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How to Onboard Your Selected Search Agency [Checklist]

Search Agency Onboarding Checklist

How to Onboard Your Selected Search Agency [Checklist] was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Whether for the first time or the tenth, reducing the ramp up period when onboarding a new SEO agency is going to save you time and money. Plus, an effective onboard process lays the path to a productive partnership.

There are two parts to effectively onboarding a selected new agency:

1. Educating your agency about your business, and
2. Understanding their process, workflow and digital strategy for your business.

Here you’ll find a checklist and expanded description of checklist items for both steps.

1. Educating Your New Agency

At my agency, we use a new client questionnaire to build a brand brief for all our clients. Whether you or your agency is compiling the brief, the end product should provide clear answers on your audience, marketplace, competitors, marketing strategy and history, unique differentiators, and success metrics.

To get to know everything about one another, you’ll want to share everything about how you work and learn everything about your new agency’s processes. Even before your first meeting, put together a brand brief about your business to give to your agency.

Here’s your checklist for educating your new agency.

✓ Company overview
✓ Value proposition
✓ Competition and positioning
✓ Goals and KPIs for digital marketing
✓ Analytics setup and KPI tracking
✓ Website hosting and CMS
✓ History of marketing campaign service providers
✓ Audience
✓ Brand voice and messaging
✓ Writing style and tone
✓ Types of content
✓ Any other context

Company overview: Along the way from interviewing the prospective agency to inking the deal, you’ve given the 30-second elevator pitch of your business to people at your new agency, for example, their sales team. This brief is a great way to assure communication of your company’s background to your new agency’s operations team.

Value proposition: What sets you apart from anyone else in your industry or selling a similar product or service? What value do your customers hold when they align themselves with your business?

Competition and positioning: Who are your main competitors that court the same audience as you do? How do you position yourself as distinct within your industry?

Goals and KPIs for your digital marketing: What concrete and defined goals would you like accomplished through your SEO and digital marketing activities? What will you use to measure project success?

Analytics setup and KPI tracking: What analytics software is in place to track the accomplishment of your goals and KPIs? What formal conversions and microconversions are being tracked in your analytics setup?

Website hosting and CMS: How and where is your website hosted and content managed? Will your SEO agency have access to the system?

History of marketing campaign service providers: Who have you worked with before — agencies and vendors — for content, SEO, SEM, web development, design and other digital marketing work? Can you summarize the projects and what worked and didn’t work about them? Be sure to explain if you’ve ever suffered a traffic loss.

Audience: Describe everything you know about your customers — demographics, what they value, what they need and want. Of course there could be a few different types of customers who you speak to.

Brand and messaging: What exercises have you performed to clearly state what your brand stands for and the voice and messaging you use to convey it in graphics and text?

Writing style and tone: Humor, authority, stories, complexity of language — what guidelines can you convey to your SEO agency that communicates the tone of the brand? Inform them of any words that are taboo.

Types of content: What do you want your agency to know about the content you’ve created before and of competitors‘ content you’d either like to emulate or avoid?

Any other context: If there’s anything else of note to convey to your agency, this is the place to include it.

2. Understanding Process, Workflow and Strategy

Step 2 of onboarding a new agency is finding out their process and workflow in order to create an expectation for receiving deliverables and responses for requests. You’ll need to get a concrete outline of the search strategy they will be using for your site.

Soon after selection of your agency, you want to become familiar with the inner workings and processes of your analysts and others on your production team, expanding your knowledge of the selected agency beyond their sales team that you’ve been speaking to before this. Here’s your checklist for understanding the process, workflow and strategy to be driving your search campaigns.

✓ What is the timeline of deliverables?
✓ How often is the project plan updated?
✓ How often will you be in communication?
✓ What processes do they have for editing your website?
✓ What schedules and forms do they have for reviewing new content and design changes?
✓ How do their capabilities for implementing recommendations align with your needs?
✓ What commitment to service do they make?
✓ Is your SEO a senior or a junior analyst?

What is the timeline of deliverables? When can you expect to see the project plan, have scheduled calls, and receive audits and reports? Do they run in sprints? You want to understand their tactical scheduling.

How often is the project plan updated? As a living and evolving document, at what interval will the project plan be updated? This is strategic in nature and is key to accomplishing your project goals and KPIs.

How often will you be in communication? What is the communication cadence of your agency team members? How often can you expect to hear from them? How quickly can you expect to hear back from them when needed? Is there a dedicated point of contact for your project?

What processes do they have for editing your website? Do they work through your staff to avoid errors? By a similar turn, what do their processes look like for evaluating links, server performance and other SEO levers?

What schedules and forms do they have for reviewing new content and design changes? In what format can you expect to receive new content or site edits? How are recommended changes tracked as the document passes hands?

How do their capabilities for implementing recommendations align with your needs? Who and what is available regarding labor and resources for education, mentoring, development, content and so on?

What commitment to service do they make? What assurance do they make regarding your dedicated staff and the meeting of your KPIs?

Is your SEO a senior or a junior analyst? How many years of experience do members of your team have? As a point of context, Malcolm Gladwell famously said it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become an expert.

