The dirty field of Content & SEO in 2023.
A place where digital cowboys freely sell their snake oil to unassuming businesses. No arrests have been made. Though many websites have paid the ultimate price for the shortcuts taken by their agency partners.
The truth is, most agencies (SEO in particular) are stuck in paradigms that punish their staff and their clients. From prioritising profit over performance to taking on clients that clearly aren’t ready for their help.
Burned bridges pervade the digital marketing landscape, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many.
But it’s not all bad news.
A mindful, contrarian approach can yield uncommon results. And systems thinking can turn the uncommon into a streamlined process to be rinsed and repeated for success.
The following lists 9 reasons why Growth Partners Media has become a secret weapon for many savvy software brands all over the world.
Starting with why
What’s the reason your business exists in the first place? Is it really what your marketing portrays to people… or is it about enriching key stakeholders? Most of us are too busy to stop and think about why we’re really doing something in a big-picture sense. And often, certain values are implicitly prioritised at the expense of almost everyone involved.
These values are typically Wealth and Status.
Most agencies operate in high-pressure, stressful working environments with tight deadlines and high churn rates across the board. These businesses look to maximise profit at the detriment of their own staff and clients, often because they don’t know any better.
By bringing a conscious approach to our work, we learn that other values must be incorporated to create a successful, long-term team as well as happy, long-term clients.
At Growth Partners Media, these values include:
- Meaningful work
Much of the above is implicit and demonstrated and learned through the behaviours of team members. This way, they’re naturally picked up by others, particularly when driven by the founder and other senior leadership staff.
We’re far from perfect, but we have a working culture to celebrate. And of course, we still make money! But we do it while operating on a win-win with all parties involved.
Operations that put the rest to shame
The way Growth Partners has been structured from the ground up has been a deliberate, conscientious process.
From productising our services, to how we plan projects and deliver training programs for staff:
Autonomy and systems are central to the way we manage our day-to-day work.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) form the backbone of our services. These are fully-fleshed out docs, often thousands of words long that cover processes step-by-step through text as well as video:
The above is just one example of several dozen documents we have split between our core services, general operations and more.
These SOPs allow team members to be trained quickly and enjoy more autonomy with their work, while also maintaining the quality of our services.
Templates, smart rules and automations are the names of the game here. When we combine these with SOPs, we bring clarity to our day-to-day tasks and collaborate effectively.
From task managers for personal day-to-day work:
To collaborative kanban boards to track client links:
And dedicated projects for services that need them:
Approaching our projects in this structured, deliberate fashion allows us to operate with fewer blockers, less ambiguity and less stress. With fewer meetings, disruptions and more work getting done in a shorter timeframe.
Dedicated training programs
Some of our services are more complex than others.
For example, Herd Links is a differentiating service we created, allowing brands to diversify their link profiles in a “natural” and powerful way. This hinges on landing links on some of the best community websites on the internet. The challenge comes from various areas, from navigating complex forum requirements to avoiding getting banned thanks to eagle-eyed moderators.
To deliver this service at scale to a consistently high level, we created our own internal training program for any content writer that works on Herd Links client campaigns:
Creating these systems and processes took a lot of deep work.
Many agency owners shy away from this when they realise they don’t have any real systems in place.
Why? Because the scale of the task quickly becomes apparent. And they’re often caught between putting out fires, attending meetings and tackling an assortment of busywork.
End to end transparency & communication
When you’re working with any external partner on a project, transparency and communication are key to success. It’s so obvious that it’s pretty much a cliche at this point.
But why do so many content and SEO agencies hide behind redacted screenshots?
And why are they awkward about showing you the actual work they’re doing?
Some agencies have a good excuse. They signed an NDA with a client so they can’t publicly showcase their results in a case study. But this fails to build trust when you’re considering a new partnership.
If they’re weird about showing you their work, it means they have something to hide.
We bake transparency and communication into our work in several ways:
Live tracker sheets so clients can review work done in real-time.
Use a dedicated platform to manage client/agency relationships with full access to historical reports, messaging, billing info and more.
Clients can book check-in calls with us anytime.
We often show our work to clients (E.G a bespoke outreach sequence we created for them).
Frequent reporting of key data reduces the need for back-and-forth messaging.
A clearly defined onboarding process so clients know exactly what’s going on.
Nothing revolutionary, right? But still, a standout modus operandi given the state of most content and SEO agencies out there today.
Creative outreach campaigns
I’m a huge believer in the power of cold email. A perfect outlet to express creativity in a way that can also be data-driven.
Bust most companies fall at the first hurdle when it comes to outreach for things like backlinks.
They don’t dedicate the time to create something original and unique and resort to the same tired templates (and strategies) that we’ve all seen hundreds of times.
Instead of blindly following exhausted strategies preached on major SEO blogs (like the skyscraper technique ?). We come up with original angles as well as put a unique spin on known working strategies to make them stand out from the rest.
