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Ready for another installment of “Behind the Click?”  Get ready because this time I have a fellow digital colleague who actually works for a company many of you know and love.  Ashley Baxter is Digital Marketing Manager for J.C. Penney and is  building their organic search program. Ashley is also launching her own business to train and educate business owners and professionals on digital marketing. Proving multi-tasking is definitely the future, Ashley is ready to give you some tips and insight into how women of color are contributing to the digital balance of power.  Here we go!

Current Occupation: Digital Marketing Manager – SEO

Favorite website: Mashable.com

Favorite read: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Recent read: ZMOT by Jim Lecinski

2012′s ultimate goal: Finding a way to use my digital marketing skills to serve a greater purpose

Quote that Inspires You: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Twitter handle: @Baxie404

LdC:  So Ashley, from your bio it seems that you chose to study public relations in college, but then your actual jobs were more in the tech arena. Was it hard to get employers to take you seriously without a heavy tech education? I’m sure many women wonder about this.

AB: It wasn’t. Although my traditional education was focused on communications, I spent a lot of spare time teaching myself technical elements. I created my own websites, set up my own blogs, and played around with manipulating code. Being self-taught has actually given me an advantage because my knowledge comes from directly testing what works.

LdC: So now you are at JCPenney.  What’s a typical day like for you?

AB: Lots of competitive research and diving into keyword data. I meet with various groups to find out how we can integrate SEO into things we already have going on. I also work closely with internal partners and provide them with information to help their specific areas of business.

LdC: What’s your biggest challenge in your position and how diverse is your department?

AB: In my own personal opinion, the biggest challenge is having so much room for opportunity. While it is a good thing, it also makes having a carefully calculated strategy very important. Right now I want to make sure that we have a solid foundation to build our program around. Also, my department is very diverse. We have associates from a variety of backgrounds and many female team members.

LdC: I think a lot of people have heard about SEO but may not understand it exactly.  Could you break it down for our readers and explain why it is so important even for one’s own personal blog, website?

AB: SEO is short for search engine optimization. Essentially, websites should cater to two different sets of eyes; human and search engine. My favorite example is going to Google and searching for the word pants. You’ll see a variety of things to click on. Some of those are paid placements while others appear naturally for free. SEO is optimizing your website so that you have a better chance of appearing in those natural areas for no cost. This can be a benefit to all site owners in many ways. If you have a product or service to sell, having good SEO can increase your traffic which in turn helps to increase sales. For a personal blog or website, good SEO can lend you credibility. People tend to have more trust in the sites that appear on the first page of results.

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