Community Corner: Spotlight on Search Engine Land Award Winners iCrossing, Merkle Inc. & Todd Silverstein

In this week’s edition of our Search Engine Land Award winners spotlight series, we are featuring the agencies who won the 2017 awards for Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative for SEO, Best Retail Search Marketing Initiative for SEO and Best Enterprise SEM Initiative.

We also are interviewing Todd Silverstein, who won the award for Best Overall SEM Initiative for Small Business. While Silverstein serves as the US head of performance marketing at Edelman Digital, it was his work as an independent contractor for a small business that earned him a 2017 Search Engine Land Award.

“It’s important for me to always practice what I preach, and I’ve been pushing my Performance Marketing team at Edelman Digital to always deliver incredible client results,” says Silverstein. “Because of this, I jumped at the opportunity to perform advanced SEM implementation.”

This year’s Search Engine Land Awards event is being hosted in Seattle, Washington, on June 12, 2018, during the SMX Advanced Conference. If you’re considering submitting an entry for the 2018 awards program, there is still time. The early-entry deadline for Search Engine Land Award submissions is March 31, 2018, but the applications will be accepted through April 13.


Last year, the team at iCrossing took home two trophies: the Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative for SEO and the Best Retail Search Marketing Initiative for SEO.

“Deciding what campaigns to submit was one of the toughest decisions!” says Jon Maxson, the senior director of SEO for the digital marketing agency. “We felt like these retail and B2B stories represented excellent examples of the difficult challenges our clients faced last year in very different circumstances.”

For its Best Retail Search Marketing Initiative for SEO award, iCrossing’s winning entry demonstrated how it was able to turn a project that often leads to a negative outcome — moving a site from one platform to another — into a best-case scenario.

“Our retail client faced the frequently difficult task of migrating to a new site platform,” says Maxson. Instead of losing web traffic, iCrossing was able to lift the site’s traffic 100 percent and increased revenue by 205 percent.

Maxson says submitting awards applications is a focus for his team.

“One of the great values we bring to clients is our experience solving similar challenges for other clients, and the SEL Award wins are an important reinforcement of the quality and types of search programs we execute on a daily basis.”

According to the SEO director, most of the work they submitted for this year’s entry was completed in the final weeks leading up to the submission deadline.

“We wanted to submit entries for two reasons: one, to recognize the iCrossing teams who delivered what we believed were award-worthy results for those clients; and two, for the industry barometer that these search awards represent,” says Maxson.

He says his teams are naturally a bit humble when it comes to sharing the results of their work, but being recognized by industry peers is important because it helps build momentum for iCrossing’s search business and the agency as a whole.

When asked what he thought helped iCrossing win two Search Engine Land Awards, Maxson says his team didn’t only focus on traffic volumes but also showed how the search campaigns aligned with the client’s overarching business problems.

“We reached the audiences they wanted to target and demonstrated how those audiences converted at increasing rates.”

Maxson says winning a Search Engine Land Award is a natural source of pride for his team and that they’re already looking forward to submitting award entries for this year’s event.


The 2017 Search Engine Land Award for Best Enterprise SEM Initiative went to Merkle Inc. for the agency’s work with MetLife Financial Services.

“We had a lot of really outstanding candidates, which made it difficult to select just one campaign,” says Merkle’s associate marketing director, Mallory McClenathen. “In the end, we felt the work we did for MetLife best exemplified Merkle’s people-based approach to marketing.”

McClenathen says the team’s ability to work with the financial services firm, and the client-agency relationship that was forged, was key to creating a winning audience-first SEM strategy that delivered strong growth.

“Our approach to search and media focuses on people before channels. I think our entry stood out because it focused on how creating meaningful brand interactions drove results for our client.”

According to the associate marketing director, the most difficult part of building out its award entry was deciding which campaign to submit. But once Merkle decided on the work it wanted to present, McClenathen says the submission process was relatively easy.

“The team developed the entry fairly quickly, using data and reporting that had already been put together for the client.”

McClenathen says submitting Search Engine Land Awards entries gives Merkle the opportunity to highlight the work it is doing for clients and to showcase how the agency is creating innovative campaigns within the search industry.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Search Engine Land,” says the associate marketing director. “It gives our search strategists and practitioners further recognition of the incredible results that they drive for their clients.”


Todd Silverstein is a veteran Search Engine Land Award winner. Two years ago, his team at Edelman won a Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative award.

In 2017, Silverstein was back in the awards circle, but instead of representing Edelman Digital, the agency’s head of US performance marketing won an award as an independent contractor.

“Being a team of one, working on WipeRecord as a private contractor, the submission process was highly streamlined,” says Silverstein, who added the application was extremely easy since the backbone of the campaign was real-time utilization of data coupled with a deep understanding of the business.

“The proverbial story had already written itself before I even put pen to paper.”

The ultimate goal of the search marketing campaign Silverstein designed for WipeRecord, a legal tech startup, was to gain market share in an extremely crowded space.

“The crux of this campaign was to take what another agency had been doing and revolutionize — both in terms of delivery and results,” says Silverstein. “The campaign was holistic in that it entailed the entire program, benchmarked by the first six months of me being at the helm (from January to June) versus the prior year.”

