Welcome to Crawl. This is my first article as Managing Director and I hope to reflect on it someday to see what has been achieved.
How it all started
Crawl is everything I’ve learned in my first full-time year in freelance SEO. It’s everything I’ve learned working in an SEO agency, and as an in-house marketer. My aim is to provide a direct line to senior-level SEO consultants, supported by an army of the most talented freelance specialists in content, digital pr and more.
In July 2020, I took the leap to begin a full-time freelance SEO career, following many years working as a Head of SEO for a successful search agency. It was in the middle of a pandemic, a house move (and renovation) and my baby boy was due in December. With 10 years under my belt as a part-time freelancer alongside my job, it was something I always wanted to do – but the timing could have been better.
Financially, I had given myself four months to make it work. With only a handful of clients, I had experienced more famine than the feast I had expected. A week before I had to make a yes-no decision on continuing, I signed two long-term clients.
From that point, I’ve been at full capacity and had the pleasure of working with over 35 clients, from startups aiming to revolutionise social care to supporting the acquisition strategies of some of the largest brands in the UK.
Crawl takes all of the benefits of working with a freelance SEO, and extends them into a consultancy. Replicating the processes that have worked so well for me in the past year, but increasing the number of clients I can work with using a small team of trusted senior SEO consultants.
It will stay intentionally small. Sustainable growth means we can focus only on delivering industry-leading consultancy, and provide our clients with the one-on-one personal experience that they have come to expect from freelance consultants.
Crawl Academy came before Crawl. There was nothing fancy about its conception, other than sounding cool. Crawl serves as a handy brand umbrella though and, as well as being synonymous with the SEO industry, has since evolved into something more meaningful.
It represents everything we’re about; crawling before you walk. Providing an initial 30-day Roadmap that sets the direction with an SEO strategy; affording our clients with the breathing room to make an informed decision on whether they’d like to work with us long-term.
It’s also personal. My business’ incorporation was at the same time as my son learned how to crawl, and will serve as a nice reminder of that lovely moment.
A better way to start a partnership
The traditional agency model of jumping headfirst into long-term retained agreements is becoming tired.
I’ve seen the client-agency trust gap widen exponentially since I began my career in SEO. It’s time to fix that.
Roadmap is an intensive 30-day project starts a client relationship off on the right foot. Some time to get to know each other first, before making the decision on a longer-term commitment.
It’s how I’ve started 90% of my agreements in the last year. Almost all of them have led to successful long-term partnerships. And others have taken their roadmap and effectively rolled it out themselves.
Why does it work (from actual feedback)?
- Stakeholder engagement: limiting the amount of time for the project forces our clients to focus and think deeply about their business. It engages everyone in a way that I haven’t seen before.
- Strategic clarity: Roadmap delivers a clear strategic presentation aligned with business goals. Not a 100-page itemised list of issues but a set of simple guiding principles to follow. Broad enough to understand, and granular enough to follow and execute without us.
- Data transparency: Every strategic recommendation is backed up by data. And that data is accessible and organised in an intuitive, interactive report.
We’re going further than just Roadmap to bridge the trust gap though. Inspired by Glen Allsopp, Crawl will also offer short 10 minute video audits. This is something entirely new for me, and perhaps something I would have sniffed at several years ago.
I’ve changed my mind on it for three reasons:
- It provides those with lower budgets an opportunity with an experienced SEO consultant.
- Clients can get to know us quickly – how we work and communicate. And see what we can do in 10 minutes!
- Unbiased, first interactions with websites can very useful. It surfaces issues that may have gone unnoticed.
Would I suggest clients implement recommendations without exploring the risks further? Absolutely not. It’s only 10 minutes after all. But first impressions go a long way.
The future of work
The pandemic has changed how we work, forever. We’re going through a remote revolution where remote working is being embraced, and power is shifting to the individual. Remote working opens the door to borderless opportunities – hiring for talent, not location.
It’s also changing the type of work we do. In the SEO industry, I’ve seen more people leaving employment in favour of freelance than ever before – I was one of them.
Crawl will be part of this change. A fully remote consultancy that leverages the growing, global freelancer economy.
A leading learning destination for SEOs
Crawl will be more than a consultancy. My ambition for the Crawl brand is to become a leading learning destination for SEOs. This journey will get a head start by connecting all of my personal projects with Crawl, and its identity.
Our projects are:
- FutureThought: Reliable forecasts for SEO teams.
- The Weekly SEO: Popular weekly curated SEO newsletter.
- Keywords in Sheets: Scripts & templates that help more than 7,000 SEOs.
They will all retain their names but become visually integrated with the Crawl brand in the next two months.
For our consultancy, this means our client strategies are supported by some powerful projects. Enterprise forecasting to underpin the vision of every roadmap, weekly insights to stay ahead of the curve on industry changes, and technology and automation to enrich the data behind our strategies.
Crawl Academy will launch in 2022 and will be a premium learning platform for SEOs to supercharge their knowledge. It will open up everything we do at Crawl; our approach to problem solving, our internal tools and scripts, and a full suite of processes and templates.
My entire careers worth of learnings will go into Crawl Academy, alongside training from some of the smartest SEOs I know.
Thank you to everyone that has helped get Crawl to this starting point, your support is truly appreciated. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and all of the exciting client journeys we’ll be part of.
Let’s do this.