Should you choose an SEO Freelancer or an SEO Agency?

You’re a business owner and have decided SEO would be a good marketing strategy for you.

well done meme

Search is still (in my opinion) the MOST EFFECTIVE form of marketing. Allowing your customers to come to you, pre-sold! What could be better!

But you are now faced with a tough decision, (the endless debate); do you go with a seo agency, or do you go with a seo freelancer?

There are pros and cons to both, but what is actually better?

SEO Agencies:

There are 3 types of “seo agencies” to choose from.

  1. Design agencies that “also do SEO” – Avoid these like the plague, although they might be good at what they do, if SEO is an add-on they will rarely have skilled individuals working on ongoing client’s projects. Always check if your design company has any good case studies, chances are they don’t.
  2. Digital marketing agencies – This is the most common type of seo agency around nowadays. There are hundreds of these in the UK and you have to be super careful who you go with. They take care of your social media promotion, content marketing, local seo, search, paid advertising and more…. But fall into 3 categories when it comes to effectiveness:
    1. Plain rubbish – You see and hear about these ones all the time, and is one of the reasons why SEO has such a bad name. About 40% of all digital marketing agencies come into this bracket. You can usually find them out. Always ask for case studies/testimonials and more information, chances are they will give you “results” that are easily achieved and not relevant or profitable to the client in question.
    2. Awesome; the type of company that will earn you a 10x ROI, they have the best people in the right positions (head of search | Content creators | PPC analyst etc.). But are also extremely expensive and tend to work with top brands. (Everyone will claim they are an awesome digital marketing agency, but the reality is only 3-5 companies I’d put in this category!)
    3. The Turtles: The second type is the slow and do everything by the book type, this is the category that 50% of companies fall into. They know their stuff (kind of) but don’t utilise the resources given effectively. The primary problem in these type of companies is too many corporate levels (eating costs and increasing overheads.)
  3. seo turtleSEO Agencies – The companies that purely brand themselves as SEO agencies. Nothing more, nothing less. These are my favourite although they are few and far between nowadays. If a company purely brands themselves as an SEO agency you know they know what they’re doing if they are still in the game! Case studies are usually based directly on rankings and profitability. These are easy to find search a variation of the “seo agency” keyword, top ranking ones are usually the way to go.

SEO Freelancers:

The super-men of the SEO world.

A much more personal approach to seo and marketing.

The most important aspect when looking for an SEO freelancer = CASE STUDIES and TESTIMONIALS. Always ask for these and check them up too!

There are still different types of seo freelancers! Not all of us are super men!

  1. The useless – Trained as a salesmen, reads multiple warrior forum threads, buys all the “rank in 1 week” trainings and spends most of the time creating EMD and trying to rank for “green nike air trainers that light up for women”. Should be (and can be) avoided easily; simply ask for any rankings, or a blog/website they brand themselves via (aka their agency or freelancer front.) These people will also talk a lot of SEO lingo without actually knowing what it means.
  2. The Outsourcer(er) – Similar to the outsourcing agency, these people usually go to odesk or freelancer.com and post to find an “seo expert” they can pay $2 per hour to, that will do the work for them, they will then keep the difference and hope the individual knows what their doing.
  3. The perfect – Professional and personal seo freelancer who knows their stuff. Ranks well for anything they try to do. Doesn’t BS, doesn’t outsource, and simply performs good SEO! There are a lot out there (believe it or not) but we tend to be poor salesmen (it’s true!)

Personal note: In my opinion if you are going to brand yourself as a seo freelancer you need to do 4 things; 1.) Rank top 3 for your locational keyword 2.) Slowly rank for the national seo freelancer / seo consultant keyword phrase. 3.) Have effective clear price points and don’t budge, if you are the best at what you do, don’t charge less just because you work from home and 4.) Have at least 5 testimonials and case studies that you can show clients.

My opinion

You can get both good and bad agencies and freelancers. It all comes down to what they know and do. But if I had to choose I would go with a freelance consultant over an agency.

The Price discussion:

Which method will give you the highest quality of service per pound spent, AKA: value of service.

In my opinion your money is more effectively spent with a freelancer than an agency. Price doesn’t mean quality of service. Sometimes these agencies will be outsourcing the work and taking a 75%+ profit figure (reference here). This means you’re paying £1000 for £250 worth of SEO. (That’s assuming they are outsourcing to people who know what they are doing.)

Agencies have such high overheads that they would have to charge more for the same quality service simply because they have staff to pay, premise to rent, as well as corporate levels to support. All of which cost money.

Article coming soon on “How to brand yourself as an SEO Agency (even if it’s just you!)” – In March (Follow me on Twitter to keep up to date.)

