Spotlight on Search Engine Land Award Winners Odd Dog Media & SapientRazorfish

In 2015, the Search Engine Land Awards were introduced to recognize the top performers in the SEO and SEM community. The inaugural event was a big success by all accounts. Hosted in New York City during the SMX East conference, the awards program drew hundreds of attendees and raised thousands of dollars for Be the Match, a national bone marrow donor program, and, a nonprofit committed bringing computer sciences into the classroom.

Since its inception, The Search Engine Land Awards have put a spotlight on the best and brightest within the SEO and SEM industry. Not only are individuals and agencies within the search community recognized for their outstanding work, the event continues to raise thousands of dollars for charitable organizations.

This year, the Search Engine Land Awards event will be hosted in Seattle, Washington, during the SMX Advanced Conference on July 12, 2018. In anticipation of this year’s awards program, Search Engine Land is running this interview series focusing on last year’s winners to get their take on the application process, why they submitted an entry and how winning the award has impacted their business.

Odd Dog Media for Best Local Search Marketing Initiative – SEO

Last year, Seattle-based digital marketing company Odd Dog Media received the Best Local Search Marketing Initiative in SEO for a campaign that delivered more than 5,000 percent ROI for its client.

“We had to really put some metrics around [the ROI] to keep the judges from looking at a number like that and thinking we’re crazy,” says Odd Dog Media CEO Adam Broetje. “We built our own software to help manage the volume of this client which continues to save our client about $250,000 a year in software fees.”

The CEO says he knows there are a lot of “spammy” businesses in the SEO industry, and that one of the ways to stand out as a reputable firm is with industry certifications and awards.

“What better way to show the quality of work in the Local SEO space than to win an award from a publication our team relies on daily,” says Broetje.

When asked about the submission process, Broetje says his team put in roughly 40 hours’ worth of work on the agency’s entry and that the most difficult part was making sure the results were concise enough to fit within the submission limitations.

“We narrowed our submission down to what we felt were the parts of the campaign that weren’t necessarily standard practice and hoped that would help us stand out from the rest of the submissions.”

Broetje says as a smaller agency, he knew his team would be going up against much larger players in the industry.

“To be totally honest, we were just hoping to make the short-list of finalists and didn’t really think we had a chance of winning in our first year submitting.”

But win they did. According to the CEO, taking home a Search Engine Land Award has given his agency more legitimacy when selling to larger clients and recruiting talent in the competitive, tech-heavy Seattle market.

“Being in downtown Seattle has its pros and cons,” says Broetje. “One of the cons being that we compete with a ton of tech companies for talent. Having an SEL Award listed on our website really helped bring in better talent in our last round of hiring.”

Broetje says it also offered a morale boost to his team, something he didn’t expect.

“As an owner, I really questioned if spending the time on the award submission was going to be a better investment than spending that time on clients. It turns out winning the award really helped our team feel like their hard work paid off, but it also helped them realize the level of quality we deliver is on par with the big agencies.”

The CEO says winning the Search Engine Land Award gave his team a shot of confidence that has benefited the agency in numerous ways — best of all, filtering down from the work his employees perform to the results his clients are achieving.

SapientRazorfish for Best Overall SEO Initiative – Enterprise

SapientRazorfish was awarded the 2017 Best Overall SEO Initiative in Enterprise for its work with well-known tax preparation company H&R Block.

Sean Stahlman, SEO group director for the agency, said his team wanted to showcase the innovative work they regularly deliver to a client in a highly competitive market, where the majority of revenue is earned during the limited 90-day tax season.

“The opportunity to partner with multiple teams and build out a robust program felt like a great story worth sharing,” says Stahlman.

Because his team already had completed a lot of reporting and insights around its work with H&R Block, Stahlman says the awards submission process was painless. According to the SEO director, the most challenging part was determining the right stories to include. He says when deciding what to submit, he took to heart something his client frequently reminds his team: that tasks without context are just tasks.

“We take that as a focus when presenting work, results and contributions to the business,” says Stahlman.

The SEO director believes SapientRazorfish’s work with H&R Block is unique in that his team is truly treated as an extension of the client’s interactive marketing group.

“We would never be able to get the level of buy-in from senior leadership, technology and development teams without building trust.”

When asked what he thought made SapientRazorfish’s campaign a winning entry, Stahlman says that the numbers were nice, but being able to show the deep partnership between his agency and its client paid off heavily.

“None of the results achieved could be done without everyone’s input and contributions to the overall strategy, and educating how SEO can help each channel increase success.”

Outside of business development gains, Stahlman says his team traditionally has been reserved about sharing client victories, although the SEO department does often share personal stories and client success stories. Winning the Search Engine Land Award gave SapientRazorfish’s SEO team a chance to highlight the impressive results they accomplished for H&R Block.

“Being able to show how our work impacts our clients at a higher level was amazing,” says Stahlman.

And while the award gave the SEO team a chance to show off their work, Stahlman says nothing felt better than handing over the award to the client.

“The integrated team constantly plans and executes throughout the year, so taking a break to see our program was recognized was great reassurance and further motivation to keep testing and trying new projects.”

If you want to join the esteemed list of Search Engine Land Award winners, please submit your entry before March 31, 2018. 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 “Best B2B Search Marketing Initiative – SEO” and “Best Retail Search Marketing Initiative – SEO” categories!

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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