Room 301 Podcast 016 – Showcasing the Commercial Impact of SEO

Posted on: November 30, 2023


Rob Twells


In this, our last episode of Season 1, Rob chats with SEO expert Josh Allerton as he guides us through effective budgeting, collaborative experimentation and more, as we jump into the world of commercial SEO.

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Podcast Transcription

0:00:07 – Rob Twells

Right, we are back, Room 301. I have got another special guest this week. I’ve got Josh Allerton from Lightbox digital. Josh, how are you?

0:00:45 – Josh Allerton

Yeah, I’m good, how are you?

0:00:48 – Rob Twells

Very well, thank you. Thank you for jumping on. So, to get started, why don’t you tell us a bit more about yourself and your role as SEO specialist, I believe, is that right?

0:00:58 – Josh Allerton

Yeah, that’s correct. So SEO specialists at Lightbox Digital, we’re basically like a content creation agency with emphasis on SEO as well. So we cover SEO, PPC, visual and design, as well as social media. My role, SEO specialist at the moment, it’s kind of incorporating everything from creating the strategies to creating the content to then account management. So, yeah, just trying to get people more traffic to the website and then convert that into leads that actually gets them more money in the long term. That’s the sort of role I’m taking on at the moment.

0:01:36 – Rob Twells

Strategy right through to the sale, right through the account management. Not a lot you don’t see though, is there?

0:01:42 – Josh Allerton

No, there’s not. No. Pretty hands on. And to be honest, I enjoy it like that. What’s the term? Have a finger in every pot, every pie?

0:01:53 – Rob Twells

Well, I suppose, you know, we’re going to be talking about the commercial impact of SEO today. And like me, Josh haven’t been in the game a long time, it’s often very difficult to present the commercial benefits of SEO, especially when it’s a bit of a longer term strategy. All the stuff we all know about, but having your fingers in many pies, I suppose, you know, you can see the process at every single step, can’t you? And I guess you’ve built up lots of experienced in terms of showcasing that benefit, communicating that benefit, which I think is really important because people are skeptical about SEO even still these days. Even though it’s proven to be a good thing for business. It’s proven to be one of the core ways to grow a business. Grow a website, grow traffic, grow inquiries, sales, whatever it might be. But still, people like me and me and you still have those challenges us. So I’m going to start with quite a broad question, a big question. How can you convince stakeholders who are perhaps quite reluctant to invest in SEO, given it’s a longer term investment? How can you convince them to pull the trigger on an SEO in the first instance?

0:03:05 – Josh Allerton

I think, yeah, depends on the context. If a client comes not a client, but a prospect comes to us straight off the bat and shows an interest in SEO, but is a bit reluctant, that’s probably for us as maybe a red flag or is it a beige flag it’s called nowadays, actually? I don’t think anyone wants to in the art of necessarily selling and trying to sell something that isn’t going to lead anywhere. I think that’s why it’s going to sound really bizarre now, but why social media is so important today, because it can be a top of funnel education that can, over time, convince them. So when they do come to you looking for SEO, it’s definitely something that they’re warmed to maybe use a newsletter or YouTube or guess what, a podcast like this, definitely to warm them to the idea and convince them more, sometimes we would change direction. I was on a discovery call the other day. A guy came to know he’s worked in many top level, like Rolls Royce and many big different companies like that. It’s not Rolls Royce, by the way, just as a disclaimer. And he needed to convince his board who he’s a part of, that we should go with SEO. But traditional viewpoint, we want only three months. We want to do three months, get results in three months. And it’s like, yeah, we can get you results, but we don’t think that’s going to be the actual results, the commercial results you want. And in that instance, actually, in this particular context, we convinced to go with PPC on a short term basis to kind of show that these keywords do convert. So then on a commercial basis, you can go to the board and say, look, this is how much cost per click, cost per lead. From a PPC perspective, if we invested this much in SEO, we can see obviously less over time a cost per lead. So that’s just one way we have done it, where not necessarily selling SEO straight away, maybe looking at PPC, and then on the flip side, maybe just pausing conversations when people want results now, rather than wanting to play the long term.

