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Meet Our Team

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About The Sterling Sky Dream Team

Sterling Sky Inc was founded in 2017 by Joy Hawkins. Joy has been working in the SEO industry since 2006 and is considered a leader within the SEO community. She honed her SEO knowledge and skills working for 2 different online marketing agencies for a total of 11 years before starting Sterling Sky. You may have seen us around online at:

Our Achievements

Here are some of our achievements:

Joy Hawkins


Joy Hawkins has been working in the Local SEO industry since 2006 and loves being a Google Product Expert. She also loves spending time managing Google Ads accounts and has been certified in both Google Search & Display. As a leading expert in the SEO world, she is often a speaker at various search engine marketing conferences such as SMX & LocalU, Pubcon & Mozcon. Joy…

Colan Nielsen

VP of Local Search

Colan started in the local SEO world back in 2010 and is also deemed a Google Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum. He is a contributor to Moz’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors survey and is a former Google MapMaker Regional Lead. Like Joy, he is obsessed with everything related to…

Deborah Hickey

Paid Search Analyst

Deborah has been working with Google Ads since 2010. She loves problem solving and is always up to the challenge of optimizing Ads accounts for many types of industries. She also enjoys baking and loves to challenge herself with any new or complex recipes. On her free time she loves having tea parties and playing

Yan Gilbert

Senior SEO Specialist & Analyst

Yan has been creating websites since 2008 and now enjoys helping others grow their businesses through SEO. He is certified in many digital marketing products including Google Analytics, Google Mobile sites and Inbound Marketing through Hubspot Academy, and is a Google Product Expert.  Armed with a psychology degree from McGill University, Yan is adept at finding ways to help businesses achieve…

Richard Hawkins

Chief Technology Officer

Richard has been running IT systems for over a decade and graduated from Liberty University in 2008 with his Bachelor of Science in Communications. When he’s not working with his wife, Joy, he works freelances as a video editor & technician.

Josh Mallett

Paid Search Analyst

Josh has been working with Google AdWords since 2013. He enjoys doing the day-to-day maintenance, troubleshooting issues with accounts and doing keyword research. His parents are still trying to understand how he makes money; and some say he ages backward. When he isn’t working, he is usually out climbing mountains, or walking his dogs.

Nikki Brown

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Nikki has been working in the Local SEO industry since early 2014. She is a passionate leader within the SEO community who loves helping small businesses and using her ever growing knowledge of the industry to help them succeed. Nikki has a Business Management degree from Ryerson University, where she majored in Marketing. In her spare time, Nikki loves to spend time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Wes Michy

Local SEO Analyst & Publicist

Wes began his career working in mass media in 2004, but decided to learn more about “The Google” in 2011. Since then he’s been working in the trenches securing earned media links and publicity for his clients, deep diving into competitor research, and being an all-around outreach pro. Similarly to how Neo sees the world…

Dave DiGregorio

VP of Business Development

Dave has been in the digital space for over 15 years now, dating back to high school, where he created his first website for a robotics class. As a hobby in college and shortly thereafter, he created and maintained various sports forums and blogs, before moving on to a professional role for an SEO agency.  Starting out as an Analyst doing reporting and link building, Dave worked his way up to the Senior SEO Specialist role, where he worked as an expert on the technical SEO for the agency’s corporate sites. He also freelanced for one of the local SEO companies in Washington NJ.

Zach Mallett

Local SEO Analyst

Zach specializes in Google My Business optimization, spam fighting, and link building. He enjoys learning new things, optimizing accounts, and finding new link opportunities. In his spare time, he is often volunteering at his church, just hanging out with friends or beating Joy in Super Smash Bros.

Becky Weller

Local SEO Analyst & Content Writer

Becky joined our team in 2019 and comes from a writing-focused background. She previously worked both in the healthcare field and for a website designer working on content creation and optimization. With a passion for helping businesses create truly unique and winning content, she loves seeing our clients succeed. In her off time she also writes young adult fiction novels, and loves spending time with her two kids and husband.

Carrie Hill

Local SEO Analyst & Community Manager

Carrie comes to Sterling Sky with SEO experience that dates back to 2006!  She has a passion for figuring out what works for each and every client and picking apart the problems that arise in our “it depends” relationship with Google. When not noodling around in all things Local Search, Carrie can be found curled up with her 4 dogs, 1 cat, and a good book – or cooking up something fairly amazing in the kitchen.

Brian Barwig, Sterling Sky

Brian Barwig

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Brian has been working in Local SEO since 2008 when he began building an online business. He has built several websites from the ground up and enjoys all aspects of Local SEO, especially helping small businesses grow. When not doing SEO things, you can find him at a hockey rink playing, or coaching his 2 kids.

