Forming an anonymous company is something every serious business should consider. There is no benefit to putting your personal information online. Have you ever considered posting bank account numbers to Facebook or Tweeting it? Of course not. So why create a company in a state that forces you to make private information public?

A private company has the benefits of a traditional company, i.e. limited liabilities and potentially lower taxes. It also allows you to avoid aggressive creditors, needy friends and family, and inquisitive neighbors.

Going into business makes you a high value target. However, many attorneys are lazy and will not aggressively pursue you if they cannot easily find your assets. Nobody sues the homeless and you will appear broke.

Anonymous LLC  US States

Perhaps you have already made this mistake – you set up an LLC in some state and all a creditor had to do was check the secretary of state’s website to find out that you were a member or manager of that LLC. Once a creditor discovers that you are a member or manager of an LLC, they know that you are conducting business and will assume that you have deep pockets.

In fact, each year, more than 15 million civil cases are filed in the United States. Many of these cases are brought by people looking to score a big payday by filing a frivolous lawsuit against a business owner, investor, or someone they believe to have deep pockets.

Nowadays, every investor or business owner has a target on his or her back, if for no other reason than the fact that lawyers need to recover money to stay in business. What makes it even worse is that it is now easier than ever for someone to find out your personal information on the internet. This includes your business interest and your ownership of assets.

The Importance of Anonymity

Because of the issues outlined above, anonymity is a key aspect when it comes to asset protection. Anonymity means ensuring that no one knows what assets you own, except those who need to know.

Staying anonymous is a good way to protect yourself and avoid a lawsuit. But, many investors and business owners fail to achieve anonymity because their attorneys don’t know what they are doing, what their client’s goals should be, or where the true risks lie.

However, in a few states (Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware, and New Mexico), it is amazingly simple to protect your assets with a business structure that will not require your name to appear on any public document and where no one will ever know of your involvement.

In these states, one of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve anonymity with regards to your assets is by filing an anonymous LLC that will then take ownership of these assets.

What is an Anonymous LLC and How Does it Work?

Each state requires certain information to be disclosed when you form a business entity. This information generally includes, amongst other things, the names of the officers and directors of a corporation, the general partner of a partnership, or the manager of an LLC.

However, in some states, particularly Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware, and New Mexico, once formation documents are filed, there is no need to update the required information. This allows you to use a temporary owner, director, manager, or general partner called a nominee when forming the LLC.

The nominee’s name and contact information will show up on the public record. But, immediately after, the nominee will resign so that you can assume control as the reappointed and undisclosed manager of the LLC.

The Benefits of Forming an Anonymous LLC

The ability to use a nominee during formation is the key to creating an anonymous LLC that can be used to cloak your ownership of certain assets, thereby shielding them from your creditors and protecting them from lawsuits.

It works as follows:

  1. You create an LLC in New Mexico, for example, using the name of a nominee manager.
  2. After the LLC is filed, the nominee manager resigns and you become the undisclosed manager of your company.
  3. Once this entity is set up, you can then create multiple member-managed LLCs in other states that will all point back to your New Mexico LLC.

When you set up a member-managed LLC, you must normally list the owner. But in this case, the only owner of record will be your New Mexico LLC.

If someone looks for the owner of the member-managed LLC, all they will find is the name of your New Mexico LLC. If they look at your New Mexico LLC, all they will find is the name of the nominee manager, who is no longer there.

This way, when a plaintiff’s lawyer runs a search on you to see what assets you have that can satisfy a lawsuit, they will not find any in your name. This can render creditors more willing to accept a settlement or even discouraged them from filing the lawsuit in the first place.

One anonymous LLC can provide an unlimited amount of protection for every LLC you create in all 50 states. And it all starts with forming an LLC with a nominee manager in New Mexico, or one of the other states where this is possible.

Additional LLC Benefits

This article has focused primarily on privacy, but there are additional benefits to starting a Corporation or LLC over operating as a sole-proprietorship. These include, but are not limited to, limited personal liability in case of a lawsuit, potential lowering taxes, and appearing more professional when dealing with clients. Please visit our website for additional information.


By Cynthia Davies
Founder, Cindy’s New Mexico LLC Formation Service

The summer is drawing to a close, and even as adults, we just can’t shake that back to school feeling. Why not lean into the nostalgia and think about what new things you’d like to learn and implement in your IM career? We can all pick up a thing or two and shake up our routines, and UnGagged Masterclasses are a great way to do just that.

For our debut conference in LA, we’re rolling out 6 masterclasses. That’s more than ever before, so you’ve got a huge range of subjects to choose from. The masterclasses are intimate classroom-style workshops, run for a full day after the conference. They provide you with in-depth knowledge and unrivalled access to our industry pros.

Which one will you choose?