0:05:25 – Rob Twells

Is that the typical thing you see wanting results sooner rather than later, which is very, very difficult to it’s not unachievable, but you don’t want to be in a position where you’re either guaranteeing that or suggesting that it can be done, because you know that so many things are out of your control as an SEO. But in terms of the typical sort of barriers that your prospects of yours put in place, is it the time it takes to get results?

0:05:50 – Josh Allerton

I think it can do, depending on the client. I think over the previous maybe year, I think I might have been looking at a situation where a lot of people come into us now, or at least when I’m just talking this space, are more comfortable with the idea. They know it’s going to take six to twelve months. But especially those, what I do find is those that come to us, we want result in three months. It’s because of a marketing disaster that’s happened before. They’ve noticed this massive decline and they’re panicking. And I think I’d advise any SEO, any salesperson, if that’s the case, honestly, I would stay away from selling SEO in that perspective. You can probably make a short term quick book out of there, but that’s bad faith. I would opt for something else, or at least advise them to fix the issue before scrambling at just SEO.

0:06:30 – Rob Twells

Have you got any tactics or strategies that you use when in those conversations with prospects that help you to help them visualize the commercial outcome? So I’m thinking things like, I know, is it SEM monitor? They’ve been speaking a lot about their forecasting tool at the minute and things like that. So do you use anything like that to really show them what is possible?

0:07:07 – Josh Allerton

Yes, if the client can help as well, that’s perfect, because, for example, I have one client, it’s a wedding venue booking. I didn’t sell this, but this is sort of data that when both prospect and an agency can work together, can actually visualize. I know, for example, with the wedding booking venue, that if they get something like four leads a month through the website, they’ll convert 83% of those and they can fully book out their wedding for their wedding venue for that over the year or the next two years. So by having that key data to understand that it might not be for the website, it might be through avenues, but understand the conversion rate post offline or if it’s ecommerce on the site, you can then quite easily show the growth that if they rank one, two, three for certain keywords, that a percentage of this is going to equal well, might equal this amount of sales. And this is might be in the keyword.

0:08:10 – Rob Twells

Yeah “might” being the key word.

0:08:16 – Josh Allerton

Yeh. I make sure that’s on every documentation “might” – not – “will”.

0:08:19 – Rob Twells

The default thing to say, isn’t it? Now, do you think SEO as we know it now is going to become more or less effective and will that impact that six to month ranges that we all talk about?

0:08:46 – Josh Allerton

Do you mean, do you reckon the timeline is going to shorten lengthen or just in general?

0:08:50 – Rob Twells

I’m interested in your opinion. Do you think it’ll be easier to get results going forward or more difficult? There’s lots of changes happening at the moment. AI has taken effect. Algorithms are changing, they’re even more volatile than they ever have been, and I believe as we record now. So, yeah, I’m interested in your thoughts in terms of do you think it’s going to get harder and therefore even longer to gain results, or do you think there’s going to be I hate to say it, but quick wins and it’s going to be even easier.

0:09:16 – Josh Allerton

I think if you’re only focusing on SEO, it’s going to come much more difficult. I think with the way that Bard is coming out and we’ve seen with bing chat what it could become, is there’s going to be more inclusion of different mediums. So video even we’ve seen snippets of it, but I predict they’re going to link out to even Instagram and Facebook. So if SEO is just the only channel you’re exploring and the Bard is going to take up 50% or above the fold of your screen, you could lose out. Whereas if you come with a holistic approach, you make sure that you are creating video content or whatever in social media as well. The two can work side by side. So I think. Yeah, I think the game is changing. It’s not necessarily a lesser importance on SEO. I think that’s going to be actually the main it’s going to have a high importance because instead of us just focus on getting found on Google, found on a search engine, we’re now going to shift to being more where can we get found across different channels. I always think Pinterest is a great example where we’re getting massively neglected, because even if you’re running a blog on, I don’t know, whatever, you should be using that, because that within itself is a search engine, which I don’t know how many people search a month, but again, that’s another form of search that we should be tapping into. So I think probably to answer the question, in a nutshell, it’s going to become more difficult if you’re just focusing on Google or on a particular engine. But if you want to be more effective, you’ve got to start now branching out into these different so called search engines.

