17 | SEO Campaigns with Marie Turner

Marie looks after the inbound link profile at Amara, a luxury interiors brand that’s purely online. She has a varied job and works closely with the in-house PR team. Her background is in radio advertising and SEO was a part of the digital side of content creation.

SEO Campaigns & Linkable Content
Marie did a talk at Brighton SEO that covered link building. She spoke about the effective things that you can do as an ecommerce company. Linkable assets can add to the customer journey and not just build links to the site. For example, the Nacho Recipe Generator or Clark’s shoe size calculator. These assets are about being useful, being an authority in the field, entertaining, their modern and relevant and are on brand.

Educational Links
Press links are great, especially decent links but don’t put your eggs in one basket. Marie says that EDU (university and educational links) offer a lot of gravity when it comes to authority too. Amara have a campaign called Amara’s Student Interior Designer of the Year. This is basically a scholarship campaign to give back to interior students for their hard work. It’s about making it genuine, credible and useful and not just for SEO. Links come naturally and so they need to be contextual and relevant. If they drive traffic then even better.

Local Links
We are a pure online retailer and we don’t necessarily need local links but they can still be powerful. Greg Gifford recommends getting local links from churches and local sport sites, which can be fundamental if you have a physical store.

Campaign Planning: Department Buy in
When planning a campaign you need all departments involved, especially PR and social media. The business audience needs to enjoy this or find valuable as there is no point of creating a campaign otherwise.

If you have a project that is yours, getting internal buy in is probably the most important thing. Visualising data is key to helping them understand where you are coming from and what the targets are. Marie bothers to make things look nice so that it’s easier to understand and persuade those who might not understand the data on its own. This saves time in the long-run so that you don’t need loads of meetings to explain over and over again why it’s important. This helps everyone keep updated, the information looks engaging and is concise. It helps communication too but this is the project owner’s responsibility so that everyone knows what they’re doing. Having 1 person that’s accountable is key. Marie shares an interesting article about feedback. It’s called Seagulling! This is when others start ‘dumping’ on your ideas and project. It probably happens because you didn’t ask for feedback before the project started. Getting feedback helps make the project better too. Marie used to work in radio which is critical and cut-throat so getting feedback to improve and trying new things and testing things to evolve campaigns was important.

Afterwards, use data to back up the successes of your project, especially if you plan to do it again. Head of SEO at Trainline said that he bought Pizza and told people to come over when he first joined the company. It was a great way to get to know everyone and understand their KPIs and where they are coming from in terms of targets. Rapport with departments is important as an in-house team.

During the Campaign
When Marie was in advertising, lots of people usually let the campaign just run but she recommends monitoring regularly. She does daily check-ins via Slack or instant messaging. Report on page views, clicks and referring traffic. This allows to address any issues before it’s too late and be reactive to what’s happening.

Tip: don’t go live with a campaign before the weekend as you won’t be able to monitor.

If you’re not getting traffic or links, then use your ‘go to’ tactics to boost this. Such as collaborators, social media advertising etc. Have a plan B so that by the end of the campaign you’re not wishing you’ve done something about it. It’s about being smart with your budgets and being strategic. Spread your advertising and coverage if you didn’t have enough money to push for the whole time during the campaign.

Old Link Building Tactics (pre-2018)
Don’t cling on to old tactics. It doesn’t need to be gamified or outsourced or flashy but if it doesn’t sit with your site or brand then there’s no point in doing the campaign. Make it useful and be valuable to your users and you’ll get those links you were looking for, especially if you’re seen as an authority in that space.

Guest blogging is an old tactic. Marie has issues with tactics that are overused and this one is no exception. Posting content on other people’s sites to get a link, which isn’t relevant to the site that they’re posting on, isn’t ideal. Guest blogging is not a future-proof tactic, such as Matt Cuts suggests. Interflora had a penalty for similar tactics and forcing an anchor text as well as links. I talk about this in Episode 12 when we look at the history of Digital PR.

There is a place for it if done correctly, for example sometimes Marie does interviews with our creative director for a relevant, authoritative site. Making it unique, better and different is the idea. As a blogger even I still get plenty of emails asking for guest posts and content placement on my website. Please stop!

Marie thinks it’s similar to the overused tactic of competitions when she worked in radio. The lack of imagination and complacency can rob you of great value. Competitions were used as an SEO tactic too, getting bloggers to enter via writing blog posts to increase links to a site. This used to work in a way; the quality was always low. We recommend focusing on quality over quantity when you’re doing link building. You’re better off amplifying content with influencers, it’s better content for them and good traffic for the brand.

Traditional PR & Relationship Building
Working closely with the PR team, Marie joined up efforts for events so that 1 event achieves many goals for the company. It’s about meeting and connecting with influencers, bloggers and journalists. Marie says start building a relationship with those people who you want to work with before reaching out. It’s more impactful to do so and Paul May from Buzzstream (an outreach tool) saw findings that the initial relationship is a lot more impactful this way. The sites that get the best placements have that initial relationship building process, such as talk to them on social media months in advance.

Marie has launched a survey about how SEOers perceive their PR team and vice versa.


Marie will be speaking at Brighton SEO next year (April 2019) which will cover the survey findings. She already found that the relationship between the two teams is fractious and encourages everyone to be empathetic.

Agencies find it difficult as there is no trust and no physical interaction, mis-understanding. PR teams often think SEOers are taking over their jobs. So, Marie is doing research to help teams come together and work better in the future. Not understanding value in traditional PR, because it’s hard to measure success, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Traditional PR can get placements in high authoritative sites which is building awareness and building links at the same time. As an SEO, help the team understand where you are coming from and help involve them. If you’re able to kill two birds with one stone then do so.

Don’t get stuck
Look at the traditional tactics
Mark Ritson from Marketing Week says get rid of the ‘digital’ part of your job title. Look at how the traditional PR happens and use it to help you get results
Break out of your routine and look at new ways of doing your job
Digital PR is evolving so learn new skills, listen to the people who have done the traditional for years (Soulful PR by Janet Murray) and see how it may work for you.

Find that special something to get noticed and thus get those links!

Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.