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The Backstory and Why I do this thing called SEO

January 23, 2018

It's Not All About SEO... 

Everyone has a backstory. I've just never shared mine. Here's that story. 

From as far back as I can remember, back in grade school, I've always really liked technical things. From tape recorders to computer games like Atari to becoming a Certified Novel Administrator (CNA). 

One of my favorite memories as a kid was visiting the local high school that had a computer that filled the entire room (yeah that far back) - we got a stack of punch cards, and we got to feed the computer with them -  I was struck by the cool factor and amount of power a computer could actually have. 

I also always battled this internal struggle of just wanting to be really good at something, anything, it didn't really matter. I struggled in school, and never actually finished my undergraduate degree. I joined the Navy thinking that could be a way to get really good at something. 

Fast forward many years later,  I always had a desire to get things to just work. Whether that was client work or solving a problem of some kind. Mostly it did center around technical problems. I was a network administrator and solved software application problems for AXA Advisors insurance agents, but then, I discovered building websites for small businesses. 

So naturally I needed to figure out how to get those sites to rank in search so those clients could get new visitors to their site. This was back before YouTube or local search when many relied on the YellowPages to get them local awareness of their brand. (Can you even imagine that now? )

I found myself stuck relying on tactical things like keyword research, or writing title tags to solve their ranking problems. I also read blog posts from search marketing bloggers and read forums where they all hung out. 

Later on I was working on some really large sized clients at a small boutique agency and I thought all I needed to do to be successful at SEO was throw one tactic after another at the site and that would do it! The site would rank for keywords. Boom! 

This was really something I found very interesting - how could it be that all you do is X and you get Y? 

I left that agency and went onto work at a large legal publisher - where I worked on the global digital team. I'm not there two weeks when I'm asked to speak at their HQ to hundreds of marketers, developers and others on the global team.

I was asked to educate them all on SEO and then share the plan I had for how I manage their global SEO program. 

What?! I was pretty freaked out. What the hell am I going to say?

Why should they even listen to me?  I literally felt like this woman - climbing this enormous mountain without a net. 

the greatest seo challenge

So, I developed this process. I had to think through all the complexities of working cross functionally within a large global organization.

I already knew the one thing that killed an SEO program faster than it started was not implementing any of the recommendations delivered. Or that no one in the organization ever listens to the SEO, certainly never the developers who thought they knew a better way anyway. 

I even got a pretty good size budget so that I could hire an external international team to support our local language sites. I also acquired a really expensive SEO platform to manage all my work. It was all coming together ... then....after a few years, just as things were clicking along, the company went through a rather large round of layoffs and off went the global SEO program and me with it. 

What happened next was nothing short of a gift.

I got to work for Accenture almost immediately following that layoff. Not only that, but I was placed immediately on one of their biggest clients (which has since become one of my greatest use cases). 

I wasn't at all sure this was going to to work for these type of clients. But, I was able to apply my amazing new methodology to those Diamond Clients.

It worked so well, I got to work with all their digital marketing clients in the Automotive, Retail, CPG, Banking and Telecommunications sectors. I taught them the process, got the team together and we got to work.

There were challenging days for sure, but the process just worked. 

I also got to do lots of education and developed knowledge exchange meetings each month for the international consultants who just wanted to learn SEO. 

Of course all good things come to an end - the team I had been working for decided on another direction. 

My next direction became a lot more clear, now through The Bartoli Consulting Group, I get to use all that experience, and expertise to finally do the one thing I do really well and share all that with so many more clients.

I still get geeked out on all the ways the search engine has changed and evolved over the years, but even more than that, are all those people I've helped through each situation, project, or migration.     

Sure, their companies saw increases in revenues as a result of that work, but there were so many executives, developers and marketers who just lit up when they actually got it.

Those who were very new in their careers and others including CEOs and top level executives just felt reassured and relieved when they saw how this all worked. 

I've learned over the years about the many frustrations a business experiences when they work with low cost SEOs or freelancers who charge by the hour. Those practitioners may well have the best of intentions, but the result typically falls far short of what they set out to accomplish for that client. 

We start with a Strategy First Approach 

That leads to the the desired end result for an SEO program, being improved brand awareness, increased customers and sales and overall growth for the long term. Those are the necessary ingredients and what every full scale end to end SEO program should have baked within it.

Our clients understood that SEO doesn't have to be this vague thing they don't understand.

It doesn't sit in a black box.

It's not rocket science, no, but it does take time, patience and a lot of work. 

It's complex and ever changing. It's a little technical and a little marketing. 

When done correctly, using the same principled methodology I created so many years ago, it actually works! 

About the author 

Janet Bartoli

Founder and Strategist-in-Chief With over 16 years experience creating and managing SEO, and digital marketing programs for some of the world’s most iconic brands (Verizon, Fiat, Payless Shoes, Bank of Montreal, etc)

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