0:11:04 – Rob Twells

No, I totally agree. And I think I see a lot of folks over on Twitter, or “X” as it’s now called, as of yesterday or the day before, whatever it was. They’re talking about a lot of synergies between brand and SEO now. And I actually noticed one of your tweets, Josh, you spoke about this thing about SEO is one of the end goals is increasing direct traffic. So when you talk about that holistic approach, is that the sort of thing you mean? Is focusing more on or not necessarily more, but focusing on brand and how SEO can be more of a holistic approach to drive other channels and things like that?

0:11:39 – Josh Allerton

Yeah, I think it’s part of brand association. I think that what triggered that sort of tweet. And that sort of thinking was earlier on my days, I was looking at when you get a new client come to you who’s probably just starting your website and never had SEO before, you see that the percentage of the branded keywords that they get traffic from is quite high. Maybe as high as 80%. I was like, okay, if you do SEO for a while, you should see that to decrease, you don’t need to be zero because you got no brand awareness. So what should that level be? What’s the optimal level of brand awareness of branded keywords? But then I started thinking. In terms of take a step back from just SEO and think about marketing and the user journey. I just started to think, I forgot who I built this idea upon. I’ll try to dig it out, but the idea that you need to become your own industry search engine so that when people are searching for, they may search the digital maze because they’ve seen you on Facebook, or maybe you’re at a networking event. Oh yeah, remember that digital maze or lightbox or whatever. And then maybe later down the line, they’re asking question about SEO, what is a meta description, title? Then that’s when you get found. That’s when SEO wins, okay, I see these guys, but then later down the line, they might think, you know what, I’ve been following these guys content. Instead of just going searching for an SEO agency or searching if they have a question about SEO or whatever product or an issue you’re in, they’re going direct to the source. Now, it might mean they go on google, type in lightbox or the digital maze or the brand name, and then click on it. So it’s not true direct traffic, but I’d class it as that. But they’re going directly to the people they trust to find the content that they need to. And that in my opinion, is brand awareness. I mean, probably down the line you could even and this could be a way that not necessarily SEO is going, but the way that sort of brands could go. If you have a massive knowledge base, you could create an app or even a web app. So instead of going to Google, they can click on digital maze or lightbox app, and they can ask a question in there or find the content in there to directly, well, completely missing the search engine altogether. But then that is still a win, because it’s building that brand awareness. When they are looking for those services, all that product, they know exactly who to come to. And that’s what I meant by branding, SEO becomes Brand. It is brand, not just a channel.

0:14:09 – Rob Twells

100%. And I think that speaks to a lot of what you might call traditional content creation. So blogs, knowledge, hubs, that kind of thing. And I think we’ll see that’s always been a strategy, but I think there’ll be a lot more emphasis on that going forward. I think it’s been a nice to have in the past, but now it’s something that I think there needs to be money and time put aside for that to happen now if we want to secure the future of our SEO strategies and our traffic growth and all that kind of stuff. So that’s sort of the more traditional content creating model. One of the things that and maybe you think differently, Josh, but one of the things that I always find quite challenging to talk to customers about is the creative content, the digital PR, and the sort of link acquisition side of things. Not only because it can be quite expensive, it’s very time intensive, and all the outreach and probably even less guarantees that that will work than your more traditional SEO sales processes. Have you got any examples of where you’ve been able to present the sort of commercial outcomes of creative content or digital PR and how you relate that back to business objectives for the client to make it speak their language and things like that? I’d love to know.