If you are that good, nay, GREAT at what you do, whatever it be; seo, sales, web design, you wouldn’t need to hide behind a corporate front. The individuals I would consider to be the greatest seos ever are all individual freelancers or own their own companies, not “head of search” at some digital marketing agency.

Let me know which one you prefer and WHY?

Share, comment and all that good stuff :).

Thanks

Tom.

Top 50 SEO Blogs

I love lists, this isn’t an expert round-up or anything like that, its just 50 seo blogs that I have read in the past 2 years and found value from. Some you may know, others maybe not, some you may like, others you may not. But in my opinion these are the top 50 SEO blogs in 2015.  If you think you know a blog that deserves to be on the list and isn’t here, feel free to give me a message. No particular order.{rating}

  1. Triple SEO – Written by Chris Dyson but also includes a few guest posts too. 1st person writing with a good take on most things SEO. Mainly writing about seo methodology and strategies, including a good niche site guide.
  2. SEO No – Written by Steve Morgan, one of the nicest guys in the SEO industry and a very knowledgeable SEO. Also owning a successful internet marketing firm, specialising in paid advertising and search engine optimisation, in my opinion one of the top 5 UK SEO blogs.
  3. Backlinko – Written by Brian Dean, the king of backlinking in the SEO world. Respected by all of the seo world and known for his creative backlinking strategies, totally white hat but a lot more creative than the usual white hat gibberish promoted by many other seo blogs.
  4. Search Engine Land – Co founded by Danny Sullivan. The top place for keeping up to date with seo and search engine news. Not many strategies here more of a broad search engine update news site including PPC, SEO, Social, Local and more.
  5. Authority Hacker – Great site not purely based on seo buts its a big part. Created by Gael and Mark, they (and other guest posters) talks about creating long term authority websites instead of the mini-niche site models that used to be so profitable for seos and internet marketers.
  6. Smart Passive Income – Created by Pat Flynn, great aged site about creating passive income (obviously) one of the early authority sites in this niche and some great SEO tips here too. Still going strong.
  7. The Moz Blog – The one stop shop for SEOs nowadays. Perfect for seo strategies, information, testing, what works, what doesn’t and I think most SEOs would agree, if they had to only read 1 seo blog for the rest of eternity it would be this one. The spread is perfect and its youmoz section allows individuals who aren’t already featured to gain some exposure (if you get accepted 🙁 haha.)
  8. Search Engine Watch – In my opinion very similar to SEland, SERT and those, but probably my favourite style of SEO news site. Well designed and some great content including seo, ppc, content, analytics, local, video, content ect
  9. Source Wave – 90% hype but still a good SEO blog. The no nonsense approach can’t be argued with and although I don’t agree with the number of products Alex Becker brings out, he is a successful SEO.
  10. ClickZ – Marketing and analytics site. Personally only read analytical data/stats on this site. They have a number of great
  11. No hat Digital – One of my favourites on this list as its very unique. Internet marketing specific information with a great podcast series, always keep up to date with these guys, they are quality.
  12. The SEM Post – Relatively new site, similar to the style of SEland/SERT but still a solid place for some up to date information and opinions.
  13. SE Roundtable – This is Barry Schwartz hangout. Close to 17,000 articles written by Barry on this site…Which is a bit crazy, even I’m not sure there is that much news in the SE world. But a great effort and awesome motivation for someone looking to get started.
  14. Seth Godin – Not a pure SEO blog this one but someone who I like to keep up to date with. More of an all-round marketing God. Casual and unique takes on things in the business and personal worlds, I like that.
  15. Distilled – Another solid online marketing blog. Distilled run SearchLove which is a digital marketing conference that is pretty awesome. The blog is really good too, tons of information on lead generation and social.
  16. Niche PursuitsSpencer Haws website on creating profitable niche sites in the modern day. Not solely SEO based but some great information if your getting started with internet marketing as a whole.
  17. SEO Oasis – My blog. Average but slowly growing readership and enjoy writing about SEO, had some good feedback on a few articles and hopefully can increase the readership in 2015.
  18. JohnOn – More of a casual laid back seo blog, talking about other aspect of the world apart from the online matrix we live in. First time I came across this blog during my research, but will be adding to the read list.
  19. Yoast – If you create your site’s in wordpress, you should already be familiar with Mr Joost. Also has a well written blog mainly about technical wordpress and seo issues.
  20. Matt Cutts – Bit dry but don’t want the hate for not including the Cuttinator in this list.
  21. SEO by the Sea – Long time SEO blog that has been around since the internet was invented. Written by Bill Slawski, who was recently voted joint top of the “best seos in the world” post.
