Global Agency CEO, Top Author Eric Enge’s Insights on Successfully Launching Your Digital Career

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If you could ask a semi-retired CEO of the global Digital Marketing Agency he founded and ran for 20+ years, what would you ask?

Here’s what “Art of SEO” (4th edition forthcoming) co-author Eric Enge thinks you should know about digital marketing, SEO, careers, and launching your profession.

Career Success Tips from Eric Enge

 

Eric successfully sold his global agency, Stone Temple Consulting, which is now pad of Pedicient, a digital marketing agency that offers consulting services to a wide range of companies.

  1. On Page SEO Audits
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Social Media Marketing
  4. Recovery from Google Penalties/Algo Hits
  5. Ways to get noticed by hiring managers
  6. What tech vs non-tech skills you should have if you’d like to join the growing digital marketing industry.

Watch The Full Show Below

there we go eric engel welcome to the roi and you career success tips show i’m so happy to have you here because i’ve known you forever we were just talking about sailing we’ve been sailing together you’ve been a very frequent newport interactive marketing guest um speaker i think last time we had you speak i was actually dialing in from the seychelles and people were saying like what’s that weird noise it was like insects in the background for chirping away listening to all the great seo tips and i was like oh shoot i forgot to mute one of those very pre-covered very early zoom experiences before everybody became an expert but thank you so much for coming on it’s so great to see you yeah likewise great to see you and great to catch up and and talk about sailing as we just were uh but uh thanks for having me on the show yeah well i’m so glad you have time now um in your quasi retirement although you just mentioned that uh we do have to stay on schedule because you have a big client call coming up this afternoon so tell me a little bit about we we chatted before a little bit about your background and i’m just curious if maybe we start now with the types of clients who you’d like to work with or tend to work with and then maybe work backward because you have a great history as one of the do i dare say founding fathers of white hat seo well you know i’ll i’ll let you uh use that phrase but but i’ve been a proponent of white hat uh seo for a long time uh for sure uh very passionate about it doing it the right way there’s no need to do it any other way and besides which have a focus on working with large brands or companies that are trying to build something of great size and you just can’t take certain kinds of risks uh you know when that’s your focus if you don’t mind churning and burning websites then there’s a whole other conversation that we could have about but uh about how to do all that um but as you mentioned i’ve been doing uh seo for a long time uh uh 20 plus years uh um and uh um you know really had i think a fair amount of success built and sold four different companies um that were all oriented around seo um the last of those was stone temple consulting which was sold to a company called proficient in july of 2018 and as of july 2021 my three-year contract with them was was up and i uh sailed off into the wild blue yonder um that’s two analogies put together really badly but that’s beside the point um and uh i’m semi-retired as you say i’m doing a little bit of client work but working not full-time uh and putting other time into more charitable projects and and things like woodworking which is something else i’m dabbling in there’s a quick ramble for you oh yeah no it’s very funny i did some research for a client on woodworkers and how many technologists are into woodworking and it’s just interesting it’s sort of you know something that’s so non-tactile that the the flip side right it’s like a right brain left brain thing and then the same way with gardening and like knitting and all these things that you still get to use your hands but you’re just using a totally different part of your brain which is relaxing yeah well it means to build something with your hands is very different than helping a fortune 100 company you know grow traffic to their website they’re somewhat different kinds of activities uh and i just kind of need some of that in my life at this point because spent uh 30 plus years of my career working 60 hour weeks so yeah that’s that’s done definitely much deserved now stone temple before proficient bought it how many people did you have on staff uh we were about 70 at the time of the sale wow that’s impressive and that you know compared to other eight that’s a that’s a good size agency and you specifically specialize in seo or did you do other digital marketing areas as well the other major area that we were involved in was content marketing albeit a pretty large percentage of that was focused around helping drive seo so there’s obviously a very strong link there and um so that was a pretty uh hefty component of the business as well definitely definitely and so content so let’s unpack seo a little bit right search engine optimization what i call getting found on google and you would know all about that because you are co-author of the art of seo which i would say was like one of the fundamental books that came out about seo and was really a guide and um really interesting some great co-authors on that could tell us a little bit more about art of seo sure so first published uh you made it look maybe look it up before the show uh in november 2009 uh had three editions so far the last one however was uh 2015 so there is a fourth edition in development um so the authors have gotten back together to bring that forward but really what it is is a um uh and everything you ever wanted to know about seo but we’re afraid to ask kind of book uh goes deep into obviously all the technical stuff but it really starts with the background of what search is about and how you should think about it and what search engine you’re trying to accomplish and what you should try to do as a business uh big chapter on keyword research you know again the big tech seo chapter is actually 200 pages almost of the 900 page book that the art of seo is today but it also talks about content marketing and analytics and site migrations and future of seo a lot of topics it’s a very broad and deep piece of work actually that’s really fantastic and is there one particular area that you’ve specialized in um so yeah it’s it’s a very strange thing to ask me of all people because almost everybody specializes in something and i i advise strongly to people in their career that they think about doing that um but uh i’ve sort of shifted my specializations uh through the year and years and uh tend to carry a few of them if you will largely because i’m a voracious student of like everything and um