Local SEO

Up your Local SEO game under the tutelage of Greg Gifford. He’s going to be giving you all the intricacies of Local SEO from the top down. You’ll cover recent updates, what influences local rankings, selling Local SEO to people who don’t get it, and much more besides. Greg has been in the Local SEO game for quite some time, and what he doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing. Greg can help you become a Local SEO hero.

Link Building

Take your Link Building to the next level with Judith Lewis. These days, Link Building can feel like dangerous territory. Striking the balance between building links and protecting yourself can be tricky work. That’s where Judith can help. She’ll show you safe ways to build your link profile, going over content that works, which tools to use, and what tactics to avoid. Judith is renowned in this industry, and she will teach you things you couldn’t even imagine.

Advanced SEO

Bruce Clay’s Advanced SEO Training is sure to blow your mind. This is your opportunity to get intensive, advanced level training from a true industry veteran. Bruce will give you everything you need to better understand SEO and exactly what you can do to make a difference for your business. If you don’t know who Bruce is, where have you been? He’s the father of many SEO techniques, so you’re going to learn a lot from him.

Paid Social

If that doesn’t cut it for you, then find out about Making Money with Paid Social, with the inimitable Marty Weintraub. Yes, it is possible to make money with Paid Social, despite data privacy restrictions, complex ad units and neutered targeting. Marty is going to show you exactly how it’s done. If you aren’t familiar with Marty, his exuberance and energy are unrivaled, so this masterclass is going to be stimulating and invigorating in the best ways.

Don’t miss this opportunity

Whichever workshop you choose, you are sure to walk away with your mind blown. At just $599 per person, our masterclasses are great value for money. So what are you waiting for? Get your new backpack ready, your pencils sharpened and your notebooks primed.

It’s time to go back to school.

These days, more and more professionals are getting their industry knowledge from the Digital Marketing conference circuit. From the latest in affiliate tactics or paid reporting to more holistic SEO overviews. But not all conferences are created equal and choosing the right one can be daunting, so how do you go about it? Reading an event agenda can give you a good overview of what to expect, but how can you tell if a session will offer valuable information? Will the speaker be bringing their ‘A game’ or will they simply be reading off the bullet points from their latest SEJ post?

So what is it that gets an UnGagged speaker fired up? What makes them so different? Allow me to explain.

UnGagged Speakers are UnConventional

This industry is constantly changing. With more conferences each year, it follows that there are more speakers all the time. In a lot of ways, that’s a great thing. It means that there are new ideas and new perspectives joining the fray, and keeping us on our toes. But it can also be confusing to work out who the real authorities are, especially since agencies are quick to bill their brand ambassadors as such. 

A great starting point is to familiarize yourself with the individuals. Some will be of the “those who can’t do, teach” ilk, while others will be sharing experiences from the trenches. Many will have videos of them in action, or their presentations will be on slideshare, so take a look before you attend a session in real-life. Attending local free conferences or meet-ups can be a great opportunity to check out some great local speakers as well; you’ve got nothing to lose and you might find a new favourite to keep an eye on. 

Things might be different if you’ve paid for your conference ticket. You don’t necessarily want to pin your money on an inexperienced speaker if you’re concerned about ROI. You’re already putting your valuable time on the line, and you might not want to put a dollar figure against the session too. Well, we like to take the guess-work out of it as much as possible. Our expert speakers are on stage for one reason; to share their best kept secrets, and most lucrative tactics. You might recognize some of the names from other conventions, but when they speak at UnGagged, they’re not sharing their usual “conventional” wisdom.  

You won’t hear the same talks wheeled out from these guys. At UnGagged, we’re all about finding new ground. Our goal is for attendees to walk away with ideas and information that no one else has. It’s something we feel really strongly about, and our UnGagged speakers are just as passionate about it. These pros are stoked to finally get a chance to talk about their accomplishments to people who will really appreciate it and recognize the wins.

We know that people come to UnGagged because they’re sick of what they’re hearing elsewhere. Our speakers are so excited at the opportunity to speak to an audience of the UnGagged calibre, that they bring their latest methods and successes to our stage, before there’s a chance to talk about it anywhere else. So if you want to hear the most cutting edge ideas and plans, there’s no other place to be.

UnGagged Speakers are UnCensored

As you may know, UnGagged is completely uncensored. What we mean by that, is speakers are free to say things they might not otherwise discuss at a big conference. We don’t record our sessions and we don’t allow any live tweeting or blogging. In some sessions, you can’t even take any photographs. So this conference isn’t just another collection of fluff and sales pitches. At UnGagged, speakers can freely discuss their expertise, without fear of being taken out of context, or giving away their best methods to the entire industry. 

Think about it. We keep our numbers pretty exclusive, and then no one is allowed to share the content outside of the event. So speakers are only sharing their good stuff with a few hundred people, rather than tens of thousands. That means they can be more candid about what they did, they can share resources and insider tips. Basically, they’re going to give much more away than at any other conference. So the actual person on the stage might be the same, but what they are saying is going to be so different.