Keys to a Good Partnership

It’s been said before, but the key to a lasting relationship is communication. Ensure you’re communicating with your partner and they with you, and come prepared to do the work to see the gains you want.

Other resources:


We can help your team as an invested partner in your SEO success. Our services are tailor-made to match your goals and audience. For results-driven digital marketing, let’s talk.

Source:: bruceclay.com

David McCandless, the restless graphic artist

David McCandless is a writer, creative director and artist based in London. He is the founder of Information is Beautiful, where, together with a small team, he works to convert data and information into comprehensible graphics and diagrams that are both useful and visually compelling.

David has worked as a journalist, a creative director, an editor and a scriptwriter for video games. Among his business clients are standout names like Google, GE, SAP, Kantar and Facebook. He is also the author of two successful infographic books. Information is Beautiful (2009), edited by HarperCollins in the US and in the UK, has been published in ten languages. In 2014, the same publishing house put out the sequel, Knowledge is Beautiful. Both books use the visualization of data and the design information to tell stories in a new way, transmitting interesting ideas and awakening the mind to how it sees graphics and information. His infographics have also been published in The Guardian and Wired, among other outlets. He is also the creator of the video game The Helicopter Game, one of the most addictive games that has circulated online of late.

Currently working as an information designer and a data journalist, his true passion, David McCandless enjoys the entire process connected to his work; the visualization of information – facts, data, ideas, problems, statistics, questions – searching for a way to transform information through graphics into something that anyone can understand.

For David, the design of information can help us to understand the world, to reveal hidden connections, patterns and history that live below the surface and that have as yet gone undetected. Anything strange can be interesting. The ideas that inspire him and that help him understand the world are love, beauty and truth. From these, all things are represented; from elements in nature, science, thought, food, pop and dogs.

Together with his Information is Beautiful team, they reveal data, information and knowledge of the world through beautiful and useful graphics and diagrams.

All graphics and images are based on facts and data. The mission is to illustrate them from multiple perspectives (even when not in agreement with the information). The ever-evolving knowledge and data is constantly being updated, then revised, and revised again then adapted.

What is clear from all of this is that this restless vocational infographic artist is always working on something, and count on it being strange and interesting.

Source:: blog.fotolia.com

Contributor Spotlight: Jodie Johnson

Jodie Johnson is a lifestyle and interiors photographer and Adobe Stock Contributor based in Melbourne. With her background in advertising, she is perfectly poised to understand the needs of the buyer. We spoke with her about her journey into the stock industry, the lessons she learned and the advice she wishes to share with budding photographers.

Fotolia: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into photography?

Jodie Johnson: I was always most interested the ‘fun‘ subjects at school like art, graphic design and media. I studied photography a little at high school, but I really dreamt of being a film director back then. After school, I got sidetracked with a job in advertising and worked my way up to Account Director over time. We had an in-house photo studio at the agency so I had plenty of exposure to photography. But in those days I sold that service to clients, rather than producing the work. Eventually I decided to get behind the lens myself, and I haven’t looked back!

Fotolia: Why did you decide to shoot stock and how did you get started?

JJ: All the ad agencies I worked for used stock libraries when budget or practicality didn’t allow for a commissioned shoot. Even way back in the days that printed catalogues were the only way you could search for images! Over the years I saw a strong push from clients to continually cut budgets and hence the use of stock images grew. So I’d had a lot of exposure to the purchasing side of stock photography. I thought I’d like to try producing some images myself, without the pressure of a client deadline or Art Director, and see how they would sell.

Fotolia: What has been the biggest challenge to overcome in stock?

JJ: In the early days, working out how to overcome the technical rejections. I quickly learnt what chromatic aberration and blown highlights were! With that sorted, the challenge now is coming up with new shoot ideas and searching for new opportunities to produce fresh images, and to keep producing content that is a little bit unique, in my own style.

Fotolia: What do you like most about being a stock photographer?

JJ: The flexibility of my time – I can work when I want! I can work around my client commitments, and anything else I decide to prioritize. I also love the creative freedom. I can shoot whatever I want to! I also love seeing my images in published. I can spend hours doing Google image searches to see where my images are appearing and how they’re being used.

Fotolia: Are there parts of the job you don’t enjoy so much?

JJ: Although I love having complete flexibility with my time, it can get quite isolating at times working by yourself. Collaborating with others is something I want to focus on doing more of in the future to help combat that.

Fotolia: How do you keep your stock portfolio fresh?

JJ: My portfolio is mostly interiors and homes. I’m constantly searching for unique Australian homes to photograph. I have an addiction to interiors magazines, so much of my inspiration and keeping up with the latest trends and styling comes from those.

Fotolia: Do you have any advice for people trying to get started with stock photography?

JJ: Find your niche – develop your own style to become a subject specialist. Think about how a hobby or personal interest could be a basis for your portfolio. You’re more likely to be involved in, or surrounded by that subject if you have a personal interest. For me it’s interior design, for someone else it might be fitness, baking or travel. I buy interior magazines for myself anyway, it’s my personal interest so I’m already up to date with the latest trends and photo style for that niche.