you know a true geek if you will um so um you know like today i’m you know really big into the machine learning side of things i’m also diving deeply into the javascript side of things and then i have my own model for how you can use uh breadth and depth of content to drive sites to great heights i hope uh so i tend to be involved in many things at once so i specialize in a few things is that fair yes fair enough but i think at this point in digital marketing especially when you’ve been in it for decades you tend to know a lot at least a fair amount about everything because you have to understand how it all knits together and i just wanted to mention that content marketing let me ask you how do you define content marketing oh well let’s see uh should i type that into google really quick no so

you can take uh if we take a fairly broad definition of it it’s you could say it’s you know everything you do with content because all of your content has a target audience and you could be a b2b player that has you know 100 potential customers and you’re working with 10 of them and the audience is small you could be a massive site like amazon which you know people don’t necessarily think of amazon is doing content marketing but in a way they do

because you know all that people bought this also bought kind of stuff which is driven by a type of machine learning called the recommender system um is actually a form of content marketing in terms of itself but a bit narrower definition i think we talked about it about you know using content to build your brand um and that’s i think how most people think about it and it’s really impactful from an seo perspective because it can help you get a great deal of visibility within google which certainly can help build your brand and then if you create the right kind of content you can get other people in the industry and bloggers and media and influencers to share it and cover it and write about it and link to it and all those good things yeah fantastic and what about do you consider social media does that fun under the context of content marketing or are those two different vastly different things it it can um i tend to put that one in its own bucket but i mean your question is a really fair one because um i mean obviously you’re putting content out and what you’re choosing to publish there is very much a part of that broader strategy the thing i find with social media that so many companies struggle with and really people is when you invest your time in that platform what’s the realistic expectation of what you’re going to get out of it and how does that relate to some sort of roi uh for you um and that’s just a

not easy question to answer actually because the number of brands who are going to use it to directly drive their sales is small percentage and by the way some people you know highly visual brands or or things that are you know highly shareable in terms of what they do get great roi the direct monetary sense from sales off of social media but that’s not it it or the game for most people on social media sure yeah especially if you have something like you said that’s not a visual or there’s not a great visual to a company that it makes it really hard because most of social is so visually driven yeah interesting so i’m curious to um if you when we talk about roi right can you just explain a little bit about how seo is you can draw that line a little more directly and understand what the roi is on seo

well yeah you like asking complicated questions uh it should be a simple question but seo makes it hard and so let me actually first talk about it a little bit from a paid media perspective so i can talk about how it’s different um so paid media you know kind of the idea is in fact they’ll make it paid search uh i spend a thousand dollars on um sorry uh google ads today i get five thousand dollars in sales with two thousand dollars of margin on those sales and i can depending on how you prefer to calculate roi if we just use simple roi i have two thousand dollars of sales and one thousand dollar a margin on one thousand dollars of spend two to one roi okay got that so there’s really this very direct cause and effect that allows you to calculate the roi in a way that’s simple with seo it’s not simple because it’s let’s invest

you know let’s let’s say we’re a small company and we invest 30 000 in seo this year um that’s a lot of money for some companies by the way but um certainly uh the class of companies that can comfortably spend something like that so you spend thirty thousand dollars in seo it’s like okay i can measure how many conversions i get off of my website during that same year and say okay i got to 200 000 dollars in sales with 40 thousand dollars of margin and you can say okay my roi is 40 thousand over thirty thousand um and you know it doesn’t look so good but the reality is the thirty thousand you invested has somewhat influenced this year but it’s also gonna influence the next year and the next year and the next year even if you don’t spend anything more so there it gets complicated so the um without using up all the time we have on the show for this question the simplest thing or the main thing i would want the listeners to get is that