0:15:18 – Josh Allerton

Yeah. So our approach when we’re selling it, because obviously everyone who’s even listening, that link building has always had a bad rep. It’s always. We’ve been through many Google updates where bad link building or link farms have been punished. So even to someone who does no SEO, they had this association. I’ll admit sometimes it does feel a bit dirty to play in sort of link building. It doesn’t feel quite authentic. But I tell you, that’s the game we’re in sometimes. But what we do do, especially your Lightbox, we focus on the digital PR point of view, where I think go back to the brand example before, where we take an expert in the company, whoever it is, normally it’s like CEO or director, and then we push them forward to go and get the link. Well, we do that. We go and get the links of the quotes of these people to perceive them as an expert. Now you in terms of commerciality, sometimes it is difficult to sell that. But I think sometimes people understand digital PR better because when you say to them that you’re going to get publicity. Sometimes in tier one publications like the Daily Mail or the Metro or maybe a more niche publication that they’re familiar with that excites them, and they understand that more because I suppose it is like traditional marketing, isn’t it? You go to someone I want to put you in the newspaper. I want to put you in this magazine. They understand the concept that eyes are on, that it’s a more tangible result than try and explain to someone that if we get you a niche edit link somewhere, you might not get traffic from it, but it’s going to increase your domain authority “ooh what’s Domain Authority?” etc. You godown this rabbit hole. I want to be clear. It’s definitely not a miss-sell. We’re choosing the easier route here. Digital PR is extremely difficult, but a more logical and an easier way to explain to the clients. And it feels cleaner. I don’t know if that’s the right word. It feels more natural that your experts are getting quoted, and I suppose just the last one to touch on it is. People sell. So by quoting an expert, by putting someone in the limelight, you probably get more interaction on social media, or even the person who got quoted might share it on their social media. So that will build traction overall and then lead directly to more traffic on the website, which then gives social signals and then boosts that. So I think from a digital PR perspective and a commerciality, there’s more impact, also more buy in from the client, because they’re at the center of it. It’s not that they’re just hiring an agency and we run away and do our job and then come back to them once mum and say, we’ve done this, they’re involved in the process, or at least they feel more involved than before.

0:18:24 – Rob Twells

Absolutely. And is there any KPIs? Bit of a dirty word, isn’t it? Is there any KPIs that you typically put in place for digital PR or creative content? Obviously, it varies from client to client. I can imagine.

0:18:41 – Josh Allerton

Yeah, I suppose. We we do watch, like referrals the referral traffic, what’s coming in from that. And one thing we’re trying to do at the moment is trying to increase our, I did the attribution models the correct term for what we’re trying to do, but we’re just trying to make sure we can see what each channel is – not saying you’re contributing in, like, a cost per click or cost per lead, but for example, how many times was SEO part of this user journey? We’re trying to improve our tracking for that. So we can at least go to the client and say that even though it was a PPC win here or a referral win, a digital PR win, this lead did actually visit your site through organic search twice. It did contribute to the user journey. So that’s hopefully a KPI we can definitely introduce. But in terms of KPI from directly from digital PR, probably just watching that referral traffic and just seeing the general how that links to rankings in general. It’s not a direct one. We’re working on that. I think probably the industry is probably working on that, but it’s a lot easier than selling just link building.

0:19:54 – Rob Twells

Is there any KPIs? Just again, moving back to SEO and putting digital PR and creative content to one side, even though they’re all one of the same things effectively, but when that’s not involved, again, same question. Do you have any KPIs in place for any anybody who doesn’t take the digital PR aspect, they’re just focused pure on SEO content, whatever it might be technical SEO, do you have any KPIs with that? And are they more commercial or are they more traffic driven, I suppose is the key question there.

