Learning from Majestic – a talk with Dixon Jones and Mel Carson – part 1

Learning from Majestic – a talk with Dixon Jones and Mel Carson – part 1

23rd May 2016

A brand that is most known in the search industry is Majestic, formerly known as Majestic SEO. This brand is the example of a brand that understood the value of data in a very early stage.

Today Majestic is more than SEO. But the data remains. Majestic, this year 12 years old, is an example to many. This year Majestic made the news because of winning the Queens Award and printing in space. That showed it was time to talk to the people behind the marketing of Majestic. Dixon Jones and PR-guy Mel Carson sat down with me for an extensive talk on different topics. We discussed the awards, we discussed space and we discussed the industry.

In a series of posts, you will be able to learn from how Majestic does their work. Here in part 1, we discuss the Queens Award, how Majestic goes beyond SEO and the changing way agencies have to work.


Let’s start with an introduction!

The Queens Award

In the first part of the interview, we talk about the Queens Award that Majestic recently won. Why is an award important, and why specifically this one? Dixon Jones explains why Majestic won. Mel Carson then discusses how to leverage winning an award like this.

Watch the video:

Highlights from the video:

The Queens Award

The Queens Award came out on the Queen’s 90th birthday. With Majestic being a British company and getting the award is great for a UK business like Majestic. But it’s more important than that. Dixon believes Majestic winning this award is important for the entire search industry.

Search marketing doesn’t often get recognition outside of the own industry.  It did now.

Majestic won the award for being innovative. This award goes beyond just search.

What makes Majestic innovative?

The question then is, what makes Majestic innovative, not for the search industry, but for the bigger marketing industry as a whole?

The one that the judges came back with that stood out most, was the way Majestic collects data using their own crawlers, Dixon explains. Majestic does this in a different way than for example Google. They crowdsource projects. This means they don’t need the huge data centers that Google has.

How to “use” the award for marketing

Mel Carson says winning the Queens Award opens up different doors. Different journalists for example who used to be more difficult to reach because ‘you are SEO and that is bad’. Now they have an endorsement from the Queen!

Dixon believes one of the biggest things Majestic can do is helping businesses understand the Internet. They can be the mirror of real life.

How to go beyond SEO

In this part of the interview, we discuss how to make a brand that is very SEO, stand out in the non-SEO community. This means we have to touch on bigger subjects: What’s the position of SEO? And how to make it part of the bigger process. How to go from SEO to big.

Watch the video:

Highlights from the video:

Majestic and SEO, or not?

Majestic comes from SEO and their website still seems to point at that. But it is so much more. How do they look at going beyond SEO?

People will have to understand their own marketing positions, says Dixon. He tries to explain how Majestic looks at this. He starts with the ‘old’ way of looking at positioning. Something that still is very relevant.

You need to understand your surroundings first. This goes beyond just knowing your target audience. It is about the environment as well. Understand the changes. Understand if we are getting rid of paper or not. This means you have to keep an eye on technological developments. You need to understand the landscape.

Majestic is positioned as a company that is big in the SEO industry, but not outside of that. They could be. They have one of the biggest crawlers on the web. But you have to know your position.

Majestic’s strengths also work outside of SEO

So why not be a search engine for example? Because Google is ‘a bloody good search engine’. Every business needs to find Porter’s “Blue Ocean areas”.

Going in an area that you’re less good at, you will lose the part where you are good at. In Majestic’s case, this is links. Majestic wants to move out of links into what those links talk about. Majestic’s sweet spot is the map of how all web pages link together. They see themselves as custodians of the data.

The website is just one part. Majestic approaches different groups in different ways. But it starts with getting the data.

When you get focus, you don’t try to be all to all people.

Showing Majestic to the rest of the world

Mel followed up on Dixon’s words expaining how he slowly realised the uniqueness of Majestic and the way they work.

At first, Mel talked to many tool providers, about how they could

use Majestic best. He found something interesting there: some tool providers got scared because it made their work accountable. Agencies and clients didn’t seem ready for that.

Mel then swapped from going to tool providers to PR agencies, now they are now signing up to improve their jobs.

More and more teams start becoming more integrated. The data that Majestic has will become even more important to them.

The changing worlds of agencies in the middle

Majestic stands in the middle of a new world. Opening up to new agencies and industries means they get a great view of what is happening. In this part of the interview, we look into the changing worlds of the agencies. Those that used to ‘rule’ the world of advertising, now have to think different. Can they?

Watch the video:

Highlights from the video:

Majestic and the new agencies: PR

Mel explains that they are showing PR’s stuff they might have heard from. They are also educating them. On the Majestic website, they interview experts like Duane Forrester about how to use link data more creatively for other purposes than SEO.

Some people might see it as a whole new world, but it really isn’t new.
What is new, says Dixon, is that most tools were relying on data that wasn’t really reliable. Since Majestic isn’t relying on others, they can be ‘smarter’.

The changing world of the agencies

Dixon says some agencies that used to be ‘in the middle’ have been guilty of not looking at what’s inevitable. They ‘owned’ the suppliers, getting big budgets to spend with the likes of first tv stations and magazines.

Google forced the hands of those agencies. They have been a ‘frenemy’ as Martin Sorrel would say. They have given the end customer to go directly to the advertising media. In easily manageable chunks.

Large organisations don’t want to manage those little chunks themselves, so they still like those agencies or technologies in the middle. The ‘middleman’ however doesn’t have the same influence on the market as it used to have unless they can be accountable.

If the big agencies in the middle continue to not provide real insights, then their customers will drop them.

More to come!

This is just the first part of the interview. There is more to come! So keep an eye out for the new post, or subscribe to our YouTube channel, to be the first to know when a new video is uploaded!


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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