“You don’t realize how the little things you do matter to so many people. And I’m big on being kind, being nice, and being accepting as I can with people. I guess that meant more to people than what I thought.”
Melissa Fach is among the most prominent (and beloved) figures in the SEO community. And it’s easy to see why.
She’s been in the industry for 15 years. During this time, she has shared her knowledge and expertise by contributing to various publications, speaking at major conferences, and helping to improve other people’s articles through her editing work.
Melissa has impacted the lives and careers of thousands of SEO pros and marketers – all of whom are grateful for what she’s done.
Despite all her accomplishments (among them being named as 2017 U.S. Search Personality of the Year), she remains nice and warm as always – taking pleasure in helping people blossom and seeing them become authorities in their own right.
In today’s edition of the Search Engine Journal Show: Better Know An SEO Pro, Melissa Fach shares her thoughts on content, managing communities, helping people break out, and more.
About Melissa Fach
Melissa Fach is currently the Community and Social Manager for Pubcon, and is also the U.S. Blog Editor at SEMrush.
Through her company SEO Aware, she works as a consultant with a few select clients.
She is also a former managing editor of Search Engine Journal from 2011 to 2013. Fach has also worked as Editor and Community Manager at Moz and a Social Jedi at AuthorityLabs.
She has contributed tons of articles to numerous publications over the years.
In addition to that, Melissa has been a volunteer at Big Cat Habitat – an animal sanctuary home to big cats and other wild species.
You can always find her speaking at Pubcon conferences, both in Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, and if you ever do get the chance, I highly recommend checking out any session that Melissa’s speaking at.
In the interview, Melissa talks about her journey – the highlights of her career, the challenges she had to overcome, and how helping people succeed brings her fulfillment.
- What it was like when she was named Search Personality of the Year on November 8, of 2017, the night of the U.S. Search Awards. (She didn’t have a clue she’d get the award.) [03:12]
- Melissa on being the first woman to win the award and what it meant to her. [05:17]
- Two things she’ll always remember from that night and why. [06:06]
- Helping people build their reputation and seeing them grow – this is what Melissa loves the most about everything she does. [07:33]
- Melissa on growing up feisty in a very conservative Charismatic Christian home, not quite fitting in, and bucking the system. [09:04]
- Psychology has always been Melissa’s focus. She even took classes in high school to prepare for classes in college. [10:25]
- As a kid, she loved to write and to read – perhaps a signal of sorts that she’d get into the content field. [11:10]
- The final year of her master’s program in mental health, Melissa had a project where she built a website on GeoCities. [11:44]
- When she started offering copywriting services and other things online. [12:53]
- Getting on board as SEJ’s managing editor at a time when it needed some love and attention. [13:48]
- Melissa shares how her background in psychology helps her in her current career. She’s able to look at things a little differently – how people think, how they make choices, and how they learn. [14:40]
- Big Cat Habitat’s Facebook presence was non-existent until Melissa started volunteering for the sanctuary. She created a Facebook page and began posting pictures of the animals. The result? 50,000 visitors after a year. [16:12]
- Her skills in counseling also came in very handy while doing customer service at Moz. [17:07]
- Melissa taught herself SEO by reading everything, following the experts, and experimenting with how to rank the 50+ websites she built. [18:12]
- “If you are responsible for [SEO] content, you have got to know how the SEO is working.” [19:49]
- While she didn’t have problems getting the work, the only battles she had were against men who told her that because she was a woman, she couldn’t do SEO. [20:26]
- She founded her own writing company, Panaca, and got her freelance writing gigs from CrazedList. [21:58]
- The blog SEOAware.com was already doing well when Melissa finally decided to make it her business name in 2008. [22:41]
- Melissa narrates how SEJ was like when she first got on board. Holding the writers accountable was key to improving the site and ramping up its quality. [24:33]
- On her unceremonious exit from SEJ – how she ended up leaving, briefly coming back, and then leaving again. (Plus being complimented by Matt Cutts on turning SEJ around). [27:25]
- Melissa’s proudest moments during her SEJ period include receiving compliments from people in the community whom she respected. [29:47]
- Moving to Moz – starting off as an editor for the YouMoz Blog and eventually managing the company’s social media where she learned more about social customer service. [30:58]
- For Melissa, getting quality content was her biggest struggle as an editor for SEJ, Moz, and SEMrush. A few other challenges include needing to offer money for good writers, “content vomiting”, and working with people who actually want to write but don’t know how. [32:42]
- Does she feel OK with people who ghostwrite? [36:40]
- On working at AuthorityLabs at the same time as Moz. [38:07]
- How Melissa’s Pubcon role started to develop and why she loves working with Brett Tabke and the team behind the conference. [39:00]
- As Pubcon’s Community Manager, she didn’t expect the level of one-on-one concern required for everyone in the conference. [41:02]
- How come there aren’t more female speakers in search conferences? Melissa shares an enlightening explanation. [45:02]
- Why she ended up deciding to work with SEMrush and how she revamped the company blog’s publication rules. [49:04]
- How does she approach editing when most topics have already been talked about before? [52:09]
- As a conference speaker, Melissa always tries to provide as much information that attendees could take back and use. [54:21]
- How do you make a conference preso less boring? And more importantly, how should one go about conference pitching? Melissa offers some tips. [57:51]
- Melissa’s top networking tip when in a conference? Be nice! [59:51]
- She reads everything to stay up to date with SEO and marketing. [01:02:00]
- Her favorite big cat was Brutus the liger (half lion, half tiger). [01:04:18]
- If she wasn’t in search, Melissa would love to be working with big cats or in real estate. [01:06:02]
- The best piece of advice ever given to her: “Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.” [01:06:37]
- LSI – the worst piece of advice she’s ever heard. Melissa explains why. [01:07:42]
- On some well-known people in the industry who continue to discuss things that are not technically accurate. [1:09:53]
- Melissa’s advice to her past self if she could go back in time: “Don’t take more crap than you should’ve,” and “Don’t look up to people just because they have a big name.”[01:11:06]
- How can SEO newcomers become successful and sustain that success over time? [01:12:30]
- The most exciting things about SEO and marketing right now? Less lengthy content ranking well and video. [01:13:43]
- What are the most common writing mistakes that Melissa sees people do in their blog posts, and how can they address those problems? [01:15:14]
- The best way to deal with social media trolls. [01:17:53]
- Why she keeps her mouth shut 98% of the time when using social media. [01:19:36]
- What are Melissa’s biggest turn-offs in content pitches? [01:20:42]
- Her tips for people who have to be their own editor. [01:22:17]
- Melissa says actionable, how-to content performs the best. [01:23:39]
- Her thoughts on how AI and machine learning will impact the way that content is created moving forward. [01:25:24]
- What’s next for Melissa Fach? [01:27:35]
Links from the Episode
How to connect with Melissa Fach:
To listen to this Search Engine Show: Better Know an SEO Pro Podcast with Melissa Fach:
Search Engine Nerds Is Now the Search Engine Journal Show
In case you were wondering, yes indeed, this podcast has a new name.
Originally known as Marketing Nerds when it launched, and most recently known as Search Engine Nerds, now this podcast is officially The Search Engine Journal Show.
Our goal is to have a new podcast out to you every week, featuring interviews with the top experts and authorities in the field.
Brent Csutoras and I will alternate weeks. Brent will be talking strategies and tactics with his guests, while I will continue my series, interviewing well-known SEO and marketing pros about their career journeys.
Visit our SEJ’s podcast archive to listen to other Search Engine Journal Show podcasts!
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita