LSG is hiring for a Senior Director of SEO position and I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of great SEOs over the past week. Thanks to the growth of our industry over the past few years and COVID-19, it feels like there’s an ocean of highly skilled talent out there. But the pandemic has exposed an ugly side of the digital marketing industry – most agencies are happy to take SEO money while simultaneously not giving a shit about SEO.
From my admittedly limited perspective, the agencies who were hit hardest post-SIP seemed to be those who had big PPC businesses and those who had SMB-focused service businesses (v SaaS subscriptions which seem to have kept chugging along). It kind of makes sense in that PPC spending came to a halt and many SMBs’ businesses hit a brick wall. We lost an SMB client the day SIP went into effect, but we didn’t lose any PPC clients, because we don’t do PPC.
In my conversations with candidates for the Director position, those who work at agencies have had a consistent refrain – “we lost a lot of PPC budget so they cut a few heads in the SEO group”. I am sure the PPC groups were not immune to cuts either, but over and over I have heard claims that an agency “doesn’t really care about SEO”. Sure they’ll sell it. They’ll even hire people to do it. But it’s not the business’ priority. That kind of makes sense in that SEO can be harder to service and measure than buying clicks. Perhaps most important, it can be harder to explain to clients, particularly clients who are worried about going out of business. Selling a steady stream of customers at a (hopefully) predictable cost per click probably feels like the path of least resistance so why fight it?
The challenge as I self-servingly see it is that to do SEO right, you have to fund it appropriately. Of course, there are cases where companies have great brands and products and everything just takes off on its own, but for most of us, this is not how it works. And SEO for most sites that want to compete, requires expertise at a wide range of unrelated disciplines – technical analysis, content strategy, content production, backlink acquisition, and data analysis, to name but a few. And let’s not forget about people and client management. Those are probably the top two ranking factors these days.
But it’s easy to sell that your agency does SEO, particularly if you have already sold a client on a PPC campaign. It’s basically free money for you. And it’s likely more profitable than the PPC business, but at lower volumes. So agencies like it, but maybe don’t care enough about it to give it the funding it really needs for its teams to succeed because it’s more profitable not to. And most clients maybe pay more attention to the $ you are spending every day for them on PPC because it’s so much more significant.
I am sure there are plenty of you out there who will say “not my agency!” and good for you. But one of the things COVID has exposed is how much we each care about a lot of things. And it seems like there are a bunch of you out there who treat SEO like Trump treats wearing a face mask.
ARE YOU HIRING FOR AN SEO POSITION? IF SO, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH AS WE HAVE PLENTY OF GREAT CANDIDATES AND CAN ONLY HIRE ONE. WE’RE HAPPY TO REFER THEM OVER.