Rant / Advice – Being let go despite the good work.
I'm feeling very disappointed and disgusted.
Background: Little more than a year ago I began working for startup in the auto insurance industry. I was the first marketing person ever hired for the company and my main responsibility was to grow its presence organically. First few months I really struggled to get the dev team to set up a blog because they wanted to also do it as an SPA but they never had time. Finally after 8 months they were able to release it.
Needless to say, during that time I was writing blogs like a maniac in order the release +100 articles when the blog were to be ready.
We finally release a WordPress Headless by July last year and the blog is an instant success. We began ranking top 3 for very competitive keywords. Then a month after that a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) gets appointed and brings along his team of experts and decides to change the hole architecture for the site, thus having to migrate everything to Webflow. I was excited as it was a new technology for me.
Seven months after publishing and migrating our blog to webflow it was still growing strong, surpassing 200K per month. Actually just this week our traffic reached 240K users/ month. Most of this traffic was upper funnel as the company is investing zero dollars in branding or any other marketing initiatives. They did run a couple of Google Ads campaigns but the cost was excessive and didn't reduce Cost Per Click (CPC) as expected.
The two transactional terms that I wanted to rank to bring in more qualified leads required investing in Digital Public Relations (PR) and Backlinks (as the industry as you can imagine is highly competitive). Long story short, they never wanted to approve budget for this, therefore I ended up doing it manually and managed to land some very good ones. By doing this I managed to bring these two terms from positions 56 to 16, just inches into ranking Top 10.
Did a presentation to show how we, after the publication of our blog, managed to bring almost 100% more traffic per month than what our competitors managed to bring in the course of 5 years. And again pitched the idea for budget for backlinking and PR campaigns. They said no.
Long story short, now the company is in very bad situation as they are not able to show growth to investors and last month began firing quite a lot of operational staff. I was told we were safe and should not worry. So I was relieved.
Then yesterday my manager sends me a voice message over whatsapp to tell me that things are looking difficult and it will be hard to argue to keep SEO activities on as most of the hard work had already been done. That I could move to a different position (but didn't specify which) or suggested that I should go as external consultant part time and lose all my employee benefits, with no guarantee that they will use need me again.
I'm not angry as I understand the position of the company, however, wtf, did what the competitors did in 5 years and then they want to let me go just like that??
Don't know what to do or how to proceed. Said I'd have an answer by next Monday. Any ideas of how I could handle it?
Any ideas of how I could handle it?
Let them fire you instead of agreeing to being a contractor. Which they are doing to get out of paying you unemployment when they inevitably terminate your contract shortly after making the switch.
There's not much else to do in a situation like this. If the people holding the purse strings are not bought in on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then all they see with you at the moment is wasted budget.
You obviously know your stuff, shouldn't have trouble picking up a new position in this market.
Yeah, this is what I'll be looking at… somehow they are playing it sneaky.
This commenter is 100% right, in terms of both the effort to push you out without paying benefits and the odds of you getting a new job \- particularly if you can write and pull backlinks. Retool your resume and LinkedIn profile to mention the content, and I can almost guarantee you recruiters will harass you with offers. There's always a risk with startups that I'm wary of, that things won't go as planned or they'll be acquired… but the pay is usually a bit better. Anyway, make them make the decision to push you out, and keep things amicable with your manager for the recommendation. In the meantime, I'd start pulling all of the data and reports you may find useful for your next interview and job \- maybe copy and paste it to something, just in case they've got monitoring going on and try to use downloads as a security justification for dropping you.
f*ck that and f*ck them. seriously – what you did is 100% correct in how you handled it and the little wins should have gotten you buy-in on the other things that will help move the needle. take it as a learning experience to watch out for the type of people that managed you in that company. honestly, this is why i stay out of real estate, law, and auto – super competitive industries with business owners not understanding how SEO works.
This is the exact reason why chasing traffic numbers, posting countless blogs, and investing in content for the sake of traffic is the absolute dumbest f*cking thing in this industry.
As an SEO, it's our job to identify growth/value keywords and find opportunities to improve ranking for the keywords that will bring profitability. No one makes money on "because traffic growth," companies want money. Businesses want money.
Let me say that again.
Businesses want money.
Every business has one goal: make more money. Every business. Even non-profits. They pretend they don't, but they do. Every. Business.
I'd rather rank top 3 for a keyword with 100/monthly searches that drives 3-5 qualified leads/sales each month than a keyword that brings 10,000 unique page views with no value.
You make a company money, you'll stick around.
You can't make a company money, you won't.
For example, I'd never hire this guy.
Completely agree with you. The issue here is that:
• There was not budget for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) other than my salary
• They wanted to rank a new/unknown company in 1 year, with no branding efforts, in a hypercompetitive niche.
And even so: managed to rank Top 3 for every state, Top 10 for competition branded searches, was just missing the Top 2 Terms for which I needed budget for backlinks & digital PR.
Coincidentally, I'm on monthly retainer for consulting on SEO for one of the top brands in the US automotive repair industry. I can tell you they spend minimal effort on content outside of the "here's how to check if your battery is dying," and we spend most effort targeting keywords similar to;
• [city] oil change
• oil change [city]
• [city] state inspection
Don't accept the change in terms for the reasons listed by others.
Spend your time downloading every piece of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) proof you can from Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA), showing publishing and traffic growth and goal growth. Do it under the guise of "building a sustainable, evergreen strategy for the company" if asked.
Build a f*cking brilliant portfolio with that data while you have access.
Work to rule, do as little as you can.
Build your CV in the background (not on company time, don't give them an excuse to fire you).
Cling to the old role until they fire you (hi severance), then use your portfolio to land a new role.
I don't see this situation as a bad one, OP. You just proved a concept with your SEO skills and ranked up a site despite your company actively working against you.
Compile that data, update your resume, and submit it as a supplement to your application to another role. There are a lot of businesses that struggle mightily to have someone like you on staff.
Speak to a lawyer about what has been proposed. I'm guessing you're in the U.S. so it's a different situation than where I am.
As an SEO / head of growth there's thousands of jobs out there. Take this as a case study and hit up all the startups . Explain what you need from them for it to be successful in the role and get on the front foot.
Some startups provide equity as well, so there is probably something better out there for you.
Good luck with it all.
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