0:20:23 – Josh Allerton

We track both. Well, first of all, the first thing I report is leads generated by organic search or revenue generated by organic search. Because let’s be honest, that’s all clients care about. It doesn’t matter how many blogs you create, doesn’t matter how many, even traffic in some regards, it doesn’t matter how many people you get on the site. Are they converting? Yes, that’s all they care about. Return on investments, that’s the first thing we do. And then supporting KPIs. The traditional ones are Google search, console impressions. The average position, there’s always context to that. Sometimes it’s going up because of, for example, the amount of keywords we’re ranking might be going up, or it might be the average position, it might be that average position has dropped. But that’s because we’ve just done about five, six blog posts and they’re now ranking. So again, it’s about giving context to those. But yeah, the main drivers are always, how many leads are we generating? Are they a good quality, that’s. Is that? Is that UX? I don’t know. But are we generating enough leads? Are we generating the revenue? Because at the end of the day, if a client wants to leave you, it’s not because you haven’t created enough blog posts or you haven’t built enough leads, it’s because you’re not making the money. And that’s what you have to focus on while still building the trust that maybe it is a six to twelve month project, but they can see that slowly increase. But brilliant.

0:21:49 – Rob Twells

Absolutely. You mentioned UX there very briefly. So again, another facet of the never ending SEO puzzle, but a super important one is what I’ve learned in my experience. So again, have you noticed the same thing? Do you see having a positive impact on the commercial outcomes?

0:22:11 – Josh Allerton

Absolutely. I think every six months of my clients, I don’t call it UX because I don’t want them to think we’re offering a UX service, but using a tool like Microsoft Clarity or Hotjar, I will go through and I will make a mini report of where people are. Example one client, it was like, there’s this button here that looks like a button. It isn’t a button, people are clicking on it. Let’s just change the color, or something like that. On the other, aside from that, we were able to notice that people were, it was like they were going to buy one product that adds the basket, then they’ll find this other similar product and then you can see them debating between them. So from that we then create a blog post or something or content comparing them. So, overall, I think UX, or at least user journey, is massively important. I think even from an SEO perspective, you should be interested because if you get people on the page, if you’ve worked your backside off for months to get people on a page and they’re struggling to use it to convert, what a waste. What a waste of money, what a waste of time. And if you can show that to the client, that’s what’s happening. The responsibility is semi off you. You made the suggestions and you can kind of get that buy in then to go and make those improve movements. So, yeah, I think UX is going to become more important in SEO. Even, even from a perspective of. Fine. We got your page loading extremely fast. But what’s the next step the user is going to do? Is that visible? Is that clear? Good. It’s about taking them on that journey. Whether that is the SEO job is up for debate. Are we webmasters on steroids or are we a particular part of that journey?

0:24:06 – Rob Twells

Yeah, we can’t forget it’s got multiple benefits as well because the search engines are taking into consideration website user metrics now as well. So how long people are spending on certain pages, bounce rates, I don’t know it’s for sure, but bounce rates, time against sessions, all that kind of stuff. So actually the benefit of having a well optimized website and having good user metrics benefits rankings as well as the actual conversion rate. And another way to really put that plain and simply to customers, I find, is let’s just say you’ve got a website that has trying to keep it simple now, so I don’t mess up my math on the spot, but 5000 visitors, and you’ve got a 1% conversion rate. You got 50 people per month picking up the phone or making a sale, whatever your conversion means. If you just added a mere 0.5% to that conversion rate which is not out of the realms of possibility at all. You know, an extra 25 people there. And I don’t know what if your average value is 1000 pounds, that’s an extra 25,000 pound in revenue. So it can have a massive, massive uptick if you get it right. And I think, again, there’s so many SEOs or agencies out there that focus just on one facet of SEO, but actually pulling it all together and working out when the right time is to deploy certain tactics is the best thing to do. So when you have managed to make an uptick of traffic by 10%, 20%, maybe that’s the right time to employ UX and work out how we’re going to make the most of that additional traffic. Like you said, you don’t want to spend all that time dragging people to your site for it to be a slug to load or the buttons don’t work or whatever it might be. It’s a real pain. So do you approach B2B and B2C differently in terms of commercial outcomes and KPIs, or is it quite similar in your mind?