it’s it’s takes some thought to do a good job of calculating what your actual roi is from seo and it’s because the time frame in which you earn the investment is divorced from the time frame in which you make the investment and in the meantime you’re making more investments and and so it gets complicated well this is an interesting so i have an analogy that i think might be helpful and we talk about this a lot about investing for retirement when you’re starting your career right you start investing investing investing and it builds up over time and that would be organic seo right like you’re you’re creating content you’re building links you’re doing that and that’s going to grow over time but then paid advertising or what’s ppc is more like day trading right like you’re seeing in in the time frame that you’ve set okay we sold this many jackets this is this is what we can this is what we spent this is what we made boom you’re done right awesome well i’d love to jump in because you have not only so much experience with seo but about how many people do you think you’ve hired in the four companies you’ve owned and in your career and having been ceo of many companies yeah um maybe a couple hundred somewhere along somewhere along those lines between pre-seo careers and seo careers yeah so i’m just curious what tips of and also stone temple had a program maybe you can tell us a little bit about the program stone temple had hiring recent grads and it was just looking at the um at the notes that you would typically hire um students who were graduating and you’d hire them like april may so even before they graduated they would know they had a job yeah no absolutely it was actually a really important program for us we loved first of all it’s it’s just great to be able to help someone get a good start early in their career um and if something that we’re committed to and really wanted to do um and um but it but it got us just such fantastic results and as you said suzanne we um we would reach out uh and to schools and interview people and hire them in the april may time frame sometimes a little earlier um and um and then they knew they had a job when they graduated and the reason why we did it is in addition to just helping people early in their career um turned out to be extremely effective we had so many rock stars um that that we were succeeded in hiring and whose careers were originally developed and and built within the walls of stone temple very gratifying both from the point of view of actually the roi we got on doing that but also you know helping their careers get started and to be sure we had a couple people along the way that just didn’t work out and um they didn’t actually understand there was actually i’m going to approach this topic with a little bit of care it was like you know all the things negative things that people say about millennials work ethic well first of all it’s total bs because it did not show in our hiring experience but once in a while you got someone who like matched up with what people were saying it was just you know they didn’t get that you were expected to like actually work in order to get the paycheck you were being paid and it was like kind of a deal you made and you had an obligation and you know so that happened but it was comparatively rare it was a great program for us that’s so fantastic and then what what did you expect or what would you want uh students to know coming in as a recent grad and working at stone temple so i think um well there’s a few things i would say and one is you just really have to be prepared to be on a rapid learning curve um it’s just the way it’s going to be um wherever you go in your career um and and also it’s just you have to come in with that sense of commitment it’s like um you know when you’ve gotten out of college it may be you know you’ve had a lot of things done for you uh in your life uh and and now you’re at a point where you need to be very focused on understanding what it means to put your effort out to add value to someone else in this case the business and and embracing that early on is the critical difference between a fast start to your career and a slow start and and for many of you who are listening that may seem obvious but but the more you make it obvious that you feel that way as you engage in the beginning of your new job the faster returns will come for you that’s fantastic i’m just curious too if you were looking for students who had a basic understanding of seo or social media or good writing skills what were you looking for actually not enough people were being taught seo so we weren’t really looking for that we were just looking for people who had um largely marketing oriented degrees but some level of technical aptitude so it wouldn’t it wouldn’t get frightened if someone mentioned the word javascript for example so they might not go run off and code any javascript you didn’t need them to do that but it just couldn’t be terrified of it you know ways you can measure that is like how good are they with spreadsheets for example because you know there’s a certain logic pattern of working through a good spreadsheet and if they’re able to do that and they can probably be logical about other things wow that’s really cool so how what would you look for uh with you know being handy with a spreadsheet whether would it be like excel certification or well an excel certification would certainly be a plus but i don’t think most kids coming out of school have that per se but um just you know what you could do is just talk to them a little bit about some of the projects that they’ve done and what they had done with excel and that’s that’s how we would typically approach it and it’s not so much that you’re expecting to say are you going to say these three things to qualify it wasn’t really that it’s like of the you know 50 interesting things they might say do they mention a few of them that shows that they did a little more than added a call of numbers cool yeah what about portfolios would you expect to see any portfolios or examples of work what might those look like yeah no great question because it leads to another part of this which is so important when you’re going out for that job interview you you have to differentiate because first of all when somebody sees your cover letter and then they see your resume you know they may have a hundred of these they may literally be a hundred in some cases could be considerably more right but just assume it’s a hundred that’s a lot you know it’s like and they’re gonna pick you know maybe five to talk to right how do you get to be one of those five and somehow on that paper and what you submit you need to provide them with things that you know basically without doing it this way literally saying pick me pick me right sure and the portfolio is a great way of doing that or you know and you know the nature of how you’re submitting yourself for the job might not allow for literally including the portfolio with that but you can reference it in your cover letter and you can talk about things like have you invested your own time on a project that you just did to learn about something have you uh done any unpaid internships or paid internships even either is fine um you know and certainly your school projects are good to talk about too just know that the other resumes are going to have their school projects on them too so the things you can do to have those extra pieces and by the way if you didn’t do this in school um you know don’t worry about that just go start something tomorrow or today right sign up for your excel certification go take that excel certification off just sign up for it and then from from there on forward on every cover letter you know you send out uh you can reference that you’re pursuing an excel certification that shows your effort and commitment to your career and your understanding of your need to add value that’s a great that’s a really great tip what about are there any other resources that may be more seo related or digital marketing related that you would recommend they pursue besides reading the art of seo but i i’m just thinking 900 pages might be a tall order uh yes 900 pages uh usually when i handed it out to somebody uh like in a meeting and say okay uh 900 pages quiz tomorrow