UnGagged Speakers are UnRivaled

Digital Marketing speakers are actively looking for the opportunity to be bolder and discuss things that are more innovative than your typical big box conference might allow. They are fearless, unconventional, they like to test commonly held beliefs. But lots of conferences don’t give them the chance. We do. At UnGagged, speakers can get more details into their sessions, and make things are more actionable. But the best part is that UnGagged is a showcase of speakers finally finding a place where they can talk openly without looming corporate agendas. That’s what makes this conference so valuable.

Check out the speaker line-up for Los Angeles November 2019, and buy your ticket now.

Personalisation has been a snazzy buzzword for a little while now. For the past few years, as automation technology improves, customers have begun to expect a certain level of personalisation when dealing with a company. Which means that digital marketers have jumped on that bandwagon with gusto. But have we been doing it discerningly? Are we making sure our personalisation strategies actually help our CRO efforts?

Being in the world of digital marketing means that there are new technology developments, new pieces of software, and new trends all the time. It’s up to us to keep up with them all, if we want to stay relevant and competitive. But it’s not enough to blindly follow the latest gizmo without any analytical thought or consideration. We have to make these developments work for us, not the other way around.

So how can we make sure our personalisation strategies help CRO?

What are you personalising?

Thanks to automation and AI, there are all kinds of things we can be personalising for our customers. But does that mean we should be? Hopefully you’ll all agree that the answer is no. Personalisation can be expensive, so it’s not something to roll out willy-nilly. Plus, if you’re doing it all over the place, you’re likely to start annoying your customers, rather than helping (and ultimately, converting) them.

It comes down to easing pain points. Every customer journey has some speed-bumps or potholes along the way. It’s up to you to find out what they are, and apply personalisation to resolve them. It could be something tiny, like UX tweaks on a form, or it could be something massive, like targeted ad campaigns based on browsing behaviour. Either way, you need to understand the issues your customers face and find a way to remove them.

It will come as no surprise to any seasoned digital marketer that this means three things: surveying your customers, speaking to customer service teams, and testing, testing, testing. The key thing is to focus on the end goal. You are always working towards increasing your conversion rate. While that may sound obvious, it’s easy to forget when you’ve got higher-ups breathing down your neck, demanding personalisation in the wrong places, for the wrong reasons.

Why are you personalising it?

Which brings us neatly onto the question of why. Are you only personalising things because your boss said so? If you are, you’re going to need to stop. With personalisation, the clue is in the name. If it isn’t closely tied to the individual customer (the person), then it isn’t working. Your boss is not the customer and chances are, they never will be. Don’t fall into the trap of personalising for the wrong person. It’s an expensive and time-consuming mistake to make.

Thankfully, if you put time and effort into deciding what you are personalising, you’ve probably got a good idea of why you’re doing it too. The important thing is to keep this reason uppermost in your mind throughout the project. Don’t ever lose sight of why you’re personalising this particular thing and don’t let anyone steer you off course.

Managing upwards is no easy task, whether it’s a client, or your own CEO. But when you’re the specialist, particularly in a field that is constantly changing, you’ve got to stand your ground. Talking in terms of facts and figures is always the best option. When egos and emotions get involved, it’s much harder to see the wood for the trees and do what’s best for the business. If you bring it back down to actual statistics and realistic projections, then that’s hard to argue with.

Can you fix a misguided strategy?

If you’re already some way down the path with a strategy that doesn’t know what it’s doing or why, then all is not lost. As with anything in this wonderful industry, nothing is set in stone, and there are always more things to try. But you have to be willing to draw a line under your actions so far, and dedicate yourself to doing this right. The best personalisation is going to be different for every niche, every sector and every business, but as long as you are doing it for the right reasons, that’s what matters.

The biggest challenge might be convincing your bosses, and that’s no mean feat. But if you can get them to give you a chance, the improved conversion rates and increased revenue will speak for you. Pick your battles and fight them hard. Personalisation is a powerful tool, but only if it’s based on solid research and decent testing.

Nothing in the world of digital marketing comes for free. It would be nice if it did, but unfortunately, things just aren’t that simple. There’s a cost associated with everything, and a huge part of digital marketing is balancing that cost against the revenue it could generate in the long run.

Social Media Marketing can sometimes seem like a cheap option. The accounts are all free, and posting can just be part of someone’s job, right? That’s certainly the attitude many companies have. But when you think like that, it’s easy to miss the true cost of Social Media Marketing.

The true cost: regular posting

Anyone who has mastered the basics of Social Media Marketing will know that you have to post regularly to have any chance of success. If you don’t, your competitors will get in front of your audience first, and algorithms will push you further and further down people’s feeds.

You could be forgiven for thinking that regular posting is easy. It’s just a little update or an image, right? That attitude is going to get you nowhere. This kind of thinking treats your Social Media Marketing as an afterthought, when really, it’s an essential part of your arsenal. Posting regularly isn’t going to be cheap, but it is going to be worth it.