0:26:00 – Josh Allerton

From a KPI? Yeah, I think it’s quite similar in my mind, the only difference with B2B is you can’t necessarily measure the quality of the leads. Whereas an ecommerce well, B2 C, if it is that’s ecommerce and lead jones sorry, my bad. Yeah, B2B probably takes a bit longer. So you probably need to emphasize more content at the different levels of the funnel. Whereas B2C, what we have found is if you just focus more on bottom, the funnel, middle funnel first, get that right first, that will generate the most effective wins. Because most B2C, people just want to buy now. One of our clients is a cardboard box manufacturer. People want to buy a cardboard box. They want to buy it now. They don’t want to necessarily compel the different features. They just want to buy it now. Whereas B2B, I suppose if you want to take that same example, if someone wants to make a custom branded cardboard box, maybe they’re going to take a little bit longer, especially if they’re going to be investing. I don’t know how much custom cardboard boxes cost to make on 10,000 units. They might take a little bit longer. And again, even talking about our own industry here with SEO, that again, is to need a longer content journey, more content to educate than maybe B2C, but I still approach it the same aspect. I’m probably more a content SEO than maybe a technical. I don’t know. My background is in freelance writing, so I always naturally lean on that. But I do believe that both approaches should be from educating the user, entertaining them if you can, and push them along that journey a bit more. So I think that might answer the question.

0:28:01 – Rob Twells

No, it does. It certainly does. So, look, we’ve spoken a lot about almost what not to do or what not to say to stakeholders when it comes to SEO. So if if I play the role of a marketing director for a moment, I’ve got a budget, been given a budget from the CEO. I’ve managed to convince him to invest in SEO. How should I approach when I come to you with an agency? How should I approach? That what makes me a green flag, should we say? If we’re talking about beige and red, what makes me a green flag person to work with? And how can that be leveraged to get even more success?

0:28:34 – Josh Allerton

First thing that comes to mind is complete is being completely honest with your positioning, being completely honest on your situation. One discovery call I’ve been on, I was looking at the website, I was like, this website is not, I don’t know, actually understand what you do. Luckily, the client said that for me. And that just made everything so much easier. Because if a client comes to you and said, you know what? This website, our website, we need to rewrite everything because you cannot tell what we sell, it’s not very clear where to go next and what we actually do. It was a great moment for us because then we can start actually having open, honest conversations. I think that’s one of the first. Yeah. So coming in, maybe that’s not a great example, but coming in and saying, look, guys, interested in SEO, it hasn’t been great of the past year, or we haven’t invested before. Being open RSX, that’s a first green flag for us. We started putting our packages on the website, and I think that’s made a difference because the conversation around budget has now been done for us. People know what they could be investing, but before yeah, you have to handle the sort of £300 a month or £500 a month clients, I think even part of our sales genius to verify that they’ve seen the packages, they are aware of what it could cost. So it would be a green flag that they come in and say, this is sort of budget we do have, instead of playing that tennis ball game of, what’s your budget? How much is it? No, what’s your budget? It gives us a strong set up.

0:30:20 – Rob Twells

Having verified that there’s a sufficient budget to actually move the needle. Because that’s the tough part of being in agency, isn’t it? There’s always that budget conundrum of, oh, it’s not quite enough to move the needle needle a little bit more, but they want to see the results before they increase the budget. All the classic face offs that you see, so you mentioned there, and sorry I’ve interrupted and we’ve gone off piste, but you mentioned the packages there, so does that help you then? Does that help you in terms of presumably it’s got a minimum spend with you guys all the way up to if you had all the money in the world, here’s what it would look like. And that’s what pre qualifies it for you, doesn’t it?

