Ben formed his own search engine marketing agency, Amplify-Interactive , where he helps clients like Tripwire, ProSchools, UBuildIt, Fios, Inc., Digimarc and others maximize their Internet investment. Ben has presented to groups both at national conferences like Search Engine Strategies, and at local area marketing groups and business seminars. Amplify-Interactive is a founding member and sponsor of SEMpdx.

1) Tell me about Amplify Interactive. What is a typical client engagement for you?
Amplify Interactive is 3 people strong, soon to be 4. I operated as a solo SEO consultant & sub-contractor for 3 years until 2006 when I decided that it was time to grow the business or move on to the next thing. It’s fun to work for yourself and work in your PJ’s all day – but I realized that I really missed working with people. Our typical client engagements tend to be full site optimization, link development & pay-per-click campaigns. We like to work with clients who see the value of an integrated approach and who see the value of content & links when it comes to the success of their site. In addition to straight ahead keyword research and SEO recommendations, our approach involves everything from competitor benchmarking, auditing sites for SEO and marketability, analytics analysis and developing content recommendations. It’s important for us to be able to work with a client who can act on that kind of strategic thinking. Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed that we seem to be getting in the door through pay-per-click fix-it projects that turn into larger engagements. Meaning, I get a phone call from someone who has tried to do a PPC campaign because they want to get more search traffic but they are unsuccessful and realize that it’s more complex than they thought it was. We help them put together a strategic paid search campaign, and use the process and results as an opportunity to demonstrate the power of search and how working with a partner like Amplify Interactive improves their chances of success.

2) How can a business owner searching for SEM services evaluate the quality of potential vendors?
I think that fit and philosophy is a big part of the equation for success, and I encourage business owners to ask questions about how the SEM works, and why they do things the way that they do. It’s important for business owners to realize that in order to change the results for their site – their site will have to change. Any SEM vendor who isn’t going to help you improve your site should be shown the door. I always advise people to spend a little time getting educated so they can really assess their needs, to ask peers for referrals, to speak to at least 3 different vendors and to get references. Get started by checking out an organization like SEMpdx or SEMPO to find resources, materials, educational events, etc.

3) How best can search engine rankings be maintained during and after a website redesign?
As SEO’s we all know about the impact of changing content, maintaining directory & page names and using 301 redirects etc. Technically speaking – it’s not so difficult as long as all the stakeholders involved know about these things and take steps to minimize the impact. However, I think success here has a lot more to do with using common sense in conjunction with analytics to understand what a site’s visitors find important and why. In doing a good job in preserving this valuable content, and using the redesign as an opportunity to improve information architecture and usability you’ve set the foundation for improvement on previous successes.

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