The award-winning campaign resulted in a 490 percent lift in qualified leads for WipeRecord, coupled with a 70 percent reduction in cost per lead.

“The true impact, of course, being a transformational increase in revenue and sales (including a ROAS of nearly 3,000 percent once we implemented Salesforce revenue realization through GA).”

According to Silverstein, his systemic approach to the WipeRecord’s search marketing campaign included unique campaigns broken out by query, sub-DMA, device preference, demographic and conversion type, along with in-depth keyword targeting and audience personalization.

“The win means a lot to me personally, since the vast majority of people in my position severely atrophy in terms of being able to execute world-class search engine marketing,” says Silverstein, “This win also validates the incredible work my performance marketing team at Edelman Digital has been doing — which I learn from as well — and serves to enhance the type of friendly competition we engage in, to ensure everyone continues operating at their peak.”

If you want to join the esteemed list of Search Engine Land Award winners, please submit your entry before the early entry deadline of March 31, 2018. Submissions will be accepted through the final deadline of April 13. The Search Engine Land Awards team has added several new categories this year, including Best Search & Social Media Marketing Initiative, Best Research Initiative by an Agency or Individual and Best Boutique Agency for SEO and SEM.

You can learn more about the upcoming awards event and how to submit your entry at 2018 Search Engine Land Awards.

Stay tuned to this column, as next week we’ll feature Search Engine Land Award winners in the “In-House Team of the Year for SEM” and “Best Enterprise SEM Initiative for Travel and Lifestyle Campaigns!”


Community Corner: Spotlight on Search Engine Land Award Winners Wolfgang Digital, Metric Theory & Precis Digital

This year’s Search Engine Land Awards will mark the fourth consecutive year the SEO and SEM community has come together to celebrate the best and brightest in the industry. The 2018 event will be hosted in Seattle, Washington, on June 12 in conjunction with the SMX Advanced Conference, and it has been expanded to include several new award categories.

Started in 2015, the Search Engine Land Awards has not only recognized top-performing SEO and SEM professionals and agencies, it has raised thousands of dollars for a variety of nonprofits, including Be the Match, CODE.org, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Women Who Code.

As we near this year’s awards event, Search Engine Land is taking a look at last year’s winners in a collection of interviews highlighting the campaigns that won and the results they generated.

For our latest addition to the series, we talk to the teams that took home awards for Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative and Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative for SEO; Best B2B SEM Initiative for Enterprise; Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative for SEM; and Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing Campaign.

Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative & Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative for SEO: Wolfgang Digital

Wolfgang Digital for Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative – SEO

Wolfgang Digital’s team took home two trophies from last year’s event, winning the Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative award for its work with Littlewoods Ireland, and Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative in SEO for its work with Zurich Life.

“We felt we had a really strong entry for SEO for mobile as we’d figured out quite some time ago that a rich snippets strategy would become a voice search strategy,” says Wolfgang Digital CEO Alan Coleman. “We were confident we would be showing the judges something they had never seen before here, which I believe is a key component of winning awards.”

The CEO says his agency also does a lot of work for the retail sector, and winning the Best Overall Search Marketing Initiative award was a great affirmation of the team’s efforts.

“We demonstrated a strategy which solved the issue a lot of market leaders face — how does the market leader continue to find scale in a saturated market?”

Coleman believes solving a marketing problem or successfully executing an innovation is a key component of a successful digital marketing strategy.

“A great award entry is often a story of how you executed one of these,” says Coleman.

When asked how they determined which campaigns to submit, Wolfgang Digital’s CEO says their “magic” formula centers around showing the judges something they have never seen before. “And give a whopper result to boot,” he adds.

Because the team is in the habit of presenting their projects to their colleagues, Coleman says the bulk of the work for the submission process was already completed.

“It was just a case of making our internal case study fit the criteria for the awards.”

According to Coleman, being recognized as a Search Engine Land Award winner has positioned the Dublin-based digital marketing agency as a world leader in the SEO and SEM community.

“We’re very proud to be putting Ireland on the map as a center of digital marketing excellence by winning international awards,” says Coleman.

He notes that Littlewoods Ireland and Zurich Life have both been clients of Wolfgang Digital for some time now, and the long-term client-agency relationship has paid off. “It’s great to be able to demonstrate that partnering with clients over a longer period of time does lead to world-class digital marketing.”

Best B2B SEM Initiative for Enterprise: Metric Theory

Metric Theory’s Amanda Ferrante accepts the award for Best B2B SEM Initiative for enterprise

For Metric Theory’s founder, Jeremy Brown, winning the Search Engine Land Award for the Best B2B SEM Initiative for Enterprise was an honor.

The agency turned to its team leaders for ideas around the best campaigns to submit, focusing on work that had driven either impressive growth for clients, implemented innovative strategies or tested new features. Once the campaigns were determined, the account managers — or in some cases team leaders — wrote first drafts to begin the submission process.

“Those were then edited by myself or other senior team members,” says Brown. “Each submission is a time investment, but worth it for the featured nomination or award.”