Hidden cost: market research. To post regularly, you’ve got to post things your audience cares about. That means, you’ve got to understand your audience. You could certainly pay out for a market research company to step in and help, but you don’t have to. Instead, dedicate time and money to analysing your audience’s behaviour and their engagement, and speak to your customer service team. This will help you understand your audience’s needs, their triggers, and what they want from you, so that you can deliver.

Hidden cost: quality content. Simple text content just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need images, graphics, videos and so on. All of those things take time and money to produce, whether you’re doing them in-house, or getting them from a third-party. You simply cannot scrimp on this – it’s the make or break of your social media efforts.

The true cost: user generated content

Another social media technique that’s often suggested is user generated content. If you’ve got an engaged audience, why not let them do some of the hard work for you? Re-posting content, asking for comments, polls and Q&As, and even competitions, are just a few of the ways that we’re advised to use UGC.

But is it as simple as that? Of course not. Nothing in digital marketing is that simple. There are costs associated with UGC too, and they aren’t all financial.

Hidden cost: managing UGC. No matter which approach you take with UGC, someone is going to have to take ownership of it. That could be monitoring hashtags and mentions to find things that are worth re-posting. It could be creating content from the results of a poll. Or it could be managing comments to make sure they don’t descend into chaos.

Because that’s the scary part of social media. What can start as a positive outpouring of love, can quickly become a nightmare. You’ve got to be prepared to reply to complaints and handle them, or to quash any arguments before they get out of hand. If you’re going down the UGC route, make sure you have the resources to manage it properly.

Hidden cost: unfavourable consequences. Sure, sometimes UGC is simple and innocent. You re-post something, you get some great engagement, you boost your community. Great. But sometimes things go wrong. It’s easy to fall foul of UGC. What if you re-post content from an individual who has some off-brand attitudes or connections? What if you accidentally share personal details such as usernames and handles?

These scenarios put fear into a marketer’s heart. They are the stuff of PR nightmares and can undo years of hard work in a flash. The cost of getting UGC wrong is too high to even think about. But you’ve got to know how bad it can get, because there’s nothing like a cautionary tale to make you do it right in the first place.

The true cost: influencer marketing

With the rise of social media, came the rise of influencers. So it’s no surprise that now is the time of influencer marketing. If there’s someone out there who ties into your brand values, and has a massive audience of their own, why wouldn’t you want to capitalise on that? And the beauty of social media is that there are influencers in every single niche.

To get influencer marketing right, you’ve got to have a proper strategy. This approach can have fantastic ROI, if you put the right structures and goals in place. But you also have to be wary of the true cost of influencer marketing.

Hidden cost: finding the right influencer. There are so many influencers these days. Even if your niche seems a little obscure, you’re still likely to find more influencers than you need. So you’ve got to make the right choices. Don’t be put off by showy numbers. Just last month an influencer with 2 million followers couldn’t even sell 36 t-shirts. This game is about quality, not quantity. An influencer with a few thousand engaged followers is going to be so much more valuable than someone with millions of casual followers.

You’ve also got to be sure that the person you collaborate with is reliable. If you’re contracting someone to post about your brand, you want them to come through and do it. You’ll be able to tell how professional and dedicated someone is by the way they communicate with you. If you don’t get the right responses and respect from an influencer, walk away from the situation. Better that you take longer to secure the right partnership, than jumping in too fast with someone who isn’t the right fit for your brand and your goals.

The bottom line

Have you spotted the theme? If you want to kill it with Social Media Marketing, you need to do your research. You can’t just come into this game half-cocked and expect it to pay off. Know your audience, know your brand, know your platform, and then keep doing more research. Digital marketing is a constant learning curve, so never stop educating yourself.

The other side of that research, is time. Good Social Media Marketing takes time, and time is money. Anyone who thinks social media can just be tacked onto someone else’s job, needs to have a think about what they really want out of their social media efforts. To do this right, you’ve got to respect it, and give it the resources it requires.

When you keep paying attention, keep learning, and dedicate time to Social Media Marketing, the true cost doesn’t matter, because you make your money back in spades. With strong Social Media Marketing marvellous things can happen. It’s down to you.

Depending on who you talk to, AI and automation are either the answer to all of our prayers, or a massive cause for concern. Are they going to solve every issue a marketer has ever faced? Or are they going to eventually steal our jobs? As is most often the case, the answer lies somewhere in between. If we use them properly, AI and automation can speed up manual processes and help us to be more effective and efficient. Plus, if we hone some of our other skills in the meantime, there’s no way we can be replaced entirely.

If AI and automation are going to be used to their full potential, it’s up to marketers to think holistically. We need to look at the whole life-cycle of our audiences and customers, because at every step of the journey, automation has a role to play.