to give them a little bit of a challenge but um anyway uh yeah so um you know in the world of seo i mean you’ve got to find the people who really are quite sharp and share good information

and are generous for their time that way and there’s there’s really a number of people and please understand they’re all working as consultants or agencies or like so they of course are trying to promote their businesses and that’s part of why they’re doing it good content marketing by the way um but um you know i’m thinking glenn gabe lilly ray uh it’s another one um let’s see i’m forgetting people uh and you know you can search engine land is good oh barry schwartz of course um subscribe to everything that barry does uh because it’s just a wealth of information flowing at you and then you know follow the prominent googlers that talk to webmasters on twitter um uh you know gary ish whose handle is m-e-t-h-o-d

and then john mueller whose handle is j-o-h-m-u um for a start uh martin split is another one uh what’s his oh i can’t remember right now um that’s okay we can add it yeah you can add it to the show notes but yeah those are good people to follow and you know a lot of it might seem a little confusing at first but you just gotta like there’s so much detail in seo you gotta like learn your way through a bunch of it and then search engine land um um is great site uh to to leverage for information search engine journals another one um i’m not starting a new blog at this point in my career i’m actually going to be doing my writing on search engine land for now great that’s fantastic yeah well we just have a couple minutes left eric and this is so wonderful to get not only your seo perspective but also your hiring thoughts and you know i’m just wondering if you have maybe a tip for other agencies when it comes to working with recent grads yeah um um great question as well you know i think the main thing you need to do is you have to accept the fact that you’re starting with raw material and um and this is why a lot of people don’t engage in in hiring recent grads because they want someone to have some experience it’s like but you know seo so much different kind of work there’s there’s good things that you can find to help them be productive pretty quickly that helps them start learning so you know teach them how to do basic keyword research or basic analytics reports um you know how to just start them on projects like analyzing competitor and trying to find out what their content themes are and you know they’re going to need some hand-holding and training and direction but they you know most of them have come on pretty quickly and honestly in six months you’re gonna start feeling like you’re beginning to get a return on it and that’s not bad for new hire by the way to say that it’s only six months because typically it’s a year before you begin to think you’re getting roi that is that’s a really great tip what about any other tips for a recent grad or someone who’s just thinking about getting into digital

uh well i guess the other thing i mean i ever talked about differentiating but um find that part of it which just energizes you right i mean you don’t want this to be torture right i mean do your job every day it’s uh um so uh and make that area that you’re um area of focus and invest time and learning stuff like that and differentiating yourself there so you’re more likely to get work you like doing every day then it’s fun then 60 hours and a week is nothing right you got it awesome well thank you so much eric enga it was so great to see you again and i’m really looking forward to going out sailing with you again hopefully soon i’m looking forward to it as well and thanks for having me on thank you okay

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Meet Eric Enge

Three time award winner for SEO and marketing Eric Enge co-founded and works for Pilot Holding here he offers consulting services for SEO, content marketing, digital marketing, and finance.

Eric has years of experience consulting clients at Stone Temple which he started and then sold. He know the ins and outs of SEO and marketing.