What makes a Junior, Intermediate, or Senior SEO?

Posted By: on October 29th, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

googlebot loves you and your seo knowledge!

Googlebot wants to know what makes you a junior, intermediate, or senior seo!

Truthfully, there isn’t really such a thing as an “SEO School”, so it can be difficult for online marketing professionals to know where they sit in the online marketing world. Years of experience alone is a poor indicator of  a person’s ability in this industry. We thought we’d share how we, Top Draw, go about rating online marketing people in different knowledge verticals. While the guide below is Google-centric, it should help give you a more accurate idea of what your SEO knowledge and skill level is like.


Beginner: You’re half-convinced that SEO people just make these terms up: “alt text”, 301, “XML Sitemap”, WMT, GA, H1, DA, SERP.

Junior: You can perform basic keyword research for a site or for content ideas, modify titletags, audit a mediocre website and come up with a decent list of recommendations, perform basic monthly SEO reports, build a Google+ page, and you know who Matt Cutts is.

Intermediate: You’re better able to determine if any given site could gain ranking on a given phrase you’ve researched, you’ve had some decent link building wins and have some favorite techniques, you’ve got a few competitive ranking wins that you’re really proud of, you have a few favourite reports in Analytics where you get most of your initial client insights from, can rip around GA and Webmaster tools quickly and purposefully, and you have an opinion on how to estimate keyword data. Sometimes you do everything right, but the pages just don’t rank, you don’t know why, and you run out of ideas on what to do next. You’ve been to an SEO conference in the last year and you have a rough idea as to where the industry is going. You would have solid answers to these 10 questions. You know when to check for a “nofollow” on a link (and you know what that means).

Senior: You’ve got a sixth sense for knowing which content pieces are going to get results, you’ve got a favorite technique for working with large (1000+) keyword data sets, you make Schema recommendations that actually show up in the SERPs, you can quickly build process around proven new techniques, you have spoken at conferences or local meetups as the expert, and you have a few personal project websites that you use for SEO experiments or to earn side-income.  You’ve got some experience with international SEO, and you can audit pretty much any website and come out with some great recommendations and specific implementation instructions. You may be using ranking indexes or more complex rank tracking tactics to better understand impact from SEO activities. When explaining SEO to people who aren’t as well versed, you’re easy to understand and don’t rely on baffling them with bullshit. Rather than using a set of fast and hard best practices, you understand the context and nuance around them and when activities are risky or safe.


Beginner: You might have made a campaign once, but it didn’t work that great. You might think AdWords sucks or that hardly anyone clicks on them, or it holds little value.

Junior: You run through a checklist when creating accounts to get the basic settings right. You can get a basic search campaign running. You understand keyword targeting types and when to use them, and you know terrible keywords when you see them.

Intermediate: You’re AdWords certified. You can setup an effective remarketing campaign using lists generated from either Analytics or AdWords, and you might have played with Video advertising. You know what CPA means, how to setup a conversion optimizer campaign, how to use most of the ad extensions, how to properly link a website with AdWords, can setup a merchant center account and shopping campaign, have an opinion on Google’s vs Bing’s customer support, know what an MCC is (and you use one). You can run a few reports to estimate how a client should alter their budgets. You can purposefully navigate through AdWords to get to the reports or views you like. You have a few campaign styles that you love using on new accounts.

Senior: You have a favorite technique for developing comprehensive negative keyword lists and a few campaigns in your account(s) are purely experimental to test different targets. You can craft campaigns designed to hit specific goals, from low CPA, high profit, best ROAS, revenue goals, awareness, etc. It can be difficult to follow you in the AdWords interface; you know it so well and navigate through so quickly. When you work over an Intermediate SEM’s account, there’s usually a drastic improvement and you can usually blow their minds with a few new campaign ideas or strategies that they never thought of. You’ve been in a Google AdWords beta program or two, can setup a video remarketing campaign in under 30 minutes, and would be completely comfortable taking on a project on a Pay-for-Performance model as long as you could do some research beforehand.


Beginner: You can login to Analytics, but don’t usually go past the first overview screen.