Grabbing customers in the first place

One of the best things about automation is that it can do things humans could only dream of. Automated systems can suck in vast amounts of data from various sources, churn it all up and produce something useful and potentially lucrative. Something like a lookalike audience. I’m sure I don’t have to explain what a lookalike audience is, but all marketers know that they have their part to play in the grand scheme of our campaigns. Thanks to clever technology, we can find other people who could have an interest in our product or service and start marketing to them, before they’ve even begun their own journey with our brand.

The next step is to analyse your audience’s behaviour. AI and automation can predict consumer actions based on what else they’re doing online and what else they are purchasing. With that information you can make sure you advertise in the right places, serve the content they want to see, and put your products in front of them when they’re ready to buy. It means that you can be more deliberate about your marketing efforts, so that your time and money is well spent.

Now, let’s say your potential customer has shown so much interest that they’ve actually put a product into their cart and started the check-out process. Abandoned carts are a potential goldmine that AI and automation can help you tap into. The most common reasons for abandoned carts are glitches in the check out process, or the need to create an account. However, these are by no means the only things at play, so using automation to contact potential customers and find out why they didn’t buy, can be helpful as well as lucrative. AI and automation can help you go beyond the basic email that reminds the customer that they have something in their basket, and find out what stopped them from buying. You might be able to make improvements to your site that will have a real impact on your conversion rate.

Keeping customers happy

Once your customer has made a purchase, you want to keep them sweet. There’s a wealth of evidence that shows that getting customers to make repeat purchases is much more cost effective than constantly vying for new customers. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s nice that the stats back-up common sense. And it’s a long game. Atomic Reach have found that “The average repeat customer spends 67% more in 31 to 36 months with a business than zero to six months.” How many of us are giving our customers love and attention for that long? Not enough! So how do you use AI and automation to capitalise on that?

Customer service is a great way that AI and automation can save your bacon. No matter what niche your business is in, there is bound to be fierce competition. Outstanding customer service is essential to help you stand out from the crowd, but it’s also very time consuming to get right. Thankfully, automation can help. Customers are becoming increasingly familiar and comfortable with chatbots, which are entirely automated and run by artificial intelligence. They can deal with a vast amount of customer support, which saves valuable human time for the more complicated issues, while keeping your customers happy. Win win!

If you can keep them sweet, your previous customers can be a captive audience. You know they like what you do and there’s a chance they’ll want more of it. So how do you keep them keen? Staying in contact with customers requires a tactful balance. You want to stay forefront in their mind, but it’s got to be relevant. Yet again, AI and automation come to the rescue. They can crunch your product data compared with the customer’s purchasing history, so that you can email them with promotional messaging, product recommendations, and relevant content. Yet again, automation takes the drudgery out of marketing, so you can get on with the more exciting things.

The human element

As great as all of this automation is, there will always be a place for actual, real marketers. If nothing else, it’s up to us to test, test and test again. AI and automation are very clever, but they aren’t infallible, and we can’t just blindly believe that they are always doing everything right. Marketers are no strangers to testing their work, but it’s especially important for automation. Get familiar with your filters, scripts and so on, and keep on top of your automations.

Beyond that, there is a real human element to marketing, that artificial intelligence simply cannot replace. While automations take care of the time-consuming, repetitive tasks that often fill our days, we will be left to the bigger picture, and the more complex elements of marketing. Relationship-building, imagination and emotional intelligence are just a few of the attributes that robots can’t emulate just yet.

So as long as you keep innovating, stay creative and continue to build your network, you’ll be just fine.

Since the dawn of SEO, the rivalry has been fierce and the competition has been hot. The debate has raged on for centuries. (Ok, more like a couple of decades, but we’re going for gravitas here.) Even now, the battle between in-house SEOs and SEO agencies continues to grow.

All joking aside, there is, and seemingly always has been, competition between in-house SEOs and SEO agencies. Here at UnGagged, we know that a good SEO is a good SEO, wherever they work and whatever their background. But the internet is littered with articles trying to argue that one is definitely better than the other. Ostensibly, they’re designed to help companies make the right choice for their business, but more often than not they are thinly-veiled adverts for agencies. In some cases, not-so-thinly veiled.

One of the more high-profile examples to join the fray has been featured in Forbes, of all places. Just like the others, it claims to help business owners make the best choices for their own budgets, internal structures and requirements. However, also like many of the other articles out there, the underlying message is that agencies have more experience, more resources and generally more to give than an in-house SEO ever could have.

So, what is the difference between in-house and agency SEOs?

What these articles claim, seems to come down to this:

Good for…Bad for…
In-house SEOsIndustry knowledge
Having more controlMore regular updates
Expenses (salaries, sick pay, training, tool subscriptions)



SEO AgenciesExperience

Tools and resources

Up to the minute tactics

Industry knowledge

Lack of control

Communication flow

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. This snazzy table equates to six criteria: industry knowledge, control, communication, experience, resources, and expense. Now there is some logic to the way these have been allocated as pros and cons for each type of SEO, but that logic will only go so far. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to who is recruited. Anyone can fall on the right or wrong side of these criteria, whether they’ll be joining the company as an employee, or providing a service as a third-party contractor. It’s not actually about in-house versus agency, it’s about quality.