Sheron Chiwa

Sheron Chiwa

Finance Manager

Sheron has been working in the Local SEO industry since 2014. With extensive experience in all things administration, she also has a strong payroll background and is certified in Payroll Management. In her spare time, Sheron enjoys the outdoors and does a lot of hiking, chasing lake views and fishing during the warm months.

krystal with a fence as a background

Krystal Prior

Digital PR Specialist

Krystal has been working in the digital marketing world since 2013. She started out on the sales side and along the way she developed a passion for SEO. She jumped right into Digital PR, spending her days as an expert at building links and building relationships. Krystal enjoys connecting businesses to the people who need them. She loves helping businesses grow and succeed.

matt in a blue shirt smiling

Matt Casady

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Matt got his start in the digital space in 2012 while selling SEO products for a web hosting company. That led to a specialist role at an SEO agency where he got his first taste of local SEO working with lots of small business clients. Over the past several years he has done in-house SEO for a few companies where he gained more experience in local SEO and broadened his experience in a variety of areas like technical SEO and Google Ads.

erin looking into the camera smiling

Erin Jones

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Erin has been working in digital marketing since 2005 and has specialized as an expert in social media and brand reputation since 2010. Erin is passionate about community and loves assisting brands in finding their place in the social and local spaces.

Celina Hendrickson

Digital PR Specialist & Account Manager

Celina is a driven and dynamic top performer who is experienced in sales, marketing, and specialized in Digital PR.
In the age of digital PR, building authority has also become important, and to rank well with the major search engines, a website has to build authority. Celina can help with this task by using connections, building relationships, and suggesting relevant content. She possesses a significant record of achievement in the industry and was able to quickly understand the mission, vision, and values of Sterling Sky.

Justin Mosebach

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Justin has been an internet marketer since 2010 and a local SEO since 2012. Having worked at two digital marketing agencies, he gained experience with all aspects of SEO (on-page, technical, off-site) across various industries. He’s passionate about helping businesses get more leads from a highly-ranking website. A husband and father, Justin enjoys spending time with his family, volunteering at church, watching sports, and getting eye-rolls from puns (apologies in advance).

David Weller

Local SEO Analyst & Content Creator

David has been in the creative content-making world for years – working in every type of media from drawing, graphic and logo design, to photography (including a foray into the stressful world of wedding photography), to video editing. With a keen eye for detail, he has helped companies with their social media presence and branding, bringing them a much wider audience. He’s just dipping his toe into the SEO pool but is ready to splash around and merge his understanding of brand identity and good image awareness with this all-important side of marketing and online presence management.

elizabeth rule

Elizabeth Rule

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Elizabeth has been in the digital marketing industry since 2016, working in both agency and in-house capacities. She grew up in southern Connecticut and after a few years living out of state, came back to live full time in New Haven. She received her Bachelors in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston. After college, she began her SEO career working with various healthcare organizations across the country, doing everything from on-page optimization to PR outreach. From there, she moved into an agency role where she continued to do SEO and also began running LSA, PPC, and social media ads for local businesses. This sparked her passion for local SEM and she hasn’t looked back since!

Darcy Cudmore

Digital PR Specialist

Darcy Cudmore is a Journalism graduate-turned-PR person who loves the rush of securing a win for his clients. Even after 4+ years of working in the industry, he still gets just as excited when he sees a client get mentioned or featured. He spends his time doing a little bit of everything, from pitching the press to securing links through platforms like HARO and Qwoted.

chris ratchford headshot

Chris Ratchford

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Chris designed his first website over 20 years ago in the days of Macromedia Dreamweaver. Fast forward a dozen years later, Chris started his own “one-man” dental SEO agency, Prodentite, helping dentists with their online presence from websites and local SEO, to paid search. In 2012, Chris attended his first (of many) LocalU conferences where he met Joy Hawkins and many other key contributors in the newly emerging world of local search.

Chris Barnard

Local SEO Analyst

Chris started earning his marketing & advertising chops after getting hurt at his construction job back in the 20th century days of dial-up & Prodigy. Following a brief entrepreneurial stint in sports media and print advertising, Chris transitioned to the digital marketing side of things in 2006 where he worked exclusively with dentists. Since 2010 he’s been running his own shop helping dentists & local small business owners navigate the digital marketing landscape.

Imag of Alicia in red sweater

Alicia Patil

Local SEO Analyst & Account Manager

Since 2014, Alicia has been driving Local SEO strategies for many industries and clients. She comes to us with a wealth of knowledge in the automotive industry, where she focused on large-scale strategies to bring OEMs up-to-speed with their Google Business Profiles.

Lida staff photo for sterling sky

Lida Elias

Operations Manager

Lida is a seasoned digital marketing and advertising executive with 20 years of experience in the agency and client-side landscapes. She’s an empath and passionate about workplace culture, diversity, inclusion and creating delightful experiences for employees and clients.

maddie and her dog in a field

Maddie Hill

Content Writer

Maddie has been creating content and implementing research since 2019. She takes a great amount of pride in putting words together to convey exactly what is asked. Even though she is new to the industry, she is constantly working to better her skill set, and continue her education.

Colleen DiGregorio

Executive Assistant

Colleen joined the Sterling Sky Dream Team in 2022. Before joining, she dedicated the last 16 years of her life to teaching 5th grade! But it’s now time for a change. Believe it or not, many skills and traits of teaching roll over into “corporate” gigs, which is why this is such a good fit. Colleen will be using her OCD-led organizational traits, attention to detail, color-coding systems, and her need to help others in her new role, as an Executive Assistant to the CEO. Colleen is looking forward to being Joy’s “Donna”.