0:31:46 – Josh Allerton

Yeah, it does. And those packages don’t have to be set. It’s not like you can if you want, I suppose you could turn up and be like, yeah, I want this package. Okay, well, we have a conversation, make sure it’s the right fit. If someone came to us with an extremely difficult niche or industry, then it’s like, can we? But then it also depends because we’ve had different scenarios where people come to us and say, we’ve got a content team ready to write. We just need help creating briefs. So it might be that’s the same budget but a different approach, but the sort of like, packages we do have at the moment, I think they do match what you should be investing, give or take. But, yeah, I think it has definitely helped in terms of quality of leads. I think just from being on the other side of that situation, when, like, I used to run a vegan sweet shop before I got in SEO, so I love food, but when I left the vegan sweet shop, when I was doing that, I was creating the website, I was doing SEO, doing all the marketing. So it kind of kept that going. But, yeah, when I was running that, I was sick of tired of going on websites. Not necessarily just about marketing, just other B2B websites. And they don’t even have a from price. And this is something I talk about with clients as well. We need to put a price on the site, even if it’s a from price, even if you’re designing offices, because even designing and fitting out an office, that can vary depending upon I appreciate that, but given a solid from price, it just sets expectations. Now, it might mean I’m going off a tangent here, sorry, but that might mean the quantity of leads may drop, but I’m pretty confident the quality will increase. What was the original question? Sorry.

0:32:50 – Rob Twells

It’s actually something we don’t do at the minute. Interesting. I might take that one away. No, it’s interesting because, you know, we we’re a fairly sizable agency, but more than 30 staff, and we still get you know, we still get clients with budgets of less than £500, and we have to turn them away or point them in the direction of someone who can service that. So, yeah, that’s something I might take away, but, no, that was my fault. Go back to the original question. I’m a marketing director. What makes me the perfect candidate? Okay, I’ve got sufficient budget. Let’s say I’ve looked at your packages. I know I can afford at least a minimum, hopefully more. I’m honest. I’ve told you. Look, the website is rubbish. Tear it apart. Do what you got to do. What else do you kind of look, for?

0:33:39 – Josh Allerton

I have to explain a bit more, but not complete control of the website, but the ability to make those changes without asking permission because this happens, both ends. If you need to get approval every time, you have to make a small change on the website. Unless that put, unless your client is sitting on the other side of the laptop 24/7 waiting for you to message, that’s going to be a slow progress and a slow SEO. So having the ability to just change the copy a little bit, or even we have one client which we can make sort of semi big changes without needing massive approval, but just having that ability to do that, and probably another one is openness to change. Being willing to experiment. One of our favorite clients at the moment, he does SEO, PPC 1s paid social, think organic social. But the beauty of that is that we can go to him and say, let’s just take a little bit of this budget here. Let’s go experiment. Let’s go see what happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But being willing to do that is a great opportunity. Now, as of course, we can’t walk into a sales meeting for the first time and say, we’re into SEO, we’re going to experiment. Because that does not sell. We’re going to take a risk, take a gamble like that’s when it won’t work. But developing that sort of relationship, to have that trust, to make those little experiments is a green flag.

0:35:17 – Rob Twells

100%. I always find that the experience level of the people that I’m speaking with makes such a big impact as well, because they’ve been there, they’ve done that, they’ve experienced it. They’ve probably worked with different agencies in the past. They know what they do want, they know what they don’t want, and they can speak to that quite clearly. And it means that we can tailor our solution. We may decide it may be not the right fit, maybe we decide it’s a perfect fit and we really lean into it. But I think the experience level is a massive thing for me when being in those situations. So just to sort of round things off, we’ve spoken about what’s good in terms of what we should look for. If we are the decision makers in companies, what should we be doing to make sure that our agencies work the best they can? I really like the point about controlling the website as well, because not only is flexibility a massive thing, we’ve come across lots of websites that for any tiny little change, needs a web developer who charges £200 an hour to do it for you as well. So that’s just by the buy. I’m glad you mentioned that. But just to round things off, what advice would you give to businesses, marketing directors, stakeholders who are looking to leverage SEO for significant growth? What’s your sort of silver bullet for those people? Big question.

