The world of ad agencies has come a long way since Mad Men’s Don Draper was running things. To be considered a full service agency today, social and search teams are now integral to an agency’s overall offerings.
Hillary Glaser serves as Lowe Campbell Ewald’s SEO Manager, an ad agency that defines itself as a, “Full service, fully integrated advertising and marketing communications agency.”
“The SEO department at Lowe Campbell Ewald has been around for a several years, but the title of SEO Manager is still relatively new,” says Hillary Glaser.
Joining the firm in 2012, Glaser got her start in SEO more than a decade ago creating social media and marketing content as a copywriter and editor for travel and e-commerce websites.
“Coming to an agency was new for me,” said Glaser who worked in-house leading a marketing team prior to her current role. Based in Detroit, Glaser says Lowe Campbell Ewald’s SEO team members are split among the agency’s analytics and media departments, but work with all internal departments.
Marketing Land wanted to find out just how an SEO Manager fits into the broad landscape of a full service ad agency. Not only was Glaser was kind enough to accept our request for an interview, she offered in-depth, thoughtful responses to our five most pressing questions.
5 Questions with Lowe Campbell Ewald’s SEO Manager Hillary Glaser
Amy Gesenhues: How do you see yourself, or better your role as the SEO Manager, in the overall scope of your agency’s offerings?
Hillary: Great question! The role of SEO Manager is really just a title for someone who thrives in teamwork.
Lowe Campbell Ewald is gracious enough to give us time to expand and build on our role as search strategists and analysts. We aid some accounts in understanding their SEO counterparts when the client has a long-standing partnership with another company. We help teach and guide the agency’s account executives in understanding the reports they are given and what questions to ask of those counterparts.
In some respects, we’re consultants for the accounts we are not working on directly. In other respects, we’re teachers – we don’t stop at account executives, we also educate our clients. If they are taught how to understand the information we give them, they become partners, rather than clients.
For myself, I like to think that I’m an educator as well as a contractor. I don’t like to delegate – I like to get my hands dirty. I like to find new ways of producing results for Lowe Campbell Ewald’s clients – I can’t do that if I just watch from a distance.
Amy Gesenhues: Is your SEO team included in new client pitches, or are you brought into the planning phase once a project has been defined?
Hillary Glaser: As a resource, the SEO team is brought in at all phases of a new client pitch, not just at the beginning – and that timing varies depending on specific needs. Together, we look at the back-end of a site, the competitive nature of organic search for the potential client, the communal atmosphere, and the rankings of key phrases.
We work closely with the New Business team to provide a holistic view of the potential client’s search presence and website, while also sharing investigative research that may identify new opportunities for the brand.
The collaboration doesn’t stop at new business – we like to look at our clients from a wide lens. We understand that when an ad plays on television, one of the first actions a viewer will do is look up a topic or new keyword on a search engine. With that understanding, we plan. The SEO team works closely with the agency’s creative teams to help identify terms we believe people will search for.
Similarly, we work with the content strategists when planning content for a website or campaign. Naturally, we also partner with the paid media teams – especially paid search – so we’re not cannibalizing our own efforts. We prefer to work with each other, rather than against each other.
Amy Gesenhues: Where does SEO strategy fit into a campaign’s planning process?
Hillary Glaser: Our SEO team doesn’t refer to its work as campaigns – instead, we prefer to optimize. If our client’s goal is lead generation, we plan and optimize around that goal. If their goal is to increase revenue, we strategize ways to facilitate that in organic search.
The first thing we do is talk it out – we start brainstorming and collaborating with the analytics teams, account people, and other digital and traditional disciplines to better understand the needs of the client. Then we take our own search ideas, strategize, and circle back with the team. This tactic works really well because it creates a collaborative environment that facilitates the merging of ideas for an overall strategy.
Amy Gesenhues: Can you share any recent SEO success stories and what was involved?
Hillary: Some of our more successful projects include working with Consumers Energy on their customer engagement initiative.
We were able to illuminate some back-end issues they had with their website that were hindering their site’s performance in organic search. We supplied them with a tech audit to help them understand the issues at hand and gave them recommendations on how to fix high-priority issues.
We also advised their social media team – through our social media team – how to properly insert keywords into their social media updates to help people recognize specific terms in social media prior to turning to search engines for clarification.
Amy Gesenhues: Where do you think most brands fail when it comes to SEO?
Hillary Glaser: Most brands don’t recognize SEO as a long-term investment. When work is done on a project basis, the site’s performance can really be hindered. You can’t just build and drop – you have to foster and work with the site.
SEO is also looked at as being an expensive and unnecessary requirement since you can’t necessarily quantify. In reality, SEO shouldn’t be quantified – it should be analyzed, produced, tested, and reanalyzed.
Many brands also expect SEO work to be done quickly without understanding that building a good standing in search engines takes time! Some clients will openly tell you that they have a friend who has a nephew who can do SEO. They assume it’s an easy skill, but it isn’t. No matter how many years you work as an SEO person, you’re always learning because algorithms are always changing.
My advice to them would be to hire one person to manage the SEO for their site – or one person for a section of their site if their site is large and has numerous programs. One of Lowe Campbell Ewald’s amazing account supervisors has a saying: if you have one dollar, spend it on search.