  22. SEO Revolution and Web Marketing Now – Jerry West and co provide some of the best information in the SEO world. Anything Jerry brings out I would highly recommend. They test so we don’t have to. No BShat SEO.
  23. Internet Marketing Jim – Really like Jim Boykin’s stuff, so he gets the link for the I.M. Ninjas team. Variety of SEO news and strategy in an easy to read format.
  24. Seer Interactive Blog – I don’t know how much Wil still has to do with this blog now as I haven’t kept up to date, but still looks like a good place to catch up on a bit of info and find some good methods.
  25. Search Engine Journal – Up there with Moz for SEO blog of the internet in my opinion. Some great authors and published articles on here and a very authoritative site too.
  26. SEO Chicks – The girls from SEO Chicks; Lisa and Julie took a relatively normal topic (SEO) and put a spin on it, they have categories such as “chick stuff” and “just for fun” to keep the site upbeat and unique, nice stuff. Although gone very quite recently.
  27. Reel SEO – As the name suggest, this one is a blog dedicated to video marketing strategies. Great to see a blog solely dedicated to video/youtube SEO.
  28. SEO Theory – Michael Martinez’s masterpiece.
  29. Bruce Clay Blog – Very nice guy and an extremely good internet marketer. Some great other posters on this site as well as Bruce himself.
  30. Battelle Media – John Battelle’s seo blog. Very well written search blog.
  31. Point Blank SEO – Another awesome SEO blog, written by Jon Cooper. He’s up there with Bill, Brian and co for the most knowledgeable seo’s around today.
  32. Blind 5 Year OldAJ Kohn’s blog, not just SEO more of a mish mash of some awesome stuff. Would keep up to date, always a good read and the best name for a blog!
  33. SEONick – Awesome blog. SEO posts as well as research, split testing and backlinking strategies. He also includes a number of guest posts from some good SEOs.
  34. SEOMark – Mark is a UK based seo consultant. Ranks for a number of competitive phrases for freelance seo in the UK. Highly rate his services and he has a huge number of great posts that rank top 3 in the SERPs for most long tail keywords.
  35. Kaiser the Sage – Jason’s seo blog, not just strategy and news on here but also information on how to generate clients.
  36. Quiksprout – When your tagline is “I’m rather a big deal” you know you have made it in life. I love Neil Patel, he is the definition on an online entrepreneur. Read his stuff, read all his stuff!
  37. Wiep – Wiep Knol is a relatively new seo guy (new to me anyway). But his link building reading lists are mind blowingly good. Make sure you have a spare hour though.
  38. Stone Temple – Eric and the team at stone temple consulting really know their stuff. Frequent high quality posts and also a number of collabs and videos too.
  39. Solo SEO – A number of good posts on this site. A relatively plain design and unknown to myself until recently, but enjoyed the reads.
  40. John Chow – The I make money online by teaching people how to make money online guy! This is something I wish I first found all those years ago when I typed “make money online” would have made the process a lot quicker.
  41. David Naylor – The MD at Bronco and also an avid SEO. Some great information and also just a really nice guy.
  42. Cornwall SEOLyndon Antcliff‘s UK based seo blog. Another that has made a splash.
  43. SEO Skeptic Aaron Bradley‘s seo blog. He’s a really knowledgeable nice guy based in Canada (Eh).
  44. Cyrus Shepard – One of the top 10 SEOs, posts frequently on his moz and here. Keep up to date with Cyrus and you will become oracle of SEO like he is.
  45. Andrew Isidoro – Recently started posting more frequently. Enjoyed the recent time saving hacks for seos, should be checked out if you suffer from lack of productivity.
  46. John Doherty – Professional online marketer, not just seo but more of a mindset blogger. Really enjoyed his “I’m not a good employee” post, very interesting.
  47. More Visibility – High quality search engine marketing blog. Specific and information online marketing articles geared towards individuals who already have some knowledge but are still looking for “seo best practices”.
  48. The Search Agents – Similar to more visibility they write about technical seo in an easy to understand format.
  49. Top Rank Blog – Running out of ways to describe SEO blogs in 1 sentence. But another great one here.
  50. Ghost Marketing – Another one of my blogs, more of a professional take on seo and related aspects.
  51. Viperchill – Glenn’s famous seo blog. Didn’t make the initial list due to the blog being dormant for a while.
  52. Matthew Woodward – Not sure why I didn’t include this one, it was meant to be included from the start!
  53. God of SEO – Don’t let the name fool you, Charles is actually a very cool guy, with some solid information.

Hope you enjoyed the list. Feel free share, like, tweet and all that good stuff.

Thanks for reading.

Tom.

9 Ways SEOs can answer “What do you do for a living”

Just a few ideas for SEOs, whenever anyone asks you what you do for a living. Please note all answer will cause blank glazed response.

1.) “I wear a hat and fight Matt Cutts.”

2.) “I manipulate the Google algorithm to rank websites higher in the SERPs.”

3.) “I make love to Google”

Google love

4.) “Google me and find out ;)”

5.) “I make money by talking in acronyms and thinking I’m cool by doing so.”

