Meet Gary Johnson!
Gary handles Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search in the Marketing Department here at Musictoday.
How did you come into your current role?
“I started in the Call Center. I still needed to fulfill my language requirement in college, so I was working the night shift while taking classes at the University of Virginia. Then I moved into the role of Inventory Control Associate, which was a position in the Receiving Department. Eventually, we were able to automate many of those job responsibilities, so the position was no longer needed. Then I moved into Client Services as an Associate Account Manager. A few years later the Marketing Department needed someone to do SEO. One day after a meeting, I was asked to apply for that position by the head of the marketing department at the time.”
Did you know anything about SEO at the time?
“I’m pretty much self-taught. I had to Google “What is SEO?”. Then I bought a book and learned some basics from that. I read some articles and also got help from other employees. But a lot of it has been learning on-the-fly. I launched all of our big ad accounts like Phish and Dave Matthews Band from scratch. The platform changes constantly and they are adding new features all the time, so it’s not really a learning process that ever stops.”
Can you describe your current role?
“I manage paid search for many of our client accounts and technical SEO for all of our clients. I make sure that our sites appear high in search results, and I buy ads to appear on search pages. Together we make sure that our ads remain competitive in that space, and drive sales. With paid search, there is so much to do, and I have more control. SEO is different – I make recommendations for how to improve our template in our e-commerce platform, while other members of our team drive content improvements. But SEO rankings have begun relying more and more on how users interact with and share content from our sites. So we have a little less control there. I’m also an administrator for our Google Analytics accounts, and respond to some marketing-related client requests.”
I feel like I am the customer. I am that person who goes out and buys band tees all the time.
What are some memorable moments from your time here?
“I was here when that earthquake hit in 2011. We thought that a train had hit the building or something. That was memorable. Then one time at the old warehouse over in Ivy, it was raining so hard that water began pooling in the middle of the floor. It was ridiculous. It was like having a waterfall inside of the building, so we had to rush to move inventory out of the way. ”
What is your favorite thing about working at Musictoday?
“I like working in the music industry. I never imagined myself in e-commerce or business. I feel like I am the customer. I am that person who goes out and buys band tees all the time.”
Favorite Crozet lunch spot?
“My favorite place to eat in Crozet is definitely Smoked. You can’t really eat there for lunch though because you have to take a nap afterward.”
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
“My favorite genre is heavy metal. That is what I grew up on. In recent years I’ve gravitated toward a sub-genre called grindcore. But I also used to DJ electronic breakbeats, and listen to post-rock, trip-hop, indie, and other genres. My favorites range from hardcore bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, and Fugazi to metal like At The Gates, Wormrot, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or pop bands like Modest Mouse and The Flaming Lips, hip-hop like Aesop Rock, and classics like Pink Floyd. The common thread is that I enjoy music that isn’t easy to listen to – dissonant, unconventional song structures, or intricate and poetic lyrics. I was into slam poetry, a free style poetry competition, for 2 years. I was on the Richmond National Poetry Slam team in 2009, 2010, and 2013. In 2010 I finished in 9th place in the Individual World Poetry Slam competition, so technically I briefly held the title of 9th ranked performance poet in the world.”
Do you play any instruments?
“I was a music major in school. I played the drums, but don’t really play anymore. My favorite class at UVA by far was African drumming and dance ensemble. I’ve dabbled with other instruments as well, and learned how to DJ with turntables.”
What was your first concert?
“My first concert was Metallica and Jerry Cantrell. It was July 1, 1998. I was going into my senior year of high school.”
How do you spend your free time?
“When I’m not at work I like to spend time with my wife and my step-daughter. I also listen to music and go to concerts. I probably go to 30 or 40 shows a year. I watch a lot of hockey, with my favorite team being the Dallas Stars. I go hiking when I can. ”
Do you have any tips for the upcoming holiday season?
“Remember that paid search is a key channel that can help you promote your products. If someone is purchasing gifts for a fan, but they are not a fan themselves, then they won’t be following on social media. They won’t be on the email list. They will likely find that store through search, so don’t underestimate the power of those marketing channels! Also, be prepared to spend more as compared to other times of year.”
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About the Author: Kelsey McKechnie is a Marketing Assistant at Musictoday. She assists with projects across corporate content development, SEO, email marketing, affiliate marketing and wherever else help is needed!