What Role Do YOU Play?

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Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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What Role Do You Play in Local Search & Why?
In House SEO for an SMB? Work at Agency? Agency Owner? Independent Consultant?​

I know we have a wide variety of roles in our industry and thought it would be good to explore where you fit in and why. Someone here may be considering a change and benefit from your insights.

After you vote, please share WHY you are in the role you are in...

Or WHY you work at agency but think being independent would be better...

OR are a lone wolf and wish you worked at agency as part of a team...

OR do you own an agency? What's the benefit? Do you sometimes wish you were a lone wolf???

Just share whatever you like about the role you play, how you got there and why you prefer it.

Oct 25, 2013
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I've always worked as something of an independent consultant. In the past it was with a partner, and now I'm in the process of building up a practice for myself. I like it for a few reasons. I like working with more than one business at a time, partly for security, partly because I like having a small tribe of clients that really value my work and input (though when getting started before I knew fully what I was doing, it didn't always work out that way in practice). I enjoy the 'building a name for myself' side of it too, since it basically just amounts to networking, helping people out and sharing interesting stuff I'm learning. Not as much room for that with a more confined job role.

At one point years ago, I did work doing data entry at a certain very large agency that shall remain nameless, that does back end fulfillment on small business marketing packages for certain corporations. Seeing how ineffective those packages were for most of the businesses I had my hand in managing was pretty sobering. If I'm receiving money to help someone, it's pretty important to me that it's not just 'adequate', I want my work to be stellar. It's depressing having to follow guidelines written by a company that doesn't even know true best practices. As an independent consultant, I get to be the guide that lays out the map, and I don't have to have my hands tied because of problems that come with scaled up businesses.

Eric Rohrback

Oct 3, 2012
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I used to work in a few agencies, and continue to do one off projects on the side, but my main job is as an SEO in-house for a major retailer. Some day I'll probably go off and do my own thing, but I'm learning a lot in the corporate setting. I was in agencies working for clients, some of which were this size, and I couldn't understand why it took clients so long to implement changes I needed from them... I understand why now.

I work for Dick's Sporting Goods, so I spend all day working on sites helping people enjoy the outdoors or playing sports. I also work on their many local listings (like... 700+ stores at this point across 3 brands) as a part of a larger team. I get to learn a ton about all different sports and their equipment, which made me more knowledgeable when it came time to buy a new set of golf irons :p

In all seriousness though, the company I work at pays for a lot of professional training and has a lot of really nice sports-related perks which is great. Making the buying experience easier for customers (easy to search & find both products and physical stores) is really nice to work at. I did this just to get experience from the other side of the table, and get a different perspective from what I knew in an agency setting. It's kind of like agency because I have to work with store managers to get listings claimed, but I don't necessarily need to explain all the ins and outs, just what we need to get the claiming job accomplished.

I wouldn't say I prefer this over working solo or working at an agency; all options have their positives and negatives. I think if someone is given the opportunity to work in house, and especially eComm + Local then it's something worth considering. You expand your skill set and become more well rounded with all things search marketing. The reason I'm here is because I saw it as an opportunity to grow, and took it.

Jo Shaer

Jul 27, 2012
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I started my own agency back in 2010 after 15 years as a stay at home Mum. I guess I was in the right place at the right time here in the UK when I started learning about Local through the internet and then I found Linda Buquet to drive me to the next level.

There are now 4 of us at Lollipop but I am the one who continues to do the Local SEO for our clients as part of a full Inbound Marketing service.

I love being my own boss - even if I am probably the hardest person I have ever worked for!
Oct 1, 2015
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I began as a web developer at an agency, and started learning SEO from the SEO who sat beside me every day. When I left, I had a basis to build my SEO skills, and took a position at another agency. The real benefit has been the ability to learn from those around me, and be introduced to great new resources (like this very forum) that I may not have found on my own.

Colan Nielsen

LocalU Faculty
Jul 19, 2012
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I have worked for an agency since day one of my adventure in this industry. I don't know any other way :)

I have done a lot of 1:1 local SEO consulting as part of my role at the agency, so I imagine I have had some taste of what the independent consultant life would feel like. I have to admit, it's one of my favorite aspects of my job.

But I also love having a team of talented people to work with each and every day. It's hard to imagine trading that in for a solo gig. I also enjoy immersing myself in the many, many challenges that you face in an agency on any given day.

At this point in my career, I find myself in a role that allows me to straddle the world of both agency operations as well as subject matter expertise. I couldn't imagine anything more stimulating and fun at this point in my career.

Margaret Ornsby

Local Search Expert
Jul 22, 2013
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I have my own small agency and had visions of growing it big. Now am thinking more freedom and better life choices come from a few good clients - I can devote the time I think they truly need.

Love that I'm always learning, and communities like this have been fundamental to skilling up and staying on top of things. How much knowledge that is shared in this forum (and others) is staggering and awesome.

Funnily enough I was having a similar conversation with a colleague earlier this week who also has a small company. We were sharing stories of shock and dismay at things we see some big agencies getting away with.

I might consider working in a bigger agency or corporate again, but happy where I am too. Knowing what I now know, I think I'd be pretty picky about who and where if I ever did. ;)


Aug 15, 2014
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I work for an agency and have for 10 years, i did work on my own as an independent consultant for 2 years. During that time I really missed being a part of team and being able to bounce ideas off of others, I did continue to learn however thanks to Linda and her team. But hated wearing "all" the hats as a business owner. I found i wasn't very good at bill collecting. :) Love being at an Agency and the variety of different personalities I get to deal with managing our different clients.


Apr 16, 2014
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I came from an agency background, and am now working in-house for a group of car dealerships as their digital marketing expert (Adwords, Social, SEO, the works).

Each has their pros and cons. I did enjoy having a team at the agency who understood what my role was & respected/supported what I did. It's hard to explain what I do in 1 sentence, so most times now people refer to me as the "Google Marketing Person". It's also difficult to explain to my boss what it is I do all day, because there's sooooo much that I do-- some planned, and some things I stumble upon that need to be fixed. But he hired me because he didn't understand what needed to be done and I'm the specialist-- so he respects that I know what needs to be done & the results prove that.

I LOVE that I am only focusing on 5 medium sized businesses now instead of over 100 small businesses at an agency. I'm a firm believer that today there is no "one size fits all" solution in SEO or even Adwords/Social marketing. It's difficult when you have many clients that you need a somewhat "blanket solution" for, when in reality, each is an individual case that needs an individual solution-- but the $ is just not there to do what you need to for them.

I also love that in-house it's alot easier to get the budget I need to get more out of the online marketing platforms I'm using. With Google Analytics it's easy to present my case & with such a fast-paced industry, there's always upcoming opportunities to test different approaches.

The automotive industry is a different animal altogether, with a bunch of rules & restrictions from the government and corporate...Frustrating, but I'm already in love with it and don't think I'll ever leave :)

If I were ever going to leave, I think individual consulting as a remoter in not only SEO but the entire marketing plan (traditional included) would be the way to go for me. I have the education to back it up, and it is what I originally set out to do. I'm also great at strategy & understanding Google's ways-- but my interest in actually doing the work to execute the strategy is around 0% ;)
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