I also think having a consistent portfolio of a few core subjects/categories encourages multiple image purchases from the one buyer. It just seems more efficient for them to find more of the same type of content in one portfolio.

See more of Jodie’s images on Fotolia.

Source:: blog.fotolia.com

The One Thing Your Business Can Immediately Take Away from Google I/O

Google I/O conference

The One Thing Your Business Can Immediately Take Away from Google I/O was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google leads the world in technological advances that affect the way we live and do business. At the Google I/O developer conference this week, we glimpse a preview of how people will interact with computing in the near future.

Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA, scene of the 2017 Google I/O conference

Kicking off the conference, CEO Sundar Pichai opened a two-hour keynote to a packed audience of developers, tech reporters and others who were joined by viewers in 85 countries watching online to hear what was new from the tech giant, including one overarching announcement:

We have shifted from a mobile first to an AI first world.

This shift into an “artificial intelligence first” world will impact the way customers find your business AND the way you interact with those customers.

Many articles no doubt list the many Google feature announcements coming out of the I/O conference. But here, we zero in on something that all business owners should be aware of as we move forward into this AI-powered, machine learning-based new world…

Focus on solving user problems

One thing becomes clear as you watch the tech giant unveil feature after feature: Each new product is designed to solve a problem. You could say this is the key to Google’s success.

During yesterday’s keynote alone, Google announced many coming AI-enabled features that exemplify this problem-solution strategy. Here are just a few.

  • Google Assistant will be much more connected, even allowing people to type their interactions through a phone instead of speaking them — because there are times you don’t want people to overhear what you’re saying.
  • Google Photos is getting Photo Sharing, a new feature that can recognize people in your photo and proactively suggest sending them the file — because people have a problem following through and sharing their photos.
  • Google Visual Positioning Service will be able to guide your indoor movements through a store such as Lowes to help you find what you want — which solves a big problem for visually impaired people, not to mention the rest of us who need help navigating aisles.
  • Google Lens is a fascinating new AI feature that takes visual identification to new heights. In one application, Lens can remove obstructions in front of a subject, such as a chain link fence (see demo tweeted below), and fill in the missing elements — because people want to be able to take better pictures.

Yes, this is a real thing real people at Google are working on. #Googleio2017 pic.twitter.com/vZJqkHBtH3

— Golden Krishna (@goldenkrishna) May 17, 2017

Let’s apply Google strategy to your business. In a nutshell:


Your greatest opportunities as a business are probably hiding under the cloak of user problems.
Click To Tweet


To find the opportunities awaiting discovery for your own business, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What do people complain about in my industry? Complaints expose problems just waiting for a new product, service or technology to solve. This kind of negative feedback also provides clues for how to best engage your prospective customers.
  2. What is difficult or time-consuming for prospective customers to accomplish today? In addition to listening for pain points, also just observe. Look for processes that everyone just accepts, but which require a lot of time and effort to do.

If your business innovates a solution to a problem, you can make people’s lives or jobs easier, potentially jump ahead of your competition, and grow your business.

But even if you’re not going to invent the next great product, by understanding people’s needs better you can offer solutions more effectively. Your marketing campaigns will ring truer (and have better click-through rates!) if they come from a point of empathy.

Solving people’s problems underlies the majority of Google’s advancements. Make it your business’s mantra, too.

Note: You can watch Google I/O to see various presentations live May 17–19 (check out the schedule here).

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Source:: bruceclay.com

The typographic dialogues by Seb Lester

Seb Lester studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins of London, and since he was a child his hands always held pencils, drawing nonstop. He is a designer, artist and calligrapher. After years of living in the capital of England, he decided to move to Lewes in East Sussex, where he currently has his studio. As if looking out through his window onto medieval times, he works surrounded by boxes of paper, pens, ink, books and computers.

Among his creations are typographic logos and illustrations drawn for corporations, publications and trigger events. And he could boast as well about the work he’s completed for NASA, Apple, Nike, Intel, The New York Times, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the new edition of The Catcher in the Rye.

His love of letters began in college thanks to a book he casually came across in the library. The Graphic Language of Neville Brody overshadowed him in such a way that he began to create designs while aspiring to reach the power, originality and beauty of the graphic works of Brody. In reality, he admits to a genuine addiction to typography, through which he fell in love, connecting emotionally to the alphabet while dedicating the majority of his time to study and draw letters, scrutinizing the shapes and creating his own artistic language.

Recently, he was ordered to design some letters for Norman Foster. He also developed a logo for a space mission for NASA, although by his own recognition, working with clients limits his artistic abilities in certain ways by creating repetition. His goal is to concentrate on art and to produce letters without any sort of limitation, to share his love for calligraphy and to create new forms of letters that will span across time, as he considers their timeless beauty the gift of his greatest work.

Although the first impression of his work is in its striking visual distinction, it all comes together in a profound harmony, equilibrium, contrast, proportion, rhythm and movement.

Without a doubt, he has managed to transmit the magic of typography through his social networks, through which many other artists seek out inspiration or where designers and lovers of design gather, curious of the world of letters, to establish authentic dialogue with Lester’s artistic expression.

Source:: blog.fotolia.com