Where does that leave us, as SEOs trying to get jobs or clients? In the face of articles like this, should we all be celebrating the reign of the agency, or digging our heels in to prove the worth of in-house? I think that response misses the point. There’s a place for both. Some SEOs love agency working, others wouldn’t dream of giving up in-house gigs. Which begs the question, is there a real difference between working at an agency, and working as an in-house SEO?

How do the work environments compare?

Let’s move away from the claims that one approach is better for business purposes. Instead, let’s turn our focus to what it’s actually like to work at an agency or in-house. As an SEO, there are a completely different set of things to consider, and it comes down to the kind of work you want to do and the kind of environment you thrive in.

Agency work

At an agency there tends to be a little more variety in the projects that you’ll tackle. You might find that you’re assigned to a client on a relatively long-term basis. However, some clients are only in for one campaign and then they’re done. Plus, even if you do have a longer relationship with a client, the chances are they won’t be your only one. So if you like jumping in and out of different businesses and products, and you aren’t too concerned about their big-picture and overarching goals, agency work may be your bag.

Timescales also tend to be shorter and more strict at an agency. It comes with the territory of having multiple clients, not to mention the need to complete work in order to get paid. If you love a fast-paced work environment and need the pressure of a tight deadline to keep you motivated, then agency work could be for you.

When it comes to salaries, there is an assumption that agencies can pay more than in-house positions. They can command high fees for the work they do, and they can have various income streams depending on how many clients they have. However, this is an oversimplification. Some smaller or newer agencies aren’t likely to be in a position to pay top dollar, so don’t fall into that trap.

In-house work

It goes without saying that in-house SEOs will be working on the same business or product all the time. But that means they can have a broader scope to the projects they work on. They’ll be able to see the history of previous work and map out what’s on the horizon. Rather than dipping in and out of lots of different things, in-house work requires a longer-term investment. It can be very satisfying if you like to follow things through and keep experimenting as the results and challenges come in.

You might also find that in-house SEO work has less time pressure associated with it. Organisations that are large enough to have their own SEO team tend to also have lots of processes and procedures in place too. If you prefer to have more time to explore every avenue and really get into the weeds with a project, in-house work might offer you a more satisfying experience than the changeability of agency work.

While you may believe that in-house SEOs earn less than agency SEOs, we’ve already mentioned that this isn’t always the case. Plus, in-house work can afford more stability. The success of the company isn’t based solely on keeping clients happy, there are other things at play and other structures in place. For some people that’s a real comfort, and could be a large reason for choosing in-house positions over agency roles.

It all comes down to finding work that suits you. You’re never going to sway a business one way or the other if they’ve decided they want agency or in-house SEOs. You’ve got to focus on what is within your control: deciding what work environment you need. Then it’s up to you to make yourself indispensable to that kind of employer. When it comes to finding work in this industry, it’s a matter of skills and abilities, and recognising what makes a good SEO.

Well, what does make a good SEO?

As in any job, there are soft skills and hard skills that every SEO should have. Some of these skills are universal for every job and if you have to be told that you need to have a strong work ethic and to get along well with others, then I’m concerned for your career future. But skills like curiosity and adaptability are a little more unique to the world of SEO. As is an analytical mind and aptitude with certain tools. And what about coding and knowing how to perform really good research?

There are a ton of skills that are unique to our industry, which is exactly why it’s so successful, so lucrative and so much fun to be a part of. One thing that differentiates digital marketing from other industries, is the fact that it’s constantly changing. Anyone who is worth their salt in this business is doing one thing above all else: keeping up with the changes. People who don’t like change and want to stick to the same tactics day-in and day-out, don’t get very far in this industry.

The most important thing you can do as an SEO is to keep your eyes on the horizon. Keep learning, keep pushing and keep challenging the status quo. If you don’t, you’re going to get left behind, whether you are in-house or agency based. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with your work, even if you love what you do. We’ve all been there and I’m sure we’ll all end up there a few more times in our careers. That’s why it’s so important to read newsletters and articles, attend events, and give yourself as many sources of inspiration as possible. You simply can’t continue to be innovative, if you close yourself off. To stay successful in this game, you’ve got to stay curious.


By Lizzie McCauley, UnGagged

Upcoming Conference: UnGagged Los Angeles 2019

Knowing where to invest resources is a fine art for any branch of digital marketing. For Brand Marketing, there are unlimited ways for you to throw money at the internet and hope that it makes a difference. Recently, it has come to the attention of marketers that brand CPC seems to be on the rise. With that in mind, we thought it would be useful to consider where it’s worth investing your money, to make the most impact on your Brand Marketing efforts.

Pay your dues to PPC

Purchasing ads for your brand terms may seem like basic Brand Marketing stuff. But since Google has been cranking up the CPC on many brand terms, there have been those who’ve questioned whether it’s still worth the money to bid on these terms.

