Interview with Ken Lyons of Measured SEM

Ken Lyons, Measured SEM

Ken Lyons has been in Internet marketing for more than seven years and is co-founder of Measured SEM, an inbound marketing agency in Boston, Ma. He’s an avid blogger and has been featured in Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and Website Magazine. He also writes a monthly Web strategies column for Allbusiness.com.

So tell us a bit about how you came to establish Measured SEM

In 2009, I started working at WordStream, a venture-backed startup in Boston that provides search marketing software. That’s where I met my current business partner, Tom Demers. Tom and I headed the SEO and inbound marketing efforts for WordStream. We worked really well together and in one year were able to grow site traffic at WordStream.com from 2,000 monthly visits to 200,000, which was no small feat considering we were slugging it out in hyper-competitive, organic search verticals dominated by some of the top SEOs and SEO agencies on the planet.

Ultimately, Tom and I decided to launch our own boutique inbound marketing agency, Measured SEM, which we did this past February. With Measured SEM, we knew that we could apply the same strategies and tactics that transformed WordStream.com into a traffic and lead generation machine to other companies in other niches and see similar results. So far, so good :)

What is the make-up of your clientele?

Currently, we have a roster of 30 clients that range from smaller mom and pop shops, who want local SEO/geo-targeting traction, to larger SMBs software vendors where we manage their online marketing campaigns from end-to-end, to ecommerce clients where we develop and execute content-based link marketing campaigns.

So how did you determine your niche market?

Starting an inbound marketing agency that would grow site traffic and online lead generation for companies seemed like a logical extension of our experience, skill sets and passion. What’s more, despite the economic slowdown, the search marketing space continues to thrive each year. So it made sense to continue working in an industry that’s enjoying rapid growth and still relatively young with a lot of upside.

What kind of SEO services do you provide?

Our SEO services include technical site audits, SEO strategy, keyword research, on-page optimization and SEO copywriting. We also offer a range of content marketing and link building packages, that include everything from infographic creation and promotion, to group interviews with industry thought leaders, to our popular guest blog posting service.

The overriding goal of our services is to provide exponential value to our clients. So for example, if you spend $X amount with us per month we want you to see $2X worth in return.

How big a role does copywriting play in the services you provide?

Copywriting is pervasive in almost everything we do at Measured SEM. Think about it: good copy touches so many aspects of traditional SEO–from crafting clickable title tags, to persuasive meta descriptions, to compelling page titles. In addition, we produce search-driven content for clients, which includes informational content (blog posts, expert articles, authoritative industry reports) and transactional content (SEO landing pages that are designed to convert).

Great copy also plays a major role in our content marketing campaigns, where we not only research and generate the content/linkable assets, but we also promote the content via outreach, which in itself involves writing a very persuasive pitch letter to compel the recipient to not only look at your content but to share it with their audience as well.

Any advice for those considering starting up their own SEO copywriting business?

There’s a lot of competition out there, from cost-effective content shops, like Text Broker, to higher-quality resources like Level343, so you really need to distinguish yourself and provide a strong value prop. The best way to set yourself above the pack is to over-deliver on every project. This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Make the client feel like they’re getting more than they’re paying for and you’ll minimize churn, create a loyal customer base and get tons of referrals.

Tell us about your most difficult challenge as an SEO business.  How did you resolve/deal with it?

Setting client expectations is the most challenging aspects of what we do, but it’s vital to the health of every project. You need to set realistic, achievable expectations for clients right out of the gate so everyone is on the same page. Then, you over-deliver :)

Do you recommend keeping SEO copywriting in-house, or outsourcing as a new biz?

For new businesses, it probably makes the most sense to outsource for a few reasons:

  • Copywriting is one of those tasks you can outsource and not suffer on quality.
  • Given the uncertainty of success for a new biz, its one less fixed expense. It’s a lot easier to dial back your commitment to a consultant than to lay off an employee if your business hits a rough patch.

However, once you start to gain momentum and generate consistent revenue growth, I think there are advantages to having a copywriter on-staff. Anyone who’s embedded in your company is going to acquire valuable institutional knowledge and have a much better understanding of your space, your industry and your business. For the in-house copywriter, that means knowing how best to speak to and connect with your target audience.