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Who Knows a Great SEO/SEM Consultant?

By - May 21, 2006

I get mail from folks from time to time asking me for help finding just the right SEO/SEM consultant. Often they don’t want to hire an agency, yet, they’re instead looking for an individual who has business experience and marketing smarts, someone whose brain they can pick to help them with very specific goals. I’ve usually sent these folks to one place or another, hoping it worked out. But now, since I’m also starting down the path of being an AdWords advertiser, I also might be looking for someone like this. So I thought, why not ask my readers, who are the smartest folks out there on these issues, who they think might fit the bill. Here’s a typical email, which I got this weekend, from a very senior designer (brand name is taken out…)



As you may know I direct a group of brands, one of which is (very cool, well known brand). We have had considerable success over the last few years on all fronts, yet as you know well, the marketing of brands is constantly shifting with the growing importance of the web.

(Very cool, well known brand) is now embarking on a complete review and plan for its internet strategy, and one component that is needed urgently is great consultancy on its search engine optimization and key word search marketing plans.

Could you recommend who I am our team could work with to develop these plans? I don’t think this is an agency but a person/consultant for whom this work would be a day or so of consultancy, then leading to a more regular (one day a month) consultancy. If this person then leads us to an agency (we have a media agency at present doing regular media) for this piece then that is fine, or even to the hiring inside the company of a person or people around the constant need to be first and best in class in this category.

So, if you have ideas for who might fit this bill, email me, or post in the comments. Thanks!

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27 thoughts on “Who Knows a Great SEO/SEM Consultant?

  1. :LOL

    Need anyone ask….the obvious answer is…..

    Search Engines Web

    BTW:
    Look at Google’s logo today

  2. Hi John,

    Just sent you an email with my information; we met twice, once at Webmasterworld Pubcon NOrleans and more recently in NYC last September.

    One thing to keep in mind (and you go to several conferences, including Search Conferences) is AdWords works best when you have a very large keyword list so you can go after the long tail.

    Hope this helps,
    Marshall

  3. Mark says:

    Hi John

    I have just started my own consultancy business in the arena of Search Engine Marketing. I am still getting my site prepped (should be done in a couple of weeks), however the main part of my business is going to be consultancy, preparing strategies for businesses worlwide and maintaining their online marketing strategies.

    Please do not hesitate to drop me an email, visit my website (it’s just a contact page right now), or tell your contacts to email me.

    I currently work for one of the largest search marketing firms in the world, however I feel limited by their product range. If you’d like me to have a look and offer my suggestions for this friend of yours, please let me know. i am looking for exposure, and a great client is the right start for me.

    Thanks

    Mark

  4. You Have Some Nerve says:

    Unbelievable! Ask us to help you get some kudos for information that you have been fronting the whole time towards others. You’re a fake!

  5. Alpha says:

    The straight truth – the “smartest” guys are not available, unless the deal is substantial. Consultancy rates are peanuts compared to the value that can be extracted from SEO/PPC.

    Under that level, ask the guy who has been commentating on this area for longer than most, for recommendations. I’m sure he’ll see you right.

  6. Keith Cash says:

    This is a very good question.

    Should I add my name to the list or not??? oh the decisions.

  7. Mike Levin says:

    Hi John. We met at Coliseum Books in NYC, and you know my boss, Connie. I’ve been in the SEO circles since 1998 as one of the early moderators at JimWorld Search Engine Forums. Today, I’m with Connors Communications in NYC. We have gone very technical and have even developed our own application for SEO, MyLongTail, which we are just now making available to the public for beta-testing. We’ve used it for many years as in-house tool. I mention this, because one measure of an SEO firm’s capabilities, in addition to the case studies it can provide, are how goes above and beyond. This is one of the many ways we keep ourselves hyper-competitive.

    Also, our successes include major hotel chains, online versions of major magazines, and many technology start-ups. One of the things that makes us different is that I actually believe outside firms can never do as good of a job as someone on the inside who really gets it due to their access to the systems, etc. That’s why one of our specialties is helping to identify, train and evangelize those people. Often times, SEO is a matter of providing examples, building consensus within an organization, precise clarity on what the projects will involve, and the confidence (often times within IT departments) to carry them out. These new 3 c’s of SEO was my main point when I spoke last month at the Magazine Publishers Association conference. We are always happy chat.

  8. Chris Blake says:

    Just be aware that alot of money being spent on Google SEO is going to waste right now. Since the Big Daddy update, the SEO forums are running red-hot with webmasters and SEO specialists who find that doing all the “right things” by Google (I mean following the WEbmaster Guidelines, listening to Matt Cutts and GoogleGuy) is starting to have an inversely proportional relationship to their SERPs rankings!!
    Get your PPC advisers on board now, but wait for the shakeout to appoint SEO.

  9. I highly recommend Wil Reynolds and Seer Interactive in Philadelphia … http://www.thinkseer.com … Wil and I have worked together for years. He’s been in the SEO space for that long, as well.