The received wisdom is that even if you don’t bid for any other PPC terms, you should bid for your brand name. Doing so makes it difficult for competitors to advertise on your brand terms, and makes sure that even if you don’t rank well organically, users still have a chance of finding you when they search for your brand.

Now that CPC seems to be skyrocketing, there are those who are hesitant to keep paying out. Some businesses will argue that it’s not worth the outlay, especially if they already have brand recognition and very few competitors. But really, how many of us are in that position? For the vast majority of companies, brand PPC should still be part of the agenda. Make sure that you aren’t lured into bidding too much for your terms, but definitely keep this cost in your budget.

Great content isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it

It should come as no surprise to anyone that you get what you pay for when it comes to content. Plus, while I’m never going to spout the old cliches at you, we all know that content has an important role to play in all digital marketing efforts. But when it comes to building a brand, content becomes even more vital (if that’s possible).

Expressing who you are as a business, and sharing your values with your audience successfully, is achieved with great content. Sure, it’s awesome that content can improve your authority with Google, and we’re not questioning that it’s an asset to your SEO, but let’s come back to the people who are actually going to spend money with your business.

To connect with people, you need great content. You need to speak directly to them, to get into their heads, if you want to leave an impact. The best way to do that is by telling them a story that will resonate with them, and that they will remember. Move away from the jargon and the tech-speak and engage your audience on an authentic, personal level. This is one of the most important things you can spend your budget on when it comes to Brand Marketing.

Listen to your audience

Social media is a blessing and a curse for Brand Marketers. It’s an unprecedented way of finding out exactly what your audience think of you – the good and the bad! But it can also be an ungoverned wasteland of complaints and slurs, if you’re not careful.

To make sure you get the best out of social media, and keep on top of the chaos, you’re going to need some kind of listening tool. While you might be able to manage it all yourself in the early days of a small business, you’re going to need some help very quickly.

There are some brand tracking tools available for free, such as Social Searcher. These types of tools will probably be enough for a little while, but as things ramp up, you might find that it’s time to invest. These tools don’t have to be expensive. Sure, some of them will set you back a few hundred a month, but there are others available in the ballpark of $30 per month.

The key is to be honest about what you really need and make sure your business priorities are covered. If your audience isn’t that active on Instagram, don’t shell out just for that platform. Have a go at a few free trials if you want to get a feel for user interfaces, and do your research. To make these tools work for you, you’ve got to invest in the services that will give you the best ROI.

Explore other avenues

As with most of digital marketing, there is more to brand marketing than meets the eye. So what other tactics are worth exploring in the face of changing times and trends?

Building on social listening, social influencers are also a lucrative avenue if you manage them well. There are thousands of people on social media who have huge followings and captivated audiences. If you do your homework, you can reap the rewards of their hard work.

The most important thing about working with influencers, is finding the right fit. Authenticity is key in so much of brand marketing, and influencer partnerships are no different. Your brand has to fit well with their image, or their audience won’t care and the influencer might even lose followers – nobody wins. But if you find the best person to represent your brand, you could be onto something great. Depending on the influencer, it might not even cost you that much in terms of budget, but make sure you dedicate the time so you can do it well.

Another great tactic is to sponsor events. Depending on what kind of event we’re talking about, this can get pricey, but if the ROI is right, it’s well worth it.

You could be looking at impressive footfall, giving you great exposure. It might be that the event draws your ideal audience, giving you the chance to make real leads. Or it could be that the event stands for something your brand believes in, and that the association would do your brand reputation wonders. Whatever your brand needs, sponsoring events can often provide an answer. Think outside the box a little, and see what you can gain.

What can you afford to scrimp on?

As with any industry, there are going to be some techniques that are less valuable to you, and provide less ROI. So what are the areas where you can scrape back a bit of budget?

Market research is one of them. Now before there is an outcry at this statement, let me clarify. You don’t need to pay a massive cheque to a market research company, because you know your audience better than anyone else. If you don’t, you should. Save on paying an external consultant by speaking to customer services staff, reading reviews and social media mentions, and looking at your analytics. A few days of work internally will be infinitely more valuable than any external market research agency.

There will be plenty of other techniques that are a waste of money for your specific brand marketing efforts. The thing is, they’re going to be different for every business, every industry and every niche. As with all methods in the digital marketing world, the trick is to test. Have a go with any free trials you can get your hands on and track the analytics. Speak to other brand marketers in your niche and see what has worked for them. If something seems too pricey, look for other alternatives. There’s always something out there, you just have to be willing to try it. That’s why we all love this industry so much.


By Lizzie McCauley, UnGagged

Upcoming Conference: UnGagged Los Angeles 2019

Anyone who has even dipped a toe into the world of local SEO, will know that a strong Google My Business listing is a core part of the arsenal. If you want any local business to succeed online, of course they need a decent and accurate presence on GMB. But is GMB all it’s cracked up to be? Has the power and importance of this Google service been exaggerated?

