Lee Odden

25 Ways Marketing Agencies Market Themselves

signal-tower.jpg
With so much uncertainty due to inflated promises, bad press and a fast changing industry, what “signals” of credibility do companies look for in trusted internet marketing partners and resources? Our gift to you today is an annotated list of 25. In one way or another, TopRank is involved with all of the following marketing and PR tactics either for ourselves or for our marketing and public relations clients.

But I’m also curious what Online Marketing Blog Readers have to say on this topic. Let’s have a little vote shall we? After the list there is a poll so you can vote for your favorite.

Lee Odden

Evaluating Client Search Marketing Readiness

checklist.jpg

Experienced client side and agency search marketers know that today’s SMB and enterprise SEO projects involve much more than single event “SEO triage” and link building. A quick look at the topics on the top search marketing forums, newsletters, conferences, blogs and even print magazines shows an increasing variety of strategies ranging from marketing with social media to SEO and usability to leveraging user generated content.

As companies look for the right online marketing resources to help navigate the ever changing and increasingly complex world of search marketing, what variables, channels and outcomes should be considered?

In order for companies to realize the maximum benefit from a search marketing initiative, there must be a certain level of understanding about how various online marketing channels work. One of the most effective ways our SEO firm has found to assess current understanding and to introduce important concepts is through a discovery process including questions.

TopRank Marketing Editor

Session: So You Want To Be A Search Marketer?

So You Want To Be A Search Marketer

Raise your hands if you want to be a Search Marketer! This session I attended on Day 3 of SES San Jose 2007 taught us how to better educate those who want to start in the SEM business, and how the rest of us already in it should continue learning.

First, Pradeep Chodra, co-founder of OMLogic, spoke on the highlights of working in SEM. Some of those highlights include an exciting and adventurous industry, flexibility of where and when you work because the internet is portable and global, the fact that you don’t need a professional degree to be good at SEM and that the salaries can turn out to be very attractive if you work hard and know what you’re doing as a search marketer.

TopRank Marketing Editor

Session: Putting Search Into the Marketing Mix

TopRank Marketing Editor     Business of SEO, Online Marketing, Search Engine Strategies

Putting Search Into The Marketing Mix

Day two of SES San Jose found me fighting for an outlet as I prepared to impart details to you on the session “Putting Search Into the Marketing Mix”.

The session, moderated by Free Agent Consultant Sara Holoubek included on its panel:

  • Misty Locke, President & co-Founder, Range Online Media
  • Curtis Dueck, Senior Account Manager, Epiar Inc.
  • Bill Mungovan, Director of Search, Carat Fusion
  • Bill Hunt, CEO, Global Strategies International

The session described how search marketing is absolutely vital to any marketing campaign, right from the outset. As part of my duties with TopRank’s sister firm Misukanis & Odden, I hone my focus on, as our tag suggests on Marketing For Results. One of the surest way to help guarantee results, right from the offset, is to clearly define your client’s objective.

Lee Odden

SEO Services: Value Meal or Consulting that Provides Value?

Most people like things simple and “pre-packaged” solutions do well to attract mass market appeal. Just look at the popularity of “value meals” at popular fast food restaurants and other consumer products.

In the business to business world, the simplification of products and services into such groupings is not so practical, “Did you want the #3 or #4 enterprise CRM software package?”. Yet judging by the inquiries many search marketing companies get, it is high in demand: “Can you tell me about your SEO packages?”.

This is particularly true with the trend started at the turn of this century towards the commoditization of search marketing consulting services. At that time the task of improving online sales via search engines was a predictable matter of optimizing meta data and on-page copy, submitting to directories and search engines. Of course, this is the search marketing industry, so things have changed.

Lee Odden

Vintage Search Engine Strategies San Jose

ses-vintage.png
While moving some of the material from my home office to our Lake Minnetonka office, I recently came across the SES San Jose 2004 Conference Handbook (dust and all) which was the first SES conference I ever attended. Paging through my notes was a trip down memory lane (in internet time). People talk about how things change so quickly with search marketing, but looking at the content from this event 3 years ago was tangible evidence.