6.) “I’m kind of a big deal… With the search engines”

7.) “I work with the rehabilitation of websites killed by animals”

8.) “I’m a panda and penguin tamer”

And my personal favourite:

9.) “I pretty much just fuck shit up on Google ”

Let me know on Twitter if you have any good ideas.

How I generated 20,000 unique visitors, 22 enquiries and 5 new clients

With 1 rant, all in only 30 days.

All this to my brand new SEO Consultant website, which had previous received less than 300 visits per month.

The post that did it all is here.

Ghost Marketing Stats

The article was a simple one written about the apprentice final and the winner (Mark Wright’s) idea, which was “Climb Online” A digital marketing agency providing SEO services to businesses. Not a new or unique idea, but it won none the less.

The article was a bit of a rant, talking about what I think he did wrong and basically why I think he will fail, again if you want a read link is above.

I don’t watch the apprentice and I personally don’t understand why such “gifted” business entrepreneurs would go on a TV show and embarrass themselves for any amount of money let alone giving away 50% of their business if they do end up winning. If you’re really that good of an entrepreneur you will raise the money some other way, or scale your business up like anyone else. I don’t believe you should give up 50% of a business before you’ve even started for any amount of money….But that’s just me, anyway moving on.

The Process

The process was painfully simple: Write an article, share it socially, rank for some relevant keywords, get the traffic, and make the sales. Content marketing in a nut shell!

The article was written in about 30 mins, in front of a TV, there were spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes and a few people actually took the time to contact me with “you suck at grammar”, thanks grammarpolice@gmail.com I have this message for you:

yoda IDGAF

Initially the article had no images and a lot of rambling, (this was tidied up once the article began to gain some exposure but still wasn’t your “golden content” you’d expect to be used for a content marketing strategy.

Once I’d finished I took to social media, mainly twitter. This is my number 1 way to get a few extra eyeballs to a post without being spammy.

The hashtags #apprentice and #apprenticefinal were used throughout the show and as my article was live even before the show finished, I gained some good early exposure through these. Posting my article in a non spammy way all over the hashtags, replying to comments and talking with other SEOs who were ranting about the apprentice got me an early 300 views within an hour of the show finishing.

This is when I knew I was onto something that could get me a lot of exposure. So I tidied up the article a lot more, made it flow and added a “get a real quote” style call to action. Nothing special was done here just a clean-up job with a bit of a “hire me” style promotion.

The early social shares, on page seo and authority of the ghost marketing domain made the post well optimised and within 2 days it was on page 1 for “climb online” the business name of the winner. Within a week it was actually 2nd behind the climbonline domain about rock climbing (Shout out to Steve who was kind enough to put a link and message on his site linking to me.)

The rest of the process took care of itself, once the article was submitted it received almost 20,000 UV inside a 1 month period and has seemed to have sparked Ghost Marketing, leading to 22 enquiries of which 5 came on monthly packages. With a few new enquiries still trickling through.

The article began to drop and at one point only ranked 9th, so I spiced it up a bit, generated a few more links and it’s now sitting in the middle around 4/5th for “climb online” and other related phrases.

This one article should result in well over £2,000 additional monthly earnings. Which is not bad for a rant if you ask me.

My first real taste of content marketing and I think I like it.

Share, tweet and all that good stuff.

Thanks for reading.

Tom.

The Top SEO Events in the UK 2015

The top SEO Conferences in the UK in 2015

When it comes to SEO Events and conferences in the UK we are struggling to compete with the giants of mozcon, pubcon and the like.

But we do have a few goodies. 

January 

February 

SES Conference London – 9-11 February 2015, £850-£1600.

March

On the Edge Manchester – Don’t know anything about this event but feel free to comment if you know anything. £49.

April 

Brighton SEO – 9-10th April. Free/£50 Worth every penny. 

Marketing Week Live – 29-30th April.

May 

Search Marketing Expo – Huge internet marketing expo run by Danny and the gang from SEland. 20-21st May. £400-£1500.

June

SAS Con – 11-12th June. £125-£350. Manchester.

Interop – 16-18th June. ExCel London.

July

August

September

Search Love – No date yet for the search love event except “Autumn” but another very solid conference by the Distilled team.

Silicon Beach – You guys on this year? Bournemouth, beach….? Would be good, give me an email.

Ecommerce Expo – 30 Sept -1 Oct. Olympia London.

October

Growth Hacking Conference – On this year?

Ad Tech London – £700. Olympia, London.

November 

Digital Marketing Show – Free. Great marketing event, not solely SEO but great for any online marketing individuals to go to.

December

Cardiff Digital – If Andrew ever decides to get his ass in gear ;)!!!!! (Best city in the UK too)

Cheers, give me an email if I’ve forgotten any.