0:36:22 – Josh Allerton

Yeah. So what’s the silver bullet for leveraging SEO for their growth? Is that the question? Great. Yeah. If you’re marketing your CMO, okay. If you’re a CMO and you’ve got a big budget and you can have a big team, maybe you build an internal content team and then work with an agency, use the agency as not consultancy, a bit more on that strategy and execution and marry the two. If you’re a small marketing team or marketing person of one, I’d say, yeah, go out and get an agency. Now, I know we’re biased. We’re both agency side, but I think just tapping into experts in something like this, when it’s such a wide, broad topic, sometimes it’s not worth your budget or time to try going at it alone. We’ve all had those clients, I think, well, I have who are like, oh, yeah, we don’t need SEO. I want to do it myself. And then I get, like, an email months later, like, oh, yeah, “ You know on yoast?” And it’s like, they’ve just installed yoast. And it’s like, well…

0:37:52 – Rob Twells

My eyes just rolled. Anyone didn’t see that?

0:37:56 – Josh Allerton

Yeh you have to correct them. It’s like, well, it might say this on Yoast, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what Yoast says to a degree before anyone tries to sue me. So yeah, I think that the Silver bullet is at this moment in time, either way, incorporate an agency. If it’s on a strategy perspective, even if it’s a full execution, just offload it because it’s such a big task and it requires especially this ever changing landscape at the know we were going through probably the biggest unconfirmed Google update I’ve ever seen. You need people on the ground who are passionate, who are in love with it and the resources available. So yeah, go and invest in an agency. Yeah, it’s probably cliched and expected, but that’s probably what I would advise.

0:38:46 – Rob Twells

No, I really particularly like the advice you mentioned there about content team and I’m sure you’ve experienced this and I’ve spoke to a load of people, agency side who say the same things, where one of the biggest blockers to gaining momentum or rate and pay as a strategy is the lack of copywriting abilities internally because, you know, we we get people outsourcing their copywriting towards but, you know, we still need to lean on them for their experience, their expertise, especially if it’s more authoritative stuff. So that can slow things down. If we can just if they, if our customers got internal copywriters, it makes things so much faster for us to create a brief and an outline and maybe a template and a structure might take two to three hours of our time, whereas to write the whole thing might be looking five or six. And also for them in terms of ROI and investment in us and paying us for the things that really set us apart, like strategy, like the expertise, like that passion. Everything you just said, Josh, makes a lot more sense. But I know having an internal team of copywriters is a massive luxury. Know you why you aimed at CMOs in particular. Wasn’t it because they’re the ones who hold the budget, they’re the ones that can build that team if they want to build that team?
Well, look, Josh, I really appreciate that. I think discussing the commercial impacts of SEO is massively important. I think from lots of different perspectives. Obviously, from our perspective, in terms of being agent decided and trying to communicate to marketing leaders, but actually from marketing directors, CMOS, anybody who is in control of a marketing budget, they are often in the same situation as us, trying to convince their CEO or board or whoever it might be shareholders to invest in SEO. So I think the advice you’ve given is twofold, it can be aimed at people like me and you who are talking to the marketing leaders, all the marketing leaders themselves, who are trying to extract more and more budget because they know the positive impact that SEO can have. So I really appreciate your time, Josh. Thank you for being on. This is actually our last episode of the first season of this podcast, so we will keep you posted with what happens next. I think there’ll be a few changes in season two, I think a change of format, lots of exciting stuff that we are working on behind the scenes. So I appreciate everyone who has listened to this first season. We had a great load of support and we will see you again soon.

0:41:06 – Josh Allerton


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Rob Twells

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Rob is the Founder of an award winning digital agency (since forming a digital agency group The Digital Maze with Boom Online) specialising in SEO, PPC, CRO, digital strategy and web design. With over 10+ years in the marketing space, Rob has been involved with hundreds of marketing projects and campaigns with some of the best known brands.

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