By Julie Joyce
I know it's been a long time since the last installment but we're picking up again, this time with Sorbet Digital's lovely, lovely Carla Marshall! You may know Carla from Bronco as well, or maybe a Roxy Music fan club site. In any case, here she is in all her glory. Did I mention that she's lovely?
Please tell us about your background and how you got into the SEO
A: To cut a very long story short, I'd been working
in a full service digital agency for a few years on the admin side
but wasn't happy at all in that role. Rather than leave and waste all
that experience I decided to pick up as many digital skills as I
could while I was still there. The search team looked like they were
the most innovative department in the agency, and to be honest, they
were the ones having the most fun too. I tried my hand at basic SEO,
loved it, knew I was good at it and it all snowballed from there.
Just wish I'd done it years ago to be honest. In terms of my
background, I studied English at Oxford but have done everything from
being a nanny in Paris to being a shop assistant in Harrods.
How do you manage to work for Bronco and run your own agency? Have
you experienced any conflicts with the two?
A: I’m very
lucky to be in the position where I’m part of one of the best SEO
teams in the UK but I also get to run my own company. Sorbet Digital
had been going for about a year when a post became available at
Bronco and I didn’t think I’d be much of an SEO if I didn’t at
least apply for it. I’ve always been upfront and honest with Dave &
Becky about Sorbet and there hasn’t been any conflict between the
two agencies - when I’m working for Bronco, all my efforts are
focused on those clients and vice versa for my Sorbet accounts. I’ve
always been good at organising and compartmentalising my workload so
that helps a great deal of course.
Q. I know that you do
SEO and PPC both. Which area is most enjoyable for you, and which is
most beneficial based on what you've seen with your
A: Although I totally appreciate the benefit
that a PPC campaign can bring to a client, it's SEO that really fires
me up. There's no doubt that for a new site, or one that has little
to no presence in the rankings, a good paid search campaign can make
all the difference in the early days. However, organic rankings stay
around long after the PPC budget has run out or been turned off so
a long term business strategy, excellent organic rankings are
the goal for me.
Q. If a client had number one organic
rankings for his top ten keywords and his brand, would this affect
your PPC strategy? If so, how? If not, why not?
A: It would
absolutely affect it, yes. In that situation it becomes all about the
conversion rates, the effectiveness of specific landing pages and the
ROI of one type of campaign over another. If a PPC campaign was
bringing in converting traffic then I’d be certainly recommend
continuing with it and use the data for the SEO campaign.
Let's talk about social media, something that is usually fairly
tricky to measure. Do you think that all websites should be marketed
on social media platforms? It seems that everyone is rushing to get a
Facebook page even when they aren't measuring the ROI and may not
have many fans.
A: I think that many people hugely
underestimate the time and effort it takes to run a really effective
social media campaign and think they can fling a Twitter account or
Facebook page up and be done with it. I’ve advised more clients NOT
to do that then I have to go ahead because it simply wasn’t
appropriate or they just didn’t have the resources to maintain the
momentum. Instead, I’ve tried to convey what social media is, as
opposed to what tools can be used, and build up the understanding and
enthusiasm that way. Social media is important but it’s just a huge
bag of nothing if the client doesn’t buy in to it or understand the
long term implications.
Does your typical strategy for inheriting a client differ from the
one you employ when a client is starting from scratch?
it has to really – but surprisingly not that much. For me, there’s
as much of a learning curve with an established site as there is with
a new one and I tend to do the same kind of keyword research,
competitor analysis and on and off page review with both. You can get
much more information from an established site of course (well,
hopefully) which can be super useful but I’ll still tend to
approach new accounts from roughly the same starting point.
I've seen some pretty messed up link profiles from clients who come
to us, and while I'd love to clean them up, sometimes the client says
no. As you know, clients don't always take our advice. Would you
agree to keep working with a client who rarely, if ever, listened to
your advice and wanted to do something that you thought would be
harmful for him or her?
A: It’s very, very difficult
because I’ve seen the kind of damage that can be done and my
conscious won’t let me stay quiet. Empowering the client with some
SEO knowledge can be a very beneficial thing for both parties but
conversely, a little knowledge is also a dangerous thing and it’s
in this situation that it becomes a problem. I’ve reluctantly
parted company with one client because they absolutely refused to
believe that duplicate content and deleting pages with decent TBPR
was an issue....
Q. If I came to you with $5000 and a
shiny new website with 5 pages of decent, but not exciting, content,
how would you have me invest that money in order to get started?
great content, more pages to hold that great content, inbound links
from guest posting and elsewhere, a PPC campaign if appropriate,
content generation for article placements......whatever it
Q. Any thoughts on how the UK and US SEO
industries are different from each other? What about differences
between the UK and Europe?
A: When I first started in the
industry I think that the US was a couple of years ahead in terms of
knowledge but the UK seems to have caught up – or perhaps that’s
just because I work with Dave Naylor who’s pretty much the first
one to know what’s going on anyway LOL
Q. Are there
clients that you would refuse to work with for whatever reason? When
I first started I thought everyone deserved a shot, but then I
encountered someone marketing something so truly distasteful that I
couldn't do it.
A: There *are* one or two things that I'd
really rather not work on to be honest. I'm a pretty strict veggie so
I couldn't really see myself putting long hours or much enthusiasm
into finding links for meat and I'm a bit claustrophobic too so even
the thought of optimising a pot- holing or caving website has me
Fun ones finally...so stop pretending to be bored.
Q. Has Dave Naylor ever
really, really scared you? How much does he curse at work
A:Dave is a big pussycat, the only time I've
ever been really scared is when I thought he was going to drive Bob
the Campervan through the office wall one morning. As for
cursing at work, it's pretty compulsory in the Bronco office. All in
context of course.
Q. Roxy Music is touring
and you've said you don't want to see them in case they suck. What
other bands from that era would you see? And don't say none, damn
A: My first memories of Roxy are from the early 80's so
we're really talking Duran Duran, Japan, Scritti Politti, Soft Cell,
Heaven 17, ABC, The Human League, New Order and other
stuff that was coming out of Factory plus indie pop like Aztec
Camera. Thank God for Spotify so I can listen to these
bands on a continuous loop..:-)
Q. If you had to pick
5 SEO mates to be stuck in a pub with on a rainy day, who would they
be and what would you argue most about?
are far too many industry people I want to meet, or meet again, that
there’s no way I could narrow it down to 5. That’s such a lame
answer isn’t it? Haha
Q. What non-SEO blogs do you
my God, I read loads. I’m obsessed with conspiracy theories, the
crazier the better, and anything on cryptozoology so I usually treat
myself to a couple of hours of searching for that type of stuff on
Stumbleupon for a couple of hours a week. Otherwise it’s mostly
blogs about pop culture, cupcakes, New York and the iPad.
Well that concludes Carla's part but I'd like to point out two things.
1. Carla refused to write my SEO haiku. For that I respect her.
2. In order to annoy an English major at Oxford, I decided to use a period after the Q and a SEMI-COLON after the A in this interview. Take that!!