Reflective SEO: Money, Power, Respect

Reflective SEO: Money, Power, Respect

5th November 2012

It’s not often that I actually do an opinion piece, for those who have seen my first few blogs on state of search or seen my presentations or seminars over the years will know that I like strategy, facts, figures and of course add my opinion or experience to that but I rarely actually put out a heartfelt blog post, well this year has made me feel like I’ve had a hard paper round!

If you’re not familiar with my background I started in Search about 2003, a little wet behind the ears and no clue about how a Search Engine worked, I delved in and like a lot of my generation of marketers learnt by trial and error. By 2005 I took the company I work for to rank basically number one for the phrase “SEO” in Google UK. I was still young and maybe even a little cocky thinking that I must be so good at what I do because I ranked top of Google for SEO.

Earning Respect

A naive outlook when I look back and to be honest I’m kind of a modest person but still I was young and thought I deserved respect for what I had done because I thought I’d earned it. However the company I worked with were very against being open about “How to rank in Google” and so the only real respect I had earnt was from fellow staff or people who were aware that I was one of the founding reasons the company had such huge successes in the SERP’s.


Reality Check

In 2008/2009 I decided that actually I don’t really blog, I’ve not really spoken at any conferences and so outside of my box I had no real respect because I had never actually marketed myself or earnt it. So it began my first port of call was a small gathering of SEO’s who lived in Manchester for an event called #mancseo (Now #mancsas). I went on my own so I could challenge myself to become part of the community and to in fact find out what other SEO’s were doing.

“You can read as much as you like on forums and blogs post (Which of course is good), but you will learn as much through networking with people in the community in a conference or in particular over a beer.”

The first person I met was Gareth Hoyle his statement was…

“Ah I know who you work for, what’s it like having twice as many sales staff as SEO’s?”

That statement rang in my ears for weeks as simply he wasn’t the only person who perceived the company I worked for as simply a sales house not a company which was good at SEO.

Marketing Myself

Gareth’s statement was truly inspirational as it was not my company (I had received many benefits by working for them) but that company was led in a certain direction by what the directors wanted to achieve.

I personally take my own reputation very seriously when it comes to respect I find that honesty, integrity, knowledge, skill and also common thinking are some of the factors which make me have respect for someone, so I would need to show my community who I was as a person.

Big Thanks to Pete Young as he allowed me to speak at the first #SASCON on a panel alongside, Yoast, Kristjan Hauksson, Fantomaster, Richard Baxter and Pete himself… WOW!

Show your Skill

Lego Pumpkin

I learnt one major thing that day, I put up what I thought was a good presentation but how spectacular was it? Pete again invited me to speak at the next #SASCONmini conference this time I had a full hour and I was determined to show people that I was not going to present another SEO presentation about, building Brand, get High Quality links or Great Content! Talking alongside Kelvin Newman, Nichola Stott and Barry Adams, they all gave great presentations and getting to know them all in more detail gave me respect for who they were and what they did.

My presentation was on Forecasting SEO (This has been research over about 6-12 months, hours and hours of work). It was not some fly by night research but thanks to Pete’s opportunity gave me a chance to show the community my skill set (This was so far beyond ranking the first page for “SEO”.)

Learning Curve Velocity

I became very humble and was thankful for an opportunity to speak at conferences with major speakers, such as Iceland with Simon HeseltineLiana ‘Li’ Evans and  Andrew Betts (Thanks Kristjan). At Brighton SEO (Thanks Kelvin), at Think Visibility (Thanks Dom Hodgson), at SASCON, SMX West, SES London, SMX London, A4u Expo etc.

Each time I would network with attendees & speakers and monitor what I was presenting or viewing and learn, I have seen some spectacular talks from Bas van den Beld, Dave Naylor? , Will Critchlow to name a few or my personal favorite character of the search world (Martin Macdonald). (Literally to many names to mention.)

Get to the Point Neil!

So the last twelve months have been in new territory for me, I started my own consultancy in May and of course Google went crazy! This article is a reflection about that and revolves around Money, Power and Respect.

How to make an Online Marketing Company.

So when it comes to making a company I could take it a few directions as follows:

  1. Fill out a sales floor with people who don’t fully know the product (Not intentionally it does just take time!)
    1. If they sell they you have to try and manage the expectations they have set with the client.
  2. Pay for expensive Business Development Manager who all though they sell, they know the product like they were involved in Delivery (Andy Betts)
  3. Grow slowly take on Business from Referral or word of mouth.

For me I’ve taken option three, I’ve worked in the option one environment and my last company did some very good work, however if a sales come through which over promises service or delivery these clients can reflect very badly on your company.

“Increasing sales is highly dependent on staff and their skill. “

Your staff take action every day which reflect on your company

Corresponding to this is how a company is run and driven to make profits determines the level of results that can be achieved. In the past if a client complaint came in it would be regarding one of three things:

  1. Results didn’t match Expectations (Sales)
  2. Contact, Reporting was poor (Delivery)
  3. No Results

Making Money

So when it comes to making money via an agency this depends on where you want to stand, there are still many companies who offer SEO for £100 per month (Really what can they do!) or you may pay a company thousands for results which are simply not achievable for that budget.

The Sale:

This is all about managing expectation at the start. If you sell realistic expectation at the start, if you are transparent and keep regular contact so the client knows fully what you are doing, if results are not where they would like to be the client will not leave and post bad review because simply you will have been clear about your efforts.

Finally Power

Its November the 5th hence why I wrote this article for today as the revolution in Britain was all about money, power and respect. My experience over the past twelve months has meant that I have simply lost respect for a small number of individuals who work in the Online Marketing world.

When it comes to business, people can be very shroud and will not always be watching your back as you may think. If people have experienced Money or power they can often become arrogant this is soon passed on to their staff members and portrayed to their clients.

This can lead to a loss in respect, loss in clients but if your business model is to concentrate more on what’s coming in the front door and not leaking out the back, then that is your business model.

Final Words

If you believe in your community, if you believe in yourself and want to gain respect then ask yourself…

  1. Do you work for a company that focuses on the next sale or the next renewal?
  2. Do you work for a company that has huge profit margins but unhappy clients?

Respect is earnt, money can still made through good old fashioned business and trust.

Power… You have the power it’s on you.


Written By
Neil Walker started working as an SEO in 2002 and rose to become Group CTO for Swedish Marketing Agency “Online Group” in 2010 he moved to consulting with agencies, in-house teams and PR companies. In 2014 he formalised this work and founded Made Notable Ltd a boutique digital consultancy based...
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