Neil Palmer, CEO of The SEO Works, tells us how they help leading brands realize their online potential with award-winning SEO, PPC, Social & Web.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded The SEO Works.
Neil Palmer: After I got to university, I knew I wanted to own and run my own business. My business administration degree gave me various skills, but I was still unsure which industry I would work in. I started an e-commerce business at 24 years old, selling large white goods on the Internet. The business grew quickly, and the majority of the success was on the back of the excellent Google rankings we achieved. I did my own SEO for our 5 websites, and we ranked number 1 for hundreds of phrases, including “kitchen appliances,” “cookers,” and other high-volume search terms.
After 3-4 years, it became clear that there was hardly any margin in the industry, so I started SEO Works from a small office in Sheffield. I worked alone for three years before joining Simon, my business associate. We now have more than 100 employees from our Sheffield headquarters.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Neil Palmer: I find it tricky to identify anyone’s habit, but the one thing I’ve always done has been to learn from successful people. This consisted of friends, business contacts, and online training. As an entrepreneur, having confidence in what you do is the most vital thing.
How does The SEO Works market its product/services online?
Neil Palmer: Unlike many agencies who seem not to have enough time to focus on their own marketing, we practice what we preach! This means dedicating time each and every month to our own online marketing. We’ve managed to build great organic SEO rankings over time (in what is an extremely competitive market), and we supplement this with paid advertising and a lot of organic social media. We position ourselves as digital growth experts, and the amount of content, webinars, and whitepapers we develop offering free advice is huge.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Neil Palmer: We use a range of tools – from the advertising platforms of the main paid channels through to our industry-leading SEO monitoring platform. We use HubSpot as our CRM and marketing hub. Google Analytics is also huge for us – it lets us measure our efforts and their impact.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Neil Palmer: We try to include many value-based questions as part of our recruitment process to ensure we are getting people who align with our company values. We tend to search for continuous personal development in our team members. Integrity is an important part of this since it shows that people do what they have said or failed to live up to their word and admit failures. Obviously, skills to do the job come into it too.
How are you funding your growth?
Neil Palmer: We’ve completely funded our growth organically through reinvesting profits back into the business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Neil Palmer: Our competitors are classified as large search marketing agencies. We moved into the category last year. We’ve always acknowledged the importance of maintaining our relationship with customers. It’s about satisfying them and their needs, not just increasing sales. Our mission is to help our clients enhance their online presence, hence our strategy.
Our award cabinet is nearing a state of breaking with all the accolades we have earned in the last 5 years. Our goal is to continue in this manner for many years to come, boosting our already excellent reputation.
Our MD, Ben, and Ops Director, James, are very hands-on with every aspect of our business, and we understand how to support and develop team members so they can enjoy their work and perform at a high level. Ben and James are the main reasons our ship is so happy and why we continue to meet the challenges of growth with little disruption.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Neil Palmer: We have many clients, and our mission with all of them is to help them grow online. One of our clients is an oak furniture brand, and we have helped them go from being a local retailer to competing online with some of the biggest brands, with over 600% organic online growth in a year. In turn, their online revenue has gone from thousands per month to over £100k per month – generating jobs and a great return on investment.
Your final thoughts?
Neil Palmer: The best way to reach the top is to quit worrying about the top! At the beginning of my business career, I observed that worrying too much about achievements in my future was counterproductive. At this moment, your current role is the one you should be excelling in; if you work hard every day to be excellent at it, success will flow naturally for you.