Brown not only is the founder of Metric Theory, he also serves as the agency’s CMO. He believes the key ingredient that helped push his company’s campaign into the winner’s circle is his team.

“They produce top-notch work that moves the needle for clients’ business.”

According to Brown, the Search Engine Land Award has given Metric Theory more exposure, and featuring the win on the agency’s website is a great feature for prospective clients to see.

“Metric Theory values the highly relevant industry news, articles and columns that Search Engine Land produces,” says Brown. “When the Landy’s were announced, we saw these awards as a great opportunity to feature the amazing work our team is doing for clients in a respected industry outlet.”

Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative for SEM & Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing Campaign: Precis Digital

Search Engine Land’s Ginny Marvin and Michelle Robbins accept Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative Award for Precis Digital

Precis Digital was another agency to earn multiple Search Engine Land Awards last year, winning the Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative for SEM and the Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing Campaign.

With offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and England, Precis Digital oversees numerous projects throughout the year, trying out new ways of optimizing clients’ investments across different paid media platforms. The agency’s Oskar Norbäck says submitting award entries is a way for his team to summarize the most successful work they have completed during the year and determine how it compares to the rest of the industry.

“Also, we want to contribute to inspiring other companies and agencies to do great work for themselves,” says Norbäck.

The agency’s winning campaigns were both with clients that have been with the agency for some time. Norbäck credits both wins to the team’s relentless focus on constant improvement and drive to be innovative.

“It is much harder to compete with oneself year after year than engaging in a new project and getting the initial boost from applying smart solutions to a low baseline,” says Norbäck.

He believes his agency won the Best Integration of Search into Cross-Channel Marketing Campaign award because it was able to demonstrate innovative and sophisticated tracking measures via a custom attribution and a real-time scoring model. This model, developed by Precis Digital, combined an audience-first strategy that mixed online and offline efforts and allowed for cross-channel bidding.

Norbäck says the key component of the winning campaign for the Best Mobile Search Marketing Initiative award was its profit maximization in automated bidding.

Precis Digital’s award application process is a companywide effort. “Each application gets as much attention as it needs until we are happy with it, which usually takes eight to 10 hours,” says Norbäck.

The time and effort put into the submission process pays off in the long run for the agency, as a winning entry benefits the company in two ways.

“The first is that the work we do gets noticed by new potential clients that would otherwise not have heard about us,” says Norbäck. “The other reason is that talented people in the industry notice what we do and get interested in working at Precis and help us become even better.”

There’s a third benefit to winning a Search Engine Land Award for Precis Digital, according to Norbäck — the awards serve as an acknowledgment that his team’s hard work is paying off.

“It triggers us to keep going and not settling with good enough.”

If you want to join the esteemed list of Search Engine Land Award winners, please submit your entry before the early entry deadline of March 31, 2018. Submissions will be accepted through the final deadline of April 13. The Search Engine Land Awards team has added several new categories this year, including Best Search & Social Media Marketing Initiative, Best Research Initiative by an Agency or Individual and Best Boutique Agency for SEO and SEM.

You can learn more about the upcoming awards event and how to submit your entry at 2018 Search Engine Land Awards.

Stay tuned to this column — next week we’ll feature Search Engine Land Award winners in the Best Enterprise SEM Initiative and Best Overall SEM Initiative for Small Business categories!


AdWords Express launches notifications for calls from search ads

After launching goal tracking in the platform last year, AdWords Express, the simplified ad platform designed for small business, is adding support around calls to a business with two types of call notifications.

Now, when a call received via a search ad ends, the advertiser will get a notification on their phone to leave feedback about the relevancy of the call. The feedback prompt appears as a simple question that can be answered “yes,” “no” or “not sure”:

01-call-feedback-notification-nexus5x.png

The feedback will be delivered to Google, with the intention of improving targeting that will yield higher-quality calls over time.

The other new offering provides a solution for small business owners who are often juggling more than one thing at a time and wind up missing calls from potential customers. Now, a notification will pop up from the AdWords Express app alerting the advertiser that a call was missed. The business owner can simply hit “Call Back” to get back in touch with the caller.

00-missed-call-notification-nexus5x.png

These features can be enabled by going into the AdWords Express app and opting in for Account Updates within Settings.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome’s Lighthouse extension

Webmasters, web developers and SEOs are getting a new feature in the widely used website auditing tool Lighthouse. Google announced today the addition of an “SEO Audits” category to the Chrome extension. You can access the new audit category via the “Options” button in the extension.

By no means a replacement for a comprehensive SEO audit, the new feature does provide feedback on basic/fundamental SEO best practices, returning a report that checks for:

  • Descriptive anchor text.
  • Titles, description.
  • If the page can be crawled by Google.
  • HTTP status code.
  • Valid hreflang and rel=canonical tags.
  • UX — legible font sizes, plugins.
  • … and makes recommendations for additional reports.

From a sample report I ran against Starbucks.com:

SEO Audit Report from Lighthouse Extension

According to the post, they’ll be adding more features to the SEO audit, and they are actively soliciting user feedback in the Github project and webmaster forum.