agency seemed like a logical next step.
We primarily work with scale-up and enterprise-level Software as a Service clients, though we also work with eCommerce stores and other types of businesses. In the last two years, the company has been growing fast. We currently have a team of X people working at Accelerate Agency, but we seem to be expanding every quarter, which is what you hope for when heading a scale-up.
What does your day to day look like?
The average workday varies. I’m an earlier riser. I’m usually up and answering emails and dealing with a few client inquiries at 6 am. Then I’ll have breakfast and maybe go to the pool for a swim before heading to the office.
We try to do a team catch up first thing in the morning to run through tasks for the day and review completed work. Once that’s out of the way, then I’m usually doing a mixture of work for clients, preparing for sales meetings with potential clients, and managing our growing team.
I have the feeling that management is going to become an increasingly large part of the job as the company continues to grow. I’ll need to find the right balance there because my real passion is serving the people that we work with and delivering results.
Phil and I are generally in the office until six or seven in the evening. We’re investing a lot of time into the business. We’re okay with that as we’re both passionate about what we do.
What part of the tech industry most excites you at the moment?
In regards to technology, I’m most excited by the advances of machine learning and artificial intelligence. I know that both of these things are going to become increasingly important in our line of work. For example, you can see how the role of machine learning is changing the dynamic when it comes to the cost of SEO, and even the dynamics underlying PPC.
My first SEO tip is to be prepared to work hard to achieve your goals, especially in a competitive niche.
What would be your one top tip for great SEO?
I’ll share two tips. The first tip is something you could apply to any aspect of your life; I was reading The Dip by Seth Godin the other day. In the book, he talked about the importance of working harder than your competitors to achieve your goals. So my first SEO tip is to be prepared to work hard to achieve your goals, especially in a competitive niche.
My second tip would be to focus on acquiring links from top publications in your niche if you want to get ahead. For example, in the last three months, Phil and I have written for sites like Mailchimp, Foundr, SEMrush, and more to raise the profile of Accelerate.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face in your career and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge that I have faced in my career is the ability to pick myself up in after a failure. Let’s be honest with each other. If you are running a business, you will face obstacles that get in your way. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things will go wrong.
Phil and I are lucky to have built a great team around us who can offer advice, and provide insights and action that help us overcome these issues. In this regards, I’d say my best bit of advice for overcoming a problem is an excellent team of colleagues and good friends.
I think one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while is I don’t Work Fridays by Martin Norbury
What does success look like to you?
To me, success is the ability to achieve my own personal business and personal goals, while helping friends and colleagues achieve theirs. It’s nice to think that over the last two years that through the job opportunities Phil and I have created, we’ve been privileged to help people achieve their personal goals.
This covers everything from providing people the financial security to get a mortgage on a house, to offering flexible work hours so people can spend more time with their families. This is the foundation of a happy motivated workforce, and it’s these kind of things that make going into the office so satisfying.
If I had to pick just one SEO tool, it would be Google Search Console.
Is there a film/book/podcast we should be looking at?
I’m a prodigious reader of books, so that’s a dangerous question! I think one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while is I don’t Work Fridays by Martin Norbury. It’s a great read and has some solid business advice for anyone growing a business.
What’s the best tool you have on your computer at the moment to help you with your work?
There are so many great tools out there developed by talented people. If I had to pick just one SEO tool, it would be Google Search Console. For a start, it is free, which is going to be a big plus point for most people. On top of that, if you take the time to learn how to use it properly, you can gain some valuable insights.
And lastly, we have to ask… what’s your favourite flavour cookie?
Chocolate chunk cookie of course!