  10. Joe Hunkins says:

    One reason I stick to my own projects rather than consulting is that client expectations are WAY out of whack with reality. One day plus a day per month to design a major brand PPC SEM strategy is … not realistic.

    In Travel many now get more than 50% of business from online yet spend almost all marketing money offline, foolishly thinking the offline spend creates more than a tiny amount of online activity.

    If the brand is just fishing for good people it makes sense to test them with small assignments, but there are mom and pops that spend more time than a day a month (which is partly why some mom and pops are utilizing PPC and SEM better than many major brands).

  11. Mike Levin says:

    The best examples of SEO can be demonstrated across broad stretches of time and numerous engines. Those who remember me from the Search Engine Forums day will recall my compulsive focus on “across-the-board” results. If the same competitive keyword can be shown to appear in the top spots in Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask, you may have a winner. Quality SEO work transcends any particular engine. The Big Daddy update should almost be a non-incident.

    The best benchmark keywords for making comparisons are short 2-word combinations that are mainstream enough to show up in Google Trends. Three-words combos often becomes non-competitive/low-traffic and less useful as an indicator of a good SEO firm. And remember, an SEO firm should be able to address your “must have” keywords, plus the “long tail” of search as it relates to your market. All the obscure-yet-relevant hits added together often outnumber your top performing pages.

  12. Good SEO SEM guys can’t be hired. They make too much money right now to be affordable to firms. If you would like me to elaborate I would be happy to, but this is definitely the case because I know a number of the big guys and right now they print millions off of it.

  13. adam says:

    Man, remember when SEO/SEM meant knowing how to get your site submitted to Yahoo?

    Seems like it’s going to get increasing more difficult for mom/pop internet shoppes to keep up…first, it was hard to convince them they needed a website, now they have to hire someone for SEO/SEM. Wondering what the next step is.

  14. Mike Levin says:

    Sure, Bradley. I’d be interested in hearing the elaboration. I’m fairly certain it goes something like those who can arbitrate other peoples’ traffic can do affiliate business, run advertising, create reverse lead generation systems, and the like. While I’m one of those guys, I still choose to work for a PR firm in NYC. So, talented SEO people can be found. But yes, I agree. They are expensive. And every medium sized company has a latent SEO guy deep in its bowels just waiting to be identified and challenged.

    And for adam, it is still easy for the mom/pop Internet shops to keep up. It’s just different and you have to venture into that long tail of search. Put the third or fourth keyword into your search term, and it’s just as Wild West as it was in the spammy days of AltaVista. There’s a lot of free keyword real estate up for grabs out there in the three/four keyword space where the traffic is low, but you can own huge swaths of land.

  15. TagMan says:

    Lazy buggers. Just refer ‘em to sempo.org and be done with it. Let ‘em find their own agency or consultant.

  16. Mike Levin says:

    SEMPO that costs $299 to join? At some point you have to ask for references, and who better than the guy who wrote the book on search!

  17. Rand Fishkin says:

    John – this list should help you out; I refer to it constantly (as do many in the SEO/M business) – http://www.seomoz.org/articles/recommended.php... You can also search Google for “Recommended SEO”

  18. joel cohen says:

    You’re going about this in the wrong way. You should check out competitors and others categories and see who is ranked at the top, then talk to them for referrals.

  19. Shig Odani says:

    Joel – you really think that competitors are going to tell you how they got to the top?

  20. Bill says:

    heck, just go to Yahoo or MSN and see who comes up in the SERPs for something like “Natural Search” and hire them.

  21. Lee Odden says:

    Sounds good Bill. Try Google for:

    natural search
    natural search optimization
    natural search engine optimization

    There are only two SEO firms that rank top 5 for all three phrases.

  22. Lee Odden says:

    Rand’s list is a very good one.

    Good suggestion Bill. Try Google for:

    natural search
    natural search optimization
    natural search engine optimization

    There are only two SEO firms that rank top 5 for all three phrases.

  23. Lee says:

    Um, not sure why my comment posted twice. Please delete one if you like. Thx!

  24. Brian Carter says:

    Hi, I’m an experienced, good, qualified adwords individual but not yet totally bogged down with existing clients, so check out my site. Thanks! Brian

  25. I can take a crack at it! I’ve about 6 years of Search Engine Marketing experience and I’m probably very affordable since I’m based in the Philippines. :) You can check out my new site at http://www.sem-pros.com and see if I can get the job done. I can only work remotely though unless someone is interested in relocating me and helping me with the entire process.

    I’m used to telecommuting so I see no problem with it.

  26. Well, it is very difficult to trust SEO companies nowadays. Even big brands like seoinc.com can not gurantee success for themselves; their own page rank in Google has dropped to zero. So the best course is to to follow normally acceptable SEO techniques. If your product or service has something which people like, others will automatically link to your site and you can get a good traffic, incoming links and better ranking in search engines.

  27. Larry Lim says:

    I would recommend talking a look at consultants in Asia for the obvious cost advantage. I’m an SEO and Google Adwords consultant based in Singapore, and have achieved competitve rankings in the global arena. I also own and manage a network of websites, serving over 5 million pageviews a month.