One of the benefits of an active interactive agency department with multiple PPC experts is that multiple people bring new insights to the table. Both my main SEM guys right now, Josh Williams and Ryan Schellhas have made significant contributions to our growing SEO/PPC/Social Media department.
Josh has helped me build and shape the department for more than a year, and has challenged me in his extremely polite manner. He once bought me with proof that some of his ad copy worked better than the copy I suggested. I used that opportunity to teach that even an expert like myself cannot predict how people will react, and that is why we have to take a scientific approach to advertising. But he won that round (and so did the client), and we were both happy about his achievement. In my opinion, this kind of internal competition helps everyone.
Ryan approaches new situations, tools, and clients thoroughly and diligently. To him, it made sense to spend more time on account structure, geotargeting, and quality score than we guided him to. We have never neglected those things- we’ve been really on top of geotargeting (see my SEJ column on geosuggestion. Ryan’s geotargeting tests helped us cut a client’s cost per click in HALF (and double their ROI) in just one month. Kabam. That’s called giving your people enough rope to create an Ewok village.
SEO and PPC Learning Curves and Adaptation to Evolving Industry
At first, the big challenge was how to train people how to do SEO and PPC. There’s an overlap in the skills, talents, involved in these two search marketing disciplines- and some differences- and a number of different kinds of SEO people. Add to that the void in institutional academic training on these topics, and you’re hiring people who’ve never done SEO or PPC based on their potential and character, and then training them.
If you have no experience training people in SEO or PPC, you at least need a framework, a process for doing them. You need steps until your people are good enough to break the rules the right way as needed.
What we’ve found is that these trainees are overwhelmed for almost six months. It takes a number of months to get used to our reporting/optimization cycle. And executing all the SEO and PPC tactics and tasks takes time too- every client is at a different place in the process, and all clients are somewhat unique. Add the fact that the industry keeps evolving and so does our process, and you’ve got a great environment for learning adaptability and taking initiative.
Some of what we do is established in process, some of it is changes from top-down (I make a change in priorities or add a new aspect to the process), and some of it comes from the troops on the ground. As in war, despite the more objective expertise and experience of the Generals, the troops on the ground (SEO and PPC workers deep into client work) see day to day conditions, problems, and opportunities are at least a resource for discovering better ways to meet client goals, and at best a source of new ideas and insights.
To me, it’s been a real joy to have two employees who are trained in SEO and PPC and expert enough to start suggestion improvements and innovations to our processes. There’s nothing like another set of eyes, and no matter how much of an expert I am, no matter how omniscient and wise I think I am about these things, if I’m open-minded, I find these guys I trained bringing good ideas that help our clients get better results and make us a more complete and innovative agency.
Also, because we are a full service agency with web design, custom programming, email marketing, and analytics, we find ideas and garner suggestions from other disciplines, and these shape how we do SEO and PPC, and how they affect those disciplines.
- Web Design and SEO: When we design launch a new website for a client, even if they aren’t paying us for SEO services, we can’t build and launch it in a way that damages their SEO potential. Conversations about design, programming, and SEO continue to evolve how we solve this. Now all our web designs are SEO-conscious, and there are two more advanced packages that design clients can choose—these are simpler but cheaper than our full SEO offerings. Regardless, no Fuel Interactive web design client would have to redesign their whole website for SEO reasons.
- Our Analytics Department has worked with us on Omniture vs. AdWords conversion tracking, the best way to coordinate reporting for clients that receive advanced customized analytics reports and SEO or PPC reports,
- The Email Marketing Department fits into our goal tracking and optimization- are we optimizing primarily to build a list? Or is that just a secondary goal? Does it get tracked in AdWords or only via Omniture/Google Analytics? And what we do with them in generating leads and emails overlaps with web design, form design, and conversion optimization.
- Developer/Programmers and SEO/PPC: We frequently task our developers with site map creation, technical error fixes, form enhancements, and so on with the goal of improving SEO rankings and PPC results. The variety of platforms, web designs, and CMS’s means that it’s often easier to have a developer take care of it than one of our SEM Department peeps.
The overall point is that all efforts are enriched by the contributions, insights, and questions of people working in related disciplines. Our full service agency sometimes just takes care of business with its silos. But at times it’s a problem-solving task force. Other times it’s a brainstorming think-tank. And the goal of all of that is to get better results for the client, improve our processes, guard our sanity, innovate and stay on the cutting edge of online, digital, interactive advertising and marketing.
Brian Carter is the Director of Search Engine Marketing for Fuel Interactive, an interactive marketing agency in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is responsible for the SEO, PPC, SMM, and ORM programs at Fuel and its partner traditional agency Brandon Advertising & PR.