Matthew will be speaking about “Advanced On-Site SEO” at SearchFest 2011, which will take place on February 23rd at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available now. To purchase, please click the following link.
1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living.
In January 2011, I left a six year stint at the New York Times Company, as Director of Search Strategy. That involved management of a very large SEO program, encompassing both NYTimes.com as well as The Boston Globe website. In addition, I was Co-Founder/COO of Define Search Strategies, a small consulting branch of the New York Times that worked with companies to build SEO foundations similar to those we created at the Times. That provided a lot of experience in different competitive categories: News, travel, e-commerce, health, sports media, retail and mobile.
In January 2011, I left to start AudienceWise, a search marketing solutions company based in Portland, OR. AudienceWise is founded on the concept of holistic business strategy, as it applies to search and online visibility. Every truly successful SEO/SEM/Social Media effort I’ve seen has all been intelligently tied together with all the other elements of a company’s marketing strategy. Our goal is move search and social marketing out of the realm of tactical, and gain a seat at the ‘Big Idea’ table.
2) Someone might tell you that Enterprise Level SEO needs to be done by a large SEO company. As a small shop, how would you respond to that?
I think it all depends on who ends up doing the work, whether it’s a big agency or a small shop. The closer you are to the true expertise at a consulting firm, the better. I’ve heard tales of an SEO expert being there for the sales process, the kickoff meeting, and then disappearing when the real work begins. That’s not going to be very useful when faced the hundreds of strategic SEO decisions that need to be made over the course of the campaign.
My experience has been that the strongest Enterprise SEO consulting work is often done by small shop or independent SEOs that take on a smaller handful of clients. Unfortunately, this group of seasoned veterans is often booked many months in advance and they don’t come cheap. Ultimately, your best bet is to find someone who will be doing the work that has a proven track record specifically in your market. It’s a great idea to hire based on experience in a particular vertical, because you’ll save a ton of money and resources not guessing where the opportunities are and which tactics will work. If you’re a company with a lot of brick and mortar, you don’t want to hire me for Local SEO. You want to hire David Mihm or Mike Blumenthal.
3) What are some typical objections in the Enterprise SEO Sales Process and how do you answer them?
First and foremost, it’s expensive. That’s because it combines three talent sets: market experience, SEO acumen, and project management skills that cross a number of corporate departments. You need to be fluent in Executive, Marketing, IT, Sales, and Editorial/Content languages. Hopefully you can stay out of the HR department.
There’s a lot of demand for the folks described above, and there’s not exactly a ton of them with a proven track record. Strategic SEO at the Enterprise level often results in decisions that can have a six or seven figure impact, and in some cases can make or break an online marketing strategy. It’s usually worth it to pay more to hire someone who can prove they can generate results at that level.
The other big objection is the resources and time needed for an Enterprise SEO campaign to truly succeed. Unless the site or network of sites is a total mess, there’s not going to be exponential traffic growth in 30 days. High performing sites are typically the result of many months of careful SEO execution.