Allow me to offer a pre-emptive caveat - I own a successful search engine marketing company. Like most businesses, we are constantly trying to expand our client base - primarily through using the same search engine and internet marketing methods that we deliver to our clients. A quick search on terms such as "search engine optimization company" or "internet marketing company" on Google will demonstrate that we practice what we preach. As I write this, on a "clean machine" (one with all browser settings reset and cookies removed), my search engine marketing company ranks number 1 on Google for both of these phrases and the plural forms of the phrases. Based upon your past search tendencies, your specific location, and whims of the Google Gods, your mileage may vary, but you should find us near the top of the SERPs for those and hundreds of other related terms.

The Value of Integrating Different Internet Marketing Methods

The point here is not to boast - these results are due to the collective efforts of my expert team, not solely my own expertise. The point is to back up my contention that we practice what we preach and that the vast majority of our leads come from the internet marketing methods we apply to our own site. However, there has been much debate over the years in the search engine marketing community about whether it is proper or even hypocritical for a search engine marketing company to use other forms of advertising unrelated to internet marketing. The naysayers generally have a common argument: a quality search engine marketing company "shouldn't need" to engage in any forms of offline marketing. Depending on the goals one has for their search engine marketing company, this may actually be true for some. A smaller boutique firm or an independent consultant may have all the leads they ever want from their internet marketing methods. They may even be turning business away while they make blog posts about how companies such as mine shouldn't need to look offline for additional business opportunities.

However, this again relates directly to goals. If a search engine marketing company has capacity even after they maximize their online leads, and their business plan calls for maximum growth, what is the issue with engaging in other forms of marketing? As long as other marketing channels provide an acceptable ROI, I do not buy the argument that you "shouldn't need it," no matter what your situation.

The metrics are obviously what are important. It has been our experience that our own internet marketing methods provide us with, by far, the highest ROI of any of our other marketing efforts. However, this does not mean that the ROI from our online marketing efforts constitutes the baseline for what is ACCEPTABLE in terms of a return. In fact, we have done the math, and we know that we can afford to pay much more per lead.

Or, to look at this another way, we often work with companies that are embarking upon online marketing for the first time. These companies almost always already have successful offline marketing campaigns in place (after all, they are successful businesses). They are obviously delighted when they discover that their cost per lead or cost per sale with internet marketing is much lower than their other marketing efforts - but does this mean that they decide to shut those other successful channels down? Of course not.

And do we, as a responsible search engine marketing company, advise them that they should shut down those channels and put all of their eggs in the online basket? Of course not. We just enjoy the fact that our internet marketing methods provide the best bang for their buck.

Nobody can deny that the advent of various internet marketing methods has been a game-changer. Some forms of traditional advertising may even be on their last legs. Trade show attendance is down. Magazines and newspapers are in decline. I can't remember the last time a door-to-door salesperson came up to my house* (except those selling a particular religion - but that's a different story).

However, some channels, in our experience, still can provide exceptional returns. Direct mail, done properly, still works for us. Channel partnerships with offline marketing businesses can be profitable. Offline PR, when done properly, provides our search engine marketing company with exceptional exposure and returns. As long as we are achieving acceptable margins on these endeavors, we will continue to use them. And I will continue to stand incredulous when I hear from those who tell me that we shouldn't.

*Unless you count Girl Scouts peddling cookies.

March 4, 2010

Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue, which was recently named the number one search engine optimization company in the world by PromotionWorld. Scott has contributed content to many publications including Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004), MarketingProfs, ZDNet, WebProNews, DarwinMag, SiteProNews, ISEDB, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue serves local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, DS Waters, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Visit to request a custom SEO guarantee based on your goals and your data.


Hi Scott - it's almost become a moralistic judgment whether an SEO business should advertise outside of the SERPs circles. I'm in complete agreement with your sentiment. As an independent SEO consultant myself, I rely purely on inbound leads from my own website or, for the most part, referrals. However, any business that sees a positive ROI on an advertising method, whether on- or offline, shouldn't simply dismiss it from their marketing mix due to their own specialism.

Yes, an SEO business should practice what they preach, it's a tremendous business failure if any business offering an SEO service cannot position themselves amongst the most relevant search terms. It's the same scenario as visiting a professional painters and finding cracked walls and paint spillage - to trust a service provider you need to see their own work in action.

Great article


Great piece Scott....

And yes, we too rely on not only online marketing efforts but the old-school networking model too. We belong to our local and regional chambers, we sit on boards for same as well as BIA boards, non-profits too and we also do at least 2 pro bono SEO campaigns annually for deserving local non-profits.

Guess what I'm saying is that if you support your community -- there are rewards, eh!



Scott, good to see that you "practice what you preach". I agree that given unlimited resources a business should use all marketing campaigns that generate a healthy ROI, however seldom is that the case. So at what point would you advise cutting the lower ROI campaigns off?

I would also be curious what your firm thinks of media buys and if they factor into your online campaigns.

If you have time, my team is building a tool that pin-points low hanging fruit for business owners in the online marketing arena. Looking for early adopters and critics:

"It's the same scenario as visiting a professional painters and finding cracked walls and paint spillage - to trust a service provider you need to see their own work in action."

In theory yes. In reality maybe not so. With Google, etc, as the ultimate judges on a playing field of ever shifting sands, I'm pretty sure the painter has a much easier job. Further more, IMHO the ultimate job of SEO/SEM is to deliver not just leads but higher quality leads. That may or may not correlate to high placement on certain search terms.

Finally, a good SEO/SEM outfit should understand the big holistic picture - that includes non digital marketing methods. God knows there are already too many drinking only their only Kool Aid stuck on selling their own brand of a head stuck in the sand mindset.

This is a well written article. I think common sense is good for business. Just don't fall into the trap of you have to do this but not that.

Successful marketing needs multiple channels and needs to take a flexibility approach. Things change and thus, the marketing efforts have to be diversified.

This was a great post. I agree that diversification is necessary, so companies that have not followed others in the internet marketing should try it. But, if traditional marketing has proven to be a successful promotional tool, do not pull away from it just because others are.

I think the key to being a good marketer is tapping into many different traffic sources. It is not beneficial to put all of your eggs in one basket. You should be trying social media, rss subscriptions, classified sites, article directories, etc.

My only gripe about supplementing SEO work with PPC is the click fraud. Granted you can police it, but there's too much potential for it when clients have $5-$10 keywords.

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