This approach also bleeds into how we create outreach sequences.
By being original, genuine and light-hearted in our messaging, we get responses like this:
Some people loved the emails so much, they even shared them on socials!
Ultimately, this approach allows us to land links on dream-tier websites for clients. Links that would be near enough impossible for many other agencies to land through their outreach efforts.
Going beyond vanity metrics
Traffic! Leads! Sales!
Digital marketing is supposed to be about helping you grow your bottom line. Instead, too many focus on sexy metrics with little substance. Like traffic for the sake of traffic without taking into account the bigger picture of the business.
Understanding your brand goes beyond traffic, leads and landing pages.
By asking the right questions:
an excerpt from our list of questions we ask new clients as part of their onboarding process.
And dedicating team-member time to studying your company, we can do more for you with our work. From learning about your sales process to digging into your ICP and conversion metrics, being better informed helps us get you better results.
A big part of what we do is educating and helping clients so they can make the right strategic decisions on their side. And we’re not afraid to push back if we feel something isn’t quite right.
SEO has never been more complex and companies often need a trusted advisor to help guide them to their destination.
Eating our own cooking
Growth Partners Media helps other businesses with their off-site SEO. But we also have a growing portfolio of sites that we own and run. Knowing the power of the work we do with the results we help achieve — it would feel silly to focus 100% of our efforts on client SEO.
So we eat our own cooking. Using the services we provide to companies on our own websites to grow their traffic, revenue and profit.
Growing our own projects means we have a vested interest in staying at the bleeding edge of content marketing and SEO. Often running experiments with new strategies and tools to see how we can do things better.
New strategies are often incorporated into operations with SOPs and executed by the team to take things to the next level for clients as well as for our own domains.
Quality reigns supreme
When I was new to SEO, around 8 years ago, I hired a company to help me grow my website traffic.
I didn’t know what to look for or how to vet an agency, so I paid this local one here in the UK around £200 per month thinking they would grow my site.
I was naive.
I didn’t understand enough about the industry to know that it was economically impossible to get results with this minute investment. But it’s that classic thing… you don’t know what you don’t know. And I didn’t know any better at the time.
But this one experience galvanised my curiosity and set me on a path to SEO mastery.
Slowly but surely, I honed my skills in this field. Learning how to write. Build websites. Reach out to people I didn’t know and build a relationship with them. Grow my website traffic. Convert visitors to email subscribers and customers.
This trial by fire took many years.
And I had my fair share of losses, but I also made some great progress, selling over $250K in online courses through affiliate marketing.
Going through every single moving part myself has given me a level of understanding that many don’t have.
Experience is the best teacher, as they say.
And when it comes to links, knowing what good looks like and knowing how to approach the conversation to land them has never been more valuable.
Questioning the status quo
Human beings are creatures that don’t like change.
Content marketing and SEO are fields that are always changing.
Questioning the status quo is a critical skill for leaders that want to succeed in today’s exponential age.
Sadly, ranking in Google is a zero-sum game. For you to gain, someone else needs to lose. So thinking outside the box is compulsory.
Sure, best practices exist for a reason but if we’re talking game-changing wins, you also need to be doing something different from your competition.
Enter Herd Links, a service we built from the ground up focused on diversifying your link profile and building E-E-A-T through editorial mentions on the best community sites in the world.
Think Quora, Reddit, Shopify Community, The Motley Fool, Houzz…etc.
Sites with thriving communities that are well moderated and full of quality user-generated content (a confirmed Google ranking factor).
Getting people talking about your best posts, products and services is a strong user signal that Google pays attention to. And in the context of acquiring backlinks for SEO, it helps your activities look as “natural” as they can be when coupled with guest-posting or outreach links.
Nobody is delivering this service at the level we are today.
It took us 18 months to build and perfect the complex, nuanced system we needed in order to deliver this at scale. This is a truly unique differentiator that has already helped several clients reach all-time highs.
Did you know that Growth Partners started as a Slack community? We’ve built relationships with hundreds of SAAS companies, bloggers and other site owners, to give you exclusive access to A-grade sites.
This goes way beyond your average “we partner with other companies for mutual benefit”:
We created a partnership system from the ground up to automate and streamline the process of collaborating with other companies for acquiring backlinks:
From onboarding templates:
To master and partner sheet tracking systems:
These systems are also connected to our Asana through Zapier, so we can do things like follow up on pending partner links at the right time without manually sifting through spreadsheet data.
A refreshing alternative
Growth Partners has been built from the ground up in a very intentional way. A way that prioritises well-being, efficiency and results for the clients we work with.
We separate ourselves by being ourselves. And refusing to conform to the mediocre norms that pervade the search marketing landscape. As a fully remote team with no offices, we keep things lean and mean and focus on what matters:
Getting outsized results and working with great people that push us to grow and develop into the best version of ourselves.