Junior: You can get to the right screen to answer “what’s our most popular page” in under 30 seconds, pull traffic numbers for a specific channel, pull mobile usage with a bit of fiddling, and can pull some general stats out.

Intermediate: You’re GAIQ certified, for starters. You’ve created a few dashboards to save time, you use time ranges to determine seasonality, you download page usage data to help with content architecture, can configure and tune email alerts, set up new accounts for brand new websites, and can perform account linking with AdWords/WMT/etc. You’re in Google Analytics 1-4 times per day, and you know how to recommend code changes for more enhanced tracking, and have some standard filters you implement. You might have played with attribution models but haven’t found a great use for them yet. You need quite a bit of time in an account before you can find actionable insights in their data.

Senior: You use API access to collate data in ways that are too complicated to do within GA, you know the correct time to use a custom segment vs report vs dashboard vs just drilling down to a view, you’ve got a few views with crazy filters and advanced replace functions, you’ve got some killer remarketing lists, you may have used Data Import or content grouping or custom channel grouping to get more insight, after about 5 minutes with a new account you’re able to ask insightful probing questions about the site, you know off the top of your head how to setup a multi-subdomain Analytics account and how to guide developers on implementing complex architectures, you can explain how Analytics uses cookies and sessions easily, and you’ve used Google Tag Manager or another tag manager app. You’ve used Attribution Models to answer some really tough questions and help guide marketing strategy. You’re pretty good at guiding clients down a path to get them to results-based marketing along with measurement plans, implementation, etc. SEM guys/gals love you, because the goals you set up are extremely solid and very well tied to business results.


Again, this isn’t a be all, end all guide, but it should give you a decent idea of where you stand if you can honestly assess yourself. Learning and applying SEO and all its related disciplines is a never ending pursuit of knowledge. The most important part is to stay humble and never settle in your techniques and ways – there’s almost always a more efficient and better way to improve upon your skillset and knowledge base. Thinking you know everything (whether it’s from a course you recently took, or using a technique/process that has been “working forever”) without accepting new ways to improve and do things is a surefire way to fail in the long run – so stay humble! The right attitude is key if you want to succeed, flourish, and ultimately stay relevant in this industry.

As an incredibly convenient segue, we’re still looking for a junior to intermediate level SEO to work with us!


Social Marketing… It’s Like a Chainsaw

Posted By: on October 23rd, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

Social Marketing, Is It For You?

Social Media Marketing is like a chainsaw, it can be extremely effective, or you can cut your damn hand off. There are a lot of marketing firms out there pushing social media as a must have in any given company’s marketing strategy. You’ll have phrases like viral marketing, direct contact and share value thrown at you, with the force relative to the Jays plunge out of playoff contention after the all-star break. So what’s the answer? Should social media marketing be a priority in your company or brand’s marketing strategy? Should you invest the time and the money (good social takes money regardless of what someone may tell you) into the development and establishment of your company’s social identity? Well the answer is sadly as unclear as why Tuuka Rask can’t get his game together against the Habs. Sadly all I can offer you today is a firm “Maybe.”

“Social Media Marketing is like a chainsaw, it can be extremely effective, or you can cut your damn hand off.”

Tuukka Fail

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Video Remarketing with YouTube

Posted By: on October 17th, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

As more and more companies turn to digital mediums to contact their customers, new opportunities in targeting and ad delivery are making for much more relevant ad impressions. One of the assets that companies are looking to re-use and get more play out of are their beautifully produced TV spots. While posting those ads to YouTube helps get the ad into the video platform with the greatest reach online, the next question is how to target prospective customers. One targeting method I wanted to showcase today is called Video Remarketing.

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10 Questions to ask Before Hiring an SEO Company

Posted By: on September 25th, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

There’s probably an email in your inbox offering you SEO services right now. If not, your spam folder caught it… or you deleted it already…


The point is there are a lot of folks who want to sell you SEO, and a lot of them just don’t do it very well. In many cases they just don’t know better, and in others they are simply out to get you.