As with any branch of digital marketing or SEO, it’s easy to get swept up with supposed best practices. However useful these things may be, we simply cannot forget the end user. If we don’t please the user, we don’t get customers, no matter how well we rank or how much we appease Google.

So it begs the question: what do users actually think of GMB?

Is GMB useful to prospective customers?

When you work in this industry, it can be easy to assume everyone uses the internet the way you do. They don’t. So when BrightLocal did another one of their surveys, asking consumers how they use GMB, the results were pretty interesting. It’s time for local SEOs to sit up and pay attention.

It turns out that the biggest thing users want from a GMB listing, is contact details. In fact, 64% of the surveyed consumers are using it for exactly that. However, GMB isn’t the only place people are getting this information. 87% of consumers have looked for a phone number or address online. Of those people, 49% visited local business websites to find what they’re looking for, and 23% used an online business directory. What does this all mean? While it is undoubtedly important to get your details right on your GMB listing, you’ve got to be thorough and make sure they’re right everywhere. Different people are looking for you in different places.

An interesting addendum to this point: 60% of users would prefer to call a business, 16% would send an email and 15% would visit the business in person. So make sure the phone number is correct wherever it appears, and make sure there are people staffing that phone line! You can’t afford to miss out on 60% of potential customers for something as simple as that.

Aside from contact details, consumers seem to consistently want three other things out of a GMB listing: opening hours, directions, and reviews. Yet again, it’s the basic stuff GMB offers that people like to use. They don’t really care about posts or Q&A or any of the other, newer functions. They want to know how good you are, how to get to you and if you’re open. For these things they seem to trust Google over anything else. With a lot of SMBs time and resources are tight, so spend them where they make a difference. If there simply isn’t the bandwidth for Google posts, don’t use them. Make sure reviews are responded to, and keep the basics on point.

All that being said, 13% of the survey respondents hadn’t ever used any of the GMB features. While you do need to get the foundations right, there are still those people that aren’t using GMB at all. So how do we capture those people?

Don’t forget your business website

It might sound so simple that it’s bordering on stupid, but all business websites have got to remain the number one priority. We can all get distracted by the other elements of local SEO, but we have to catch ourselves in the act. Come back down to earth and remember how important the website is.

Jamie Pitman also discusses the BrightLocal survey. He points out that 56% of users trust a business’s website over its GMB listing. That means more than half of your potential customers need your website, now matter how good your GMB listing is. In fact, 38% of consumers are only using the GMB listing to get to the business website. GMB is nothing more than a jumping off point for our customers.

Only 8% of consumers never look at websites when choosing a local business. Now, it’s staggering that there are still 8% of consumers who don’t look at websites, but that’s where word of mouth and recommendations have so much sway in this niche. Besides, it still means that 92% of consumers are looking at business websites. 50% of them would be deterred from using a local business if contact information was out of date on their website, and 39% would be put off by typos. All of this is just yet more reason to go back to your website, give it some TLC, and make sure it’s the best it can be.

Is GMB just clogged with spam?

If we’re taking a hard look at GMB, we certainly can’t forget the other GMB users. The ones who are claiming listings in the spammiest possible ways. As much as we love *ahem* alternative techniques at UnGagged, nobody likes spam.

Google supposedly hates spam more than anyone else in the industry. So why is it, that their spam-prevention is so lackluster when it comes to GMB? Back in the day, there was a pretty handy forum where local SEOs could report and discuss issues to try and get them sorted out. But that was replaced by a simple form that barely did the job. It’s no surprise that GMB spam is still going strong, a lot of it left unchecked.

This isn’t just the issue of obviously-fake businesses that clog up the listings so that real businesses are impossible to find. This is also an issue when legitimate business are affected by incorrect information or falsely claimed listings. This spam doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, in fact it only seems to be getting worse. And when customers see a GMB listing before they see a website, what does that mean for small businesses? As Jamie Pitman puts it, the “first impression now belongs to Google” but you can’t necessarily intervene when something goes awry. That’s a frightening and sobering thought.

TL;DR? Think beyond GMB

No good SEO would put all of their eggs in one basket, and the same is definitely true for local SEOs too. We all know that, and we all know how important a business website is, but sometimes we need a reminder. In the wake of Google’s GMB survey this March, we got to thinking about the state of play with this tool. With new user statistics and a sharp look at the situation, it becomes clear that GMB isn’t the be-all and end-all.

Obviously, you’ve got to optimise your GMB listing and optimise for Google Maps. Make sure all of your information is accurate and be vigilant against spam where you can. But remember that there’s more to local SEO than your GMB listing. Keep pushing, keep testing, and keep learning all the new ways to game the system. Because the great thing about this industry is that there’s always something new just around the corner.

By Lizzie McCauley, UnGagged

Upcoming Conference: UnGagged Los Angeles 2019