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.

Lee Odden

Optimizing Business Communications for Search

One of the things that often happens with people in the search marketing industry is that after being in the business for a while and attaining a certain level of expertise, it becomes easy to take for granted that not everyone in marketing and business is consuming and digesting as much information. References to strategies and certain tactics do not have the same meaning, because of the dependencies on previous knowledge.

This happens with SEO or search engine optimization pretty easily. Chasing after the next “silver bullet”, whether it’s SEO and PR, social media, social networking or personalized search, can distract marketers from what’s important. The search marketing industry is one that can be counted on to change on a regular basis. Strategies, tactics and best practices will emerge as new channels of distribution evolve and consumer search behaviors change. Just look at the shift from offline news consumption and traditional media to online as an example.

Lee Odden

SEO for Newbies

Explaining search engine optimization to newbies is something that anyone with sales or account support responsibilities at a search marketing or interactive agency is going to have to get good at. I used to spend a lot of time using the notion of “organic” and the whole “making fertile ground, planting seeds, nurturing, cultivating, watering, air, sun, bear fruit” kind of analogy but it gets old using the same description all the time.

The best way to explain the notion of optimizing web sites for search engines can vary depending on the starting point. For people stuck in 1999 SEO land, where it’s all about meta tags, submissions and SEO as a “one time” event, an explanation of the need for fresh, themed content and an ongoing pursuit of inbound links can become the focus.

Lee Odden

The Lowdown on Web Designers and SEO

“Why Shouldn’t I Have My Web Designer Do Our SEO?”

This is a question we often hear from companies that are playing devil’s advocate during a site redesign that also needs optimization for better visibility on search engines. It’s sort of a, “As long as you’re under the hood, can you fix that other thing” perspective. Since the site design and code are being reworked, why not sprinkle some keywords in there?

This is a logical attitude for business or site owners who think of search engine optimization as purely a technical discipline. Too often this perspective is fostered by people in the web design and interactive industry who consume outdated information about SEO.

Lee Odden

Gain Client Support for Successful Search Marketing

One of the most critical early achievements for a successful search marketing project is to gain company-wide support on the client side. Without buy-in from the team members that live and breathe the client’s industry, a successful campaign will be difficult.

In our experience, it’s the client staff that interact with customers that have the best idea of what those customers want. They know the pains and issues faced; they understand the solution that the customer is looking for.

A successful search marketing program taps into the needs of the customer. This is how to grab their attention. Without understanding those needs, engaging them can be problematic.

Lee Odden

Reader Poll Roundup

reader poll

We’ve been running polls the past month and I thought I’d share the results. Below are the past 4 polls we’ve run along with the number of respondents and the top 5 responses for each.

What do you like most about your search marketing job? (67)

  • You are truly appreciated for your expertise and contributions (21%)
  • The client projects are fun, interesting, challenging (19%)
  • Flexible hours, work from home or office (18%)
  • It���s all about the money (10%)
  • Fun atmosphere/environment at work (10%)

Money made a run for it early, but this one was nearly a tie between being appreciated, fun and interesting projects and flexibility.

What is your favorite marketing conference? (56)

  • Search Engine Strategies (46%)
  • WebmasterWorld Pubcon (27%)
Lee Odden

Reader Poll: What makes you love your SEO job?

reader poll

It’s pretty common knowledge that talented SEO professionals are in high demand. Agencies, companies and businesses that would not normally offer search marketing as a service are looking for SEO, SEM, copywriting, analytics and coding professionals. As a result, companies are offering a variety of enticements or perks to attract and keep quality individuals.

If you are a search marketing professional, (management, acct management, production, support) What are the perks or benefits that make you the most satisfied with your job? Note, this is not what attracts you to change jobs, but what are those perks that make you want to stay, even the oddball reasons.

What do you like most about your search marketing job?

  • The client projects are fun, interesting, challenging (24%, 18 Votes)

Lee Odden

Top 5 Ways SEO Agencies and Clients Piss Each Other Off

Communication is key in business relationships as much as it is in personal relationships. Most of the disappointments that often happen in client/agency relationships have to do with faults in communication. Not being able to empathize with another’s perspective can make things troublesome pretty quickly.

Below are some real and some tongue in cheek considerations for why SEO firm and client relationships can get shaky:

Top 5 Ways SEO Agencies Piss Off Their Clients:

  1. Agency over promises and under delivers
  2. Agency uses tricks and gets client site penalized by search engines
  3. SEO techie insults client side account manager on lack of knowledge about topics such as latent semantic indexing and not knowing the name of the last Google update
Lee Odden

Elements of Successful Client Relationships

On the heels of yesterday’s poll about why agencies would discontinue working with clients, I think it’s important to consider what makes a successful client engagement. As was pointed out in the comments, not every client relationship is the same and a lot depends on the work that is done up front.

On the agency side, there must be an effective process in place for accurately assessing the client situation and making proper recommendations. Too often agencies lead with the services they WANT to offer rather than what the client actually NEEDS. Having a good handle on staffing, client load, expertise and account management are also critical.

Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Top Reasons to Let a Client Go

reader poll

For the most part, when you mention “firing” someone, it’s in reference to an employee termination. Or perhaps it’s a situation of a client “firing” their agency. There’s also the “firing” of clients that happens for a variety of reasons. Hopefully it’s a good reason for both the agency and the client. It’s an inevitable part of doing business, especially with consulting,  marketing and advertising industries where agencies are in high demand.

No one likes to do it, but it happens.

For example, the client needs might change beyond what the agency can deliver or the business model of the agency might change, requiring the “cleansing” of client engagements that are not consistent with the business. I am curious about the reasons that client engagements are terminated by agencies, so if you’ve been in that situation, please take the poll below:

Lee Odden

Holistic SEO Strategy: Zone or Man to Man?

In a recent conversation with a big brand company conducting their search marketing vendor selection process, I was asked what “our angle” was. What makes TopRank different from other SEO firms?

The question was followed up with the observations that other SEO vendors this company had talked to all seemed to distinguish themselves by focusing on certain aspects of search engine optimization. Some focused on content, some relied on links and others focused on code and the technical side of SEO.

I am a fan of the adage, “Fact tell and stories sell”, so whenever I can, I like to use an analogy or story to explain things. Hence came the “zone or man to man” idea to explain tactical versus holistic search engine optimization.

Lee Odden

Interview with Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim

Spotlight on Search: Interview with Andy Beal

andy-beal.jpg I’ve known Andy Beal via blogging and search marketing conferences for a while now and had the privilege of speaking with him on a SEO Blogger and Reporter panel at the last WebmasterWorld Pubcon in Las Vegas.

While I had great respect for Andy’s accomplishments at building search marketing companies and developing top notch blogs, his performance during the panel was genuinely impressive. His grasp of the big picture and business aspects of search marketing were/are very insightful. My public relations firm has even hired Andy for some consulting on reputation management and I am happy to recommend him.