Of course, there are also just people out there committed to solid online marketing and measurable results. Below is a list of questions that can help you weed out the unwitting or unscrupulous.

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Google Partners Connect Event with Top Draw

Posted By: on September 23rd, 2014
Filed Under: News


More clicks, more visits, more customers—we’ll show you how!

We’re hosting a livestream Google event on October 15th, and you’re invited to join us!

With nearly 90% of the population using Google to search for product and services, this is a great opportunity to learn about how to grow your business from Google experts. 

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What Kind of Music Would Top Draw Recommend?

Posted By: on September 22nd, 2014
Filed Under: Edmonton

I try to keep an open mind and try new things and as part of that, I recently wanted to try some new music. I also wanted to show a little more of Top Draw to the world, so that new job applicants or prospective clients could know us better. What better than a selection of music that people around the office like? I chose a new person each day and asked them what music they might suggest for me, without letting any of them know that I was compiling all results for a blog post (cue evil laughter). I then listened to that genre all day. It ended up feeling like a month where I let other people pick the radio station. Results and links to the related playlist on Songza are below:

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Creating a SMART Online Marketing Strategy

Posted By: on September 18th, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

So you want to create a Digital Marketing Strategy. Maybe the boss isn’t getting enough visibility into what you’re doing, maybe they’re concerned about digital’s rapid growth and wants to make sure the company isn’t being left behind, or maybe you want to create a plan to stop the cycle of reactive fixes and start being proactive. A well built online marketing strategy should:

  • Give you some time to work out needs and “nice-to-haves”. This is time outside of the “shopping list” reactive-work mentality that occupies most days in marketing.
  • Stop ridiculous external requests. Sorry Mr. Sales Manager, our priority this quarter is fixing website navigation and starting an online campaign to support our new non-toxic candy, I’ll have to get to your bus stop advertising campaign another day.
  • Give visibility to the outside and improve perception. You could be doing amazing, earth-shattering work but for many marketing leads and managers, perception outside of their department matters. A simple-to-understand plan shows that you’re proactive and that things will be moving forward.

There are a multitude of ways to structure an online marketing plan, but I prefer a Goal-Strategy-Tactic breakdown.

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5 Lessons to Dominate Social Media

Posted By: on August 26th, 2014
Filed Under: Online Marketing

In light of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge becoming a worldwide phenomenon, I bet a lot of Content Marketers are thinking the exact same thing, “How come my social efforts never pay off like this?” Many of us will spend our entire careers attempting to capture the ALS-type lightning in our own marketing bottle.

Sadly, most of us will fail in our attempts to replicate this massive level of viral success. There are, however, a number of practices that we can all adopt based on the successes and failures of our comrades in arms. Contently recently published a report on a BuzzSumo- and FRACTL-conducted study of the 1 million most-shared articles from the first six months of 2014. It’s certainly worth a read and some thought, as these 1 million articles accounted for 2.6 billion shares. To put that in perspective, that is 74 shares for every man, woman and child living in Canada.

So here they are: the five lessons that you can take away from this year’s most popular social content (so that we can all get a little closer to that dream of Ice Bucket reach).

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Top Draw Goes Back to School (Part Two) – Wright & Wong Edition

Posted By: on August 21st, 2014
Filed Under: News, Online Marketing

Following in the footsteps of our director Adriel Michaud and senior Nick Pierno so that we don’t get left in their proverbial dust, Natalie and Wilson have hopped onto the certification train by becoming qualified in both Google Analytics and Google Adwords as well!
Adwords Cert







GA cert

Top Draw now has fourcount ‘em, four certified Individuals who can lead Adwords and Analytics initiatives for clients, so know that you’re in good hands when you decide to give us a shout!

We are also a certified Google Partner and are listed in their directory as “Top Draw Inc” if you ever want to check us out. Being listed as a certified Google Partner is pretty snazzy as it means we’ve proven we have certified individuals who have met all of Google’s partner status requirements, and that we adhere to Google’s recommended best practices.

If anyone out there is wondering how well we did on the exams, let’s just say that while some questions were answered Wong, the vast majority were Wright. Hehehe.