Interview: In Conversation with International SEO Consultant, Gabriella Sannino

Kavin Paulson
Published on July 2, 2014
Gabriella Sannino, International SEO Consultant

Gabriella Sannino is a widely-recognized International SEO consultant. She is the managing partner at Level343, an organic SEO and copywriting company based in San Francisco, California.

Gabriella is also the SEO director at Indelible Branding, an Integrated Marketing agency. She has 20+ years of marketing experience and works closely with several agencies as SEO consultant.

Gabriella has been a contributor to the reputable Search Engine Journal, Moz Blog, Click Fire, Search Engine People and various other online marketing/SEO blogs and resources.

In this interesting interview, Gabriella discusses about Hummingbird Algorithm, Panda 4.0, challenges related to International SEO and more. We hope you enjoy reading it.


In Conversation with Gabriella Sannino – Interviewed by Kavin Paulson, editor of The iMarketing Café.

Kavin Paulson: Hi Gabriella, thank you so much for taking time for the interview out of your busy schedule. Please tell us more about yourself.

Gabriella Sannino: I’m Italian, been living in this country for over 20 years. I still have family in Italy… good thing since my favorite thing to do aside from sailing is to travel.

KP: Tell us more about Level343

GS: It’s an ongoing process. I’ve been nurturing the agency into one of the top sought after global partners. Every one of our team members loves what they do, and it shows by their commitment not just to the company but, the clients.

KP: After managing B Studio for 8+ years as creative director, what prompted you to choose a career in SEO? How did the transition happen?

GS: It was a natural process. In order to stay up with anything digital we had to embrace the new possibilities. SEO was one of the first things I looked at when deciding to grow the company. As a multi-linguist I’ve always known languages and the lack therefore would be the driving force behind search. Now with natural search taking a front seat I’m glad I made that choice back then.

KP: This is my favourite one. I ask this question to every SEO I meet. The SEO landscape has completely changed now. How do you handle ranking-obsessed SEO clients these days?

GS: I don’t. We don’t accept clients that are simply looking for ranking. It’s just not right, on so many levels, even if you could rank a client on a specific keyword. What good is that if they don’t have follow through with great conversions? You see SEO brings in the traffic, great content and communications is the follow through. Now you’re looking at growing your search ranks organically without having to worry about your keywords. Your community will become your number one champion.

KP: How different is multi-lingual or International SEO from the normal SEO process? What are the key differentiating factors?

GS: Good question. My immediate response would be culture. The way people buy and search here in the US is different than lets say in Russia, or even Europe. Not just because of the different languages, but in the localization of the content per region, not just country. Another consideration would be, is this a multiregional or multilingual site?

KP: What are some of the challenges that are only related to International SEO?

GS: Localization, time zones, and working with the right partners.

KP: Have you ever faced any unusual challenge(s) handling an international SEO project? Can you share your experience with us?

GS: Sure, one of the recurring discussions is whether a company that’s global should keep their .com, or whether they should have an .it, .de, .fr, etc. in order to do business internationally. We are talking to a client now about that specific topic. Basically, the ccTLD is an effective method of geo-targeting (targeting searchers by location). There are pros and cons differentiating why you would want to use one versus the other. A few examples of cons would be costs associated with the use of ccTLD, another is availability, and link building becomes more challenging. Whereas, some examples of pros would be, users trust, a stronger availability for geo-targeting and an easier separation of sites.

KP: Do you see a major change in the Google results after the hummingbird algorithm? In other words, how effective has the hummingbird algorithm been?

GS: Not really, the changes were minimal for our clients. It’s evident that Google is getting smarter which is a nice change. Now users have a better opportunity to find relevance in the SERPs. It’s no longer about keywords, which is a positive change.

KP: A Few words about Panda 4.0

GS: As we know Panda is all about sites that were low quality and not offering much value to the readers. Funny the term “thin content” was the latest word du jour. Content farms were hardest hit by this update. As a matter of fact, it was originally called the Farmer Update before the name was changed to Panda.
The beauty now is that Panda 4.0 is getting better at picking up duplicate content and spam. Now, generic low-quality articles that offer zero value to the readers are on its radar, from the typical spinning of articles to outright duplicating content. Use best SEO practice and you’ll be fine. What’s not to love?

KP: Where do you see Google five years from now?

GS: They will take a big bite out of the Mobile search industry, and probably get more involved with energy… they may even sell it at one point.

KP: If you could change one thing about Google, what would that be?

GS: They stop the FUD train. Telling marketers how to do their jobs is getting old. They are a search engine not a how to market your company digitally. The way I see it is that it’s been a huge part of their problem through the years. Not everyone is trying to get one over on Google. There are a lot of great professionals that do the right thing by their clients. Every time Google has an update, especially recently, the whole SEO & marketing industry goes into a tail spin.

KP: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

GS: Training my replacement so I can retire.

KP: How would you describe yourself in one word?

GS: Wow, seriously? One word…not sure there is one. But I asked around and the consensus was “professional”

KP: If you could change something about yourself, what would it be and why?

GS: Give myself more free time…even when I’m on vacation I’m always trying to find a way to make people happy rather than taking care of myself and having alone free time.

KP: What are your future plans for Level343?

GS: We’re doing it. Growing our company reach, we now have partners in 6 countries that cover 13 languages. I would like to continue giving great service to our clients. After all they are the ones ultimately controlling how our brand is seen. They will be the driving force behind our message and direction.

KP: On a lighter note, what would you do if you woke up one morning and found out that you had become Matt Cutts? 😀

GS: Kill myself. I couldn’t imagine waking up as a man… 😉 But, for the sake of this article I probably would sell everything I own, train a replacement to take over my job at Google, then retire on my 75 foot sailboat and sail around the world.

KP: Thank you so much Gabriella. It was great talking to you and all the very best for your future endeavors.

GS: Thanks, the pleasure is all mine. I enjoyed your questions.

You can connect with Gabriella Sannino on Twitter and Google+


Matt Cutts Tweets

Source: Tweet Status


Kavin Paulson


Kavin is a seasoned digital marketer with more than 10 years of hands-on experience handling multiple projects of various clients from different industries. A decade-long career in digital marketing has helped him gain diverse skill sets, rich experience and in-depth knowledge of how things work in the digital ecosystem. As a digital marketing consultant over a period of 10+ years, he has led many digital marketing campaigns to achieve set objectives and have delivered impressive results. Apart from working on digital marketing projects and handling clients, he does read, analyze and write about all things digital. "I welcome you to the community and invite you to be a part of it. Hope you like what we do here at The iMarketing Café. Your valuable suggestions and feedback is always welcome. Stay tuned!" - Kavin

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