For example, the session on “Web Feeds, Blogs and Search” with Danny moderating and speakers: Scott Rafer of Feedster (Now with MyBlogLog/Yahoo), Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Jeremy Zawodney of Yahoo, Chris Tolles from Topix and Mark Fletcher from Bloglines (Now an Ask.com property). In my notes it mentions that there were 4.1 million blogs and that the number would hit 10 million by the end of 2004. Now in 2007 Technorati reports over 92.4 million blogs. Who knew then blogs would take off? Amanda did.

Lee Odden

5 Pros and Cons of SEO Consultant vs Agency

A reader commented recently about not wanting to hire an entire agency, but rather an individual consultant for search marketing services. From a service provider perspective, I’ve tried it “both ways” so to speak, working at an agency, then as an independent consultant and now with our Public Relations and Online Marketing agencies.

There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to hiring consultants vs an agency engagement, but over time (10+ years) I think I’ve gained a fairly practical and experience based perspective.

As I see it, here are a few of the pros and cons of hiring consultants compared to hiring search marketing agencies.

Hiring a search marketing consultant

Pros:

  • Specialized – you can get the best
  • Personal attention from a senior practitioner
Lee Odden

Advantages of Ongoing SEO Consulting

When companies consider search engine optimization as a service, it’s important to understand that this kind of consulting comes in a variety of forms with the most popular being: phone consultations, site audits/reviews and ongoing SEO consulting.

Businesses that are very early in their stages of search marketing and not entirely “sold” on SEO as a channel seem to gravitate towards short term engagements. “Can we test SEO for a few months?”, they’ll say. Also, companies that perceive SEO as a set of IT and web development focused tactics also tend to see the promotion of a web site via search as a one-time set of recommendations.

There are serious flaws in the thinking that improving on-page content optimization as a single exercise is going to deliver the ongoing competitive advantage possible of improving bottom line sales that most companies have in mind when they hire an outside resource.

Lee Odden

What is Your Measure of Success

Have you been in the search marketing business for more than a few years? I am curious what your measures of success as a business are?

For some, it’ notoriety. It’s the pomp and circumstance of celebrity within their industry that gives them something to hang their hat on.

For others, it’s respect from their peers and certainly contributions to the growth of an industry are also perceived as indication of a company’s success. There’s also no arguing that financial success is an unmistakable yardstick from which to measure any businesses’ success.

Lee Odden

What Makes an Ideal SEO Client?

shaking-hands.jpg

Believe it or not, there are a few things we do to avoid new project inquiries. But truth be told, I love talking to people about SEO. It’s really interesting to me, learning about the kinds of situations companies are in, their marketing goals and how they’re going about growing their business (or business unit) online. Search marketing is like solving puzzles in a way, except with the SEO industry, the picture on the puzzle changes every so often. 🙂

There are all kinds of companies that we get to talk to ranging from large corporations with official buyers of search marketing services to virtual ecommerce companies and also businesses that have been doing search marketing in-house or with another consultant for a few years and need to take it to the next level. With as many different companies there are even more different perspectives about search marketing.

Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Non SEO Services for SEO Clients

reader poll

In an interview I did yesterday with the Minneapolis Star Tribune one of the things we talked about was how common it is for search engine optimization engagements to reveal many other marketing and process consulting needs. For example, one of the most common issues we run into is a lack of sales pipeline management.

Many companies do not yet have a firm grasp of their online lead generation to sales revenue, especially BtoB clients with long sales cycles and where many people might interact with a prospect before they become a client.

This conversation got me thinking about how many SEO consulting firms have begun providing additional services and also how other types of agencies have begun dabbling in SEO. I began to wonder what other search marketing agencies and marketing related companies in general have seen on the topic of services diversification. Smells like a reader poll to me!

Lee Odden

Legacy SEO Clients

I started doing site optimization work around 1997ish but didn’t start taking on my own clients until 2000. We started TopRank in 2001 and some of our SEO clients are companies I’ve worked with for 7-8 years. That’s a lifetime in internet time, getting to know their business, hitting success goals and receiving referrals for even more business.

The services we offered then and the services we offer now are quite different and one of the issues agencies have to deal with when auditing client hours vs revenue is to decide where the business is profitable and where it’s not. Client business models change and vendors are expected to change along with the clients in order to best serve the client’s needs.