Andrea Berens

Local SEO Analyst

Andrea has been working in the SEO industry since 2017. She started in reputation management, and from there, she discovered her interest in web design which later turned into a passion for SEO. She has received several degrees, including her Bachelors in Pre-Law and Bachelors in Web Design, and later achieved her Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Vera Hempel

Digital PR Specialist

In 2011, Vera started out as a freelance copywriter while studying Theater in Germany, where she was born and raised. She soon realized that Digital Marketing was her passion and sought out opportunities where she could further her skills. Vera quickly developed an affinity for Digital PR as she enjoys coming up with unique content angles, building media relationships, and identifying opportunities for clients to grow their link authority.

Cat Gladwin

Local SEO Analyst

New to the team, Cat has a long background in healthcare, where she utilized her organizational and administrative skills to lean processes within her department and make it more efficient. Cat is new to the SEO world and is eager to learn from her colleagues. Cat is excited to put her creative and organizational skills into this new role.

Sukhjit Singh Matharu

Local SEO Analyst

With a desire to dive deeper into the digital realm, Sukhjit completed a graduate certificate from York University and has since been on a mission to be mentored by the best and develop as an SEO professional. Sukhjit now joins us as a Local SEO Analyst and is excited to learn & grow with his incredible colleagues at Sterling Sky.

Is This You?

Sterling Sky Might be Hiring!

Occasionally we’re looking for the right fit for our amazing team, do you think you have what it takes? If you’re interested in working with the best of the best, drop us an email with your resume/CV and we’ll take a look!

Our Values

We Excel


In this fast-paced industry, we work hard to make sure we are at the forefront when it comes to comprehending any and all changes that will affect how your business is found online. With a commitment to providing the best knowledge and expertise in the industry, Sterling Sky has built a reputation of quality work produced at the highest standard.  We are proud to be the only company currently to employ multiple Google My Business Product Experts.

We Honor


At Sterling Sky, we know the importance of being able to put your company in the hands of another, and believing without a doubt that you will see positive outcomes. Respect and trust are key to having a successful working relationship with any company, and we pride ourselves on being one of the most trusted local search companies out there. We strive to always choose credible and ethical strategies to see your company succeed online and have a mission to honor God in all we do.

We Share


We believe in the power of community at Sterling Sky. We are committed to helping others within the local SEO community thrive, and choose to share our knowledge and expertise in a number of practical ways, such as the Local Search Forum, speaking engagements, one-on-one consultations, and our Expert’s Guide to Local SEO.

We Give


At Sterling Sky we feel how deeply important it is to offer support to those that are in need, both locally and globally. We are invested in giving back to society through numerous charitable efforts, including participating in the annual Ride For Refuge fundraising event, and supporting the Christian missions work of those helping human trafficking victims in Toronto, and Africa Arise, a SIM funded program that helps former child soldiers and victims of the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda.

Client Testimonials

Read about the experiences our clients have had with Sterling Sky.

I have to say, your help in the Denver area has paid off CONSIDERABLY! 931 website visits and 370…read more

I was referred to Sterling Sky by Marie Haynes and I have had fantastic experience! They have helped me…read more

Joy Hawkins is one of the most knowledgeable local search practitioners in the industry. She understands how to research,…read more

In the past 10 years we've worked with many SEO companies to improve our web presence, organic positioning, and…read more

How to Know You’ve Found the Best Local SEO Company for You?

When searching for a Local SEO company it’s hard to know what one to choose. There are so many companies in the search results that it’s hard to know what one will be the best fit for your business.

This guide will help you find the best Local SEO company for your business.

What You’ll Need:

Time: 5 minutes
Equipment: Computer or Smartphone
Tools: Google Search
Cost: Free!

5 Easy Steps to Finding the Best Local SEO Company For You

Google Product Expert1: Google Product Experts

Are any members of their team a Google Product Expert? Google designated the title “Product Experts” to Google users who help with questions and troubleshooting on the Google My Business Community Forum. Meet the Google My Business Product Experts!

LocalU2: LocalU Faculty

Do they have any LocalU faculty on staff? Local University brings together some of the top minds in the local search space and teaches agencies and local businesses by hosting conferences and webinars. Meet the LocalU Faculty!

Local Search Forum3: Local Search Forum Owner

Are they active or an admin on any help forums? The Local Search Forum is a forum for search professionals, consultants, and business owners to learn about what’s going on in the Local SEO community. It’s also a place to help troubleshoot problems and help out other businesses. Learn more about the Local Search Forum!

Search Engine Land4: Search Engine Land Columnist

Are they a columnist on any highly regarded Local SEO journals or websites? Read some Local SEO articles on Search Engine Land and Moz!

Moz5: Moz Local Search Ranking Factor Study Contributor

Do they contribute to Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factor Study? Every few years Moz surveys top industry experts on what they believe to be the top ranking factors in Local Search.

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