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John Shehata - Audience Growth at Conde Nast

Condé Nast is a premier media company renowned for producing the highest quality content for the world's most influential audiences

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John is a senior executive with 15 years of experience building, and leading marketing teams transforming digital and legacy media businesses. He currently oversees a team of experts across 18 brands spanning multiple departments including SEO, Social Media Strategy, Email Strategy & Operations, and CrossBrands Initiatives & Organic Partnerships. 

Show Notes

Getting Into Marketing (02:50) 

Believe it or not, I started as a pharmacist. I finished my fourth year of pharmacy and then I realized that I hated it. It just wasn’t the right fit for me. 

I stepped away from college for a year, to figure out what I need to do. 

I went back to college and got my Bachelor degree in Computer Science and learned a few Engineering languages back then. 

During college, I’ve created the software that sells phone cards online. I needed to market it and that is how I got introduced to the whole SEO aspect of marketing. 

Early Career (07:46) 

In my early career, I have worked as an SEO specialist. I’ve learned the trades of the craft - SEO title, SEO description, copy content and so on. 

I have also learned a lot from the sales team, customer support, and how to pitch SEO back then. 

One of the skills that every SEO specialist needs is to understand the code and to know how to sell themselves. 

Putting Together an SEO Strategy (11:13) 

The strategy very much depends on the niche. I also don’t think there is one answer that can fit all kinds of strategies. 

Transition From an Agency to an In-House Role (14:54) 

I think that an agency is a boot camp that prepares you for in-house work. In an agency, you get exposed to so many clients, so many projects and strategies. It’s very demanding. You learn so much in such a short period of time. Most SEO specialists should start in an agency before finding an in-house role. 

However, when you work for an agency, you are a little bit disconnected from the client, their technology and strategy. This is why I’ve felt that a progression from an agency to in-house was a better fit for me. 

For the past 14 years, I have been in-house. 

The Responsibility of Social (19:40)

Back then, social media was very shiny. Companies got more interested in branding the content to their audiences, wherever they are. 

Social media platforms are based on an algorithm. And the algorithm goes back to the problem-solving. It was a natural fit to understand the algorithm of these platforms and how can you optimize for each one. 

The Role at ABC (23:42) 

When the ABC approached me I felt like that was a good step forward in my career. They haven't worked on SEO before so I was in charge of building the team. After a year, we had amazing growth. 

We did a lot of optimization there and we managed to increase the on-site views of videos in addition to Youtube. 

Transition to Conde Nast (28:05) 

While I enjoyed working at ABC News, I was exposed to a lot of negative news. I wanted to focus less on hardcore news and more on evergreen content. 

At Conde Nast, I’ve found a healthy mix between news and evergreen content. 

The Vice President of Audience Development Role (31:25) 

I had been there for almost three and a half years now. 

During the first two years, we have established a team of about seven people. We have seen a growth of like 35-45 percent so that was amazing. 

Now I’m working with dedicated audience development teams on each of the brands. 

Centralized teams are focused on the best strategies. They are the ones who work with the engineering teams on all kinds of products. 

For this role, I also needed to learn a lot about all the different channels we worked on. 

Advice For Younger Marketers (39:00)

Be eager to learn as much as you can. SEO industry changes quite a lot, so I think without having that proper knowledge, you won’t be able to excel in your job. 

You should also have enough knowledge about the other functions in marketing and how they can benefit you and your role.